Lake Forest Academy’s New Head of School

Photo Courtesy of José de Jesús

Photo Courtesy of José de Jesús

Parker Amoroso, Managing Editor of Features

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July 1, 2019 will be a monumental day in Lake Forest Academy’s history. It will mark the culmination of Head of School John A. Strudwick’s 18-year tenure and the start of a new era for the school. After over a year of searching, discussing, and interviewing Head of School candidates, the LFA Selection Committee has finally chosen a successor who they believe will not only be able to live up to, but also improve upon the standard and legacy set by the current head of school in what’s been almost two decades. On October 9th, J. Michael Schell, Chair of the LFA’s Board of Trustees, announced that the new Head of School will be José Manuel De Jesús.
    Currently, De Jesús is the Head of the Upper School at Packer Collegiate Institute in New York City. The Lake Forest Academy Board of Trustees is very excited about the appointment and confident in De Jesús’s ability to provide the quality, innovative, and visionary leadership they desire.
    “As we got to know him over the course of the search, it became clear that he has the essential qualities, character, values and dedication to lead Lake Forest Academy well. Among them, José is instinctively collegial and has a naturally collaborative leadership style. He is a perfect fit for LFA’s slogan: Midwestern Heart, Global Mind,” said Schell in a Lake Forest Academy press release regarding the choice.
    Born in Puerto Rico, De Jesús and his family migrated to the United States when he was six years old. Since that time, he has earned a B.A. from Weslyan University, an M.A. in history from Tufts University and another M.A. in private school leadership from Columbia University. From there, he has held various teacher and administrator roles in private schools across the country.  
    Joining De Jesús in his move to Illinois will be his wife, Andrea, daughter, Isabela, 14, and son, Joaquín, 10.  
    “I am humbled and excited to partner with LFA’s dedicated school community. The love and passion for the school exhibited by families, faculty, students, alumni and trustees is palpable. Together, we have challenging and inspiring work ahead of us,” remarked De Jesús to Lake Forest Academy.
    As Lake Forest Academy reflects on the past 18 years of the Strudwick era, there is some sadness. But overshadowing that is a sense of accomplishment and growth in the school and its missions.
    LFA Trustee and vice chair of the search process, Gregory Jones, reiterated this sense of accomplishment and excitement for the future in a statement in LFA’s press release.  
    “The selection of José De Jesús is an affirmation of [the school’s current] strength, as well as the shared vision and hard work that have propelled this great school through the last two decades. As wonderful as our progress has been, and continues to be, I have every confidence that it can be even better,” said Jones.

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