St. Agnes Academy Head of School Search

As a community, let us pray for the gift of God’s grace and guidance as we enter the next chapter in the life of our beloved St. Agnes Academy.
-Sr. Jane Meyer, O.P.


I am deeply honored to accept the position of Interim Head of School at St. Agnes Academy. I believe my knowledge and experience will be of great value as I assume this role, but everything starts with my love for our community -- it knows no bounds. I’m excited to work with my dedicated colleagues on executing our strategic plan and moving the mission and vision of our school forward. I truly look forward to engaging with SAA’s many vital and wonderful constituents. And of course, I am humbled for the opportunity to support the thoughtful transition of leadership from Sr. Jane to a future permanent head. 

I’m thankful for the community’s participation in the recent head of school search process and the vote of confidence the search committee and board of directors have conferred on me. My husband and children fully support this new role for me, and we look forward to participating wholeheartedly in SAA life! 

I will always be grateful for the love and support of my mentor and dear friend Sr. Jane Meyer. I owe my success as an educator to her expert guidance, and I am fully devoted to preserving her amazing legacy.

With appreciation,
Deborah Whalen


Born in San Jose, California and raised in a large Irish Catholic family, Deborah Whalen was destined to be an educator. Both parents were teachers, and her brother is a professor at Santa Clara University. Ms. Whalen herself is a proud graduate of Santa Clara University, where she earned her BA in Spanish. Ms. Whalen credits her Catholic upbringing and education with giving her the foundation to be a dedicated leader in her field. She taught and coached at Bellarmine College Preparatory, an all-boys Jesuit high school in San Jose, while also earning her MA in educational leadership at California State University. Ms. Whalen also served as the academic dean at The Woodside Priory School before moving to Houston to begin her career at St. Agnes Academy as the academic dean and director of admission in 1998. She assumed the role of principal at St. Agnes in 2010, and proudly served as the instructional leader of the school until 2020 when she stepped down to return to the classroom as a Spanish teacher. Ms. Whalen has balanced a busy career while raising three children. Her daughters graduated from St. Agnes in 2018 and 2020, and her son graduated from Strake Jesuit in 2020. Ms. Whalen is happily married to Michael Crowley, the director of athletics at Strake Jesuit. They live in The Heights with their dog Finn.

Retirement Announcement from Head of School Sr. Jane Meyer, O.P.

Dear Friends,

I wanted to teach as far back as I can remember. When we were kids and played “school,” I insisted on being the teacher. And so it came to pass . . .

I write now to let you know that the next school year, 2021-2022, will be my last year as Head of School. There is a time and a season for everything, and I am honored to pass the opportunity to lead a healthy, strong, and vibrant school and community to our next fortunate Head of School. I will still be very much a part of the SAA community after this 

Our boards are strong, there is a deep bench of excellent internal leadership, and our Catholic, Dominican values permeate in all that we do. Our faculty/staff and students are second to none. St. Agnes is firing on all cylinders! Announcing my decision now gives the Board of Directors the time necessary to form a search committee and hire a national search firm to help identify and call my successor to this amazing ministry at SAA. I look forward to playing a part as the next phase unfolds. 

This is my 40th year as an administrator at St. Agnes Academy, and in addition to this, I spent four incredible years as a student here. I have loved and valued every step of my journey, and I could not be prouder of where the Academy stands right now. We have exceeded our wildest hopes and visions! Most importantly, each day, I am awed to see how our school community embraces and breathes life into the Dominican pillars of prayer, study, 
community, and preaching. 

I have cherished every minute and what I have learned in this ministry is that it is not about the statistics - the number of diplomas signed or the number of academic awards or state and district championships received, but more importantly, it is about people and relationships. Students, faculty, staff, parents, alumnae, grandparents, and board members, I feel privileged to share a piece of your life journey – these relationships have been 

I plan on continuing to work hard during these next 17 months. We have a new strategic plan to roll out and begin implementing, and I want to ensure a smooth transition so that the next Head of School will have the same incredible experience of leading this magnificent school. This is not good-bye – there is still lots to be done! 

As a community, let us pray for the gift of God’s grace and guidance as we enter the next chapter in the life of our beloved St. Agnes Academy. Onward we go! 

With love, gratitude, and in prayer, 
Sr. Jane Meyer, O.P.
Head of School


List of 5 items.

  • Can you tell me about Carney, Sandoe & Associates?

    Since inception in 1977, Carney, Sandoe & Associates have worked successfully with over 1,800 independent, private, boarding, and charter schools in 48 states and 32 countries to provide exceptional faculty recruitment, head of school search, and strategic consulting services.

    C,S & A takes the time to learn the unique culture of each school, and invests heavily in forming long-lasting relationships with their hiring contacts. Their recruitment process is a deeply personal one; often visiting clients on campus to learn as much as they can about the inner workings of the organization.
  • How do I apply for the HOS position?

    Interested and qualified candidates are invited to contact the consultants, Barbara Daush or Mike Mersky

    Candidates will
    ultimately need to submit the following materials as separate PDF documents:
    A cover letter expressing their interest in this particular position.
    A current résumé.
    A one-page statement of educational philosophy and practice.
    A list of five professional references with name, relationship, phone number, and email address of each.
  • What is the expected timeline of the search process?

    The Search Committee hopes to identify and, with the Board’s approval, name the next Head of School in the fall of 2021.
  • What is the role of the Head of School Search Committee?

    The HSSC consists of current members of the St. Agnes Academy board of directors. The role of the HSSC is to engage broadly with the School community and to listen to a wide variety of views about the School and the qualities needed in the next Head of School. The Board asks the Search Committee to keep the community informed and engaged throughout the search process, while respecting the confidentiality of the candidate recruitment process.
  • What is the search criteria in looking for a new Head of School?

    The Search Committee seeks candidates whose values align with our mission, and whose experience and skill set will enable this individual to advance our Strategic Plan. With this in mind, the Search Committee has engaged broadly with the St. Agnes community, through personal interviews and surveys, to listen to a wide variety of views about St. Agnes and the qualities needed in the next Head of School. Please see the findings from the community survey under "Head of School Position Community Survey."

Position Description

Head of School Position Community Survey

Head of School Search Committee

The Search Committee includes a diverse group of trustees, parents, and alumnae. The Head of School Search Committee (HSSC) will be primarily responsible for working with the search firm, obtaining input from the parents, alumnae, faculty, staff and the administration, developing an ideal candidate profile, assessing qualifications and suitability of prospective candidates and interviewing candidates. Our expectation is that this effort will result in the presentation of finalists to the school community in the fall of 2021.

Camille Cash, Board of Directors & Past Parent

Gina DeBottis ‘85 – Board Chair

Ellen DeSanctis – HSSC Chair

Jeannie Joe, Board of Directors & Current Parent

Lucy Leonard , Board of Directors & Past Parent

Lindy Upton McGee ‘92, Alumna & Current Parent

Sean O’Donnell, Board of Directors & Current Parent

Donna Pollard, O.P., Dominican Trustee

Andrew Schroeder, Board of Directors & Current Parent