Wednesday, November 04, 2009

And a third letter of interest wings its way across the Internet

For anyone lurking about and wondering what the status of my search is, I now have three active letters of interest out "there." There's Little School on the Prairie (head of school), Saint Swithins on the Mountaintop (academic dean), and Saint Swithins Under One Roof (assistant head). I'm hopeful, but realistic.

Meanwhile, things in my current professional life are keeping me busy. I'm working on certification as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt which, in the performance improvement world, is a pretty big deal. And, of course, I'm slugging away on the dissertation. I need to make some big moves over the next eight weeks with both of these inititiatives. More to follow...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Autumn reflection: Two active applications

I have just clicked send, and my second letter of interest is zooming its way across the fibers of the Internet, destined to land in an inbox and not, we hope, the trash can. In keeping with my new focus, realistic or not, this was for an assistant head role.

I've been struggling with how to open a letter of interest. The "I write today to express my interest in being considered as the Head of School at St. Swithin's School" just doesn't seem to catch me. When I was a young, perspective English teacher, I wrote something like, "A mentor of mine once told me that begining English teachers were worth a dime a dozen. If that's the case, I'm worth a little under a penny."

One thing I've learned over the years is that I only need to reach the person who I really want to work for. In that particular case, I sent out some 200 letters and landed a couple of interviews. And one offer. The head of the school, Wally Stettler, liked my letter. Having attended a small boarding school where the head did everything, I didn't realize that wasn't the norm. Dr. Stettler received my letter and passed it to the dean of the upper school, Carmen Marnell, who later told me that if he'd received the letter I never would have been invited to campus for an interview. Guess I sent it to the right person, and I guess it struck the right chord.

Here's what I churned out today, wordy and verbose (like I needed to say both...):
Having been out of the independent school business for fifteen years, I’ve been accused of embodying an oft-repeated quote from Isabel Waxman: “It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days.” I like to think, however, that what draws me back to independent boarding schools is more Albert Einstein. He noted, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything one learned in school.” I’ve seen the power of boarding schools, where education happens not just in the classrooms, but on the playing fields and dormitory corridors, in the dining hall and faculty homes, in the art and dance studios, and on, and behind, stage. I’m called to return.
Jim Collins, in Good to Great, says that one of the key tasks for a leader is to get the right people on the bus and then to get them in the right seats. I'd say that one of the tasks of the prospective employee is to make certain they're getting on the right bus. It's that job hunt dance, and something those of us seeking positions sometimes forget: Some times, as good as it looks, it's not the right match. The bus is the wrong bus.

The cover letter is, frankly, the first chance we get to check to see if the organization's bus is really what we're looking for. In my case, if the head of school (or, for the one other position I've applied for, the members of the search committee) doesn't like my letter, I'd say there's a good chance he's not on the bus I want to be on. If my words don't resonate, so be it.

And, gentle reader, what do you say?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's September, so it must be time for me to re-rack my school search

I have over the last several months continued to muse and meditate on my call to return to an independent school. Is it really what I want? Be careful what you ask for. What skills do I truly bring to the table? Where can I really add value to a school community?

One thing I've settled on is that seeking a straight faculty job is probably not wise; I'll continue to come up empty. There are a myriad of reasons for this, but age and family situation top the list. Age and family bring a host of considerations: housing, salaries, benefits (such as tuition). I'm starting to look mighty expensive for a classroom teacher, particularly when teachers just out of school or with, even, six to ten years of experience can be had for much less cost to the school.

Clearly, from just the practical standpoint, serving as a classroom teacher looks more and more less likely.

Couple this with a review of my professional experience, teaching experience, and education, and it appears obvious: I'm more suited to a head of school or associate head role, even with a dearth of recent school experience.

Recently, I was sussing out the Small Business Administration's SCORE capabilities for a friend who owns a small bakery and cafe. As I was looking at a list of SCORE counselors, all retired business owners who now serve as consultants through the SCORE program, I found a local counselor who is the former head of a small, independent school. I wrote him, and here's his reply:
I retired in 19XX from the [-------] School in [-------] City; I still keep in contact, but I really have no idea of the job market.

In looking at your cv I would say it looks attractive but if I were on a search committee I would be more interested in the references - especially the Wyoming Seminary and the Walnut Hill School - both places I knew about during the late 70's through early 90's - but I would surely want to have a way to contact those (or other references). The military references, although more current, would be of little interest.

In going to a small school I would want to see some experience or interest in financial management - especially fund accounting as used by non profit corporations (501 c 3), and certainly some experience or interest in fund raising - projects (auctions, magazine sales, etc.) and soliciting funds through gifts - especially the Annual Fund. as a head you will have a part to play in that less attractive activity.

I didn't notice you personal statistics - age, marriage?, and other things that a hiring agent cannot ask but will help (or hinder) your application - if you go to a Christian school you probably won't be hired if you are an atheist - but no one can ask you that on an application.
What are your thoughts? Am I on the righ track? Certainly, I can teach, but would I bring better value to a school as a senior leader? Is my lack of recent school experience a huge hindrance? Is the SCORE counselor right and a dearth of financial experience the kiss of death for a head of school search?

If you follow me in my @School2CallHome persona, you know that the Little School on the Prairie is looking for a head of school; my letter's in, but I've yet to hear anything. Too soon.

The picture with this post is by David Morris who posts at flickr as iowa_spirit_walker; the picture is used here with his kind permission and under a Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How would you tackle using new/social media for a school?

I've been spending a huge hunk of time recently just mulling over the notion of a web writer at an independent, secondary, boarding school. My wife says I get like this: fixated on the very remote when it comes to new employment. Perhaps, but it gives me a chance to think big ideas.

