Darlington has amazing faculty. Each one is here for the right reason: to give our students outstanding learning experiences and build confident contributors ready for life after Darlington. Much of their strength lies in their consistency, and we have been blessed that our great faculty tend to return year after year! Besides the fact that Darlington is an awesome place to work, for a while now the pandemic must be given part of the credit. And if you’ve been keeping up with employment trends, you’ll also know the pandemic is getting credit for much career movement now that people are more confident about life changes (and maybe a little restless on top of that). Darlington is no exception! New babies, new spouses, new spouse jobs, new opportunities for promotion, new priorities, retirements, and, my favorite, a large increase in our school’s enrollment have given us the opportunity to add 23 new faculty this year.
This is a great group of professionals (read all about them in our story profiling new faculty). Among the group are some familiar faces, including an alumnus, a former faculty member, and a former parent. They trace their paths across the world, including Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Japan, Taiwan and Ireland. Their experience ranges from a former college professor with a doctorate looking to help students learn to read to a new college graduate looking to share her love of hands-on field work with active learners. The group brings new leaders to the school with tremendous experience and exciting new ideas in areas such as residential life, library services, and the Teaching and Learning Center. They also bring big contributions to our extracurricular program and will lead us in areas of Soccer Academy, wrestling, lacrosse, esports, journalism, music, and even exhibit creation led by a former museum director.
Hiring is critically important to any organization and at Darlington we work very hard at it. There were hundreds of resumes and interviews to work through last school year. Our hiring team model and interview process involved many hours of involvement from the majority of our current faculty. All of this is done in the service of finding just the right mix of people to serve our diverse community and help fulfill the mission of our school.
And hiring them is just the beginning! All summer we have been working individually with our new faculty to help them transition to Darlington. They have been attending conferences and workshops in leadership, teaching in independent schools, teaching for the first time, and several in discipline-specific teaching strategies. There have also been workshops here on campus related to technology, curriculum, and wellness, including sessions related to our summer book read on building resiliency in students. All new faculty returned a few days before our returning faculty to take a deep dive into Darlington-specific topics related to our philosophy of learning, culture, and shared agreements: how our school operates, the Mission, the Cycle of Learning, curriculum, academic standards, lesson structure, safety, and wellness. That is a lot to take in, especially right before jumping into regular faculty orientation and the start of school. But it’s also important as we make sure our students are getting a consistent and supportive experience from our faculty.
Going forward, our new faculty will continue to actively work on their transition. Each has an academic leader as well as another mentor to guide them through the day-to-day. They will also be involved in a new faculty Professional Learning Community for eight weeks during our late start Wednesday time. Throughout the year, they will be engaging with other faculty during classroom visits and faculty development.
While we always hate to say goodbye to a faculty member, we also know that this change is a normal process and also a healthy one. Although most of this blog has discussed how we help new faculty learn about us, just as important are all the new ideas, energy, and experience they bring to us! Throughout their first year, Darlington will be learning from their fresh perspectives: new teaching strategies, different approaches to procedures, solutions we had not thought of before, ways of connecting with students, and fresh opportunities for growth. These things will make our entire faculty better. Most importantly, our new faculty will be ready from day one to be part of a faculty that delivers great student learning experiences and outcomes that every member of our community has come to expect and depend upon.