GJA is pleased to welcome Jay Underwood, Interim Head of School

Dear George Jackson Academy Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jay Underwood as Interim Head of School for this coming school year, 2019-2020.

With more than 25 years of experience at independent schools throughout the country,  Jay brings to George Jackson a sterling record of leadership in middle school education.  Since 2010 he has been Head of School at High Meadows School, Atlanta, Georgia, an independent International Baccalaureate World School that serves 350 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Jay was Head of Rio Grande School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 2005 to 2010 and before that spent more than a decade at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ, first teaching History and Language Arts in the 6th through 8th grades, and then as Director of Curriculum and Faculty Development.

In 2017 Jay held a Head of School Fellowship from the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University.  He and his wife, Maureen, both hail from the New York area and are excited to come home.

“I am honored and delighted to lead George Jackson Academy this year,” says Jay. “I am committed to carrying forward the Academy’s tradition of excellence, and am excited to support our teachers as they do what they do best. Most importantly, I am eager to serve our boys and to usher them along their journey to become exemplary young men.”

“We are fortunate and blessed to get an educational leader of Jay’s quality to guide the school and our boys,” says our Founder, Brother Brian Carty, President of De La Salle Academy, and a member of the Board’s Search Committee.  “His obvious empathy, commitment to our mission and community, and his extensive, hands-on experience in administration, curriculum development, governance, and fund raising will help smooth this transition year.”

Jay comes to us through Independent Thinking, the educational search specialists that worked with the Board and the Search Committee on a national search that identified many highly qualified applicants. Now that Jay has agreed to serve as Interim, the Search Committee, assisted by Independent Thinking, will continue its work to identify the best candidates to lead George Jackson Academy on a permanent basis. We will update you as we move forward on this important search.

I would like to take a moment to thank our outgoing Head of School, Andre del Valle, for his fifteen years of inspiring leadership, the last four as Head of School. We all wish him the greatest success in his new post as head of the middle school at Poly Prep.

As Jay’s appointment indicates, exciting things continue to happen at George Jackson Academy. During the last year, we have undertaken a thorough review and updating of the school curriculum, signed a new long-term lease, and completed a $1.5 million renovation of the school premises on St Mark’s Place, funded by an ongoing capital campaign. Separately we fulfilled a $1 million Challenge Grant made by former Board chair Paul Levy and his wife, Karen, and matched by Trustees and other supporters. The School has initiated and will continue partnerships with The Boys’ Club of New York, Global Scholars, The Juilliard School, Just for Kicks Swimming, The New School, and the News Literacy Project. GJA is also a Whitney Museum of American Art Partner School.

George Jackson Academy is an independent, non-sectarian, need-blind middle school designed for bright boys from low-income families. Our students are encouraged to think critically, to engage academically, and to value their intellects as unique and precious gifts. Our single-sex program focuses young men on supportive, engaging academic and social development at the most critical time in their lives. Our single-minded devotion to that mission is driven by the passion and unwavering commitment of the School’s outstanding faculty and staff, Trustees and supporters.

Please join me in welcoming Jay to our community.


On behalf of the Board of Trustees,



Steve Lipman

Board Chair


CC: Search Committee

Bro. Brian Carty – Founder

Dorothy Hutcheson, Director of the Village School in Pacific Palisades, CA,

Steve Kuppenheimer – Trustee, Treasurer GJA

Paul S Levy – Trustee, former Board Chair

Jon Lindsey – Trustee

Wally Martinez – Trustee

David O’Halloran – Headmaster of St. David’s School.

Nicole McCabe – Dean of Academics, GJA

Jeff Tancil – Teacher, GJA