To review, here's the job description for a web writer at a school in Massachusetts. This is a full-time staff opening (and one that I've applied for):
The School, an independent co-educational boarding school in the folds of the Connecticut River valley, seeks a versatile, innovative, and prolific wordsmith with an appreciation for institutional strategy and priorities to develop crisp, lively, and targeted copy and other content for the school’s website and other electronic communications. Flexibility is key to success in this position, which will also include some media-relations work and special projects, as assigned.

The successful candidate will have knowledge and facility with and writing for social media and the web; experience with web-based content management and web applications for marketing and communications purposes; demonstrated talent and skill in writing; a basic understanding of media relations; copyediting skills; proven organizational and communication skills; and excellent interpersonal skills. Experience in a school or higher education environment a plus. Additional qualifications include the ability to work collaboratively with a team, as well as being a self-starter capable of working independently. Candidates should be familiar with boarding school life and have a demonstrated interest in making a positive impact on the lives of adolescents.
For someone who has a passion for boarding schools and social media, this reads like the ideal job. I know, because I have a passion for boarding schools and social media, and it does read like the ideal job.

So, what would I do if I were the new web writer?

Well, first, the school is using three primary social media applications, with a fourth tool in the works. They're using Twitter, Facebook, and flickr; YouTube is in the works. As an outside social media pundit has said, their journey thus far has been social media done right. I agree. What I'd do is simple: build on the school's successes in a strategic and systematic manner.

Josh Bernoff notes that when organizations enter the social media realm, they don't really know their objectives. To address strategic threats and capabilities, one needs a strategic planning process, and Mr. Bernoff provides in The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy.
  • People
  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Technology
A good, basic model. I'd use this in conjunction with Prosci's change management model and link to the school's overall strategic objectives and associated goals. Chris Brogan had a recent post with guidance on strategic blogging that fits nicely with the POST model. See his Strategic Blogging and Some Tactics to Nail It

Over at Web Worker Daily, Meryl Evans has some suggestions on Ways to Avoid Overwhelming Your Followers’ Twitter Stream. I like his fifth suggestion, one I use (having thought I was unique):
Schedule tweets: Typically, I don’t recommend automating anything in Twitter as it will likely lower your rep. However, if you’re like me and only check Twitter a couple of times a day, then you may want to spread out your tweets, replies, etc., using an automated service. This avoids cluttering a person’s stream with bursts of tweets.
Indeed. Having said that, there is something for consistency. In building a brand, it's work; it's presence. Chris Brogan tells us there are 19 Presence Management Chores You COULD Do Every Day. Chris lays out tasks to be completed on various platforms/applications. He specifically mentions:
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Blogs
I'm not sure about the value of LinkedIn for a non-profit organization, although perhaps it would be good for alumni and be more professionally oriented. I am encouraged by Mr. Brogan's inclusion of blogs. I think blogs are missed opportunity for this school along the shores of the Connecticut River. Some people would suggest that blogs are well past their prime. I don't buy it. Blogs are still an excellent way to post current pieces, generally longer than 140 characters. Ideally, each of the senior staff at the school would have a blog to which they posted at least weekly.

Another issue to consider along with creating objectives and goals for the social media effort is creating measures to track as indicators of completing the goals and attaining the objectives. These might be considered ROI measures, perhaps, in the model of Jack Phillips. Ideally, these would follow from the goals and objectives; generally measures don't come first. Having said that, I can imagine metrics of various flavors including:
  • Activity measures such as number of tweets or posts or the numbers of followers.
  • Survey to incoming students in 2010 to see if they used any of the social media tools with the school and what the benefit was.
  • Surveys to other stakeholders.
  • Number of initial admissions queries generated through social media.
  • Increase in annual fund giving.
In essence, a full-blown program evaluation (and I might know a little something about program evaluation).

In short, then, what is my counsel? Aside from hiring me, it is this: be deliberate and strategic in building and deploying a full social media initiative, ensuring it is fully tied in with the larger enterprise and various internal stakeholders and their programs (admissions, development, academics, dean of students, etc.).

For schools just starting out and not committing a full FTE to the iniative, I'd suggest splitting the load between several key staffers. Still need to do the planning. Still need to link to the larger organization.  But, instead of a single person responsible, split the duties, perhaps by tool. One person takes Twitter, another takes Facebook, and so on.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Falling off the Net for the next month

Even thought I'm excited about the possibility of the social media job at @nmhschool, I'm dropping offline for the month of July. I know, there's a bit of irony there. I have two tasks on which I want to focus: finishing the first floor renovations (so we can get back to some semblance of order) and making substantial progress on the dissertation (so I can remove the ABD label and be done with it). I am buying back the time social media has been eating from my days and nights.

See you in a month... and let's hope @nmhschool calls to set up an interview. I have the third week of this month all ready for a sprint to northern New England.

So, now, until the start of August, peace to you.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A frog (and a) prince to save the rain forests

Nothing to do with the topic of this blog... more important, actually...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back in the Classroom

I'm back in the classroom, teaching, although I'm not teaching at an independent school. I'm teaching as an adjunct at National Graduate School, a degree-granting institution with a focus on quality systems management. I'm teaching the first class of their master's program, and it's a weekend class. Four hours Friday after work and then all day Saturday, twice. So, different in many ways, but still familiar.

I don't know how other instructors teach the class; the school provides a set of powerpoints for each module, and I know there are faculty members who go through the ppt, slide by slide, with the class. I can't imagine.

