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Chadwick Leadership

"Teachers made this school. Teachers with a love of children in their hearts; teachers who are eager searchers of truth; teachers who are willing to share their longer experience with children and at the same time are able to learn from the naturalness and sincerity of their pupils.”

—Margaret Chadwick, 1952

Throughout our 80-year history, one of Chadwick School's most marked attributes has been, and continues to be, the exceptional quality of our faculty and staff. Of our 109 faculty members in grades K-12, 80 percent have advanced degrees, and many have worked professionally in the specialized fields in which they teach. Furthermore, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, our faculty have the freedom to teach to their fullest capacity - inspiring students every step of their journey.

Jack Creeden, Head of School

John E. “Jack” Creeden, Ph.D., was appointed Chadwick’s tenth head of school on July 1, 2016.

Creeden has a passionate commitment to outstanding academics, character development, global citizenship, experiential learning and to a diverse and inclusive community.

His educational career includes 20 years as a headmaster or president. Creeden came to Chadwick after serving five years as president of School Year Abroad, a one-year, language-intensive immersion experience available to students from more than 125 independent and public high schools. While there, he was responsible for the overall leadership and administration of four schools — in China, France, Italy and Spain. Creeden also served as headmaster from 1995 to 2007 of Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, a boarding/day school of 235 students. During his tenure at that school, he implemented two strategic plans, completed a $24 million capital campaign and built three new residence halls. Creeden went on to become the headmaster of Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, a TK-12 school of 1,528 students, where he served from 2007 to 2010. Before embarking upon his career in independent schools, Creeden held a variety of teaching and administrative positions at the University of Wisconsin and at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has taught at the university level, in independent schools, at the University of Sussex in Lewes, England, at Gashora Girls Academy for Science and Technology in Rwanda, and for the KIPP Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Creeden also has been a leader in the independent school community, mentoring aspiring heads of school, conducting governance workshops for trustees and serving from 2012 to 2015 as chair of the board of trustees for the National Association of Independent Schools.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from College of the Holy Cross, graduating cum laude. He also earned a master’s degree in English literature and a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Creeden and his wife, Carole Martin, live in Palos Verdes.

Deborah Dowling, Assistant Head for Academic Affairs

Deborah Dowling, Ph.D., joined Chadwick School in August 2012 as the Assistant Head for Academic Affairs. Deborah came to Chadwick from Bridges Academy in Los Angeles, where she was the Upper School Director for two years.

Prior to Bridges Academy, Deborah spent nine years at Harvard-Westlake School where she oversaw academic departments, curriculum, professional development, and faculty recruitment and evaluation. At Harvard-Westlake, she also taught AP Physics and served as the Middle School Science Department Chair.  

Deborah has taught International Baccalaureate Physics as well as a diverse range of subjects from music and English to outdoor education and information technology.  She has developed curriculum for Los Angeles County, UCLA, Western Governors University, and the Victorian State Board of Studies in Australia.

Originally from Australia, Deborah earned a B.S. with Honors in science, a second diploma in education, and a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne. In addition, she holds a Certificate of Gifted Education from the University of New South Wales and an Associate of Music degree from the Australian Music Examinations Board. She pursues her passion for music by singing in Joussance, a Pasadena-based a cappella choir specializing in Renaissance music.

Deborah and her husband, Dr. Andrew Howard, live in Mar Vista with their “two hairy black dogs.”

Bruce Poch, Dean of Admission and Executive Director of College Counseling
As Dean of Admission and Executive Director of College Counseling, Bruce oversees efforts in both offices. His impressive background adds 35 years of experience, skills and relationships at the college level in various roles including Vice President and Dean of Admissions at Pomona College and Associate Dean of Admissions at Wesleyan University. Bruce’s other professional affiliations include various positions serving on the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, the U.S. News and World Report College Advisory Board, as a former member of the College Board SAT Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Student Opportunity, a senior advisor to the Global Leadership Incubator, and a member of the Board of Academic Advisors for QuestBridge. His writings have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Bruce’s media appearances include The Today Show, NPR,
and Bloomberg TV and Radio.
Mark Wiedenmann, Director of the Upper School

Mark Wiedenmann joined Chadwick School in 1981 as a member of the history department. While continuing in that capacity, he became the Upper School Dean of Students in 1987 and the Upper School Director in 1992.

