Henrico, Virginia - Lynnhaven School announced the founder and co-head of school, Johnathan Harris, is stepping down after a decade of dedicated leadership. Harris has decided to step down from his position, marking the end of an era. During his tenure, Harris has contributed significantly to the growth and development of Lynnhaven School, establishing it as a leading project-based learning school in the region.
“Opening Lynnhaven School was an idea I had as a little boy growing up in southwest Virginia. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to lead this wonderful school over the last decade. It is not often someone can literally have their dream job. Lynnhaven is poised to become the best version of itself,” said Harris in a statement.” When asked why he thought the time was right to step away from Lynnhaven, he said, “The ‘life span’ of a head of school is not infinite. I am no different, even as a founder. I have poured my heart and soul into Lynnhaven for a decade. The timing is right for me to step down.” Harris was asked if he would continue as a board of trustee, and he said the following “for many years people viewed Lynnhaven as ‘Johnny’s school’ - yes, I am the founder and opened its doors ten years ago, but it was never ‘mine’ or about me. It was about changing the narrative of what a project-based high school, based on the progressive education model, could look like in Richmond. The newly appointed board of trustees, along with Casey, need an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas as they launch a new decade of learning at Lynnhaven.”
Lynnhaven’s successor will be Casey Hitchcock. Hitchcock is no stranger to a headship, as she and Harris have been co-heads of school at Lynnhaven for the last two years. Hitchcock brings over 15 years of experience in the education industry, having served in various leadership positions before Lynnhaven. She is an accomplished educator with a proven track record of success in academic, operational, strategic vision, and financial management. Hitchcock began her tenure at Lynnhaven in 2017.
"We are thrilled to have Casey as the next Head of School at Lynnhaven. Her vast leadership experience and expertise will be invaluable to the continued growth and success of Lynnhaven," said a Board of Trustee in a statement. They continued and said, “Johnny’s vision and work ethic is unmatched. He had the guts to do what many dream of doing. He will be incredibly missed at Lynnhaven.”
Hitchcock is excited about the opportunity to lead Lynnhaven School to greater heights. "I am honored and humbled to continue to lead Lynnhaven School. I look forward to working with everyone involved in making this school a staple in the Richmond community.” She went on to say “Lynnhaven is truly losing one of the greatest minds in progressive education in Johnny Harris. He has been a mentor and friend during my tenure at Lynnhaven. He will be missed as the Head of School, but I know he will always be our biggest champion. I am excited for his next journey.”
Lynnhaven will not seek to hire a co-head of school, as Hitchcock will serve as the Head of School, independently. Harris’s last official day will be on Friday, May 26, 2023, which is also senior graduation.
Orange, VA - On November 11th, the Lynnhaven School Lynx Cross Country team closed out their season after competing in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) State Cross Country Championship Meet. Runners from independent schools all across the commonwealth gathered at Woodberry Forest School, located in Orange, VA, to compete in the tri-division meet. Lynnhaven, a division III school, was represented by four runners, all of which ran their hearts out throughout the season.
The Lynnhaven Lynx cross country team opened their season on Saturday, September 10th at Pole Green Park located in Mechanicsville, VA for the Pole Green Park XC Classic, hosted by Mechanicsville High School. Over 60 teams across the commonwealth competed in the high school division from Lynnhaven. Team veterans Jaylen Hayes (FR) and Kevin Ellis (SR) led the Lynx. Hayes completed his race with a time of 24:49.3. Ellis made his competitive cross country debut with a time of 28:28. 6. In the middle school division and also first time cross country athlete, Charlie (Row) Petres (8th GR), completed the race with a time of 24.55.0.
