Thaden Hires Additional Faculty and Staff for Expansion in 2018-19

Thaden School has engaged several new faculty members and administrative staff for the 2018- 19 academic year, including its first Director of Upper School, Director of College Counseling, and Director of Athletics and Wellness.

After opening its doors last August with 48 students in grades 7 and 9, the new independent school in downtown Bentonville has continued to recruit faculty of the highest caliber from all regions of the United States and the world. In the coming academic year, as enrollment grows to as many as 120 students in grades 7 through 10, the school will have 27 faculty members, including the Founding Head of School and other members of the senior leadership team who also teach classes.

“The making of a great school begins with a great faculty,” said Dr. Clayton Marsh, Founding Head of School. “We are bringing together an inspiring community of educators who can ignite curiosity and cultivate potential in small instructional settings.” The average class size at Thaden will not exceed 15 students, and the student-to-teacher ratio will not exceed 9-to-1, even after the school grows to full scale and is serving as many as 600 students in grades 6-12.

To date, more than 1200 educators have applied for the opportunity to teach at Thaden. “From this remarkably deep pool, we have assembled a diverse and talented faculty who have lived or worked in more than 25 states as well as five foreign countries,” Marsh said. Collectively, they hold degrees from 34 different colleges and universities, including 19 master’s degrees and six doctorates. “True to our mission, our faculty will not only prepare students to make the most of a college education but also inspire them to think expansively about their flight path beyond Thaden,” Marsh added.

The school has also hired Rebecca Smith to serve as its first Director of Upper School. She will lead the development of academic programs for students in grades 9 through 12 and manage the day-to-day operations of that division. Ms. Smith comes to Thaden with more than 20 years of experience in independent school education. Most recently, she has been serving as STEM coordinator (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and science department chair at Harpeth Hall, an outstanding independent school in Nashville. In that role, she helped Harpeth Hall earn national recognition for its integrated STEM program.

José Leonor, who has been serving as Thaden’s Director of Academics for the past year, will take the helm of Thaden’s middle school (grades 6 through 8). He and Ms. Smith will work closely together to ensure that the curriculum and educational programs across the middle and upper school divisions are well coordinated.

With an expanded faculty, Thaden will offer a broader range of courses, including new offerings in computer science and mathematics as well as choral and instrumental music. In addition, the school will enhance its three signature programs – Wheels, Meals, and Reels – with the engagement of specialists in cycle, food, and film education, including an Emmy-winning filmmaker. In coming years, as Thaden grows to serve juniors and seniors, the curriculum will include a variety of elective offerings that are comparable in complexity to first-year college courses. The faculty will also include a learning specialist, enhancing the school’s capacity to support a broad range of learning styles. The full roster of faculty is available on the school’s website.

This fall the school will also launch a college counseling program that guides students and their families through the complex process of finding, researching, and applying to colleges that are well aligned with their interests and goals. To lead the development of this program, the school has engaged Jennifer Whiteside Gandy as its first Director of College Counseling. She comes to Thaden from Harvard College where she was a senior admissions officer for ten years. She will build a college counseling staff to advise students and families individually and work closely with the senior academic team on the design of the curriculum and other features of Thaden’s academic programs.

Thaden’s athletics and wellness program will also build momentum under the leadership of its first director, Nina Vincent, who comes to Thaden from Maranatha High School in Pasadena. She has been coaching and teaching for nearly 20 years in public and independent schools. In its first year, Thaden fielded teams in soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross country, and mountain biking, while offering a variety of co-curricular programs through which students can explore and develop new interests.

In the coming academic year, the school will continue to operate in temporary structures. The first permanent structures, which will include library, classroom, and dining facilities as well as administrative offices, will open in the fall of 2019.

About Thaden School

Thaden School is an independent school located in Bentonville, Arkansas. The school’s mission is to provide a balanced and challenging education that ignites in its students a passion for discovery and learning; prepares them to succeed in college; and inspires them to lead lives of integrity, purpose and responsible global citizenship. With an average class size of 15 students, Thaden offers a highly integrated curriculum; programs for civic engagement; creative and performing arts; athletics; and an innovative and sustainable campus with indoor and outdoor teaching spaces. The school’s indexed tuition program makes the cost of a Thaden education affordable for all families in Northwest Arkansas. The school is named in honor of Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden (1905-1979), a Bentonville native and one of the greatest aviators of her time. For more information about Thaden, please visit

Thaden School

| 410 SE Staggerwing Lane | Bentonville, AR 72712 |