So I did what's natural: discussions and group work. I can't imagine that in working with adult learners, learners who need more than lecture.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shutting down bloggers, one blog at a time

Originally uploaded by aknacer
I continue to be amazed at dinosaur thinking in the workplace. And, no, I'm not talking about my place of employment.

I received an email recently from a fellow blogger who has been cut down on her blogging. She's a teacher in a public school. Here's a little something she received from her boss:
Actually, you'll not see the little something she received from her supervisor.

Revieved in an email this morning:
Please delete the quotes from my school district's directive from your blog post. I just googled it, and it popped up. If my school district does the same, I'm history--and I'm already hanging by a slender thread!
Oh, I can relate to that. In the spring of 2007, I went through the same rigamarole. See Coast Guard Bust and CG FORCECOM to {{snip}} ... The good news, if we can look a the situation with a glass-half-full perspective, is that, if my situation is any indication, things will get better.

In the mean time, at the request of my blogging colleague, I've deleted the missive from her superiors.
I've been reading her posts for several years now; while I certainly don't agree with everything she says, I have never found her postings disrespectful or even tinged with the thought of undermining her supervisors' authority. Indeed, as other teacher-bloggers have noted, her posts are educational. Wrote one teacher-blogger, "I have learned many things about teaching from her, and in fact, just changed the seating in my room based on some things I just recently read."

Some people are just afraid, I think. This whole notion of transparency and learning from others, well, the dinosaurs don't get it.

Sure, it's scary. I'm not talking about life streaming, but about sharing information, making people and organizations learning people and and organizations.

For instance, I've started posting my work summaries online. Insane, some would say. I've caught some flack for it, and some people have suggested that it's inappropriate. Well, to my mind, the payoff is worth the risk. Hands down.

At least the Coast Guard, more of a monolith than any public school district, has attempted to balance organizational needs with individual needs and, also, actually, larger needs. Recently, the Coast Guard came out with a policy which, first, defined unofficial Internet posts: An unofficial Internet post is when a Coastie (of any flavor, be they a military member, a civilian employee, or a volunteer) expresses
Since I've mentioned the Coast Guard, I'm thinking this very post probably falls under this rubric.

So, what are the guidelines? Fairly balanced, I think.
The policy is replete with references to privacy information, information security, operational security, and all the other caveats one would expect from a military and law enforcement agency. But the bottom line is clear: it's okay to muck about on the Web 2.0 and add content. And, it's okay to talk about the Coast Guard when doing so.

What's the teacher-blogger who's been shut down to do? Well, she clearly can't keep blogging, at least with the same focus she had before. As noted in one of the most recent posts, "From now on, you'll find nothing of substance here."

Actually, you will not find anything there, as she's locked down the site so that no one can read it. That's right, no one. It's become little more than a personal journal. No more learning from a fellow teacher. No more seeing through a window into someone's classroom. No more learning about how schools function and school leaders lead and school managers manage.

What irks me greatly is that in this teacher-blogger's posts, she didn't even name the school she taught. No hint of the real location. No hint of the real people involved. Rather, an unabashed view of one anonymous classroom in one anonymous school in one anonymous district.

And for that she gets the muzzle. Noted another follower,
All I am saying is this: if it can happen to her, it could happen to the rest of us. Keep your eyes open and your backs to the wall. And keep on posting.

So another blogger bites the dust. Or so the administrators think. We all know, however, that the hog will be fed, and ideas will flourish, and free speech will reign in the end. And, I look forward to reading this teacher-bloggers words and learning from her (albeit not from words on her blog), and other intelligent and dedicated professionals in the blogosphere (or whatever suitable replacement we can find).

To those leaders and managers who are concerned about content on the Web 2.0, get over it. Trust your people. Sure, give them guidelines. And follow-along. Realize everyone is still learning about this new media, so mistakes will be made. But also realize that there is more positive power here than any of us can imagine right now.

To my teacher-blogger colleague, and all the other folks out there who have taken it in the chin because of blogging (yes, Michael, you), keep at it. I certainly will; blogs and other tools help make us all learners. And that is nothing but good.

Cross-posted at Tidewater Musings and A School to Call Home.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sometimes a position announcement reaches out and grabs ahold of me

I'm certain that it appears I'm no longer actively seeking a school position

Not so; what I am doing is being much more selective in what position announcements I bother responding to. While I'm still called to teach, I also realize that I'm actually doing good where I am right now

Every once in a while, a position announcement reaches out and grabs me. I felt the grip of this one. The school
is seeking a high school English teacher for the 2008-09 school year (courses will probably include 9th grade, 11th grade, AP English, and Creative Writing). The successful candidate will join an exceptional team of teachers and work with curious, passionate, and capable students in grades nine through twelve. Qualified candidates will have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in English and at least three years teaching experience. We are particularly interested in candidates with experience in project-based learning, the Writing Process, interdisciplinary teaching, differentiated learning, and innovative curriculum. The position also involves active participation in duties related to a residential community oriented high school (faculty meetings, advisory, evening and periodic weekend duty, and attendance at all-school events).

The school is enjoying maximum enrollment of 100 students (50 male, 50 female), 80% are residential students. Commitment to experiential education and project based learning.
I've written the academic dean, indicating my interest in the position. We'll see where it ends up.

Picture from this post is from Ojai Valley Photo Gallery.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Worth 25 minutes of your life

Hit the green button, and you'll feel as if you're at the conference.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Education and Creativity

What an awesome talk from TED:

About my job search: What search?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Still here; still looking; still slow going

Well, it's been more than a month since I've posted. In the blogosphere, that is an eternity, and any regular readers I might have had here have certainly gone onto other places on the Internet.