In their final regular season meet of the year, the Lynnhaven Lynx Cross Country team put their best foot forward, with all runners holding a previous meet time shattering their personal records. The Milestat Cross Country Invitational was the largest meet in the state of Virginia for the weekend, with over 1,400 students competing. Athletes for Lynnhaven included middle school runners Charlie Petres and James McRae who competed in the 4k event. This meet marked McRae’s competitive cross country debut while Petres set a new personal record with a time of 23:35:00. In the high school division and 5k event Kevin Ellis, Jaylen Hayes, and Ellington Burnette represented Lynnhaven. This would be Burnettes’s competitive cross country debut while Ellis and Hayes posted new personal records with times of 26:07:00 and 23:44:00 respectively as they prepared for the VISAA State Championships.
The Lynx Cross Country team traveled to Orange, VA on November 10th. Tropical Storm Ian caused a last minute schedule change and moved the meet a day early. High school athletes, Jaylen Hayes (FR) and Ellington Burnette (JR) ran 24:16.60 and 26:22.10 respectively. Middle school athletes Charlie Petres (8th GR) and James McRae (8th GR) posted their first competitive 5k race times. Their times, and official personal records were 30:20.00 and 35:33.10 respectively. When asked what it was like competing at the state level, McRae stated, “I was very tired from the hilly terrain but it felt good to finish such a competitive race.” Senior runner, Kevin Ellis, suffered a mid-season injury that prevented him from being able to compete, but when asked how cross country challenged him this season he replied, “cross country challenged him physically and especially mentally by trying to stay in a positive mindset when practice and meets were tough.” The 2022-2023 XC season served as a first time coaching experience in the sport for head coach Marika Kidd, and assistant coach Mitchell Imbriani, who look forward to new and returning faces next fall.
Irvine, California - USA Water Polo selected Lynnhaven School student, James McRae ‘26 to participate in their 2022 Holiday Boys Camp in Colorado Springs, CO, at the Olympic Training Center Dec. 8-11. McRae was nominated by his water polo coach Jacob Henry and was one of 120 8th-grade athletes selected from across the country. USA Water Polo's Holiday Camp was started in 1985. Each year athletes and coaches from across the country convene at the USA Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to learn from the best coaches in our country.
When asked about this opportunity, McRae said, “It’s a great opportunity; I’ve been practicing for this for so long. It’s wonderful that I get to participate in the ODP!” Currently, there is only one Black member of the USA Men's Waterpolo Team, Max Irving. McRae shared that he hopes to attend UCLA and plans to pursue the national team following in the footsteps of Irving.
HENRICO, Va – Lynnhaven School is the only school in Virginia and one of 70 elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States to earn recognition through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus K-12 program.
The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest membership nonprofit organization dedicated to tree planting. Its Tree Campus K-12 program, launched last year, encourages educators to create meaningful opportunities for students to interact with trees.
“Spending time in nature sparks children’s imaginations, improves their mental and physical health, and shapes them into lifelong environmental stewards,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “We are thrilled to see schools like Lynnhaven School lead the way in this important work.”
To earn this distinction, Lynnhaven School met four goals:
“We continue to see the benefits of making the environment a priority in our curriculum and our school culture. It is no coincidence that our school emblem is a Sassafras leaf,” said Casey Hitchcock, Co-Head of School for Lynnhaven School. “Our students will leave this haven and enter the world with respect, knowledge, and understanding of the role they must play to ensure green spaces remain for generations to come.”
The recognized schools span 31 states. Lynnhaven School is the only school in Virginia and one of only two independent schools in the nation to be recognized. In the first year of the program, more than 15,000 students participated in an Arbor Day celebration, and nearly 30,000 trees were planted.
Other Arbor Day Foundation recognition programs include Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education, and Tree Campus Healthcare. Working together, the four programs celebrate tree planting efforts at nearly every community level.
To learn more and see the full list of recognized schools, visit arborday.org/K12.
About the Arbor Day Foundation
Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters and valued partners. Since 1972, almost 500 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. Our vision is to lead toward a world where trees are used to solve issues critical to survival.
As one of the world's largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. More information is available at arborday.org.
