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East County Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 8 months ago

Out-of-Door Academy names new head of school

Debra Otey will lead ODA beginning July 1, 2022.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

The Out-of-Door Academy has named Debra Otey as its new head of school.

Otey has been serving as a head of upper school at Cannon School in North Carolina. On July 1, 2022, she will replace James Connor, who has been serving as interim head of school after David Mahler resigned the post after 17 years with the Out-of-Door Academy.

Mahler resigned June 30.

ODA's Board of Trustees, in collaboration with the Head of School Advisory and Search Committees, selected Otey after an extensive national search. 

The Head of School Advisory and Search Committees found Otey, who has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and a Master of Science in Secondary Education, to be a "dynamic, accomplished, passionate educator and well-poised to lead" the private school, according to a news release. 

"As Out-of-Door prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024, this transition of leadership creates a wonderful opportunity for our next head of school to guide us to new levels of academic, athletic and artistic success while never forgetting our core values of respect, integrity, service, excellence and responsibility," said Tom Murphy, the chair of ODA's Board of Trustees, in a news release.

Murphy said Otey has outstanding character and professional experience and has demonstrated the ability to inspire and encourage faculty, staff, students and alumni. He said she will support the "forward momentum of the school's growth."

Otey currently is completing a Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. 

She has experience teaching English at the middle school level and also has served as an elementary principal, head of middle school and assistant school superintendent. 

"I am excited to join a pre-K-12 community that emphasizes character education and student wellbeing," Otey said in a news release. "Building on established programs while maintaining Out-of-Door's traditions will create opportunities for inspiring growth and development. As we move into the next phase of ODA's educational and community impact, we look forward to a bright and impactful future filled with student-centered engaging experiences inside and outside of the classroom."

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