I'll not provide excuses for my lack of posting, other than to say I've been doing other "stuff." Some of it has involved other places in the blogosphere; please don't feel like the forsaken woman (or man) as that has certainly not been my intention. In part, there's been no news to post here.

Frankly, my job search has gone nowhere. I've been complacent with it. I think part of that comes from being content (more or less) in my current job. We have some new things going on, and I've been slightly rejuvenated with those initiatives.

On my RSS reader
, I have 228 job announcements tagged, but I haven't applied to any of them... except one which is a repeat school from last hunting season. Nothing has spoken to me except for this one; I keep waiting for something to jump off the board and announce, "This is it. This is the job and the life for you!" Just the one.

Of course, I only need (or want) one job.

The Stinsons by the Elizabeth traveled to see the Stinsons in the Wilds of Pennsylvania for Easter. My parents were thrilled, as they hadn't seen Jack (or any of us) for over a year. Late on Monday, my parents and I were sitting around the dining room table and they asked about the search and my plans. I mentioned that I had hope as my father had a twenty year long job search; he flinched. He said I was mistaken.

I guess it's a matter of perspective. I remember he went on an interview at an all girls school in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1974. I remember this because (a) I have pictures and (b) I ran up and down the dormitory halls and the girls yelled, "Boy on the floor." My father didn't get the job (head of school), and the school closed within a couple of years later. He remained where he was a rector until sometime in 1991 or 1992 when he accepted a call to a church in eastern Pennsylvania. And, there were applications and interviews in the intervening years.

Okay, that's not a full two decades, and maybe the search wasn't active the whole time, but, for me, the point is still clear: sometimes it takes a while for the right call to come along. In the mean time, continue to good work where you are.

So, while I'm hopeful for this new opportunity at the Little School on the Prairie; may this be the call I'm waiting for... and, no matter what, may I continue to good work here along the shores of the Elizabeth.
The picture with this post is by David Morris who posts at flickr as iowa_spirit_walker; the picture is used here with his kind permission and under a Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Silence: Flu and uncertainty in what to say

Wikipedia Concept Map
Originally uploaded by juhansonin
Things have clopped along here at the Stinsons Along the Elizabeth. Jennifer has had morning sickness for what seems like four months now. And we were hit with the full force of this season's flu, a strain not in the vaccination; we were down for the count for two weeks.

Now, on the reason for the post: Wikipedia as a source.

From Barbara Nguyen at The Editors Weblog: Top (news)papers reference Wikipedia and raise question of website’s credibility as source. Evidently, Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, thinks the encyclopedia's best journalistic use is for background research rather than as a source to be quoted.

I'd say the same goes for academic papers. I wouldn't ban its use, but I'd certainly want substantial supporting documentation.

As to the job search: let's say that good news doesn't come in thin envelopes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ranting in an age of near infinite knowledge accessibility

Brian Kirwin has been ranting over at Bearing Drift with the post It ain’t true, but they keep saying it. On the state of education in today's world, he wrote,
My kid’s school is great, but all the others are horrible

This is the single biggest impediment to improving schools. Even in Detroit, where 80% of the kids who enter as Freshmen don’t even graduate, you’ll find “but my school is different.” It’s amazing how we expect kids who every day in the real world interact with technology that the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t have, they have access to a worldwide goldmine of information in a world that’s quicker, multitask-oriented, interactive and incentive-based, and we wonder why 30 kids in a room with a common textbook working at a unified pace with no incentive to do any better than the person sitting next to them results in a generation of students so bored with education that we face the real risk of creating a nation of salespeople marketing the inventions and innovations of other nations.

Until we adopt an education model that is interactive, individualized and incentive-laden, schools will continue to try to improve their outdated, 20th century models like Edison’s competitors tried to make better candles or blacksmiths who thought better horses were an adequate response to Ford’s new carriage.
Indeed. I think the Coalition of Essential Schools might have a possible answer. I know others do, also.

What is it that is holding the American education system back?

Your thoughts?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The heat has turned up slightly

Here in southeastern Virginia, it's been a balmy winter. Today the heat was up, and everyone was out in short sleeves.

The search for an answer to my call is also heating up a bit. I have a couple nibbles at the moment. One is for an assistant head position at a day school with a unique environmental focus. I've been tinkering with my credentials file, particularly the page Search Objective for Peter Stinson.

I did a major rework of one section, going so far as to delete Desired school characteristics and in its place put The ideal school.

This is the section which was, in essence, left on the cutting room floor:
Desired school characteristics

Selection Criteria for all schools:
  • Non-profit
  • College prep or college bound
  • Maintain similar standard of living as current
  • Co-ed or all boys
Additional Selection Criteria for boarding schools:
  • 325 students, max
  • 35% day students, max
  • 1:9 faculty:student ratio, max
  • 25% international students, max
Additional Selection Criteria for day schools and day/boarding schools in the United States:
  • 400 students max (upper school)
  • Casual dress
  • Follows Coalition of Essential Schools or other progressive program
  • If private school, must be an "independent" school
  • Maximum faculty/student ratio 1:11

Additional Selection Criteria for schools outside the United States:
  • 400 students max (upper school)
  • May be an "American" school or an "International" School
  • Maximum faculty/student ratio 1:15
  • Prefer for school to offer the IB
You can see the new page here. Pay particular attention to the ideal school section.

I'd be interested to hear what you think.

Also, I re-ordered the sections; do you think it flows better?

Please do comment below, and please ask others to provide me feedback also. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How have you lived your life? Insights for us all.

I wanted to pass along two videos I came across recently that I think would be of benefit to all the folks in the ever-shifting blogsophere. They're both from Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon.

Well, he's actually on a leave of absence from Carnegie Mellon and has moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, with his family.

