Dr. Randy Bertin, Stressing Critical Thinking

The Path to Higher Ed is a SchooLinks hosted podcast community that explores trending topics and issues in the area of college and career readiness. Our featured guests are pushing education forward by constantly learning from, innovating and applying their college and career readiness practices. Listen to gain their insights and apply them to your own college and career readiness practices.



In this episode, we speak with Dr. Randy Bertin, Head of School at the Besant Hill School of Happy Valley in Ojai, California. Randy’s perspective is grounded in a progressive vision of education that pushes self-discovery while also preparing students for the college and career worlds. By constantly self-reflecting and iterating its program, Besant Hill School has recognized the need to shift away from job-specific preparation and more toward developing broader skillsets.



About Dr. Randy Bertin


Randy Bertin has been a leader in independent boarding schools for the past seventeen years, which includes being Head of School at Besant Hill School of Happy Valley since July of 2011. Randy graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Exercise Physiology, and a doctorate of education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University.


Over a seven-year career at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield, MA, Randy served in many roles including Certified Athletic Trainer, Residential Faculty, Teacher, Coach, Dean, Director of Athletics, and Development Officer. Before becoming Head of School at Besant Hill, Randy served in multiple leadership positions there including Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Director of Advancement, and Assistant Head for Advancement. He also served as the school’s varsity basketball coach from 2007–2011, earning CIF-SS Division V coach of the year in 2010. During his tenure as Head of School, Randy has been recognized for his leadership in the areas of International Fundraising, and school leadership, and has presented a number of times on these topics.


In addition to his presentations on fundraising, other topics have included the Head of School’s Role in the Admissions Process, Integration and Immersion of International Students at Boarding Schools in the United States, and Perceptions of Independent School Leaders in California: Global Issues. He is also involved with non-profit youth organizations in the Ojai Valley and beyond.


Randy was honored with the Council for Advancement & Support of Education’s (CASE) 2017 Chief Executive Officer Leadership Award for institutional leadership. The Chief Executive Officer Leadership Award was established by District VII in 1999 to honor institutional leaders for their outstanding contributions to their campus communities and for their support of advancement at their institutions.



About Besant Hill School



The Mission


The mission of Besant Hill School is the development of each individual’s intellectual and artistic abilities. Through awakening the spirit of inquiry, we encourage each student to pursue integrity and excellence. Its non-competitive community builds honesty, respect, compassion, and responsibility. The goal is to develop a lifelong habit of learning as embodied in our school’s motto, Aun Aprendo — I am still learning.



Students Explore Creative and Intellectual Abilities


The philosophy of Besant Hill School of Happy Valley is drawn from the vision of its founders. They believed that the environment which encourages the fullest development of student potential is one that affords the opportunity to explore creative as well as intellectual abilities. They believed that a school with a global community would cultivate understanding and promote world peace. The school community in working together in a spirit of cooperation, not conformity, seek to cultivate and express what is excellent in each other. Intellectual curiosity and a spirit of inquiry are the activating factors in the educational process. Active participation in school community builds caring and responsible individuals, promoting lives of integrity, awareness, and purpose.



Working Individually with Each Student


Every day, the school lives a promise to continue the mission of its founders by working individually with each student as they follow their passions and strive to achieve their goals. By fulfilling this promise, the school hopes to instill the unique set of values of the Besant Hill School Portrait of a Graduate that honor individuality, critical thinking, creative and artistic passions, global citizenship, and environmental activism. This is an environment where teens can grow, not just merely study for a test or the SATs, take what they learn and synthesize new knowledge about the problems they are facing, and be adaptable to change and new learning.



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