Leadership Transition

Letter from Catherine Freeman to the West Sound Academy community – May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021

Dear West Sound Academy Community,

In this time of change, I want to share with you that I love West Sound Academy. It has been my joy to spend the last 14 years educating West Sound students and assisting this school thrive. Helping students discover themselves and gain confidence through the pursuit of knowledge is always exciting and the major motivator for all the work we do as a school.

I have worked closely with Barrie over the past three years on all aspects of school operations. Trained by the best, I feel well prepared to take over the leadership of this wonderful school. I will continue to support our amazing faculty and staff as they educate and empower our students. I will focus on continuing to foster a strong, vibrant, and welcoming community and I will be a dutiful steward of the school’s finances.

We teach our students to be resilient problem solvers. This year we have all had the opportunity to use those skills ourselves. I am excited for this opportunity to continue to serve this school. I look forward to working with all of our West Sound Academy families to ensure that the year ahead is one of recovery from pandemic woes as we all move from that uncharted territory into a brighter future.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may of me have during the days ahead.


Catherine Freeman

Letter from Barrie Hillman to the West Sound Academy community – May 5, 2021
May 5, 2021

Dear West Sound Academy,

Today, I am writing to the community to share that 2020-21 will be my final year as the Head of School at West Sound Academy.  It has been my great honor to lead this school for the past 10 years, most specifically because of the students I have had the privilege to help guide along their educational journey and the faculty and staff who have been my partners in this challenging work.

While this might be surprising news to the wider community, the Board of Trustees and I have been working for the last nine months amidst the chaos of the pandemic on the succession plan. In these challenging times, the Board realizes this is an unusual timeline for announcing this transition. Still, it is one they are prepared for. I have every confidence that as the Interim Head of School, Catherine will lead the school with skill, continuity, and care. It has been one of the greatest joys of my career to work so closely with her, and Lisa, as the senior leadership team for the last five years.

West Sound Academy is fortunate to have a dedicated and courageous Board of Trustees who navigate school leadership with calm and integrity.  The caring, professional, and passionate faculty and staff are the school’s heartbeat and will continue to be so under new leadership.

Although change can be uncomfortable, change is also healthy.  At every commencement ceremony, when the graduating class gives their “Last Word” speeches, I am filled with the affirmation that this school as a whole, not just any one person, is transforming the lives of children.

All my best,

Barrie Hillman

Letter from Mark Phelan, Chair of the Board of Trustees, to the West Sound Academy community – May 5, 2021
May 5, 2021

Dear West Sound Academy Community,

As Barrie has shared with you, the 2020-21 school year will be her final year as Head of School. I speak for the entire Board of Trustees when I express deep appreciation for her service to the school for the last thirteen years. We are profoundly aware of the dedication and devotion she has exhibited toward the health and well-being of the school. Barrie will be missed, but as Head of School, she has truly strengthened West Sound Academy.

Barrie was named Head of School just as Western Washington started reeling from the impacts of the Great Recession.  Throughout her tenure, conditions have required her to both manage and respond to the immediate and emergent needs of the school. Barrie has also done vital long-term strategic thinking through the lens of sustainability and innovation. Her response to the pandemic, with swift adjustments and caretaking of the entire community, has been exemplary.

Succession planning is a fundamental responsibility of the Board of Trustees. We are pleased to announce that Catherine Freeman will be stepping into an Interim Head of School role.  She has the full support of the board and will provide continuity going forward.  Catherine has been at WSA for 14 years and understands the school and the needs of the students exceptionally well.  We have formed a Leadership Committee chaired by Board Member Andrew Allemann, who will work with representatives from the board and WSA community through next year to finalize the Headship transition.

We look forward to bringing this year to a close, celebrating the Class of 2021 in just a few weeks, and keeping the community up to date on this transition process.


Mark Phelan
West Sound Academy Chair of the Board of Trustees