During his time at Chadwick, Mark created Chadwick’s community service program, which in 1988 was recognized as one of the six best community service programs in the United States as part of a search jointly conducted by U.S. News & World Report and IBM. Mark also created Chadwick’s Wellness Program, developed Chadwick’s teacher evaluation program, and initiated Chadwick’s approach to curriculum design, based on Grant Wiggin’s Understanding By Design. While at Chadwick, he has coached cross country and taught AP United States History, Democracy and Ancient Greece, History of India, Comparative Religion, and Philosophy of Religion. He is currently teaching AP Capstone Global Perspectives.

Before coming to Chadwick, Mark taught at Thacher School in Ojai, California. He grew up in northeastern Ohio, attended Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, and then went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of California at San Diego, a Master of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Master of Divinity at Yale Divinity School.

Mark lives with his wife, Sue, and their son, Henry, who is currently a Chadwick fourth-grade student.

Jeff Mercer, Director of the Middle School

A native of California, Middle School Director Jeff Mercer earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Master of Arts in teaching from Duke University. Jeff began his career at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes Peninsula, California, in 1996 as a Middle and Upper School history teacher. He served as the Interim Head of the Middle School in 1997-98, and then as the Assistant Head of the Middle School from 1998 - 2000. Jeff was appointed Upper School Dean of Students in 2000, a position that he held through the 2007-08 school year. He was named Director of the Middle School in September 2008.

Jeff was appointed to the newly created position of Chadwick Assistant Head of School for the 2010-11 school year, a role that entailed serving as a liaison between Chadwick School and Chadwick International School with a focus on developing the shared curriculum, educational philosophy, and school culture of Chadwick’s two campuses. He next served for two years as the Head of School at Chadwick International (CI) in Songdo, Korea, where he oversaw all school operations including the successful opening of CI’s Upper School and outdoor education program. Jeff returned to Chadwick School as Director of the Middle School beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

Jeff has been actively involved in character education at Chadwick School throughout his career, working with the Upper School Student Council in 2002 to reintroduce an honor code on campus. He has also worked extensively on diversity initiatives, taught senior history electives, and coached baseball and girls basketball.

Along with his wife, Noelle, Jeff is the parent of twin sons, Joshua and Dylan, who are currently seventh-grade students at Chadwick School.

Josie Bahedry, Director of the Village School

Director of the Village School Josie Bahedry joined Chadwick in July 2014. She most recently served as Assistant Head and Lower School Director at The John Thomas Dye School in Los Angeles, a highly-regarded K-6 school that prepares students for success in Los Angeles' most demanding secondary schools. Among a host of highly qualified candidates from around the country and globe, Josie stood out as the right person to lead the Village at this time: her energy, team-building skills, success in fostering excellence in teaching, and love of children and adults have been major strengths throughout her career and will serve Chadwick well in the future.

Born in the United Kingdom, Josie's moved to Nigeria with her family when she was a young child. She began her formal education there before returning to England to boarding school. She attended college in Scotland, earning undergraduate degrees in history, early education, and religious education from St. Andrew’s College of Education, as well as a Scottish Certificate of Education from St. Margaret’s Convent in Edinburgh.

Josie began her career as a kindergarten and first grade teacher at The International School of Choueifat in Abu Dhabi.  Following her time in the UAE, she moved to the United States and held pre-K and third grade assignments at the Virginia Beach Country Day School and Baylake Pines Schools, respectively. Beginning in 1996, Josie served in multiple positions at The John Thomas Dye School, first as a second grade teacher, then as Dean of Faculty, and ultimately as Assistant Head and Lower School Director.

Josie is the mother of two daughters who are alumnas of both The John Thomas Dye School and Archer School for Girls. Lauren is now a middle school English teacher at Sierra Canyon School, and Hanna graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2014.

Looking for
Chadwick International?
Chadwick also operates this PK-12 school in
Songdo, South Korea.
Click here to learn more.

Chadwick School is a private, K-12 co-educational school dedicated to developing global citizens with keen minds, exemplary character, self-knowledge and the ability to lead. Located on a 45-acre hilltop on the scenic Palos Verdes Peninsula, we aim to bring out the best in our students through experiential learning, one-on-one mentoring, unparalleled global opportunities, an outstanding athletics program, highly accredited outdoor education experiences and an award-winning visual and performing arts program. We are pleased that more than 800 students from over 45 Southern California communities have chosen to call Chadwick "home."

Chadwick School / 26800 South Academy Drive, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA, 90274 / 310-377-1543
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