by Molly Zuckerman
Chadwick, being a private school, has the good fortune to be able to set an extremely high bar when hiring new teachers.
However, that’s not to say that all teachers must have the highest level of education and PhD’s in their subjects.
In fact, Headmaster Ted Hill says, “ [having a PhD is] not a prerequisite, its not even something that we really look for, because there can be a downside of where people are so invested in a very narrow slice of topic and are more research oriented than connected to students.”
Hill has a very specific set of ideas of what a teacher should be and how they should contribute to our school. He has three criteria that must be met: “really love kids […] that have a love of whatever the subject matter is that they are teaching, and the third is their expertise.”
Hill went on to explain that surveys have shown him that the first two are “the most important in critical teaching.”
The search for qualified candidates takes place both internationally and nationally now, for the quality of teachers is of great importance to Chadwick.
“We have to really spend a lot of time and energy and money trying to seek out these folks, and even so, you can never be sure until the person comes on campus, to see what the actual match is going to be,” says Hill.
History teacher Dan Place has similar ideas about the qualifications for Chadwick teachers.
Quoting Margaret Meade, Place says, “The most extraordinary thing about a good teacher is that he or she transcends accepted educational methods.”
Connecting to the kids is what Place looks for when he observes new teachers in classroom environments.
“You can’t teach personality,” says Place, “people either like kids and have fun with them and connect with them, or don’t.”
Although the importance of connecting with children is the same, there is still a difference in hiring teachers in the Village school and the Middle and Upper Schools.
Chadwick policy is not to hire any first time teachers for the Village School, for Hill says, “the component of dealing with children at whatever the age level is, is so important that we really want to see that there is a positive track record.” First time teachers can be hired in the Upper School, for there is more understanding with older kids.
However, Chadwick still has rigorous criteria for new teachers that must be met. It is still more than just credentials Chadwick looks for; the character of the individual factors in quite strongly.
Hill says they focus their search for new faculty on people that have various interests outside of their own particular field.
“We want to make sure we’re putting faculty members in contact with kids that are really well rounded with excellent character, and have interests outside of the classroom,” says Hill.
Enthusiasm for their students is another prerequisite for all Chadwick teachers to have.
Hill says, “ [We want people that] are going to want to come to a volleyball game, want to go to a cross country meet, want to come to the play. We don’t want to have to force them to do that.”
When asked how Chadwick’s teacher qualifications compared to public schools’, Hill felt he couldn’t really compare the two.
“They’re interested in credentials and stuff like that, which we don’t feel is really the right measure, I mean that’s not to say there’s lots of teachers that have credentials that are great teachers, its not like that’s a bad thing, its just not the criteria that we use,” says Hill.
The average teacher at Chadwick has been here for fifteen years, a relatively long time as compared to other schools. That’s why Chadwick has a very well funded professional development program, which funds everything from weekend conferences to the pursuit of higher education.
Hill recognizes that “if [our faculty is] going to continue to grow, its going be while they’re a Chadwick faculty member, so we need to provide a high level of funding to enable them to do that.”
The qualifications to be a Chadwick teacher don’t stop just because they are hired; they continue to be expected to change positively.