French American School Announces New Head

Announcement letter by Bonnie Steele, Chair, Board of Trustees of the French American School of Puget Sound

I am delighted to announce that, based on the unanimous recommendation of the Head Search Committee, the Board of Trustees has unanimously chosen Eric Thuau to succeed Andrée McGiffin as Head of School of the French American School of Puget Sound, effective August 1st, 2010.

Eric Thuau is currently Head of the Austin International School (AIS) in Austin, Texas, a position he has held since 2004. A deeply respected Head of School with 11 years of experience in international education, Eric Thuau has an accomplished track record as a thoughtful leader who is skilled at mobilizing a team, organizing a strong academic program and connecting with the community. All of this coupled with a strong vision for the future made Eric the clear choice as an educational leader who would build upon the remarkable foundation FASPS has established under Andrée McGiffin’s leadership.

In Austin, Eric has led the development of his school from a fledgling three-year-old “start-up” to one now fully accredited, financially and academically strong, and recognized in the community for its excellence. Under his leadership, AIS doubled its enrollment, improved retention, and strengthened its ties to both the internal and external communities through communication and vibrant outreach programs. Prior to his tenure at AIS, Eric achieved equally impressive successes as the head of international schools in Turkey and Cape Verde.

Teachers, parents and administrators at the three schools he has headed consistently praise his “energy and willingness to give 200%”, “effective management skills” and “tremendous capacity to build good relationships.”

Eric’s appointment concludes a comprehensive international search begun by the FASPS Search Committee in February 2009 with the assistance of consultant Anne-Marie Pierce of A.M.P. & Associates. The search was initiated when Andrée McGiffin announced her planned departure at the end of the 2009-2010 school year after 7 years as head of FASPS. This intense process culminated in the November visits of two finalists to our campus in which they spent two days on campus meeting staff, faculty, parents, middle school students and board members. Based on information gathered during the entire process the Board selected Eric as the next Head of School.

Over the past seven years of Andrée’s tenure, FASPS has accomplished unprecedented and significant milestones including accreditation by the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS), the recruitment of certified, skilled and motivated faculty and dedicated staff, and the establishment of high quality academics in both English and French. Equally impressive, she has led the school through two capital campaigns, the transition of the school from temporary portable buildings to the beautiful two story campus we have today and the creation of our new Middle School. We are deeply grateful to her for all she has done and are convinced that Eric brings to FASPS the right skills, experience and vision to build upon her remarkable accomplishments, taking FASPS into the next phase in its growth. Eric showed, starting very early in the search process, a keen interest in the school, our community, and the position.

The Board is delighted that he accepted our offer to lead FASPS and is thrilled that Eric, his wife, João, and two daughters Emma, age 7, and Julie, age 5, (next year in 4th and 1st grade) will join our school community. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank the members of the Search Committee, including Gerard Zytnicki, Candi McCoy, Tom Hudson, Stacey Jones, Pat Kirtland, Thalia Opdycke, Dana Pigott, Anne Salinger and Michelle Kline for diligently and tirelessly completing their charge and allowing the Board to successfully fulfill its primary goal: the selection of the next Head of School. Please join me in welcoming Eric Thuau and his family to the French American School of Puget Sound.

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