The MMI Preparatory School Board of Directors announced today that Justin S. Kleinheider has been appointed as MMI’s new Head of School beginning on July 1.
Kleinheider is a New Jersey native with nearly 20 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in independent schools. He comes to MMI from Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin, Missouri, where he oversees the liberal arts, college preparatory curricular program in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. In addition to curricular oversight, Kleinheider works directly with faculty on professional development and is an active participant in daily student life. He led the school’s accreditation process and self-study for ISACS (Independent School Association of Central States) and served on accreditation visiting teams for several independent schools, most recently co-chairing a visiting team.
Kleinheider holds a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Kenyon College. He was a Fellow in the National Association for Independent Schools (NAIS) Aspiring Heads Program, participated in the ISACS Leadership Academy: The Business of Leading Schools with the Kellogg School Center for Nonprofit Management, and has presented at the NAIS Annual Conference. He has served as a reader for the AP United States History Exam for five years. Three times awarded the Distinguished Educator Award in Joplin, he was also the Golden Apple Winner for Outstanding Upper School Teacher in 2018.
As a teacher and administrator, Kleinheider has a passion for independent schools and their place in today’s education system. His professional career began at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, where he was a history teaching fellow, coached boys’ and girls’ tennis, and served in dormitory supervision. After completing the teaching fellow program, he served as a history instructor, newspaper advisor, and tennis coach at University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio for seven years. His next position was at Thomas Jefferson, where he began as a history instructor for both middle and upper schools and moved into administration as Dean of Boys and then ultimately Academic Dean – all while remaining an active classroom teacher.
Mr. Kleinheider’s appointment is the culmination of a national search performed by a committee made up of current and former board members. Serving on the committee were Mr. John H. Hersker ’76, Board Chair; Mr. Llewellyn F. Dryfoos ’82; Mrs. Lisa Finkelstein; Mr. William Loftus ’62; and Mr. Stanley B. Warner III ’92. The search committee considered a number of qualified candidates before selecting Mr. Kleinheider as its finalist. Before a final recommendation was made to the board, various constituencies of the school were involved in the search process and the feedback obtained was used in the board’s eventual selection of Mr. Kleinheider as Head of School.
MMI Board Chair John H. Hersker said, “We are very excited to have found a leader like Mr. Kleinheider who embraces MMI’s mission and unique place in the culture of northeastern Pennsylvania, and has the desired experience, energy, and enthusiasm to build on MMI’s reputation for academic excellence. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Kleinheider and his family into our community.”
Kleinheider, his wife Michelle, and children Ronan, 5, and Eliot, 3, will reside in the MMI Head of School Home, which is on the school’s campus.
“MMI serves as a beacon of academic excellence for the region and it is an honor to be asked to lead such a vibrant, engaged, educational community,” Kleinheider said. “From the beginning of the process, I have been incredibly impressed with MMI’s mission of rigorous academics and character building as well as the way faculty and parents empower students to advocate for themselves in preparation for a life of learning. The Kleinheider family cannot wait to arrive in Freeland.”