Intriguing Person: Anthony Kandel

New Hilton Head Prep chief and his family are ready to enjoy island living.

Kandel, “is totally committed to doing what’s best for the kids. He is the right guy to take the school to the next level.”Anthony Kandel, newly named head of school at Hilton Head Preparatory School, would admit to personal as well as professional reasons why he’s eager to move to the island.

Those reasons could be summarized as “Sun” and “Belt.” Kandel, contacted March 4 in Philadelphia, where he heads the upper school at Haverford School, reported an outdoor temperature of 16 degrees at mid-morning.

“Two nights ago it snowed eight inches,” the Los Angeles native added.

Kandel and his family — wife Annie and children Abby, 9; Matthew, 8, and Allison, who turns 5 on April 20 — are “very outdoors-based people,” he said. “We chafe a little in the winter.”

Problem solved: The Kandels, who will move to Sea Pines Plantation in June, anticipate a climate more conducive to swimming, running, biking, whatever.

“We love the beach,” he said. “I enjoy golf and tennis.”

Kandel is also eager to leave the big city.

“I enjoy small town living,” he said. And, professionally speaking, “I prefer a smaller school.”

He’s getting his wish: At about 450 students (co-ed, K-12), Hilton Head Prep is half the size of all-boys Haverford.

Education Directions, an executive search firm hired by Hilton Head Prep, rounded up 40 qualified applicants for the headmaster’s position. Kandel was chosen from the six finalists called in for on-site interviews with the school’s search committee.

“The one quality that stood out was [that] he was a very magnanimous leader,” said Helen Ryan, who chaired the committee of about a dozen people. “He instantly made everyone feel comfortable.”

Kandel also impressed the committee with his “great knowledge” of the Hilton Head school, Ryan said. “His experience really fits into the goals of the strategic plan.”

Prep board of trustees chair Jim McLeod, who has grandchildren enrolled at the school, said Kandel, “is totally committed to doing what’s best for the kids. He is the right guy to take the school to the next level.”

Sally Cardamone, a search committee member who has two children enrolled at the school, called Kandel “very personable and easy to talk to,” as well as someone who understands the school’s high academic standards.

Kandel, who will succeed interim headmaster Peter Cooper on July 1, has headed the upper school at Haverford for three years. Before that, he served as director of the upper school and interim headmaster at the Alexander Dawson School in Lafayette, Colo. He also taught history and chaired the history department at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass. He received his doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Southern California, and his bachelor’s degree from Pomona College.

Kandel said he accepted the Hilton Head job because, “I really liked the people on the search committee. They were passionate about the school, open and honest. There was a tremendous sense of community among all the people I met. I found there to be a very compelling aura about the school.”

Kandel plans “no radical changes, at this point” for the school year starting in August. Project wise, he wants to look at building an art center, and eventually to  replace the lower, middle and upper school buildings.

He wants to start a “junior kindergarten” for 4-year-olds, and to increase the school’s total enrollment modestly — by about 10 percent over the next five years.

“We’re pretty happy with the size of the school,” he said. “We just want to grow it a little bit.” (His own kids will increase the student body by three.)

“We will investigate everything we do and how we can do it better,” he said. “The good news is [that] we’ve got a nice school.”

For more information, contact Hilton Head Preparatory School at (843) 671-2286.