An Academic Powerhouse With Soul
Rolling Hills Prep and Renaissance Schools set the stage for the next 10 years.
Times are changing for Rolling Hills Preparatory School and Renaissance School. After 25 years of service, head of school Peter McCormack is retiring. “We are enormously grateful for Peter’s quarter-century of leadership, vision and unwavering dedication,” says Stuart Farber, chair of the board of trustees.
David Maher—formerly the director of upper schools and assistant head of school—became the new head of school on July 1. “The Board realizes that we are fortunate to have such a capable and experienced leader as David to follow in Peter’s footsteps,” Stuart says.
David joined the schools two years ago and has been an independent school educator for more than 25 years in a variety of educational settings, including Chadwick International. “I was drawn to Rolling Hills Prep and Renaissance Schools by the unmatched dedication of the faculty in their desire to do everything possible to support their students, in and out of the classroom,” he shares.
David has become deeply immersed in both schools and has been a driving force behind key initiatives that propel the schools forward. Together with the board of directors, he initiated a long-term academic and institutional plan called “Our Vision: The Next Ten Years.”
BACK IN TIME
But first … a walk down memory lane. In 1981 a group of forward-thinkers envisioned an independent school that would offer rigorous academics with “soul.” These founders wanted to create a place where passionate teachers could support an education that prepared students for future success while ensuring they were happy during the process.
From that vision, Rolling Hills Preparatory School was born, and Renaissance School for Arts and Sciences was founded in 2004 on the same campus to serve the needs of students with learning differences who may have struggled in a traditional school setting. Rolling Hills Prep serves 200 students in grades 6 through 12, and Renaissance serves 75 students in grades 5 through 12.
Fast-forward to the new 10-year vision, which aims to transform the schools into an “an academic powerhouse” recognized for its high-achieving students and progressive approach to education, says the school’s communications manager, Cameron Rogers. The vision includes transforming the facilities and a renewed commitment to STEM education, allowing students to explore a variety of fields including robotics, programming, engineering and game design.
As these new ideas are incorporated into the way this educational community “does” school, changes are also taking place in the senior administration team. New additions include Carol Bernstein, formerly of Chadwick School, who joins as assistant head of school for enrollment management; Naomi Pawlik, who was the head of school for a K-12 school in Albania and will be director of upper schools; and Sue Mathews, who joined in May as director of advancement after a decade in independent schools such as Mirman and Crossroads. Alongside David, this team will help guide the internal and external workings of the school on a day-to-day basis.
TWO SCHOOLS, ONE VIBRANT CAMPUS
The relationship between Rolling Hills Prep and Renaissance Schools is unique in the independent school world. Both schools’ activities overlap and complement each other, creating one community of students and faculty who are aware and respectful of learning styles, viewpoints and of each other.
The community instills “Four Pillars” in each student: Disciplined Minds, Sound Character, Healthy Bodies and Creative Spirits. They provide an inclusive and diverse environment and welcome families from more than 44 zip codes. Small class sizes and close student-teacher relationships are part of the supportive experience the schools offer.
“We are not just preparing our students to get into top schools; we are providing them the tools to succeed and lead fulfilled lives in college and beyond,” says David.
As Rolling Hills Preparatory and Renaissance Schools undergo this transformation, the academic team is beyond optimistic for what these changes mean to the schools’ future. David says, “Our faculty and staff are among the most dedicated and talented group in the independent school world, and the education our students are receiving is preparing them well to be outstanding citizens, engaged community members and successful adults.”
For more information about either school, please contact Carol Bernstein at [email protected]
or 310-791-1101, extension 148.
During separate Coronation Balls at Mira Costa High School (left: 1962-63, and right: 1956-57)
two lucky couples are crowned king and queen by their peers. Pictured at right are students Cecily Bond and Nick Comites, the fourth pair to be chosen in a long line of adolescent South Bay royalty.