Jody Reilly Soja Named Loomis Chaffee’s Eighth Head of School
Today, we share the news that Jody Reilly Soja, our head of school for the past nine years, has accepted a position as Loomis Chaffee’s head of school beginning in July 2024. We are enormously grateful for the profound impact she has had on our school and the extraordinary growth we have realized under her leadership.
A Message from Jody Reilly Soja
November 29, 2024
Dear IMS Community,
I write today with mixed emotions. On Monday, November 20, I informed the IMS Board of Trustees that the 2023-2024 school year will be my last on “the mountain.” While I am sad to be leaving a place I love, I am honored to have accepted the position as Loomis Chaffee’s eighth head of school beginning in July, 2024.
This decision was not made lightly. My connections to and feelings for IMS run deep. I started my teaching career at IMS in 1999, and returned to serve as head of school in 2015. IMS has given me and my family so much, not the least of which is the company and collegiality of amazing educators. My two sons benefitted from the support, guidance and teaching from remarkable adults and loved spending their childhood on this bucolic campus. The entire Soja family will be forever grateful for the time we spent growing, living and learning at IMS.
While I wasn’t looking or expecting to leave this year, the current state of IMS gives me great comfort in pursuing this professional opportunity. Thanks to the tireless work of so many, IMS has never been stronger. Enrollment is at a record high, our academic and athletic programs continue to grow and thrive, and our school distinguishes itself in both local, national, and international markets. A talented administrative team will continue to lead and support the school, and our positive momentum will carry IMS forward through this transition.
Loomis Chaffee and IMS share many distinguishing characteristics. Both schools were founded with a mission to provide an education to children whose families did not have the resources to pay full tuition. Both schools place a premium on kindness, understand the importance of diversity and belonging, provide an exceptional education, and intentionally cultivate strong character and community connection. Everything I have learned about Loomis Chaffee has affirmed our philosophical alignment, and has inspired me to join a community so much like our own.
Over the past nine years, I have had unwavering support from two incredible Board Chairs, Maria Horn and Christopher Sanger,’86. I could not be more grateful for the trust they placed in me. Similarly, I have been encouraged by a terrific Board of Trustees, deeply committed and engaged colleagues, and a parent body that believes in strong school-family partnerships.
Lastly, I have been and will continue to be inspired by thousands of IMS students. Their humor, courage, curiosity and kindness have driven me to work hard and lead on their behalf and to enjoy every day at work. I look forward to future opportunities to continue these relationships with these wonderful students and their families, and I’ll be excited to welcome any future IMS graduates to Loomis Chaffee. In the meantime, I will continue serving IMS with dedication and joy, ensuring that we finish this year well, celebrating our wonderful community and all the exciting work ahead.
My heart is filled with gratitude and confidence that the best days are ahead for IMS, and I hope to be a small part of the success story of our beloved school.
Warmly and with gratitude,
A Message from the Board of Trustees
Dear IMS Community,
As you have learned, this will be Jody Reilly Soja’s last year at IMS, as she has been chosen to become the next head of school at The Loomis Chaffee School.
Undoubtedly, this is an exceptional professional opportunity for Jody and her appointment to lead one of the most prestigious secondary schools in the country is a clear testament to her abilities as an effective leader, talented administrator, and dedicated educator. As a Board and school community, we celebrate this moment for Jody and her family.
As many of you know, Jody first arrived at IMS in 1999 to assume roles as teacher, coach and advisor. After various positions at Millbrook School and National Cathedral School, Jody returned to Lakeville in 2015 to serve as the ninth head of school in our 100-year history, and the first woman to hold that role. To say that she has made a profound impact during her years of leadership is an understatement. Jody has guided our community with a clear strategy and thoughtfulness and as a result, IMS today is thriving.
Under Jody’s headship — and with the support of the Board, the senior leadership team, faculty, and staff — IMS has grown in every way:
- Refined an academic program that leads with relevance and purpose, proven by strong secondary school placement among our peer schools;
- Established the Ascend program;
- Increased enrollment by 35%;
- Secured record-setting philanthropic investment in support of capital projects and the annual fund;
- Completed and implemented two strategic plans;
- Undertook a thorough diversity audit and underscored our commitment to equity, inclusion, and belonging;
- Constructed state-of-the-art facilities and community spaces, including the Morehead Athletic Center and Centennial Field (IMS’s most ambitious capital project), the Outdoor Working Lab and solar field, six tennis courts and expanded residential housing.
While this extraordinary growth is a success story, it is made even more meaningful by Jody’s unwavering commitment to the joy of our students, and her dedication to fostering a sense of belonging for everyone at IMS. We are profoundly grateful to Jody for her service to our beloved institution, which will continue to benefit from her leadership through the remainder of the school year.
As we move into our second century we are well positioned for this transition. The Board will begin the search process for the next head of school in earnest and with transparency. We look forward to communicating with you throughout the process. For now, please join me in congratulating and thanking Jody for leading a life through service at IMS.
Christopher Sanger ‘86 P ‘18 ‘20
President, Board of Trustees