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welcome Mr. dirk russell

our new head of school

Dirk Russell, WCA Head of School

A Letter from The Board of Trustees

On behalf of the WCA Board of Trustees, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Dirk Russell as the newly appointed Westside Christian Academy Head of School. In January, 2023, after a nationwide search lead by our Head of School Search Committee and our third party partner, JobFitMatters, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend an invitation to Mr. Russell to become our next Head of School. Mr. Russell’s acceptance of this position was the culmination of much prayer and preparation by our WCA community, and we rejoice in God’s provision of our new leader.

For the last 18 years, Mr. Russell has served in several positions at Geneva School of Boerne, including Teacher, Academic Dean, and Rhetoric School Headmaster. Prior to his full-time career in education, Mr. Russell served as Pastor of Covenant of Grace church for 10 years and most recently served as Elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church of Boerne. Mr. Russell holds his Bachelor of Art in Pastoral Theology from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and is currently working toward a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. Dirk has been married to his wife, Aubrey, for 29 years and they have raised 6 children. Mr. Russell has a love for classical education, but more importantly, his love for the Word of God is evident in his life.

Mr. Russell officially began his position as Head of School on July 1. For the past 6 months, he and Aubrey have been transitioning and diligently preparing for this new chapter in the greater Cleveland area at Westside Christian Academy.
There is much work ahead of us in our call to fulfill WCA’s mission. Let us be diligent to pursue God’s will for His glory.

Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? And who has ever given to God that he should be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Sincerely,
Philip J. Amos
President, WCA Board of Trustees

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This is part of Paul’s exhortation, in his letter to the Philippians, for God’s children to walk and serve as Christ did. I see this humility in Dirk Russell, a man who desires to go where the Lord calls him. The Lord has not only called him, but has equipped him and will continue to do so. Under Mr. Russell’s leadership, because he is under Christ’s, I genuinely look forward to seeing WCA flourish in ways we’ve not yet known.

Jim Whiteman, WCA Headmaster Emeritus

A Letter from Dirk

Greetings WCA families.
During my Q&A with Mr. Whiteman in April, one of the students wanted to know the craziest thing I have ever done in my life. I said it was probably packing up after 18 years at Geneva, and 26 years in San Antonio and moving to Cleveland. As I reflect on that answer, I am becoming more and more convinced that this move isn’t crazy after all. WCA is an incredible place and is filled with extraordinary people committed to seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness while preparing the next generation to “engage the world with the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ.” Those are the very things I have committed my life to, and I see a great opportunity to continue this work at WCA; I now think it would have been crazy not to come. I am very excited to serve as WCA’s next Head of School and I look forward to meeting each of you and ultimately living in community with each of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

To God be the Glory,

Dirk Russell
WCA Head of School

“We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Russell as our Head of School. The Board is confident in God’s provision for WCA. We immediately recognized Mr. Russell’s alignment of who He is in Christ and the knowledge and experience God has built into him with our leadership needs. We believe Mr. Russell is the right leader to help us build upon the foundation God provided through Mr. Whiteman’s past service. Our desire to excel as a Classical Christian school that serves our graduates, families, and community well is in good hands.”

Natalie Taylor, Co-chair of the Head of School Search Committee

This past April Mr. & Mrs. Russell were able to visit WCA for several days.  At one point Mr. Whiteman, our retiring Headmaster and Mr. Russell held an all school assembly with the purpose of introducing Mr. Russell to our student body.  Take a listen to this short clip from this exchange.

questions you may have

Who hired Mr. Russell?

The Board of Trustees has one employee, the Head of School. When Mr. Whiteman gave notice that he would be retiring, the Trustees formed a Head of School Search Committee. This committee worked with a consultant, JobfitMatters, to locate and evaluate candidates. After a long and very thorough process, Mr. Russell came to WCA twice for extensive interviews. The HOS Search Committee recommended, and the entire board unanimously voted to offer Mr. Russell the position of Head of School. He accepted in January of 2023.

Who does Mr. Russell report to?

Mr. Russell, as the only employee of the Board of Trustees, reports to the board and attends all scheduled board meetings.

How does my child already know things about Mr. Russell, like the fact that he is a Steelers fan and comes from Texas?

Mr. Whiteman set up a very fun all-school assembly in May and read questions to Mr. Russell, which he answered. The school enjoyed getting to know more about Mr. Russell, his family, and what he enjoys.

Did Mr. Whiteman interview Mr. Russell?

No. But Mr. Whitman met with Mr. Russell during the interview process to get to know him and to answer any of Mr. Russell’s questions. Mr. Whiteman joins the board in being excited about Mr. Russell leading WCA to further growth in Classical Christian education. Both men have met regularly since January, and Mr. Whiteman will continue to meet with Mr. Russell during the next several months of transition, as needed.

When will I get to meet Mr. Russell?

Mr. Russell will be available for a meet and greet during our Back to School Open House on Monday, August 14th.

Who reports to Mr. Russell?

WCA has an organizational chart that outlines the reporting structures at WCA. The Grammar and Upper School principals, several Directors, and the administrative staff report to the Head of School.

May I contact Mr. Russell?

You may contact Mr. Russell if you have a concern. He is very approachable and ready to have good conversations, even about hard things. We recommend emailing Mr. Russell, as he will have many priorities the first few weeks of school and would likely appreciate you scheduling a meeting or conversation. Also, it will take some time for Mr. Russell to know families and children. Please make sure you introduce yourself well when bringing any concerns.

What decisions does the board make?

There is a clear division of responsibility between the board and the Head of School. The Head of School is hired to carry out the school’s mission by way of the strategic plan that is held by the Board of Trustess. Members of the board are primarily concerned with evaluating the Head against objectives that are set for him, stewarding the financial sustainability of the school, and setting policies and strategies to ensure that WCA serves future generations. The board intentionally refrains from making operational decisions. Sometimes the Head will discuss operational matters with the HSEC or the entire board. Day-to-day concerns are a matter of operations.

What is HSEC?

The Head of School Support and Evaluation Committee (HSEC) is a newly formed standing committee and exists in almost all private schools. This committee has specific recommended functions to bridge the gap between strategic and operational concerns. Members are restricted to only Board Members according to WCA By-Laws and meet regularly with Mr. Russell to keep abreast of his actions, concerns, and needs for support. Sometimes matters will be discussed within the HSEC without being brought before the entire board. Other times, HSEC will decide that a matter is worthy of the entire board’s attention. The HSEC does not tell the Head what decisions to make, but can offer suggestions and support as needed.

Who evaluates Mr. Russell?

The HSEC committee evaluates Mr. Russell’s job performance and provides feedback. The first months of Mr. Russell’s employment will be a time of learning and getting to know the WCA families and community well. This will be one of his primary objectives.

How can I pray for our school and Mr. Russell?

Please do spend time praying for Mr. Russell and his wife Aubrey and all of their children during this time of relocation and transition. Ask God to guide you in praying for our school. Pray for our teachers and staff, for volunteers, for those directing school business, and for Mr. Russell as he learns and grows in his understanding of WCA. Pray that God will give Mr. Russell wisdom and grace as he leads and shepherds WCA. Even a good transition is not always easy. Pray that God goes before us to provide unity, patience, and humility as we all grow together.