New Head of Synapse School

jim-eagenSix Seconds welcomes Jim Eagen as our new Head of School for Synapse, The Six Seconds’ Lab School in Menlo Park, California.  Synapse blends emotional intelligence into all aspects of an innovative school for future change makers.  Here is a letter from Karen McCown, Six Seconds’ Chairman:

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Synapse Board of Directors and the Six Seconds Board of Directors have confirmed the appointment of Jim Eagen as the new Head of School.  He will begin participating in the spring planning immediately, collaborating closely with Synapse administration and faculty.  Jim’s official start as Head of School is July 1, 2013. 

Over the past nine months, members of the Head of School Search Committee (along with our consultants from Carney Sandoe & Associates and Cal/West Educators) have been engaged in an extensive, nationwide search for our new Head of School. As you can imagine, it has not been an easy task to find someone to fill Anabel’s shoes.  We wondered if it would be possible to find a true change maker with the energy, creativity and intellectual acuity to take the Synapse Vision to the next level.  We endeavored to find a leader who not only embraces our key pillars of social emotional learning (SEL) and neuroscience but would also aspire to consistently and fully integrate these pillars into the classroom experience every day.  We sought a leader who shared our noble goal to build a school where each child is given the opportunity to discover his/her passion. Our search led us to Jim Eagen.

Jim received his BA from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, earned a master’s degree in international and comparative education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and spent a year at Oxford in St. Clare’s College studying art history.  Jim has enjoyed an outstanding career as classroom teacher, coach and seasoned administrator.  He has worked in both independent and public schools, day and boarding schools. 

Prior to joining Synapse, Jim served as the Head of several prominent middle schools throughout the country.  Most recently, he served as principal of Summit Middle Charter School in Boulder, Colorado, recognized as a 2012 Blue Ribbon School.  Jim served for five years as Middle School Head at the Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt, New York. During his tenure, Jim drove the adoption of an integrated SEL-based program, creating curriculum and instruction to equip 21st century learners to be compassionate problem solvers. Jim served as Middle School Head at Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, California, where he was also a Humanities Instructor and athletic coach. Jim’s first Middle School Headship was at The Dwight School, a top-ranked New York City school, where he also taught English and coached. Jim has held teaching positions at Harker School in San Jose, California, and the Kildonan School in Amenia, New York.

Jim has taken a leadership role within the broader educational community. He was actively involved in the New York State Association of Independent Schools, serving on numerous committees with an emphasis on school leadership and teacher professional development. Jim was appointed a Ford Fellow for Aspiring School Heads from National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). As an active member of the International Society of Technology in Education, Jim has been a thought leader in the use of social media for professional development, exploring the use of the Internet as a tool for educators to expand their knowledge base and professional networks. He has participated in a number of accreditation teams sent to schools by the International Baccalaureate Organization and has authored a compelling middle school text entitled First Peoples: The Aymara of South America. 

Jim is an accomplished athlete and true adventurer. He has climbed 6000 meter peaks in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Tibet. As a competitive multi-sport athlete, Jim is a triathlete, runner and cyclist, actively competing in races around the world. He also has received notoriety for participating as a six-time invite to the Empire State Building Run-Up in New York City.

Jim is proud father of Sarah Rose, age 7 and Ben, age 11, both of whom will be joining Synapse in Levels II and V respectively. His wife, Ellen is a commercial litigator handling complex federal and state matters in New York and California courts. As a former teacher, Ellen has a unique expertise in advising schools and educational entities on governance issues, privacy and ethics, as well as employment and equality. 

Several significant factors impressed members of the Head of School Search Committee about Jim during the interview process including:

  • His ability to connect with Synapse students (from the Level I class to our soon-to-be graduates) and his commitment to putting the needs of our children above all else

  • His dedication to teacher support and professional development

  • His ability to assemble a team to operationalize key systems within the school and to think strategically about key initiatives including facilities, growing our middle school, and fine-tuning current Synapse programs

  • His eagerness to work side-by-side and collaborate with Anabel and the Board of Trustees

  • His passion and respect for the Synapse Vision and for all members of the school community

I want to thank the faculty, staff, students, Board Members, parents and members of the greater Synapse community for their input in this Search process.  I am particularly grateful to all of the members of the Search Committee, headed by Lena Chane, for safeguarding the mission of our school through their relentless effort to identify a new Head of School who would carry forth our Vision with integrity and commitment.


Please join all of us in offering the entire Eagen family a warm welcome!

Karen S. McCown

Chair,  Synapse School Board of Directors

About the author - Six Seconds

Six Seconds supports people to create positive change - everywhere... all the time. Founded in 1997, the organization now has offices in 11+ countries and certified practitioners in over 100, and is the world's preeminent resource for putting emotional intelligence into action.

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