The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

The Student Newspaper of The Loomis Chaffee School

The Loomis Chaffee Log

What we’re thankful for
What we’re thankful for
February 11, 2024
Prepare for cold
Prepare for cold
February 11, 2024
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New Head of School: Jody Reilly Soja

Shane Lischin ’26, Anna Lim ’27
Contributors

Jody Reilly Soja Ushers in a New Era at Loomis Chaffee

Loomis Chaffee is poised to turn a significant page in its illustrious history as it welcomes Jody Reilly Soja, a seasoned educator and leader, as its new Head of School starting July 1, 2024. After a comprehensive 10-month search, the Board of Trustees proudly announced her appointment, signaling the start of an exciting new chapter for Loomis Chaffee. Soja is eager to embed herself within the fabric of the community.
“My first goal is to spend time really getting to know the school and community,” Soja said. She deeply cares about the sense of belonging in a community and has made immense progress on creating a close-knit community at Indian Mountain School, where she is currently serving her last year as Head of School.
“I am proud of the work we did as a community to make school a joyful and fun place to be, [and] where kindness and cultivating a strong community were the priorities,” Soja said. With a rich 25-year history in the realm of independent boarding and day schools, Soja steps into the role with an air of humility and honor, ready to build upon the foundation laid by her predecessor, current Head of School Sheila Culbert, who will be retiring after 16 years of dedicated service.
Her appointment comes as no surprise to those familiar with her work. Soja’s tenure as Head of School at Indian Mountain School saw a transformational period where she led strategic initiatives that resulted in a substantial increase in enrollment, campus revitalization, and program expansion. Her leadership style—a blend of visionary strategy and hands-on approach—has been instrumental in exceeding fundraising goals at her previous institution. Soja’s professional journey is marked by her diverse roles, from being a teacher, coach, and dorm parent to taking on administrative challenges with a focus on faculty development. Her educational philosophy aligns seamlessly with Loomis Chaffee’s mission, emphasizing the importance of challenging academics coupled with a nurturing community spirit.
Soja also has experience with students of secondary schools and diverse backgrounds.
“I have worked with high schoolers throughout my career at other schools, as well as having spent a lot of time with ninth graders at IMS,” Soja said, as she draws inspiration from familial roots in education and coaching. “I try to lead following the example of my father, who was a college basketball coach,” Soja said. “School work is teamwork, built on relationships, and I always strive to take the work seriously, but not myself too seriously.”
The unanimous decision by the Board of Trustees reflects their confidence in Soja’s ability to lead Loomis Chaffee into the future. The search committee, co-chaired by Trustees David Rogan and Rachel Kort, and assisted by the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, highlighted the inclusive nature of the search, with the community’s input playing a crucial role in the selection process.
As Soja transitions from the Mountain to the Island, she brings with her a commitment to intellectual curiosity, well-being, belonging, and the joy of teaching and learning—all values deeply cherished by the Loomis Chaffee community. Born into a family of educators, Soja’s roots in the field of education run deep. Her formative years were shaped by experiences in diverse academic settings, from her undergraduate days at Bates College to her time in South Africa studying political reconstruction post-apartheid. A Master’s degree in Education from Harvard further hones her educational expertise.
As the Loomis Chaffee community looks forward to Soja’s leadership, there is an air of anticipation around the continued elevation of the school’s academic and communal programs. Faculty members involved in the search, such as Associate Director of DEI Courtney Jackson and History and Religious Studies Faculty Lori Caligiuri, have been pivotal in representing the faculty’s perspective, and faculty members and students throughout the island are optimistic about the fresh energy and ideas Soja is set to bring. The sentiment across campus is one of excitement and expectancy as Loomis Chaffee gears up to embrace the leadership of Jody Reilly Soja, whose journey reflects a deep understanding of the transformative power of education and the importance of a supportive and dynamic school environment.

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