In October 2019, the Wasatch Academy Board of Trustees announced the appointment of the next Head of School, James Matthew Culberson. Matt Culberson is currently the Head of Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington. He will assume his new role on July 1, 2020. Culberson succeeds Joseph Loftin who will stay for the 2020-2021 school year to assist in the transition and then will retire after 35 extraordinary years of service. “We are deeply indebted to Joe for what he has accomplished at Wasatch Academy by transforming a small, regional boarding school into a richly diverse, globally-connected center of learning,” stated Board President Terry Feeney in the official announcement.
“I know Joe Loftin as a colleague, life-long learner, and parent, and I know Wasatch Academy. Through these lenses, I have witnessed the impressive trajectory of Wasatch Academy since I first started working at an independent school in Utah in the early 1990s. I watched Joe, and the committed work of the Wasatch Board, take risks, reinvent the school’s vision and culture, and create a learning community that is a true international school,” stated Culberson. “Wasatch Academy is an extraordinary school. The opportunity to learn from and follow Joe Loftin and his remarkable legacy is extraordinary.”
Culberson grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and began his teaching career at Storm King School, a small boarding school in New York State. In addition to his duties as a teacher, dorm parent, and Dean of Students, Matt spent his summers as an instructor in the Outward Bound School in North Carolina. He then spent more than a decade as a professional mountain guide, leading expeditions in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Matt then served for several years as an instructor at the University of Denver before joining the faculty at Waterford School in Sandy, Utah in 1992 as a teacher, administrator, and coach. In 2006 Matt was appointed Head of The McGillis School in Salt Lake City where he served for ten years. In 2016 he assumed his current duties as Head of Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington. Matt holds a B.A. in Geology and Philosophy from Washington and Lee University and an M.A. in Philosophy and Ethics from the University of Denver.
While reflecting about his position as the Head of School at Wasatch Academy, Culberson states “Wasatch Academy is a school that has a broad international and domestic boarding population; a school that is grounded in a student-centered growth mindset; a school built and guided for more than a quarter-century by an educational visionary. It is a school that is mission-driven and student-centered. It serves a wide range of learners really well and has developed a national reputation for its differentiated pedagogy and its commitment to caring for everyone equitably, justly, and fairly, in its truly broad and diverse community. I am deeply committed to a school like Wasatch Academy that places students’ (every student) well-being as the highest order filter in decision-making.”
Matt brings to his new role 14 years as a head of school, extensive experience as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator, and a passion for climbing and traveling in the high alpine environment.