Anyway, there are two talks he gave this past fall. Devout members of the blogosphere have likely seen one or both of them, or at least heard about them.

One is called "The Last Lecture" which is a Carnegie Mellon lecture series: if you had one last lecture to give... In his case, it is nearly his last lecture as he is dying from pancreatic cancer. It's an awesome lecture about living life and succeeding at goals.

The second lecture is one that he evidently gave somewhat frequently, but gave again at UVA (where he was a professor before going to Pittsburgh) in November.

Both of these are worth the time to watch.For those who would like more information about Randy and his life and work, there's plenty on the web. Here are a couple of sites.Enjoy.
Cross posted at Tidewater Musings, An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, and Coast Guard Performance Excellence.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just how technology savvy are you?

I came across a list of technology-based interview questions for independent and international schools to use with new faculty members. Jeff Utecht at The Thinking Stick proposes that these questions will allow you to see how excited a prospective faculty member is about technology and how they might integrate technology into the classroom or their other work in a school community.

I though these questions were very thought-provoking; I took a stab at answering them (before really studying Jeff's analysis of each question); I liked the results so much that I posted my replies in my employment credentials package.

Your thoughts? Comments below, please.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Haidho American School in Sarkhan: Part 2

For anyone following my journey and wondering how I dealt with the Haidho American School, here was my reply to the superintendent, after many days of wondering what to say.

I decided to just take an open approach:
Thanks so much for your note back. I hope the New Year finds you and yours and the school community safe.

I appreciate your kind words and your straight-forward feedback. While finances are certainly critical, I've always thought that nearly
everything financial is negotiable, particularly if the "fit" is "fine." If you find, as the hiring season rolls along, you'd like to continue the conversation, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. The opportunities present at Haidho American School are innumerable, and I would thrive on working in the HAS community.

I wish you a most excellent 2008.
I suspect, however, that while I may hear again from the head of HAS, I'll not be packing my bags for Sarkhan.

I did see a posting for a dean of students position at a day school nearby; I sent off my letter of inquiry this morning.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Making a long-term impact on students: Experiential Learning

Recently, I read about a Spanish teacher at Olentangy Liberty High School, Erica Vieyra, who had her Spanish V students take on a role playing exercise: they were to "assume a Latino identity, build an imaginary life in your home country and develop a workable plan to immigrate to the United States," as noted in an article by Holly Zachariah in the Columbus Dispatch.

The project has raised a fair bit of controversy amongst many, including some loud voices in the blogosphere. I think the critics are missing the point. This is not about liberal indoctrination or teaching students how to break the law; this is about getting students to learn through experience.

If I am representative of the typical American student when it comes to foreign languages, twenty-five years from now Ms. Vieyra's students will remember little, if any, actual Spanish. But, they will likely remember the many lessons learned from completing this project.

The same goes for the Newark, New Jersey, students who participated in the project pictured with this post. They spent three months building the boats and then launching them in the Passaic River. The project worked to integrate the usual academic disciplines with an experiential and hands-on approach.

I seek the opportunity to work in a school which embraces this sort of teaching and learning.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oh, that actually has a name?

This afternoon I was scrolling through my RSS reader, and one feed caught my eye: Are we doing anything today?
Every year my students read All Quiet on the Western Front. I force them through the process of a Quaker Read then into developing a poem from lines culled from the chapter. It takes a couple of days of work, but looking at the poems and listening to their comments makes the effort worthwhile.
A Quaker Read?

Perhaps I've been out of the classroom too long, but I had no idea what a Quaker Read is.

From a webpage at Seattle University, Reading Response and Discussion Strategies, we learn,
Quaker Read
Readers fist select a significant passage, line, or phrase from the reading. Then, seated in a circle giving no explanation or rationale, one student reads his/her selection aloud. In no particular order, another reader adds his/her selection, and on and on. The key is to listen and consider how your selected passage connects to (or even contrasts with) the passage read. Remind students that lulls, pauses, and repeated passages are fine.
Oh, it has a name...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm not worth 6 Round Trip Tickets?

Shri Diwa International School
Originally uploaded by Mun Mun
Well, okay, that's not quite true.

I applied to The Haidho American School in Sarkhan; they'd advertised a need for a counselor and an English teacher. (And, yes, Haidho is the fictional capital of the fictional country Sarkhan in The Ugly American. I've changed the names to protect the innocent; as I'm the guilty one here, we will not bothering adopting a fictional pose and personna.)

Here's what I received back from my initial e-mail:
Dear Peter:

I have just spent some time reading through your website, enjoying reading about your career and your many accomplishments. In so many ways, you are the kind of person I'm looking for to join the staff of Haidho American School but I have to be quite honest with you that it would be a real strain for us to hire a faculty member with a spouse and four children, delightful as I'm sure they are. Finances are a big part of it, I'm afraid, since we would be committing ourselves to six RT air fares every year plus a much larger apartment (probably 4 bedrooms) than we normally use for faculty (apartments here in Haidho are going for about $1,500-1,800/month for 2-or 3-bedroom flats).

In virtually every other aspect, HAS meets what you're looking for in an independent school and more and, like I said, you meet what I'm looking for for this vibrant school.

With every best wish for you and your family for the New Year.


Bill Clinton
Haidho American School
A couple of days later, and I'm still not sure how to respond. Frankly, in a country like Sarkhan, I might end up as a geo-bachelor, as Jennifer isn't really intrigued with the idea of living in a third-world nation. Well, that and the fact it's actually 7 roundtrip tickets as we have another child in the oven.

I've done this to myself, but that is a totally different post on a totally different blog.

