New Head of School Brian Yager begins first year


Vijay Bharadwaj

Head of School Brian Yager reads a copy of the Winged Post published in the previous school year. Yager joins Harker as the new Head of School starting this year.

by Vijay Bharadwaj, Winged Post News Editor

Brian Yager joined the Harker School this year as its new Head of School, following former Head of School Christopher Nikoloff’s resignation and acceptance of a position at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS).

Prior to joining Harker, Yager served as Head of School at the Keystone School in San Antonio, Texas, for seven years. He was also previously employed at schools in California and Idaho and completed his undergraduate education at Stanford University, later attending Harvard University for his master’s degree in education.

During this past summer, Yager spent his time acclimating to the Harker community by visiting all four campuses and getting to know the administrative staff.

“Over the summer, I tried to get to know people with whom I’ll be working,” Yager said. “I’ve been trying to absorb as much of the culture as I can. I’ve been in every building so far. It’s been pretty impressive to see the degree of activity that’s going on. [There was] great work by the staff on the summer program.”

Yager plans to further accustom himself to the school and attend several community events, like homecoming and the family picnic.

“I’m really looking forward to getting a sense of the pace and the traditions of the school and to participating as much as I can in everything,” he said. “I already got scheduled into my calendar each week set visit times to each campus. Similarly, within each campus, I love to walk around and get to know what’s going on. People will see me around a fair amount and hopefully, I’ll get a good sense of the pace of life.”

Yager believes that the new facilities, including the gym and performing arts center, should promote a healthy learning environment.

“All of our facilities should help us meet our mission,” Yager said. “Certainly, the gym is the place where there is a lot of spirit. Our mission isn’t to have shiny buildings necessarily. It has implicit benefits for the school. The new facilities elevate our levels of inspiration for the endeavors that happen there. It’s our obligation to optimize the educational benefits of those facilities, but I’m super excited about it.”

Regarding his role of Head of School, Yager defined his duty as going beyond operating as the CEO of the institution. He greatly values the significance of the school meeting and its goals and mission.

“If I think about it more deeply, the role of the Head of School is to optimize the degree to which we collectively meet our mission and goals in both the short and the long term,” he said. “But that itself it super complex and nuanced. It’s very important for me to understand who we are and to help us identify where we want to go. I want to work with the great administrative team to help us all succeed collectively.”

Yager believes in the importance of having a collective vision for the future of Harker, in order to have a plan and clear sense of direction.

“It’s important for me as the Head of School to have some thoughts about our future,” Yager said. “It’s important to know and to have a roadmap and a plan of things that we are trying to accomplish. I may need to be the keeper of the vision, but it would be inappropriate for me to say my vision of the place is the best vision, because ultimately it’s our vision for the place.”

Yager went on to describe parts of the multifaceted vision of the school. He recognized that a successful school is one that meets its mission.

“One part would be to continue the excellent educational things that are happening that reflect a successful meeting of our mission,” he said. “It’s not just an opportunity, but an obligation for our school, that has the most incredible resources, great students and phenomenal teachers. Part of the vision is that we have to recognize that our work and the impact it has has to be long term. That’s what all educators should strive for students to say.”

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on September 6, 2017.