May 22, 2020 | Abby Liu
Dear Mustard Seed School Community,
In recent years Tom Postema and I have spoken at length about his retirement and what that would look like for both him and Mustard Seed School. Tom has had a long and distinguished career as both an educator and administrator and he wanted to ensure he would leave Mustard Seed in a strong position.
After much consideration, Tom has informed the Board of Trustees that the upcoming 2020-21 school year will be his final school year as Mustard Seed’s Head of School. This announcement gives the Board ample time to conduct a search for his successor and create a smooth transition for our next leader. Rest assured, Tom’s decision to retire is focused entirely on his life’s work and not in any way related to the current pandemic.
I want to express my deep thanks to Tom for his eleven years of service to Mustard Seed School, first as a middle school teacher and then as Head of School. (With a teaching career around the world in between those two roles!) The Postema family have been faithful supporters of our school for forty years.
At Mustard Seed, we are committed to creating changemakers, people who make a difference in the world. Tom serves as a model of our mission. His impact on the school community during his tenure as Head of School cannot be overstated. He successfully led the school through the NJAIS accreditation process and our capital campaign, Together for Tomorrow. He is in the midst of guiding us through the second strategic plan of his tenure, Thriving Roots and Flourishing Branches, now in its second year. Tom has led us through the revision of the mission statement, a rebrand, and a curriculum review. And, of course, Tom has been a calm and steady presence during the current Covid-19 crisis.
Tom is a tireless steward of our mission, knowing and caring for all of us. He can often be found collaborating with our students and teachers and speaking with or writing to donors, sharing news of the good work that happens each day at school. His efforts make it possible for us to inspire minds, cultivate hearts, and remove barriers both today and for years to come. Tom, we are so grateful.
Our community will now consider what we require in our future leader and conduct a thorough search. To that end, the Board formed a search committee under the leadership of Cara Hilton. We anticipate hiring a new Head of School before the end of the next school year to ensure a smooth transition.
I want to thank Tom again for the countless ways that he has made Mustard Seed a safe, strong, and beautiful school community. I also want to thank Michele for her many contributions as a teacher and Director of Admissions and Community Relations and for her constant support of Tom. We look forward to celebrating both of them throughout the year as they “finish strong.”
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any member of the Board of Trustees.
President, Mustard Seed School Board of Trustees
During the many years that we lived in Asia, family and friends would ask us if there was a school that would ever bring us back to the USA. This is not an unusual question given the transitory nature of the expatriate life. Michele and I would unhesitatingly reply that there was just one school: Mustard Seed School in Hoboken, NJ, where we had taught from 1989-91.
And in 2011, when the Board of Trustees of Mustard Seed offered me the position of Head of School, we realized that the time had come to sojourn back to North America. A dream come true!
Next year will be our tenth year back in New Jersey, and we have decided that the 2020-2021 school year will be our final year at Mustard Seed. Whenever discussion of my retirement came up with the Board, I said that I wanted to give adequate time for the Board to do a thorough search and make the transition to a new Head of School a smooth one.
I am grateful to the many members of the Mustard Seed community that I have been privileged to work with during the past nine years. As you have seen in the face of the recent pandemic, the staff at Mustard Seed is exemplary: some of the finest teachers and administrators that I have worked with in my 40 years as an educator. Their dedication to the mission and to the children and families of Mustard Seed is unmatched. I will miss them.
Parents, donors, and friends from all over the world: I look forward to rejoining you as a cheerleader and supporter in a new role.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the four board presidents that I’ve worked with as Head of School: Jason Battaglia, Lynn Schundler, Scott Rostan, and Raúl Pérez. Each brought a vision to their role and a clear commitment to the mission of Mustard Seed. Without them, we would not have executed many of the strategic initiatives that we have over the past 10 years years, including NJAIS accreditation, the Together for Tomorrow Campaign, and the Thriving Roots and Flourishing Branches Strategic Plan.
And I will continue to work on these strategic initiatives in the next fifteen months as I support the Board and the next Head of School. We have a strong mission and clear directions for the furthering of that mission as outlined in our strategic plan. Finish strong. Work hard to the last moment. Leave well. This has always been our refrain as we have moved on from any school.
I have deep affection for Mustard Seed. It is a place where creativity, joy, and care flourish every day, where children and learning are celebrated. It has been an honor to serve as Head of School for these past years, and I know that God has good plans for Mustard Seed’s future.
Head of School