I'm tempted to right back that while I understand that finances does come into play at some point, it ought not be the starting point. Finances is merely one component of all that makes up a deal and is negotiated.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Another "alternate" sport: Extreme Sledding

Originally uploaded by wme91988
Who'd have thought? Sledding. To the extreme.

We could have races, long and short courses.

And hang out by 55-gallon drums with fire inside; and drink hot chocolate.

And race. With clocks. The real deal.

We wouldn't call it "Extreme Sledding." No, a name like that could bring too much focus and attention. Just call it sledding and join the National Interscholastic Sled Racing Association, or NISRA, and show everyone pictures of snow sledding in Vermont.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More fun with Ask Vox

What is Peter Stinson looking for in a school community?

Blogging from "an undisclosed location"

Dissertation Run
@ University of Sussex. By rokou.
While I ought to be working on the dissertation. I ought to be wrapping up the literature review and methodology chapters this weekend. It's not going as well I has I had hoped.

As such, I've decided to create systems to hold myself accountable. The first step in making me accountable is to post my work online; let people see were I am and how much I've done and the like. I'm writing in Google Documents and have enabled publication allowing the most-recently-saved version of my ongoing work will be available for everyong to see. In progress.

To honor completion of my dissertation, rather than run naked through the streets, I'll cut my hair and trim my beard... or maybe even go back to looking like a bowling ball. {{Sidebar: When I went through the Coast Guard's Search & Rescue School, I received an award: "Most Looks Like a Bowling Ball."}}

If you'd like to see my up-to-the-minute work and progress, join me. Read, critique, and comment here on this post.

Crossposted at Tidewater Musings.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A little fun on the Internet

Well, are you?
Originally uploaded by windbourne
Slip over to Ask Vox, and ask it who I am. Type "Who is Peter Stinson?"

What do you think?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

When does the compromising start?

Abandoned bikes
Originally uploaded by oliva732000
I've been tracking the jobs posted at the NAIS job site. When something looks of interest, I then look to see if the school meets my criteria. Today I decided that even if a school doesn't meet the criteria, I'll not automatically trash thoughts of serving there.

Next, I'll be nuking the thought of having any criteria...

Quidditch, Dodgeball, and Ultimate Frisbee: Coming to a campus near you

Starting Line
Originally uploaded by plagueoftruth
I recently read about the Muggles Quidditch, sponsored by the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association, at several New England colleges. I thought, "How cool is that?" And then, today, I discovered that dodgeball is actually a sport with a national association; not the American Dodgeball Association of America but the National Amateur Dodgeball Association; or try the National Dodgeball Association.

Why do I mention this here? Well, I'm thinking that these non-traditional sports (and the more I think about it, these really do qualify as athletics) -- which would also include Ultimate Frisbee, Frisbee golf, and Footbag (which, in my day, we called "hacky sack" -- are actually sports which are life-long sports and which don't need a tremendous outlay for equipment. I think we often don't give non-traditional activities much in the way of real look.

I suspect their are other areas we give short shrift to also because they are not traditional. Would a school that was not willing to try alternative sports also be less likely to try and teach to all learning styles? Or, perhaps the school would be less likely to teach to the whole person?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another presence on the Web

New Credentials Page
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse
After consideration, I have nixed my wiki-based credentials package and built a cleaner package using Google pages.

Any thoughts or feedback from the blogosphere?

Monday, November 19, 2007

The call continues: New answers to an old call

Here in SE Virginia, the days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and the holiday rush is right around the corner. Yes, it has been quite a while since I posted here at A School to Call Home. I've been busy with various projects, including working on my dissertation (although, until it is accepted, I'll not have put enough time into it) and keeping up with a semi-work-related blog, An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog. In the back of my mind, however, the thought of returning to a school community has never been far away. My daily list of RSS reads includes Dana Huff and California Teacher Guy. They couldn't be more different, but they have one thing in common: they both have a passion for the classroom and for students and for teaching.

I want to fuel my own passion for the classroom, students, and teaching.

While I'd thought that my personal situation would make it nearly impossible to keep seeking a school position this year and next, I've carefully evaluated things, and sought out the opinions of my wife, sons, and former spouse, and have decided to not only continue looking but to open the search from just indendent boarding schools to include day schools (and even public schools).

As has been true, I still have a list of criteria to screen possibilities. Here's the criteria for this season's search. The first set of criteria is for all schools. Then there's a set of criteria for boarding schools; the third set of criteria is for day schools and boarding schools which don't meet the boarding criteria. In short, I'll still consider boarding schools which don't meet the boarding school criteria, but they must meet the day school criteria.

Selection Criteria for all schools
  • Non-profit
  • College prep or college bound
  • Maintain similar standard of living as current
  • Co-ed or all boys
Additional Selection Criteria for boarding schools
  • 325 students, max
  • 35% day students, max
  • 1:9 faculty:student ratio, max
  • 25% international students, max
Additional Selection Criteria for day schools and day/boarding schools
  • 400 students max (upper school)
  • Casual dress
  • Follows Coalition of Essential Schools or other progressive program
  • If private school, must be an "independent" school
  • Maximum faculty/student ratio 1:11
I've also decided that I'm not adverse to using head hunters, as by adding day schools and public schools to the mix, I'm increasing the number of possible schools a hundred-fold.

The working copy of my criteria for a school community can be found at my listography profile.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Monday, October 08, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

The competition

I know I ought not, but sometimes I look to see who a school has hired. I'm wondering who filled the role; what chopped liver pate am I? I likely ought not to do this, because in truth it doesn't matter and comparisons like this are evil... but I do it anyway.

A year ago, I looked to see who filled an English teaching job at a boarding school I'd thought I had a good interview with. They hired a young woman who had just finished a master's degree in the teaching of English from William & Mary.