Mechanicsville, Virginia - The Lynnhaven Lynx Cross Country team opened their season on Saturday, September 10th at Pole Green Park Cross Country Classic hosted by Mechanicsville High School. The meet brought out over 60 teams across the Commonwealth.
Lynnhaven team veteran, Jaylen Hayes (FR) and Kevin Ellis (SR) competed on the varsity level. Hayes completed his race with a time of 24:49.3., which was only 20 second off from his PR (Personal Record). Ellis made his competitive cross country debut with a time of 28:28. 6. In the middle school division and also first time cross country athlete, Charlie (Row) Petres (8th GR), completed in the 4K and finished with a time of 24.55.0.
The Lynnhaven Lynx invites everyone out to Pole Green Park for their next meet on Saturday, September 17th for the RVA Relays at 4:30 PM.
Lynnhaven School partners with Marymount University (Arlington, VA) to offer a Dual Enrollment Program.
(Henrico, VA) Lynnhaven School announced a partnership with Marymount University (Arlington,VA) to offer a Dual Enrollment program that will launch this fall. This is a first of its kind in the Richmond area.
“This unique opportunity with Marymount University further extends our mission of providing opportunities for students to pursue successes,” said Johnathan Harris, founder, and Co-Head of School at Lynnhaven. “ It’s not common for four-year institutions to partner with high schools in this manner. Our students will have an opportunity to earn college credit from a very reputable four-year university. I believe that Marymount values its students and understands that education is a social and relationship-driven experience, which is parallel to the ethos of Lynnhaven. This is a value-added benefit we are giving our students.”
Lynnhaven students have an opportunity to earn as many as 24 college credits upon graduating. “As a former dual-enrollment student in high school, it was formative in building my confidence in my ability to do college-level work,” said Casey Hitchcock, Co-Head of School at Lynnhaven School. “Our students are poised to have a competitive edge when they apply for college. To graduate high school with Marymount University credits is an incredible opportunity.”
Lynnhaven will begin offering four courses this fall, with plans to expand the program in subsequent years.
Lynnhaven School welcomes Robin Thomas as the Director of Finance and Operations, Alyson LeMaster as the Director of Admissions and College Counseling, and LaShanda Melendez as the Director of Teaching and Learning.
July 21, 2022
(Henrico, VA) - Lynnhaven School announced today the appointment of Robin Thomas as the Director of Finance, Alyson LeMaster as the Director of Admissions and College Counseling, and LaShanda Melendez as the Director of Teaching and Learning.
“Lynnhaven is very fortunate to have Robin join the administrative team. Her rich experience in areas of development, business management, and organizational leadership will greatly benefit the school,” said Johnathan Harris, Co-Head of School-Chief of School Advancement .
“Ms. LeMaster brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area of admissions, college counseling, and community engagement. She is a strong believer that education comes in all forms, which is in step with our school’s founding principles and values,” said Casey Hitchcock - Co-Head of School - Chief of Staff
LaShanda Melendez will serve as the Director of Teaching and Learning. After making a splash as the Dean of Academics and Middle School Humanities Teacher last year, she will be stepping out of the classroom to support faculty and students. As Director of Teaching and Learning, Melendez will ensure that curriculum development is mission-aligned and that the delivery method is effective. She will be leading the charge as Lynnhaven welcomes our first official dual enrollment partnership with Marymount University. She will also be designing and implementing faculty development programs focusing directly on Progressive Education.
"Ms. Melendez is a one of those rare individuals who understands how to engage learners and inspire teachers alike. The Lynnhaven community is fortunate to have her our team," said Mr. Harris
The new school year begins August 15, 2022.
Lynnhaven School student performed at the Inaugural Juneteenth Commemoration at the University of Richmond
University of Richmond
June 21, 2022
Lynnhaven School student James McRae ‘27 performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at the Inaugural Juneteenth Commemoration at the University of Richmond.
