Barely a year after changing leaders for the first time in its half century of existence, Runnels Schools is changing leaders again.
The Baton Rouge private school announced Wednesday afternoon that Greg Brandao, headmaster for the past 14 months, “is no longer affiliated with Runnels.” The school’s founder, Kelly Runnels, told The Advocate in an interview that Brandao has many strengths and had a good first year in charge, but that he was exhibiting a less inclusive management style than Runnels staff is accustomed to and that it led to a rupture Wednesday morning.
Runnels, who remains president and chief executive officer of the school named after him, said he decided to make the change in consultation with members of the school’s 11-member board. He was reluctant to characterize Brandao’s departure as a termination, saying Brandao has the choice of calling it a resignation if he chooses.
“Runnels is usually described as a large family, and that’s the idea we want to preserve,” said the school’s founder. “It’s not a military academy or something like that.”
Two veteran Runnels administrators who have worked about 20 years each at Runnels have replaced Brandao. Meanwhile, Runnels and his wife, Gladys, are returning to help with day-to-day operations at the school to help train the new school leaders. The couple retired in summer 2014 from the school which first opened in 1965 and which both of them ran for decades.
The Advocate left a voice message with Brandao on Wednesday seeking comment.
Here are the two administrators who are replacing Brandao:
Marcia Mackay is the new head of school. She has been serving as assistant principal and guidance counselor of the elementary school for the past year and worked as assistant elementary school principals for 13 years before that.
Conchetta Foshee, is the new assistant head of school. She has been serving as principal of the junior and senior high school, as well as guidance counselor, for the past three years.
The school sent out a short email to parents at the school Wednesday, announcing the change.
Runnels said Brandao has done many good things for the school in his short tenure and was liked by many parents.
“They’ve been very supportive of him and I don’t want to say anything bad about Dr. Brandao,” Runnels said. “But they can’t know all the things that go on in the administration of a school.”
Brandao is a veteran educator with more than 30 years’ experience, including 11 years as principal of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. Brandao made the unlikely leap to head of school at Runnels as he was hired to help the school search for someone to replace the retiring founder, but the school ended up hiring Brandao instead.
Brandao has also worked as a teacher and administrator at Brother Martin in New Orleans and St. Thomas Moore Elementary in Baton Rouge.
Runnels’ main campus is at 17255 S. Harrell’s Ferry Road, and its preschool is at 6455 Jefferson Highway. The school has more than 700 students from preschool to 12th grade, is independent and not affiliated with a church. The school, though, focuses heavily on values, including the importance of religious tolerance, is known for its commitment to the arts.
New head of school Mackay is an educator with 22 years experience. She’s taught science, math and literature, and she’s served as a guidance counselor at schools in and around New Orleans. Before becoming a Runnels administrator, she taught science to sixth-graders.
“I look forward to working with the faculty, staff and parents to keep the Runnels tradition alive and moving forward,” Mackay said.
New assistant head of school Foshee worked as a Runnels teacher before becoming an administrator.