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Meet the New Head of School at Northwest Academy

Chris Schuck, former Associate Head of School at Oregon Episcopal School brings commitment to the arts, intellectual curiosity and confident leadership to new role 

PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 2, 2017 –Chris Schuck, former Associate Head of School at Oregon Episcopal School, will lead Northwest Academy, an independent arts and college-preparatory school in downtown Portland, into its next chapter. Mr. Schuck assumed the Head of School position on February 1, 2017, succeeding Interim Head of School Scott Kerman, longtime Northwest Academy teacher and administrator.

“I am excited to be joining a school that feels like a distillation of the best of Portland—a downtown school with a leading-edge vision, a school that has forged ties with several leading arts and educational institutions, an independent school uniquely receptive to and appreciative of what it means to be an adolescent striving to find and express a creative and intellectual voice and vision in the world,” said Schuck.

The search process for a new Head of School was launched in January 2016 when Mary Vinton Folberg, Northwest Academy’s visionary founder who has spent 50 years leading an education movement at the intersection of arts and academics, announced her retirement.

According to Jason Matusow, Northwest Academy’s board and search committee chair, the search process was comprehensive and pivotal, as it was conducted on the eve of the school’s 20th anniversary.  “Chris brings with him a lifelong commitment to the arts, profound intellectual curiosity and steadfast operational experience,” said Matusow. “His confident leadership will advance our shared vision of Northwest Academy, nurturing the next generation of Portland’s creative class.”

Folberg fully supported the decision. “I am confident that Chris Schuck’s 30 years of stellar educational leadership experience will serve him well as he stewards our innovative mission and leads Northwest Academy’s talented faculty, staff and exceptional students in defining the school’s future and its place in the Portland community,” she said.

Schuck has spent three decades in secondary school education and administration. After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Princeton and while earning his master’s degree in education from University of Pennsylvania, he began his teaching career in Philadelphia. He moved to the San Diego area in 1987 to teach at La Jolla Country Day School, where he was named Head of School in 2007. During his tenure, Mr. Schuck initiated programs in dance, theater, ceramics, instrumental music and visual arts. He established community relationships with professional arts organizations in many disciplines, completed extensive capital improvements and launched one of the San Diego area’s first STE(A)M programs, which folds art and design into the quartet of science, technology, engineering and math. He and his wife, artist Lauren Carrera, moved to Portland in the summer of 2014 when Mr. Schuck was named Associate Head of School at Oregon Episcopal School.

Schuck received excellent recommendations from a legion of advocates, including his colleagues who cited his thoughtful, calm and decisive abilities as a leader. The search committee recognized Schuck as well suited to embrace Northwest Academy’s unique mission of inspiring students to discover their intellectual and artistic voices in a creative and supportive atmosphere fueled by curiosity and constructive challenge. “There is magic here at Northwest Academy and preserving and nurturing it is one of the many functions of the Head of School,” said David Wagstaff, a member of the Northwest Academy faculty and the search committee.  “Chris Schuck has the depth of heart and experience to be a guardian of that magic. We can’t ask for more than that.”

Northwest Academy is Portland’s only co-educational, independent college-preparatory day school located downtown. With a unique focus on balancing arts and academics, the school was founded in 1997 by Mary Vinton Folberg, a lifelong performer and educator who designed a new educational model where academic rigor would be matched by an equally challenging arts curriculum. The school began in a small suite of rooms in a downtown office and retail mall with just two full-time teachers and 26 high school students. Today, it is home to more than 210 students in grades 6 – 12 who are offered a rich academic and arts curricula in five buildings spanning its urban campus. The strategic vision of Northwest Academy focuses on realizing its arts + academics mission, integrating more completely into the fabric of the vibrant urban community of Portland and raising the school’s profile and relationships within Portland and beyond. Northwest Academy is part of a burgeoning creative community that includes Portland State University, the Portland Art Museum, Northwest Film Center, the Portland Center for Performing Arts and many shops, galleries, and small businesses that make this area of the city a thriving confluence of academia, arts, culture and commerce. For more information, please visit www.nwacademy.org and follow us on Facebook @NWAcademy and on Instagram at nwacademy.pdx.