On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. He issued General Order No. 3 to inform enslaved people that they were free. This is why we celebrate Juneteenth. We honor the day all African Americans were free from the bondage of slavery.
Join Spider Athletics, Equity & Community, and Human Resources for a Juneteenth commemoration on Tuesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. in Cannon Memorial Chapel. The program will include remarks by historian Dr. Lauranett Lee, a special performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by community musicians with The Music Tree, and poetry readings by University of Richmond athletes.
Visit the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement's Summer Events & Volunteer Opportunities page for additional Juneteenth events in the Richmond region.
About Lynnhaven School
Lynnhaven School is Richmond's only progressive independent high school. The school was founded in 2010 by education leader Johnathan Harris. He wanted to build a HAVEN "that accepts students for who and where they are, cared for them as individuals, worked with their hopes, embraced their dreams and stayed with them along their journey. They are located in Eastern Henrico County.
This article appeared as "Putting Their Heads Together” in the Summer 2022 issue of The National Association of Independent Schools Summer Magazine Edition.
Click HERE to be taken to the NAIS Magazine online where this article is located
After a Lynnhaven School (VA) board meeting in 2020 during which Head of School Johnathan Harris worked together with Deputy Head of School Casey Hitchcock to present and answer questions, a board member joked that they were acting a lot like co-heads of school. “And that kind of stuck with us,” Hitchcock says.
It wasn’t an out-of-left-field idea. Hitchcock was interim head when Harris, who founded the school 10 years ago, took medical leave for 9 months in 2018. And given that school life had already been upended by COVID-19 and the school was moving to a new physical location, they thought why not lean further into major change and try the co-head model. The 2021–2022 school year was their first year as co-heads.
In this edited exchange, they reflect on why and how they decided on a co-headship, the benefits, and the components necessary to make it work.
Casey Hitchcock: After that board meeting, I brought the co-head idea back up. The first thing anybody does when they’re thinking about something is research. And there was an Independent School article, “Are Two Heads Better Than One?” by Claudia Daggett, in the Spring 2020 issue, which was when we were having these conversations. So, we dug into the article.
Jonathan Harris: Some of the things in the article related to us, some didn’t. But I think COVID gave us the permission to try something different.
Hitchcock: We’re an innovative school. We like to try new things in the classroom. We like to try new ways of organizing our school day. We’re not so set on this is the right way all the time. But changing a school leadership model is a little scary. So the pandemic definitely gave us permission to do it because at that point, there was no right way to do anything.
Harris: One of the questions that came up was, what is appealing about the concept? And I think you said that head of school is an exhausting job. And what better than to have another person to share that exhaustion? All of the staff work together as a team. But I tell teachers all the time, when things go wrong, and sometimes they will, the head is going to get that phone call. It’s great to be able to go through that together.
But I think it’s important to have boundaries, too. Because even though there are two of us here, you could still have burnout. And there’s got to be a time when you do turn it off.
Hitchcock: And sometimes there is burnout because there are two people and because everything you do has to be overly communicated. Everything you do, for the most part, has to be talked through. At least that's how we approach it because we have divided responsibilities but hold joint accountability. Though we talk a lot of things out, our responsibilities are often separate. That helps me understand where my autonomy is.
Harris: Next year is going to be different for us. We have hired full-time directors of admission and development. We’re going to hire a business manager. We’ve hired a principal to do the day-to-day operations of the school. We promoted from within for an assistant principal. We were doing all of those things ourselves. Now we can lead the school according to the five-year strategic plan. We’re going to still keep this co-heads model in place because there are certain aspects of leadership that you are good at and others that I’m good at.
Hitchcock: People often ask us, “You’re a small school, so how are you affording two salaries for heads of school?” And the reality is that because we, for the past year anyway, have had to do all of the other roles, the school can support us because we’re it. We haven’t yet been able to be revenue generators as the heads of school.
