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Kingswood Oxford Head of School Announces Plans to Leave in 2018

KO’s Head of School Dennis Bisgaard. Photo by David Newman, photobynewman.com (we-ha.com file photo)

Dennis Bisgaard will leave West Hartford’s Kingswood Oxford School for a position in Washington, DC, at the end of the current school year.

By Ronni Newton

Kingswood Oxford Head of School Dennis Bisgaard announced in a letter, emailed to the school community Thursday morning, that after 12 years in his current position he plans to leave at the end of the current school year to assume a position as head of school on the Washington, DC, campus of a global educational start-up.

“I care deeply about the KO community where my family and I landed more than a decade ago yet, although it is bittersweet, I know that it is time for me to take on a new challenge,” Bisgaard said in his letter.

Bisgaard, who is a native of Denmark, noted in his letter words that his father had shared with him and his siblings when he decided to take on a new challenge. Translated from Danish, the message was: “Know when you’ve done your best, and if you truly care about the place you’ve served, give others a chance to ensure further growth and improvement.”

Bisgaard told the community that leaving Kingswood Oxford and West Hartford was a difficult decision, but he is proud to have served as head of school for the past 12 years. “As a leader, an educator, a colleague, a friend and a fellow parent, I’ve experienced every facet of our remarkable school. It has been an honor to work with the many exceptionally gifted educators, coaches, advisors and staff who contribute to a thriving academic environment and guide, nurture and help our students reach their full potential, in and outside the classroom.”

Bisgaard said Friday in a phone interview that telling the KO staff was an emotional experience. “When [my wife] Monica and I announced to the teachers and staff yesterday morning we got all choked up,” he said. “This is a special place … and 12 years has been a long run.”

Bisgaard said that his family will be “connected to KO for life.” His son, Nic, now a freshman at NYU, attended Kingswood from sixth grade on, and his daughter Saudea, who entered as a sixth grader, will complete eighth grade before the move.

“Over the past 12 years, Dennis has been a compassionate, principled leader, always seeking ways to enhance the program for the betterment of our students,” Board of Trustees Chair I. Bradley Hoffman said in a letter also emailed to the Kingswood Oxford community on Thursday morning. “As a result, KO has flourished academically, thrived as a community and transformed physically. His accomplishments are numerous and will be celebrated this year and for generations to come.”

Hoffman noted specifically that under Bisgaard’s leadership, Kingswood has enhanced its academic curriculum through the addition of robotics, Chinese language, and the Global Online Academy. He has also increased international travel and brought a greater focus on “cultural connections and diversity to allow our students to navigate an increasingly interrelated and complex world.”

There have also been remarkable physical changes to the campus during Bisgaard’s tenure, Hoffman said, including the new Chase Tallwood Science, Math and Technology building, renovation of the Field House and Roberts Center, new turf fields, College Advising and Student Center Suites, and expansion and renovation of the dining hall.

Bisgaard will assume his new position on July 1, 2018, and Hoffman said that he has already started forming a search committee for a new head of school which will be led by Board of Trustees Vice Chair Bruce Mandell.

“KO finds itself on solid ground and in a very strong position,” Bisgaard wrote. “There will be plenty of time to reflect on everything we’ve achieved, but here and now I simply want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead a community that allowed me to help serve talented and brilliant young artists, athletes, scholars and ethical citizens.”

Bisgaard said that it has been an honor and a privilege to lead a school like Kingswood. “KO will always have a special pace in our hearts.”

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