New Head of School 21-22

After an extensive search, the Athena Academy Board of Trustees and Head of School (HOS) Search Committee are honored to announce that Dr. Patti Wilczek has accepted our Head of School position that starts in the 2021-2022 academic year. She will work closely with our current Head of School Shama Hinard, the administration, and teachers this year to ensure a smooth transition on July 1, 2021.

We believe Patti will take Athena Academy to the next phase of growth while preserving Athena’s strong community and mission. Patti appreciates the unique qualities and learning style of Athena Academy students. She has worked extensively with gifted and twice exceptional learners. She understands that students should be encouraged to take challenging risks, be curious, and have fun. Patti values Athena Academy’s commitment to dyslexic students and is well-versed in the strength-based approach to learning. With Patti’s collaborative leadership style, we know she will work closely with our administration, teachers, parents and students to help solidify Athena Academy as a leader in dyslexic education.

Brief Biography of Dr. Patti Wilczek

After completing her PhD in Psychology at Fordham University, Patti quickly sought to combine her love of teaching with her expertise in psychology, taking teaching and counseling positions at both an independent school (Storm King) and a public university (SUNY/New Paltz) in the Hudson Valley. She also had a private practice and worked with the County Health Department and at a hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Patti came to California more than twenty years ago when she became Director of Counseling Services at Cate School (9-12, boarding and day, coed) in Carpinteria, where she provided support services to the student body and led the faculty’s professional development activities for ten years. A year after leaving Cate, Patti was elected Head of School at Mulberry School (K-5) in Los Gatos.

Patti then took on greater responsibilities as Executive Director of Community Learning Center Schools in Alameda – two charter schools serving over 1,000 students in K-12. As the Executive Director, she wore many hats: union negotiator; budget administrator; professional development guru; lease negotiator; DEI leader; and compliance officer, among others. In this position, she reported to the Board of Directors, and after four years dealing with big schools and big bureaucracy, she became Head of K-8 Helios School in Sunnyvale.

A highly collaborative, democratic community, Helios serves gifted and 2E students, a population for which she has become a passionate advocate. A program that adopted Expeditionary Learning for its curriculum, Patti has extensive experience working within and fostering a project-rich, highly engaging learning environment. Following three years at Helios, Patti is now serving as a one-year interim Head of School with Andover School of Montessori in Andover, MA. She is excited for the opportunity to help ASM survive and thrive through COVID-19, while also learning more about the Montessori educational model.

Patti and her husband, Jozef, have three adult children (Jeremy, Christopher and Elana), all of whom reside in Northern California, as well. She loves cooking, taking long walks, reading, gardening and spending time with friends. She tends beehives (they have four in their back yard this year) and has five four-legged family members named Bonnie, Clyde, Dewey, Decimal and Jiffy. All felines, hers is definitely a crazy-cat-family!