Harris: As we move to the next phase of the school, it is important for us to grow the school incrementally, be intentional, and put all the structures in place that we need. Then we can effectively execute our roles, which will further legitimize the school. Right now, from the administrative standpoint, it’s Johnny can do it or Casey can do it. This co-headship model helped us dive deep into what needs to happen. We’re in a better position now to support all the folks who we’re hiring.
Hitchcock: Thinking critically about the school as a co-headship—especially a co-headship that’s coming out of a founding headship—really matters for us because it’s easy to get one-sided as a founding head and get attached to certain things. Having a co-headship allowed us to have conversations about what we keep, what we don’t keep, what’s working, what’s not working, and how we can do better.
Harris: As a founder of the school, I have to really check my ego and make sure that I’m not trying to dominate because everyone looks to me as the visionary. But a visionary shares that vision with people.
Hitchcock: Checking your ego at the door is essential with a co-headship. There’s no way around it because it will get bruised, and you will get your feelings hurt. And you have to be able to have reconciliation and come back together because, at the end of the day, we’re both still responsible.
Harris: Anyone who says, “Oh no, I don’t have an ego,” yeah, you do.
Hitchcock: A question we get a lot is, How does this work, and if I wanted to do it at my school, how could I do it?
Harris: I think the person has to really know their strengths. You have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to trust it and try it. You’ve got to be willing to fail. You’ve got to be really humble. What do you think?
Hitchcock: You can’t go into it thinking that it’s going to solve everything and it’s going to be perfect. You can't go into it thinking that it’s going to be the great fixer of whatever is happening in your school or even in yourself. Burnout is real, and adding a co-head doesn’t necessarily eliminate that.
Harris: For co-heads to work, you need two individuals who have a very common view on education, on the approach to reach students. You can have different leadership styles. But I don’t think it’s a situation where someone is really good in certain aspects of being head of school, but they don’t quite have all the skills and the ability to be a head of school. You need two individuals who can be a head of school anywhere. It’s not a situation where there’s really just one head of school and the other person is in the supporting role.
Hitchcock: When we did our research, I found a study that was done in England in 2008. Of the eight schools studied that had a co-headship model, the successful ones had co-heads saying, “This is what we want. We want to be co-heads.” It wasn’t a top-down decision where the board was putting it in place. During the hiring process, it was the person saying, “I think a co-headship model could work here. I know that I’m going to need to take X-amount of time off,” or whatever the case may be, but it was coming from the heads of school themselves. They had more success long term because they were open and ready for the model to begin with.
Harris: I think the ability to communicate with each other can’t be overstated. We used to try to eat breakfast together at least once a week away from the school and talk about what’s happening. What are we missing? Where are our blind spots? What are our liabilities? What do we need to celebrate? What do we need to highlight? That’s important.
Hitchcock: I don’t think everyone can do this. One of the things that could be really easy to do is when you disagree—because it’s going to happen—to go coalition-build. Don’t go around to your faculty or parents and try to pull people onto your side to prove your point. Disagree with each other and get to a resolution. For your stakeholders to believe in and respect this model, you have to be united.
April 5, 202
Co-Head of School, Mrs. Casey Hitchcock was recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society. Hitchcock was initiated at Marymount University as a doctor of education student in the Education Leadership and Organizational Innovation Program.
Hitchcock is among approximately 25,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.
Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann who had a desire to create a different kind of honor society: one that recognized excellence in all academic disciplines. Today, the Society has chapters on more than 325 campuses in the United States, its territories and the Philippines. Its mission is "To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others."
More About Phi Kappa Phi
Since its founding, more than 1.5 million members have been initiated into Phi Kappa Phi. Some of the organization's notable members include former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist John Grisham and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley. Each year, Phi Kappa Phi awards more than $1 million to outstanding students and members through graduate and dissertation fellowships, undergraduate study abroad grants, funding for post-baccalaureate development, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives. For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit this link.