Pillow Academy has selected its next headmaster.

Rodney Brown will step down at the end of this school year after three years on the job, and Barrett Donahoe, the current headmaster of Marshall Academy in Holly Springs, will take his place.

Hailing from Crystal Springs, Donahoe has been in education since 2002, teaching and coaching at various schools leading up to his employment at Marshall. The 40-year-old has been headmaster at Marshall since 2016.

Brown worked at Washington School in Greenville for 43 years and served as headmaster for his last 16. Not quite ready for retirement, he took an open position for headmaster at Pillow in 2017 on a three-year contract with the understanding that a new headmaster would be hired afterward. If that didn’t happen, then he would go year-to-year.

Donahoe has a clear vision for  Pillow. He said he wants to try and “get the pulse of the community and where Pillow is and really (cultivate) that shared vision that we can move Pillow forward.”

Donahoe worked at Pillow in the 2010-2011 school year as a teacher and assistant football and baseball coach. He was a part of the coaching staff for the 2010 varsity football team that won the state championship that year.

“The community of Pillow is very unique. I look forward to being a part of the atmosphere again,” he said.

Donahoe is also a member of the executive committee for the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS).

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in education from the Mississippi University for Women.

He and his wife, Ryann, will have been married for eight years in March. They have four children, ages 12, 7, 4 and 1.

“I think Barrett will do really well,” Brown said. “He has a really good reputation in the MAIS. He’s well respected. He is very level-headed, very progressive, and I think he’ll be a good fit for Pillow Academy and for long term moving forward.”

“Mr. Brown was the right man at the right time,”  Frank Kimmel, vice president of Pillow’s board, said in a release. “We strongly believe that Barrett Donahoe is the right man for the future of Pillow Academy.”

Board member Chris Bush also said in a release, “Barrett is the kind of leader we were looking for. He easily gains your respect in a short time.”

Matt Gnemi, president of the  board, said Brown was involved in the selection process.

“With the help of our current headmaster, Mr. Brown, it’s kind of been a process we’ve been discussing and working on for the past year,” Gnemi said. “(Donahoe’s) name has come up numerous times, whether it be from our current headmaster or other members from MAIS.”

Donahoe is looking forward to immersing his family in the community and watching not only his children but all the students grow within the school.

“We’re going to focus on growing our students academically, physically and spiritually,” he said.

Contact Kerrigan Herret at 581-7233 or kherret@gwcommonwealth.com.

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