Thursday, April 12, 2007

Not a peep from Saint Swithins or Saint Swithins


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Originally uploaded by timothyb.
Last night I applied to Saint Swithins-In-the-Berkshires for their dean of studies position. Another awesome possibility at a great little school.

Nothing, however, heard from Saint Swithins-Nestled-in-the-Appalachians or Saint Swithins-Along-the-Big-River. At the moment, I'm not actually expecting to hear from Saint Swithins-Nestled-in-the-Appalachians since they reposted the job I'd interviewed for.

I can only imagine that it's difficult to get the word out to the right people when a school has an opening. My candidacy for a position at Saint Swithins-Nestled-in-the-Appalachians had started with my initial broadcast letter. I'd traded a couple of emails with the dean of the faculty and also spoken with him on the phone. When the school started talking about hiring a counselor, he passed my file along. Meanwhile, the school had advertised on the National Association of Independent Schools career center site for a counselor/chaplain. The placement of the posting didn't make much sense to me, since if a school really wants to find an Episcopal priest who has a counseling background, the place to go is the Episcopal Church's national clergy deployment office. Priests who are even interested in a new role go there first for leads. I doubt many priests, even those who would consider a position at an independent boarding school, would go first to the NAIS site.

I suggested posting to the clergy deployment site, but the head of the school told me that since they weren't a diocesan school, they had difficulty using the deployment office's services. Too bad.

Then the school posted the job in the local Sunday newspaper (as a straight counselor, not chaplain/counselor), and they received a slew of applications. My early suspicion was that most of those applications were from traditional mental health professionals who had little, if any, knowledge -- or true interest -- in boarding schools. They were applying because they were counselors and they were local.

Then came the posting on the NAIS site, which I guess has greater success than the local newspaper. I wonder if the NAIS site in conjunction with the job board at the American Counseling Association would provide a better field of candidates.

Meanwhile, I know the search for a counselor continues; since I haven't heard a "no" yet, I can guess that my name hasn't been tossed to the curb, but, since I haven't heard a "yes" yet and I know the job's been reposted, I'm not in like flint. Perhaps if they can't find exactly what they're looking for, they'll come back to me.

What do I not have that they might be looking for. Well, since I haven't yet gotten any specific feedback post-interview, I can only surmise. It might appear I don't have a burning desire and a true calling to be a counselor. Since I'm open to a variety of roles, some people are turned off by this. They want, to use Jim Collins' terminology, a hedgehog, someone who's skills ideally match the counseling function. Along with this, they'd likely want someone with current experience as a counselor to adolescents. My current counseling experience is all in crisis intervention and psychological trauma -- as a part-time volunteer, to boot. And, the third issue is that I've been out of the independent school world for more than a decade, and I think that throws some people.

I'd been told by the head of Saint Swithins-Along-the-Big-River that they'd be selecting, this past Tuesday, who to invite to campus for additional interviews. I haven't gotten a call yet, so, if they've made that decision, I'm likely not in the first round.

And, that doesn't bode well as that position is an English faculty position, and we know how many highly qualified people are in the hunt for English faculty positions at boarding schools. Whereas on the counseling side a school might have a difficult time putting together a slate of four or five superb candidates that meet ever single desired criteria, for English candidates it's probably difficult to weed the list down to four or five.

I have a friend and former collegiate classmate who is an assistant head at Saint Swithins-Above-the-Housatonic. She wrote me recently:
Right now the only positions I know I'm looking to fill are studio art, French, Latin, and mathematics. Not really much up your alley here, unfortunately! I will definitely let you know if something more appropriate opens up.

Meanwhile, I would love to know what you thought of Saint Swithins-Along-the-Big-River. We get a considerable amount of cross-over applicant-wise with them, and we also play them in sports! They have "re-made" themselves over the past couple of years ... are shifting to the arts.
Guess that three years of Latin I isn’t going to do me much good getting a job at Above-the-Housatonic.

Wrote a colleague of mine yesterday:
Don't ask me how I know, but good things are coming your way. The independent school gig is where your heart is at.... I think you'll find a boarding school looking for someone like yourself and you'll be doing your calling.
Okay, John, are you reading tea leaves or tarot cards? And can you tell me how much longer I am going to be waiting?

In short, I remain searching. Along-the-Big-River and Nestled-in-the-Appalachians seem to be less than promising, at least at the moment. In-the-Berkshires, anyone?

1 comment:

High Schools said...

It is a good article and shows that quality of education in any high school can not be measured by its big campus. This schools is small but good.