C@A Director Jim Leonard with Jim Hamilton, Head of School at Berwick Academy, Fall 2021


To serve well at a high-performing independent school, each member of the leadership team must move fluidly from ground level to 10,000 feet many times daily to meet the moment: the pressing needs of various constituents while advancing the enduring mission of the school.

The demands on these leaders are considerable, increasing, and ever-evolving.

Our enterprise, Coaching@Altitude, was founded in Santa Fe, the highest (7200 feet above sea level) and oldest capital city in the U.S., to empower school leaders to give those they serve greater agency in shaping their experience of school and the world.


For a Head of School (or board of trustees), this one-year investment in senior leaders will pay dividends in the life of a school for years to come.

We are focused on senior leaders at independent schools who work closely with students, parents, and faculty: Head of School, Assistant Head, Division Heads, Directors of Admission and Advancement, Deans, and Department chairs. Providing these leaders with coaching skills–as well as ongoing coaching to help them reach their full potential–opens new pathways to improve performance, deepen engagement, and affirm value.

Jim and Story Leonard at Cambridge School of Weston with Head of School Lise Charlier and Community Engagement Coordinator Shad Sommers-Dehaney

Catalyst Cohort Schools, 2023-24 School Year

We are partnering with 75 school leaders at 18 independent schools this year.

We served twenty-four clients at four independent schools in our inaugural year.

Our clients hold a wide range of leadership positions at their schools: head, department chair, assistant head, director of finance, multicultural life, performing arts, human resources, and so on. By developing a coaching mindset and through the one-on-one coaching they are receiving, our clients report:

  • Clarity about their values and how to live them more fully
  • Improved communication with colleagues and constituents
  • Performance goals and accountability measures they have articulated
  • Gratitude for the time and space to be reflective and focus on themselves
  • Greater confidence going into difficult conversations

A January 2022 survey of our clients revealed the following:

  • “What I have learned during my coaching sessions has had a positive impact on my leadership at school.”
    (54% Strongly Agree/46% Agree)
  • “My C@A coach is effective in helping me gain greater clarity around the core values, beliefs, and behaviors that influence my leadership.”
    (61% Strongly Agree/32%Agree/7% Neutral)
  • “I am frequently incorporating a coaching mindset in my leadership at school.”
    (32% Strongly Agree, 61% Agree, 7% Neutral)

As a leadership team, we benefited both from the individual work we did with our coaches and the shared experience provided by Coaching@Altitude. We grew as leaders by adding this incredible skill and learned a lot about ourselves in the process. I am confident that Berwick Academy will continue to benefit from being part of the Trailblazer Cohort. Personally, working with Bea has been extremely productive. She is an experienced and talented educator who understands both the dynamics of working in a school environment and how to help her clients make the most of their coaching sessions.

James A. Hamilton (he,him,his), Head of School, Berwick Academy

Jim Leonard knows independent schools: the business, the value, and the inevitable challenges. Over his successful and innovative tenure as a Head of School, Jim demonstrated the skills and mindset crucial to investing in and developing the talents of his team, building a positive and dynamic school culture, and effectively realizing strategic opportunities.

Christine Lehman Chair, Board of Trustees at Santa Fe Prep 2016-2020

Through my work with Michael this year, I am more cognizant of how I approach things at work and at home. I am actively thinking about having conversations, listening more, and am more conscious.

Ryan Feeley, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs, MS Head, Berwick Academy

Coaching @ Altitude has beautifully matched mentors with our school’s leadership team. Each of my colleagues expresses gratitude for the skilled navigation they’ve experienced with their assigned coach. Often, a team member will refer to a suggested strategy shared by their coach or suggest that an issue we’re dealing with be introduced at their next session because the insights and suggestions have been so helpful. Jim and his team have been simply wonderful to work with and I’m doubly grateful that he is my coach! I have a safe place as Head to air ideas and frustrations, but more importantly, reflect on how I can be a better leader for my colleagues and school.

Dr. Julie Sherrill, PhD, Head of School, The Gregory School

My sessions with Bea enabled me to pause and reflect, which was rare given the crisis management that was frequently required of me due to the pandemic. Being able to process situations in a nonjudgmental setting was especially valuable, and I often left our meetings with concrete action steps that I could immediately begin. Bea was very supportive and offered patient guidance as I discovered answers to questions and made plans to be even more effective in my role.

Jason Ford (he/him/his), Trinity Middle School Principal

The accountability that a coach provides was a huge benefit for me. Knowing I would be meeting with Story was an incentive for trying out the changes I articulated with her that I wanted to make. As a result, I left our meetings having been more vulnerable, authentic, and satisfied that little was left unsaid. I don’t feel like I’m hiding anymore. I am showing up to meetings differently.

Michael Buensuceso, Assistant Head of School for Community and Equity, Berwick Academy

From Jim Leonard, I am enjoying the most valuable gift I’ve received as a school head: an unanxious space where I can explore out loud — with an attentive, thoughtful, patient, savvy professional — the uncertainties, worries, ambiguities, and cluelessness that I vigorously try to conceal at all other times. For the first time in over four decades of work, through the coaching relationship, I’ve been given regular opportunities to exorcize the anxieties quietly gnawing at my sense of professional fulfillment.

John Allman (he, him, his), Head of School, Trinity School NYC

As my coach across two years, Aisha listens purposefully and is able to ask meaningful questions that lead me to personal growth. No matter where you are in your career, working with Aisha will make you better–at your job and in your relationships.

Pat Krieger, Director of Athletics Trinity School, NYC