Tenured Educator, Tasked with Leading All School Aspects and Supporting Vestry and Church, Set to Join in July 2022

Dear St. Thomas Family,
- (January 25, 2022) - St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School (STEPS), one of Miami’s elite schools for Preschool-Grade 5 is proud to announce the appointment of Ms. Sarah Kemeness as new Head of School beginning July 1, 2022. Kemeness joins STEPS from Palm Beach Academy where she has served as Middle/Upper School Head (Grades 4-9) since 2015. She succeeds Mrs. Lillian Issa who is continuing on to the next chapter of her life together with her husband and family, after successfully leading STEPS for the past six years and more than forty years in education. We are grateful to Mrs. Issa and thank her for her leadership and valuable commitment to St. Thomas during her time with us and wish her the very best. Kemeness was selected after an extensive nationwide search led by The Education Group and an in-depth interview process with STEPS’ Search Committee and key constituents.  

“We are thrilled to welcome Sarah to our school and community! When we embarked on this search, we had a clear sense of the type of leader needed to drive forward the school’s mission and vision,” said Kurt Bauer, “Sarah not only has the experience needed to take on this role, but she possesses strong leadership and management skills, a warm and approachable personality, and a passion for faith-based education, that will continue to set St. Thomas apart from other institutions.”

In this role, Kemeness will be responsible for the school’s strategic planning and implementation, establishing a long-term vision to build upon the success of the current administration, supporting faculty and staff, nourishing the school’s community, and collaborating closely with the Board of Trustees, Vestry and Church. “At St. Thomas, our School is a ministry of our Parish,” said Reverend Timothy Fleck, St. Thomas’ Priest-in-Charge. “Educating children is what we are called to do, and I know Sarah understands that.” She will also be instrumental in upholding St. Thomas’ standards of excellence, honoring the school’s mission, and strengthening the schools’ Episcopal identity.

“I’m excited and honored to lead this strong community known for student-centered education, a deep ecclesiastical tradition, and academic excellence,” said Sarah Kemeness. “I look forward to working with a dedicated faculty who during my visit, made it clear that they love their students. Finally, I am thrilled to be partnering with St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees, the clergy, and families to bring our mission to life.”

Kemeness comes to STEPS with more than 25 years of experience in education. Prior to serving as Middle/Upper Head at Palm Beach Academy, Kemeness was the Upper School Head at Lake Mary Preparatory School, where she oversaw the revamping of the AP program and always kept one foot firmly in the classroom by teaching a tenth-grade English class. Passionate about teacher development and the faculty community, she created a new model for teacher professional development. Rather than bring in outside professionals, Kemeness tapped faculty members for professional development days and began a “teachers teaching teachers” movement that helped ignite new ideas in veterans and new faculty alike, while showcasing talent on campus.

Additionally, she held various positions at Palmer Trinity School – a stronger feeder school for St. Thomas – including Upper and Middle School Dean of Students, Lead Advisor, English Teacher, and Varsity Soccer Coach.

Originally from Long Island, NY, Kemeness earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Florida International University. She currently resides in Palm Beach but will be relocating to South Miami in order to be close to the St. Thomas community. When she’s not working you won’t find her sitting still but rather paddleboarding or out on the golf course. 

About St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School 
Located in Coral Gables, Florida, St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School (STEPS) was founded in 1953. Now in its 69th year, St. Thomas has grown to include grades junior preschool through 5th grade and has 425 students. St. Thomas is a loving, secure, and inclusive community that nurtures, challenges, and inspires children to honor God, care for their world, and develop a passion for discovery and learning. STEPS equips children to better navigate and lead in a rapidly evolving world through an innovative and proven education grounded in Episcopal values. For more information on St. Thomas, please call 305-665-4851 or visit