Today, I looked to see who was filling the role of counselor at another school I'd had what I thought were good interviews. He holds a bachelor's and master's degrees from schools in southern Mississippi; he most recently served as a behavior specialist in a rural school district in Mississippi. And, he lists his athletic background as "wilderness activities, mountain climbing, rock climbing, body building, dirt bike racing." And I doubt he's a day over 30...

Oh, it's that time of the year again?

St Swithins
Originally uploaded by MrGiles
Can we hope that the third time's a charm?

Robert Kennedy at About: Private Schools posted today:
You know the sinking feeling you had first week of school. Things have changed for the worse at St. Swithin's as far as you are concerned. You just aren't happy there any more. After five years it's time to move on. So, just how marketable are you anyway? Ponder this question as you read How Marketable Are You?

The window for finding a new job is a narrow one. It runs from Now through February 15 or thereabouts. If you are thinking about a move, you'd better get moving now!
I'm off and running, and clearly this is a marathon and not a sprint.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

This is what I crave

The Almighty Punahou School
Originally uploaded by SandyRat
Over at Throughlines, Bruce Schauble recently wrote
Once upon a time I thought that if I stayed at something long enough, it would eventually get easier. That has turned out to be true in some cases. I can, for example, after three years of practice, now play a C major scale on the piano with both hands without screwing it up too badly. I can throw together a salad in five minutes before dinner, without injuring myself, whereas once it was even money if I could get it done without breaking into the Band-Aid box.

But this is my 38th year of teaching, and I've gotta tell ya, whatever else it is, it isn't easier. The teaching part is always interesting and always challenging in a good way. It's the stuff that's going on around the edges just keeps getting more complex.
I want to work in a community of thoughtful people; I want to work with people who believe, like Mr. Schauble, that teaching is "always interesting and always challenging in a good way."

Perhaps as I expand my search to day schools, I'll add Mr. Schauble's Punahou School.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Talk like a Pirate Day!

Talk like a Pirate Day!
Originally uploaded by aromig52
Oh, to have a classroom where we could all talk like a pirate for the day! Don't let the 19th slip past without embracing your inner pirate.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My school is currently looking for a headmaster. Would you consider that type of job?

Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse

There's a slew of "howevers" however.

Several weeks ago, my son Richard asked me if I won the lotto, would I build a boarding school? Interesting question, and it does get at the root of the question: What do I truly want to do?

My answer to this question is shifting slightly. What's shifting? I think the main thing that is shifting is I want to put my leadership skills to work.

That's all for now... and, yes, I realize that's not a complete answer or a complete thought. Off to Richard's school for a meeting with his teachers... More to follow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Internet is an amazing thing

Cathedral in the Forest
Originally uploaded by algo
I am amazed at what the Internet does and can do. I've met fantastic people using the tools of the Internet; I've had some great times with people I've met using the tools of the Internet; I've reconnected with friends and colleagues lost through time using the Internet. And today, as I'm discounting even the possibility of teaching this year and gearing up for a busy fall at work and completion of my dissertation, I receive an email with the subject line of "English Teacher."
Hi, I am the Director of Studies at St. Swithins School in Middle of Everywhere, New England. My wife found your blog while doing web searches for our school. Are you still looking for a position?
Okay, I've changed the name to my default St. Swithins, but even so, amazing. Even if nothing comes of this, I'll chalk even the possibility up to the power of the Internet.

And, as I'm still reading the NAIS job board, I guess I am "still looking."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dissertation Progress

Dissertation Run 4
Originally uploaded by rokou
Forgot to mention... received the following email yesterday:

Congratulations! You have an approved Concept Paper. Now it's on to your Proposal. Review the Power Point and the Dissertation Guide on the ARC website before you start. If you have any questions just ask.

Good Luck with your job search.

Take care.

Dr. Regina
For anyone who wants to suffer through my concept paper (which will become Chapter 1 of the final dissertation), you can find the work posted here.

The academic year begins to swing

August is two-thirds of the way past, and across the US of A, teachers are gearing up to return to the classroom. Anticipation. Excitement. Fear. Hope.

As we all know, I'll not be in a classroom. Yesterday, at a farewell party for a family leaving our church for a new assignment in Bath, Maine, someone asked me about my job search. That I was standing there this late in August spoke more volumes than I could have actually uttered.

Scanning the headlines, I learned that my high school alma mater has new faculty and staff. Not surprising. What did surprise me was the age of the two faculty profiled. I'm getting old. The article profiled the new athletic director and assistant athletic director at the school. The new AD graduated from Yale in 1998; she spent the last five years coaching and teaching at Saint Mark's School in Southborough, MA. The assistant AD graduated from Baylor in 2004. Okay, that makes them something like 32 and 25.

Perhaps I'm too old to be even have considered getting back into the boarding school biz. I remember when I was a college senior looking for a boarding school position, I was told I was too young. I earned a master's degree and landed a job. Now, at the age of 45, I seem to be too old. Some how, I slept through the prime time to land a job.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August spins to a close

the birth of a better Day
Originally uploaded by COWsignal
Well, here we are in the middle of August, and the month is now full-tilt spinning to a close. Pretty much all bets are off for my candidacy to an independent boarding school. I do have one recently submitted application, but in general all is quiet and no options remain open.

I'm at peace with the situation. Very much so.

Certainly, I still have the burning desire, but I am now working on ways that I can quench, if not fulfill, the desire, one component at a time.

This week, I'm teaching at a conference for officer trainees in the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative. It's nice to be helping provide for the success of these young Coasties.

