Rob Zimmerman – Parent, Alum, and Board Member – Becomes CCD’s Interim Head of School


Margaret Sprigg-Dudley, Editor-in-Chief '22

New COVID protocols, new schedule, and now, a new head of school. Country Day is facing a lot of change this year, but our new interim head Rob Zimmerman is hoping to provide some support in the transition.

Mr. Zimmerman is an alum of Country Day, having graduated in ’98 and gone on to Vanderbilt university, then to UC College of Law. Afterwards, he began working as a legislator and is now a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, a law firm in Cincinnati. In addition to his work at the law firm, he’s been on the CCDS school board for six years – a role that led him to the position he’s in now.

Mr. Zimmerman has been part of the Country Day community for years – he graduated recently enough to have had some current Upper School teachers such as Mr. Black, Mr. Miller, and Ms. Butler. He was preparing to become the board chair when Mr. Jaccaci announced that he was leaving. He and the rest of the board were tasked with finding a new head.

According to Mr. Zimmerman, private schools typically hire a year in advance: “Most of the time, when you can afford to, you like to do a full national and international search that takes a year so you can find a sitting head somewhere. And that meant we needed an interim head.”

Country Day has done this before, having hired a professional interim head – someone who moved from school to school – in the early 2000s. Though that type of head is common, and he worked out fine, the board decided that an internal person was what Country Day needed.

Mr. Zimmerman said, “what was required was steady momentum and building on where we already were,” not someone from the outside to institute radical change.

After some discussion, Mr. Zimmerman stepped up.

While filling this position, Mr. Zimmerman will not be working at Dinsmore. He said, “I’ve still got an office at Dinsmore and I’ve still got a Dinsmore email…the plan is to return in the summer of next year.”

Before the pandemic, though, he likely would not have done it – he wouldn’t have been willing to face such a big change.

“COVID made me and lots of others think that, life is short, do things that really really matter. And this is something that matters to me,” he said.

Being an alum, Mr. Zimmerman has a unique perspective that could be beneficial in his new position. He’s seen the school change over the years – not only the building itself but also the community and the curriculum.

He said, “I think we’ve become a little bit more inclusive as a student body, I think we draw from or zip codes. I think we’re more representative of the city.”

In addition, he noted how the world has changed – it’s become more interconnected, college has gotten more competitive.

“You know, I said this to my kids. I do not want them to have the same educational experience at Country Day that I had, as great as an experience as I had. It is a very different world and we need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re preparing our students for a very different world than the ones their parents grew up in,” he said.

Though he will be taking on the duties of head of school, the role of an interim head is different than that of a regular head.

“My job is not to develop a new strategic plan or instituting any bold initiatives. My job is to keep our steady momentum to ensure a smooth transition, to make sure the baton is not dropped from Mr. Jaccaci to whoever the next head is,” he said. His goal is not to bring sweeping change, but instead to offer continuity.

In a COVID world, continuity is just what some people are looking for. As Mr. Zimmerman said, “I think we want to get back, be with each other, connect our community and have a more normal school year. And so I think in some sense the timing is not so bad to have an interim head.”

Though he hopes to provide some normalcy, COVID will still be part of our lives this year. He said, “we had great hopes that this would be a year that would be relatively free of COVID and COVID protocols, but wishing doesn’t make it so.”

Being as involved in the school as he is, he is more prepared for a COVID year than an outside candidate might be. Mr. Zimmerman has been on the medical advisory board for the past year, giving input on COVID protocols and staying up to date on how the virus is progressing.

COVID was “a big part of our school operation last year,” he said, and because of his work he doesn’t “need much time to get up to speed on our COVID protocols.”

Even with COVID continuing as it is, Mr. Zimmerman is excited for the year to come.

“Let’s have fun this year,” he said. “It may not be 100% back to normal, but I feel what everybody else feels, which is a desire to come back together as a community and have a year that feels more like normal and where we can be together as students and as faculty and as an entire community.”

As a parent, alum, and board member, he knows Country Day.

“I love the school deeply,” he said. “I have a lot to learn about this position, but not so much about the school community.”