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Academy names new headmaster

Staff Report

The Salisbury Academy Board of Trustees has named a California educator as its next head of school.

In a letter to Salisbury Academy parents, trustees Chairman Chanaka Yatawara announced that Sal Trento will succeed Tommy Hudgins, effective July 1.

Trento comes from a newly established independent school in West Los Angeles, where he has developed and directed the school’s science laboratories and curriculum.

Trento takes the place of Karen Hughes, who previously moved to a school in Charlotte.

Hudgins, formerly head of school at Westchester Academy in High Point, has served as interim head of school while school search committees looked for a permanent replacement.

Yatawara said Hudgins did not apply for the Salisbury Academy job; he is looking for a similar position with a school that offers grades K-12.

“He helped us tremendously in the search process,” Yatawara said Thursday “He acted as a consultant.”

“It was a great thing to have him here.”

In his letter to the school’s families, Yatawara wrote, “The Board of Trustees’ unanimous decision to select Sal Trento followed the enthusiastic and unanimous recommendation of the Search Committee and the Advisory Committee,” Yatawara wrote.

The two committees considered more than 20 resumes.

Yatawara said Trento has met with Salisbury Academy administrators, teachers, parents and students.

“Sal loved our school’s sense of community and that we are a healthy school looking to grow,” Yatawara said in his letter.

Yatawara gave this summary of the new head of school’s background:

Trento grew up in a small agricultural town in the Hudson Valley of New York State.

He has higher degrees in human biology and educational administration and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Buffalo, his master’s from Oxford University in England and master’s in education from the University of Massachusetts.

He has taught, consulted and administered in public and private schools for almost 30 years.

Formerly an upper school head at an independent school in Denver, Colo., he helped raise $8.9 million for a new campus. He was also that school’s curriculum leader, where he helped establish a Core K-9 program.

Trento is also part of Massachusetts-based Lesley University’s National Outreach faculty, where for more than 20 years he has instructed and assessed values-based school programs and faculty from around the country.

He has written seven books and many journal articles on both education and his hobby, archeological mysteries.

Trento also is the founding director of a summer experimental learning program in Bermuda for middle school students. Since the mid-1980s, he has introduced more than 1,500 students from around the country and Europe to coral reef diving, shipwreck exploration, cave studies and the scientific process at the Bermuda Biological Research Station.

Yatawara said Salisbury Academy’s Head of School Search Committee and Advisory Committee conducted an “exhaustive national search.”

“We are also proud to say that our top choice in this process accepted the position of head of school at Salisbury Academy,” Yatawara wrote.

Trento said Thursday that he was astonished by the progress Salisbury Academy has made in its short history. The school observes its 14th anniversary this year.

He also praised the Core Curriculum the school uses. The system sets clear benchmarks for knowledge students should have at the end of each grade, while also remaining “child centered,” he said.

And when he met the parents, students and staff of the school, “I was amazed at the level of social grace and intellectual integrity,” he said.

Trento and his wife, Gwen, already are negotiating to buy a house in Milford Hills, not far from Salisbury Academy.

Gwen Trento was until recently senior vice president of real estate and asset management for the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She arrived at USC after a 25-year career in Beverly Hills at real estate investment companies.

Trento has two daughters whom he raised out West, Yatawara said in his letter. Next fall, Reane will enter her junior year at the University of Colorado at Boulder, while Sarah will be finishing her senior year at George Washington High School in Denver, Colo.

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