September 24, 2018

Dear Members of the Avon Old Farms School Community,

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that the Board has voted unanimously to appoint Mr. James (Jim) Detora to be Avon’s seventh Headmaster, effective July 1, 2019.

Following a comprehensive search process that lasted nearly eight months and included inquiries from dozens of interested school leaders across the country – many of whom were current heads of other schools – and many interviews with candidates, the Search Committee recommended to the Board of Directors that Jim Detora be our next Headmaster. The Board discussed the recommendation during a recent conference call and the positive discussions about Jim and the genuine enthusiasm with which the Search Committee’s recommendation was submitted, resulted in an affirmative vote.

Marty Cole congratulates Jim Detora.

Jim, in his 26th year at Avon Old Farms, currently serves as our Director of Development and External Affairs. He took that role at the beginning of the 2016 school year. Jim has met the challenge of advancing the activities of the development office and has led our development office and communications program to great success. We have set records for fundraising in successive years and have completely revamped and revitalized our communications department under Jim’s leadership.

Over the course of his career, Jim has displayed an impressive growth mindset, strong leadership skills, and a tireless work ethic, all of which have supported him well in his various academic and administrative roles.

Beginning his tenure at Avon, Jim arrived on campus, along with his wife, Karen, in the fall of 1993 as a new graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He immediately and passionately embraced his academic responsibilities in our mathematics and science departments, his residential life duties in the dormitory, and his coaching assignments in the athletic arena. He epitomized the triple-threat faculty member. Even as a young faculty member, Jim garnered the respect of veteran teachers and administrators, displaying boundless energy, solid personal values, and natural emotional intelligence. He has always been able to connect easily with the boys and work well with his colleagues: Jim is universally respected on campus and with colleagues throughout the independent school world.

Over his career at Avon, Jim has shouldered numerous academic leadership positions including serving as the Chairman of our science department, as Academic Dean, Dean of Faculty, and Provost. He has tirelessly championed technology and was the driving force in establishing our engineering and robotics programs, our summer on-line academic presence, and our transition to a technology-based academic reporting structure. Except for the past two years, during which he focused on our development and communications functions, Jim has always maintained a presence in the classroom, effectively teaching our highest level courses in science and mathematics. We know that Jim will be an exceptional educational leader as Headmaster who will continually assess and guide our curriculum to ensure that we remain current in our approach to educating boys.

Jim’s extensive experience at Avon outside the classroom will be important as he leads our faculty in continuing to provide our students with a wholesome environment in which to live and learn. Jim has led our work program, weekend duty crews, and Diogenes Dormitory; has coached a variety of sports, including varsity football; and has fulfilled numerous other residential responsibilities for over a quarter of a century. Jim understands that boys learn and grow in important ways through non-academic experiences. His dedication to fostering community and providing creative learning opportunities for our boys resonated with the Search Committee during our deliberations.

Jim says, “It is an honor to succeed Ken LaRocque as the next Headmaster of Avon Old Farms School. I am humbled by the Board’s confidence in me and truly appreciate this wonderful opportunity.

My vision is to create a culture where faculty and staff are empowered to think outside the box and find innovative solutions to challenges. Avon Old Farms must respond creatively to today’s changing landscape. By examining best practices for teaching boys, advances in technology, new methods of communication, and emerging trends in admission and philanthropy, Avon will continue to lead boys’ education.

The driving force in my professional life has always been serving our boys. Our students energize and inspire me to make this school better. As we strive to fulfill our mission and be the best school for boys, I look forward to continuing the tradition of strong leadership set forth by Don Pierpont, George Trautman, and Ken LaRocque. I have always been, and remain steadfastly committed to the spirit and traditions of Avon Old Farms; they are, and always will be, our foundation.”

When I informed Ken LaRocque, our retiring Headmaster, of Jim’s appointment, he responded, “I am overjoyed for Jim. He is a quality individual, a strong leader, a problem solver, and an educational innovator whose ideas have enriched our school over his long career. Jim and Karen are exceptional role models in our community, and Heidi and I wish them all the best in the coming years.”

As the Board of Directors looks to the future of this great school, we are confident that we have appointed the right person to lead us to fulfill our mission and to enjoy even greater success and accomplishments for Avon Old Farms and our boys. Our Search Committee was charged with finding a headmaster who would honor Avon’s timeless traditions, as well as our commitment to brotherhood, scholarship, integrity, and sportsmanship. We know that among the many well-qualified candidates we interviewed, we appointed the leader who best met the specific and stringent guidelines we outlined in our search document. We are thrilled that Jim Detora will lead Avon Old Farms next year and we congratulate him, as well as his wife, Karen, and their children, Matthew ’12, Carolyn, and Nicole!

In closing, I also want to thank the Search Committee, consisting of eight members of the Board of Directors and four members of our faculty, for their dedicated and focused work. They did a great job. 

Aspirando et Perseverando,

Martin Cole H’16, P’04
Chairman, Board of Directors
Avon Old Farms School