05/09/2018 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Conferences
“You Can” Faculty Feature: Priscilla and Kathleen
Leading up to our Women’s Institute on June 8 in Boston, we’ll be shining the spotlight on the incredible individuals who will be speakers and panel leaders at our event, the theme of which is “You Can: Striving For Progress, Not Perfection.”
You can see last week’s faculty spotlight on Dr. Sandra (Chap) Chapman from LREI and Lorry Perry from Blair Academy here.
-Associate Head of School, The Park School of Baltimore (MD)
-Former history teacher, Director of Diversity, Director of Financial Aid & Outreach, and Dean of Students at Riverdale Country School (NY)
-Former history teacher, Associate Director of Admission, and Dean of 9th Grade at Greenwich Academy (CT)
What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by women working in education?
The biggest challenge women face in our field and in others is that of self-preservation. I know we often discuss self-care and bringing your authentic self to the workplace, but I think we need to shift that narrative and discuss how to preserve whole parts of the self. Women give so much of their time, effort, energy, and identity to their work that it is easy to not only feel depleted but also feel that aspects of the self no longer exist. Over time, parts of the whole become invisible. This is a huge challenge.
What advice would you give a woman who is trying to advance her career in education?
There are two pieces of advice I always give: get a seat at the table and actively solicit feedback. For the former, I suggest volunteering for committees, getting involved with different initiatives, and participating with various groups. For the latter, feedback and your openness to the feedback are an important part of the path.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
READ. I love to read, so I was surprised when a mentor told me that. But it’s true — it is important to read as much as possible. Reading not only informs our own work and decision-making but it also creates bonds with different constituents. Who doesn’t love the question, “What are you reading right now?”
Why do you think it’s important we host a Women’s Institute?
I was recently talking to a student at Park about representation and I realized that I have never had a Latina educator. From pre-kindergarten through graduate school — not one. Then I started thinking about the number of Latina leaders in education and the numbers were disheartening. I believe that the Women’s Institute is important because we ALL must support and advocate for one another as we navigate through the independent school world. The Women’s Institute is a powerful opportunity to provide the building blocks for agency, equity, and unity.
-Assistant Head of School and Executive Director of Horizons, Westminster School (CT)
-Has also served as history teacher, lacrosse and soccer coach, corridor supervisor and advisor, Class Dean, Dean of Students, and Director of Student Life at Westminster
-Former admissions officer and German teacher at Deerfield Academy (MA)
Tell the story of your journey.
After I graduated from college with a major in history and German literature, I landed a job at Manufacturers Hanover Bank in commercial lending. I was unprepared for a job in the finance field, but I was fortunate to have a great boss. After two years, though, I wanted to see what else was out there. I applied for a Fulbright Grant and spent the next year as a teacher in former East Germany on the heels of reunification. Though the bank had given me a verbal guarantee of returning to a job in middle-market lending, I was certain that schools and working with young people would be the focus of my career going forward.
When I returned to the states, I began my foray in independent schools as a German teacher at Deerfield Academy. Having attended public schools in Connecticut, Deerfield was my first exposure to independent school life. I loved the variety of the day – classes in the morning, athletics in the afternoon, and corridor life at night. Deerfield, like Manufacturers Hanover Bank, gave me a lot of responsibility; in addition to teaching, I worked in admissions, ran the student activities office, lived in a residential hall, and coached soccer, alpine skiing, and lacrosse. I enjoyed my colleagues immensely.
Five years later, I moved to Westminster School and was again fortunate to become part of an outstanding faculty and to work with talented and conscientious students. I started teaching history, began my job as Dean of Students, and was coach of the varsity girls lacrosse team. Over the years, I have had many opportunities at Westminster – from dean and coach to Director of Student Life, from chair of the NEASC Decennial Evaluation to now Assistant Head of School and executive director of Horizons at Westminster School. I have tried to make the most of each new role and challenge.
What is a favorite quote of yours from a woman?
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would mostly just cheer my younger self on. I look back at a younger self who worked hard, took risks, and sought balance. Rock on!
Check back each week as we feature the rest of our talented Women’s Institute faculty members who will be joining us in June.
Want to learn more about the Institute, read a recap from last year, or reserve your spot today? Click here!
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