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Announcing Our Next Head of School

On May 24, 2022 the Maret SchooBoard of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Dennis Bisgaard as Maret's next head of school starting July 1, 2023. He will succeed Marjo Talbott, who has led Maret since 1994.

Dennis Bisgaard Head Shot

Dennis Bisgaard

A Letter from the Board of Trustees

Dear Maret Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are delighted to announce the appointment of Dennis Bisgaard as Maret’s next Head of School, beginning July 1, 2023. The Board of Trustees unanimously selected Dennis to succeed Marjo Talbott following a six-month national open search that included input from all of our constituencies throughout the process.

About Dennis Bisgaard
Currently the Interim Head at Baltimore Friends School, Dennis is a lifelong educator, a nationally respected leader in independent schools, and a builder of strong educational communities. His 16 years as a Head of School include 12 years in that position at Kingswood Oxford School in Connecticut. The Board was particularly impressed with Dennis’s experience and wisdom and his professional skills honed through a broad range of administrative, teaching, and coaching positions at coed and single-gender schools, as well as elementary and K-12 schools.

Informed by a survey that generated more than 500 responses, we identified the leadership qualities that Maret’s next leader will require to address the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Dennis clearly possesses these important qualities, as he has consistently demonstrated throughout his collaborative, inclusive, and mission-driven career. He knows that independent schools must innovate dynamically to succeed in preparing students to face an uncertain world. He also understands Maret’s history and values and is eager to build on the School’s strengths as we extend our leadership in teaching and learning.

Dennis is well-versed in all areas of school operations. During his time as Head of School, Kingswood Oxford developed new facilities, expanded its fundraising, broadened its curriculum, and created new opportunities for educational excellence across disciplines. A nationally recognized leader in equity and inclusion, Dennis established a leadership institute at Kingswood Oxford to help educators of color better prepare and position themselves for leadership roles within independent schools. Dennis has deep experience identifying and nurturing talented faculty and school leaders.

In his recent roles as Interim Head of School, Dennis used his collaborative and inclusive leadership style to support community, identify strategic goals, and develop healthy structural change while facing the challenges of the pandemic.

Born in Germany and orphaned as a young boy, Dennis’s adoptive parents moved him to Denmark where he attended school and college, played competitive basketball, and obtained his first graduate degree. After completing a post-graduate fellowship at Temple University, Dennis earned a master’s degree in educational administration at Columbia University. Rich in foreign languages and with his biological and adopted family spanning the globe, Dennis considers himself a citizen of the world. Home base, however, is Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife, Monica, an educator with an EdM in counseling psychology. They have two children: Nicolas, a graduate of New York University; and Saudea, a graduating high school senior.

In Gratitude
Selecting a new Head of School is perhaps the most important responsibility of the Board of Trustees. We want to thank our fellow Search Committee members for the care, commitment, and effort they have put into this process to ensure the very best leadership for Maret. We are also grateful to our alumni, faculty, parents and guardians, and students who gave so generously of their time to meet with the finalists and share their many insights with the Search Committee. This active engagement in the process by all stakeholders is a wonderful testament to the strength and vitality of our school.

Looking Ahead
In our message to the community announcing Marjo’s intention to step down at the end of the 2022-23 school year, we noted that she had laid a strong foundation for a smooth leadership transition by building a vibrant and dynamic school. As Marjo continues to lead the School next year, and we celebrate her extraordinary record of accomplishment, the Board will refine and implement a transition plan. As with the search process, we will keep you up to date.

We share with you the news of this appointment with great excitement for Maret’s future and look forward to welcoming Dennis and his family to Maret in July of 2023. We know that you will join us in embracing them.

Sincerely,

Ian Cameron
President
Maret Board of Trustees

Leigh Comas
Incoming President
Maret Board of Trustees

Sylvia Davis White
Chair, Head of School Search Committee

SEARCH COMMITTEE

Sylvia Davis White, Chair
Sue Bosland
Ian Cameron
Leigh Comas
Sherlonda Goode-Jones
Rick Juneja
Michael Kirshbaum ’94
Lex Sant

"I am thrilled to welcome Dennis to Maret in the coming months. For a long time, I have known of his superb national reputation. When he came to campus during the search process, I understood even better why he is so respected as an independent school leader. His warmth and his wisdom were very apparent during our conversation. Our school will continue to embrace our core values, our mission, and our strategic dreams under his tutelage.”

Marjo Talbott Head of School

 


A Letter from Dennis Bisgaard

Dear Maret School Community,

What an incredible privilege and honor to be named Maret’s next Head of School. My wife, Monica, and I are beyond thrilled to thoughtfully become members of the Maret community. I so look forward to partnering with the Board, Marjo, students, and adults, and to learning, absorbing, and watching from the sidelines until we begin our journey together, starting in July 2023.

Monica and I have come to love Washington, DC. As a life-long learner and educator, even the fleeting thought of potentially serving Maret’s diverse and superb learning community filled me with excitement and anticipation when I first learned about your search. A seven-acre campus in the heart of DC is the perfect setting in which to nurture and guide leaders and kind, caring ethical citizens of tomorrow.

Several phrases and quotes within Maret’s opportunity statement were music to my ears from the very beginning: “A notable absence of self-importance or pretension of Maret”; “a gentle place in an otherwise intense, type-A city”; “excellence without the pressure-cooker atmosphere”; “Maret’s radical hospitality”; “a school-wide commitment to kindness, joy, mental health, and wellness”; “to learn is to live.”

My extensive conversations with Marjo, the Search Committee, Trustees, faculty, parents, caregivers, and students solidified my impression of a school in an enviable position of strength and remarkably poised to continue its leadership role within the independent school universe.

It is the joy of my professional life to help guide the education of children at every stage of learning K through 12. I have always loved and appreciated the journey from the early numeracy, literacy, and social skill building of our youngest students to the sophisticated, inspiring, and confident versatility and idealism of high school students ready to take on college and life far beyond.  

Let me conclude by thanking the Search Committee for the thoughtful, deliberate, and comprehensive process, allowing for deep reflection, rich conversation, questions, and exchanges along the way.

With sincere appreciation and in partnership,

Dennis Bisgaard

More About Dennis Bisgaard

Dennis Bisgaard Vertical Headshot

Head of School Search FAQ

Position Statement

from RG175

Letters to the Community

Marjo Talbott Retires