By Amanda Wolkin

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School found the man to fill a rather large pair of shoes.

The Sandy Springs school announced that Rick Betts will succeed Kirk Duncan as its new head of school.

Betts has been in education for 16 years and with the school for 13 years, beginning as assistant principal in 1998 and then becoming associate head of school in 2006.

“Kirk [Duncan] came in seven years ago when the school was looking for change, and he transformed the place with all of his technology and expansion,” Betts said. “Now he’s looking to help out another school, so Holy Innocents’ is in another period of transition. My goal will be to provide the school with stability and consistency during that period. The school’s in good shape, and I want to make sure everything continues in that steady pace.”

Betts will be the acting head of school for one year as the Board of Trustees conducts a nationwide search for a new head of school. The decision is projected to be made by late fall, and the new Head of School will formally take on his or her duties beginning July 2011. Betts is a candidate for the Head of School position.

As associate head, Betts is in charge of HIES daily operations. As head of school, he is in charge of fund-raising, managing the Board of Trustees and overseeing the entire school – all seven buildings and 1,300 students.

When asked if taking on the two jobs would be overwhelming, Betts laughed and said, “Maybe I’m just naïve or don’t fully understand how much I’ll be responsible for, but right now I’m not stressed out about it, just excited.”

Betts’ tie to HIES is a strong one. His three girls, one in second grade, one in sixth and one in seventh, have all attended HIES since preschool, and his wife occasionally substitutes for classes and works in the admissions office. They have even lived on campus for the past four years in the school’s residential home.

“We all love it here,” Betts said. “And I’m not a source of embarrassment yet for my daughters, either.”

Even if Betts does not become the permanent head of school, he has no intention of leaving Holy Innocents’.

“There’s a certain balanced nature of learning here,” Betts said. “We have the athletics, the fine arts, the religion, the community service and, of course, the academics. The people in the community are great to work with, the kids are engaged and excited, the parents are helpful and proactive and the faculty is impressive. Every day’s a new challenge. It’s an exciting time of growth.”