|By Chris Maza
Reminder Publications submitted photo
WILBRAHAM – Current Associate Head of School and Dean of Students Brian Easler was recently announced as Rodney LaBrecque’s successor as Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s (WMA) head of school.
Easler’s selection was announced at a school meeting at Alumni Memorial Chapel on Sept. 12 after a selection process that included a national search by a consulting firm that yielded 60 applicants, the whittling of 20 of those names down to one by a search committee.
“Brian understands the ins and outs of how the school works,” LaBrecque said in a press release. “He has a lot of natural leadership talent, and that’s going to show through.”
Easler will take over at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year in light of LaBrecque’s announcement of his decision to retire.
LaBrecque joined WMA in 2002, replacing Richard Malley, who had been the school’s headmaster since the 1980s.
After seven applicants interviewed with the committee, three to four were expected to be called back for a two-day process through which the committee would determine a final recommendation for the Board of Trustees.
However, the search committee instead called for an emergency meeting with the trustees via teleconference and unanimously recommended Easler. The board unanimously accepted the recommendation.
“Brian has played a huge role in the school’s remarkable growth and successes of the last decade,” Scott Jacobs, chair for WMA’s Board of Trustees, said. “We are excited to have such a depth of strong leadership at the Academy. Brian and Rodney already confer and collaborate regularly, and we look forward to a seamless transition.”
Easler told Reminder Publications becoming the head of WMA was a dream come true.
“When I first found out, I was overcome with emotion. I've dreamed of being Head of School since I arrived at WMA 15 years ago. I've studied under the mentoring of two great heads, Dick Malley and Rodney LaBrecque, and I've worked my way up through the ranks,” said Easler, who was originally hired as director of Alumni Affairs and the Annual Fund. “To learn that I had earned the trust and confidence of the community to be the next head of school, well, I had to go for a walk in the woods to regain my composure. It was really an amazing moment.”
Easler said he believed his previous experience with the school would be a strength and maintaining a level of continuity would help the school stay on track with its many improvements under LaBrecque.
“It is vitally important, and inherent to the transition that will happen from Mr. LaBrecque to me, because the academy needs to maintain the momentum it has generated over the last decade,” he said. “Since I have worked hand-in-hand with Mr. LaBrecque to further his vision of the school and our mission, I am perfectly positioned to continue his good work and maintain that momentum.”
He also said “consistency of leadership” was an important aspect his selection will provide.
“I have been a central member of the WMA administrative team for 13 years. So, I bring with me to the head of school role a long tenure of direct experience within this school and town community,” he said. “This kind of leadership consistency is crucial to achieving even greater institutional success.”
Easler and LaBrecque will continue in their current roles and Easler said “not much” would change until July 1, 2014.
“As we move through the year, Rodney and I will work together as we always have, mostly behind the scenes, on the decisions and processes necessary for a smooth leadership transition,” he said.
While Easler said he had a vision for the school, he declined to go into detail, stating, “Our focus now is on creating a worthy and celebratory send-off to a retiring head of school whose service and leadership have been truly transformational.”
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