This week, I am about to complete sixty or so sessions I’ve had with staff. In each one, I learned about what they do at the school, about their program, about their students, how long they’ve been at the school, what they did before they came to the school, and anything else they thought might be useful for me to understand about them. And in every conversation, I made sure to ask two questions, ‘What’s one thing we should keep at Adelson?, and ‘What’s one thing that maybe we should think about changing?’. I told them that I was not in a position to commit to anything they might recommend, but I promised that I would record their responses and pass them along to my successor, so that they would have knowledge of the reflections of the staff (that compilation is approaching twenty pages!).
II wanted to report a bit on my general findings. The responses to the question, ‘What should we change?’ were quite varied, with only modest overlap. Probably the only frequent response was ‘stability in leadership – a Head of School who is here, in Vegas, and stays for a while’ being the most common of those responses (and I concur). The others, including ‘Don’t change anything’, were thoughtful, and often touched upon topics specific to the context of the staff member (such as Preschool, Judaics, etc.).
What was remarkable was the uniformity of the responses to the question about ‘What should we keep?’. The frequency – across divisions, subject specialties and length of tenure - was the sense of teachers working together as a team. Over and over, I heard how faculty felt supportive of each other and how that made them want to come to work each day and work even harder for the children in their care. I heard how comfortable teachers felt collaborating with their peers, how they enjoyed the company of the ‘people across the hall’, how much they miss the interaction that comes incidentally in the course of a regular day in a non-COVID year, and how all of that – taken together – makes them love coming to work at Adelson and working with children they clearly love.
For those of you who have never set foot in a teacher’s room, let me inform you that such response - even if they are to ‘butter up’ the new guy a little - are very rare, indeed. In many schools (and those teachers who have taught outside of AEC confirmed) the atmosphere amongst the faculty is often far, far different.
Further, anyone who has tried to lead a school will tell you that making good choices about faculty is critical (and there have been some terrific choices here), and that the guts of the quality of a school day-to-day is the energy and care demonstrated by committed teachers.
I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet with so many of our wonderful teachers. I am humbled to be their partner this year. We are a very fortunate community, indeed.
Next up, the 11th and 12th graders – I’m starting to line up those meetings soon, and will report back on those later in the school year.