When The Haverford School Search Committee members looked to hire a new Head of School, they received over 140 applications for one of the most prestigious jobs in independent school administration. One candidate stood out for his breadth of experience, a comprehensive understanding of the ins and outs of education, and most importantly, his authenticity and devotion to personal connection.
Growing up, newly-appointed Tenth Head of School Mr. Tyler Casertano lived on both the Millbrook School and The Loomis Chaffee School campuses before attending Loomis Chaffee. As a son of educators, he was deeply immersed in independent school education from a young age.
He went on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree from Yale College and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University and spent twelve years at St. Albans School, an all-boys institution in Washington, D.C. quite similar to Haverford.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Casertano has served as a teacher, coach, Admissions and Financial Aid Director, Director of Development, Curriculum Planner, and advisor. In addition, he has been involved with school diversity, finance, strategic planning, and more. Most recently, he was Assistant Head of School for Advancement and Strategy at St. Albans.
His range of knowledge experiences have allowed him to develop a unique leadership style centered around relationships, collaboration, and trust.
“As a teacher, coach, and advisor, I’ve first and foremost wanted to understand the students I was working with on an individual level to get an understanding of who they were, what their strengths were, what their areas of growth were, what made them feel comfortable, what their insecurities were, and to make them feel comfortable with me so that we could have a close partnership and grow together,” Mr. Casertano said. “Then, I can really deliver for them the most personalized form of education while also forming group dynamics that build a team culture and allow students to support each other.”
The idea of forming connections with people is a principle Mr. Casertano has extended beyond his roles where he has worked directly with students.
“As an administrator, I’ve tried to have that same philosophy with the teams that I’ve led: to understand my colleagues on an individual level, while also building the team environment that allowed them to support each other and to align all of our priorities so that we are delivering our mission as deeply as possible,” Mr. Casertano said.
At Haverford, he has been drawn to the sense of community, belonging, and brotherhood.
“All-boys schools have a sense of togetherness, camaraderie, community, and support that grounds everything that we do, and there’s a certain joyfulness and authenticity at a great boys’ school like Haverford.”Mr. Tyler Casertano
“All-boys schools have a sense of togetherness, camaraderie, community, and support that grounds everything that we do, and there’s a certain joyfulness and authenticity at a great boys’ school like Haverford,” Mr. Casertano said. “That sense of comfort and belonging allows students to embrace the discomfort that is central to learning.”
Mr. Casertano expanded upon the experiences he has had with seeing students grow at boys’ schools.
“Learning is hard, whether it’s learning in the classroom, in the studios, or on the fields growing your skills and your character,” Mr. Casertano said. “It requires a certain amount of risk and discomfort, and I think that sense of belonging knowing that you’re surrounded by people who care about you and want you to succeed, that allows students at a boys’ school to go deeper and to grow more.”
Chair of the Board of Trustees and Head of School Search Committee Member Mr. Maurice Glavin outlined some of the key factors that helped Mr. Casertano stand out in the deep pool of applicants for the Head of School.
“Mr. Casertano demonstrated that he had competencies in some of the areas that are important to Haverford School culture and certainly are part of Haverford’s ‘secret sauce.'”Mr. Maurice Glavin
“He has an unbelievable history with independent school life,” Mr. Glavin said. “At St. Albans, he held a variety of positions, including being a teacher and a coach. I believe deeply in the teacher-coach model, especially in an all-boys school, and Mr. Casertano demonstrated that he had competencies in some of the areas that are important to Haverford School culture and certainly are part of Haverford’s ‘secret sauce.’”
On the personal side, Mr. Glavin was struck by Mr. Casertano’s thoughtfulness.
“When we did reference checks, there were glowing conversations about his ability to understand situations,” Mr. Glavin said. “He’s an unbelievably emotionally intelligent person.”
Director of Admissions and Head of School Search Committee Member Mr. Donta Evans expressed that Mr. Casertano’s varied experiences in schools was something that immediately captured the committee’s attention.
“We really wanted someone who was a ‘school person’ and understood schools in and out, and Mr. Casertano checked all the boxes.”Mr. Donta Evans
“He’s been in almost every role at schools. We really wanted someone who was a ‘school person’ and understood schools in and out, and Mr. Casertano checked all the boxes,” Mr. Evans said. “He’s also an extremely thoughtful person, and I think he’s very deliberate and also very process-driven. There was an authenticity about him and a humbleness that permeated during the interview process.”
Lower School Head and Head of School Search Committee Member Dr. Pam Greenblatt added, “He’s experienced so many different aspects of school life, and what that’s given him is a unique ability to see the bigger picture of education and schools.”
