Collegiate School has selected a lifelong educator and independent school graduate to serve as its next Head of School beginning in July 2019, upon the retirement of current Head of School Stephen D. Hickman. Penny B. Evins will come to Collegiate after a six-year tenure as Head of St. Paul’s School for Girls in Baltimore, where under her leadership the school launched numerous innovative programs, incorporated inquiry-based electives into the curriculum, and experienced a healthy growth in enrollment.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are delighted to appoint Penny Evins as our next Head of School,” said Frank Mountcastle ’83, Chair of Collegiate’s Board of Trustees. “Finding a new Head of School is one of the most significant duties of the Board. We made this our top priority and orchestrated an intentionally inclusive approach. This included having both board members and faculty representatives serve on our Search Committee, as well as receiving input from an Advisory Committee comprised of Collegiate faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni. We also surveyed our community. This collective perspective helped us clearly define the values and traits we want in our Head of School – experience, integrity, compassion, love for community, inclusivity, vision and passion for children and independent school education. Our nine-month national search led us to a person who exemplifies these characteristics and more – Penny Evins.”
Ms. Evins attended Isidore Newman School in her native New Orleans and graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. She is an alumna of the University of Virginia, where she received a B.A. in English and M.Ed. in counselor education.
Ms. Evins served in a variety of teaching, coaching and administrative roles in both secular and religious schools throughout the Southeast before arriving at St. Paul’s School for Girls in 2013.
What Collegiate’s Head of School Search Committee found equally as impressive as her educational background and experience was her reputation for serving students, faculty and staff, and other constituents with both excellence and heart.
“Penny’s references were effusive in their praise for her as a remarkable leader, educator and person,” said Collegiate Board Member and Vice Chair John W. Martin ’78, who served as co-chair of the Search Committee alongside Collegiate Board Member Michelle Wiltshire, who also is a former Collegiate parent. “Sitting heads of school, board chairs and even fellow administrators raved about Penny’s intellect, integrity, compassion, drive and strong sense of community. Moreover, everyone spoke so very highly of her husband and two children – ‘Team Evins’ as Penny affectionately refers to her clan. No surprise, Penny’s reputation perfectly aligns with the
impression you get when you meet her in person. She’s as genuine as they come.”
Billy Peebles, current Headmaster of The Lovett School in Atlanta, on whose leadership team Ms. Evins once served, agreed.
“Penny is a leader and teacher for whom I have the utmost respect and highest esteem,” he said. “She is both bright and wise, confident and humble; but what I respect most is her rock solid integrity and her unwavering, loving care for students!”
Ms. Evins said she and her family — husband, Sam Evins V; son Sam VI, 14; and daughter June Friend, 13 — are thrilled to join the Collegiate community.
“Throughout my career, I have admired Collegiate as a national model of independent school education. My esteem for Collegiate as a compassionate, close-knit community grows with each and every person I meet. I am honored that members of the Board of Trustees would place their faith, support and trust in me as Collegiate’s next Head of School. I look forward to working with everyone in the Collegiate community to fulfill the mission sparked by Helen Baker and carried forward by past and current generations.
“At the end of the day, I want people to know that an independent school’s value proposition is the relationships that teachers have with their students, and students have with each other,” she continued. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know Collegiate, the people and the heartbeat of the School. I will greatly miss my current community and will carry it with me forward, as each school where I’ve had the privilege of learning and serving is a part of who I am and how I hope to continue growing and enriching the world of education.”
Ms. Evins began her career at the Webb School of Knoxville in Tennessee as an Upper School guidance counselor, ethics teacher and soccer coach, and a year later was tapped to lead the Middle School and teach English. She went on to serve as Middle School counselor, teach life skills, coach soccer and eventually serve as a strategic planning consultant and admission associate at The Lovett School in Atlanta, where she met her husband, an alumnus and employee of Lovett.
Her family moved to New Orleans when her children were toddlers so that her husband could serve as Head of Upper School for St. Martin’s Episcopal. A few years into their stay, Ms. Evins began serving a five-year tenure as Head of Lower School at Isidore Newman, until she was named Head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, where she has led a co-ed early childhood through Pre-K program and a 5th-12th Grade girls’ school, on a shared Baltimore campus of 1,300 students with St. Paul’s School.
In addition to her strength of experience as an education administrator, Ms. Evins has a stellar reputation for building school community while engaging with the broader community. She currently serves on several boards as part of her commitment: The Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education; the Association for Independent Maryland & D.C. Schools (AIMS); Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (BEST), and The Heads Network.
Search Committee co-chair Michelle Wiltshire expressed gratitude to everyone who helped throughout the search process.
"The Search Committee is deeply grateful for the assistance and support we received from the School community right from the start. Hundreds of people provided input through our survey research and in-person meetings, and by sending messages to the Search Committee's dedicated email address. This tremendous level of engagement truly showed our School’s community spirit and helped us select Penny as our next Head of School. We are excited to welcome her to Collegiate.”
Mr. Hickman said he fully supports the selection of Ms. Evins and looks forward to helping facilitate her transition to Collegiate over the next year.
“The Board of Trustees has made an inspired choice in naming Penny B. Evins as Collegiate’s next Head of School,” he said. “Penny brings extensive independent school leadership experience, a demonstrated capacity for community-building, and a proven commitment to Collegiate’s core values and strategic priorities. She is the right person at the right time for the right reasons.”
Mr. Mountcastle said the Board of Trustees deeply appreciates Mr. Hickman’s ongoing commitment to the School, and when the time comes, will avidly support him as he heads into his next phase of life, spending more time with his family.
“We are thankful to have another year under his leadership and we are grateful for his many contributions to Collegiate.”
View Ms. Evins’ video message to the Collegiate community by clicking here