Dr. Greenblatt also highlighted Mr. Casertano’s ability to take in information as one of his differentiating qualities.
“He’s a phenomenal listener: he’s able to listen to multiple perspectives on an issue and then strategically think through how to navigate, understand, and respond.”Dr. Pam Greenblatt
“He’s a phenomenal listener: he’s able to listen to multiple perspectives on an issue and then strategically think through how to navigate, understand and respond. As a leader, he’s empathetic and compassionate,” Dr. Greenblatt said. “He listens, he’s inclusive, and he’s highly collaborative. He wants to do collaborative problem-solving as opposed to having a set idea of how things should go and just running in that direction.”
Mr. Evans and Mr. Glavin also described Mr. Casertano as a “collaborator.”
“I think he’s going to push our leadership team in some ways, but also really lean on the team: he strikes me as very collaborative,” Mr. Evans said.
“He’s been on teams at a high level: he played lacrosse at Yale and then worked on teams at St. Albans. He recognizes the value of the collective, instead of leadership from a top-down perspective, and I think that’s important in a school environment,” Mr. Glavin said. “He’s been showing a personal touch of trying to understand the students and to learn who’s who.”
Mr. Casertano believes his devotion to people and connections stems from his love of history, which he majored in at Yale and taught during his career.
“I’ve always been drawn to history from when I was in elementary school,” Mr. Casertano said. “I love people, and I love their stories, and I find cultures to be so interesting. And understanding the drivers of those cultures and how they impacted people’s decisions and conversely, how people’s decisions impacted culture and history: I just find that the human story to be so endlessly fascinating.”
He eagerly awaits his second year at Haverford, when he will rejoin the classroom as a history teacher.
“I get so much energy from being around the students in that classroom environment and watching them grow over the course of our time together.”Mr. Tyler Casertano
“I get so much energy from being around the students in that classroom environment and watching them grow over the course of our time together. It’s so much fun to share their learning,” Mr. Casertano said. “I see the classroom as sort of a sacred space where we can all come together and share the life of the mind, and it’s just going to be so much fun to have that daily interaction with kids.”
In addition, he looks forward to connecting with faculty.
“One of the reasons I love working at a school is because of the ability to have a network of colleagues that’s so diverse, dynamic, passionate, and interesting,” Mr. Casertano said. “I love talking to my faculty colleagues about what they’re teaching, what they’re reading, and what they’re doing outside of school. I find teachers to be amazing people with such depth of curiosity, and I find myself often—when I’m not with kids—talking with them about what they’re doing in and out of the classroom.”
Mr. Evans is excited about Mr. Casertano’s enthusiasm to immerse himself in the school’s culture.
“He is so eager to be everywhere and really get involved in the life of the school, from pre-K all the way through Sixth Form,” Mr. Evans said. “I think he’s going to be very present and very available to the community.”
Mr. Casertano’s commitment to diversity, tradition, and progress were also factors that drew the Search Committee to him.
“He stood out as somebody who embraced the traditions and virtues we have written in stone, but also understands that Haverford is a school that’s not standing still,” Dr. Greenblatt said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for Mr. Casertano to bring a new perspective,” Mr. Glavin said, “but also to have great respect for the past.”
During his first few months, Mr. Casertano has made efforts to gain a greater understanding of this Haverford culture.
“Once I got deeper into the process of learning about the school, and once I started hearing more and more about people’s experiences here, it just confirmed what a special place this is and how sincere that culture of caring, support, commitment, excellence is, and the strength of the sense of brotherhood,” Mr. Casertano said.
He is appreciative to all who have supported him through the process.
“I would say thank you to everyone who has given me a deeper sense of the institution, its culture, and its people,” Mr. Casertano said. “I know I still have so much more to learn, but I feel fortunate that the learning process has gotten off to a quick start this summer.”
His message to the students reflects his ideals and leadership style.
“It is a privilege to be in this seat at this institution,” Mr. Casertano said. “To work with the faculty, staff, and students everyday is an incredible honor and is one that I take really seriously, and it all begins with them [the students]. My job by its definition requires that I work with so many different people, and one of the things that drew me to this work is the variety of conversations and relationships; but the students are the group that drives it all, and ensuring that they have the best possible environment to grow is what matters most.”
“I hope that the students will come to know me and see how much I care about them, their development, and about helping them become their best selves and helping Haverford School become its best self.”Mr. Tyler Casertano
He added, “I hope that the students will come to know me and see how much I care about them, their development, and about helping them become their best selves and helping Haverford School become its best self.”