Last week I met several representatives of colleges and universities who serve military members, and they encouraged me to consider adjunct faculty positions. I will, as I think it will help provide me a venue to make a difference in the lives of those around me.

So, at the moment, I'm looking forward to new venues to teach, coach, and counsel.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Defense Against the Dark Arts

My lovely bride has suggested that I apply to Hogwarts for the Defense Against the Dark Arts faculty position... at least I'd get a year's worth of work, and it would be exciting...

Perhaps it is time for me to move to Springfield

Came home from church today to find an interesting email waiting for me in the in-tray:
Sincerely hope your job hunt progressing. I came across your site researching schools for my son, and since you are so sharp and open and love teaching (as do I), I'm wondering if I might impose on you for the kind of straight answers about admissions and financial aid that are tough to come by.
Sharp. Open. And love teaching. We forgot to mention seemingly without an answer to my calling...

Yes I did respond, albeit I don't know enough about financial aid to have been much help in that department.

I find it very interesting who has found me on the web. We can do things today that were unthinkable fifteen years ago. What will things be like in another decade? I can't even imagine.

As to the status of my current search, no joy. The latest note I received from a head of school was short and to the point.
Peter, many complications to this hiring and I believe we have just concluded the search. Thank you for thinking of us....
Er. Ah. You're welcome.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Why boarding schools? Immersion.

Immersion II
Originally uploaded by sharply_done
Yesterday, Mr. B-G asked, "Why is it that you only want to teach at an independent boarding school?"

This would be the question of the hour.

The short answer is simple: Immersion.

I want to immerse myself in a school and the life of a school. I want to be a part of the school in every waking moment.

Okay, that's a slightly flippant answer, but it is accurate as far as it goes.

First, let me be clear about the type of school I seek: independent; secondary; college-prep; small; boarding. Not just any boarding school; not just any independent school; not just any secondary school. Independent. Secondary. College-preparatory. Small. Boarding.

Yes, the selection is small; my count is fewer than a hundred schools, probably closer to 70 schools.

Why not settle for something else? There are plenty of schools that meet some, but not all, of my criteria which would likely be thrilled to have me as a faculty candidate. I think the answer is that I have a darn good gig where I am, and I'll give it up for my ideal but nothing else.

So, let me go through my list and be positive about what I seek.

Independent: My sense, based on my experience, is that in independent schools faculty members have a fair amount of freedom in the classroom and in choosing what to teach and how to teach it. With my former spouse and her husband teaching in local public schools, and my own older sons attending public schools, I am disturbed at what I see, particularly with regard to the Commonwealth's standards of learning. I know; I know; this is a bit of rash generalization. The other item is a bit more pragmatic: I'm not certified.

Secondary: Years ago I would visit schools for fun during spring vacation. I usually spent one week of the two weeks touring schools, spending a day in a school. In talking to teachers, I never found a middle school teacher who didn't love their job. I can't say the same for the elementary school teachers I met or the secondary school teachers I met. That being said, I enjoy high school students as they have, on the whole, developed intellectually so that they can actually function in a world of ideas. I like ideas.

College prep: I want to work with students who are at least considering college. In the world of independent boarding schools, there are schools which are therapeutic in nature. While I do have a degree in counseling, I don't want to work in a school which has an entire student body in need of therapeutic interventions.

Small: Small is good. Small is, I believe, better than big. For me, small means fewer than 300 students, and that would actually be on the large side. Ideally, the max would be about 220 or so. And, that's the max. In my studies of small communities and small organizations, I came across one author who noted that when an organization is less than 300, it's possible to actually know everyone. Once the organization has grown beyond that point, it's not possible to know everyone... and people fall through the cracks. I seek a small school.

Boarding: And, finally, boarding. I'm looking for the 24 by 7 experience, something that demands immersion.

For more on my beliefs about schools, see this essay.

Lastly, if I don't land a teaching job, I'll be able to concentrate on finishing my dissertation, and finishing the dissertation is a high priority. I don't want to be ABD forever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Originally from LOlandeseVolante
My thanks to Mr. Guy. Yes, you're right, it does sound desperate.

And, sadly, it's too late. The letter already went.

And I've heard... nothing.

The note was one that was written hurriedly and passionately; I probably should have given it time to ferment, like a fine wine.

Interestingly, I don't actually consider myself desperate. Resigned, perhaps, but not desperate. Resigned that I'll not be working in a boarding school come this September.

But I've got this great idea for a community sailing center to build right out my front door...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What do I teach?

Originally uploaded by solarnu
Recently, I came across a job description that sounded very interesting:
Candidates should hold a B.A. or B.S. (field flexible), be self-directed, and have the flexibility to work with many different kinds of people. Interest in and experience with methods of multi-modal or differentiated instruction are important, as are familiarity with and interest in a cross-platform environment (Macintosh and PC). Finally, candidates should be realistic and excited about the challenges and rewards of teaching and living in a boarding school.
Interestingly, while in the past I'd seen myself capable of many roles, usually within teaching I only seriously considered English and history positions. I could see myself in nearly any administrative position at the dean or associate dean level, but teaching only held two disciplines.

I think I was wrong: that's a position I could definitively see not only doing, but excelling.

So I wrote to the academic dean. This is one of the schools which has already interviewed me... and reviewed my package for at least half-a-dozen positions over the last two years. Here's what I wrote:
Dear Ken,

I saw recently that you may have experienced a late departure and are now looking for a "field-flexible" technology teacher.  I am most interested in this position at Saint Swithins.

As you know from reading my blog and perusing of my wiki, I may not have previously considered myself a technology teacher, but rather a teacher who uses and understands technology.  I'd like a swing at the role to teach technology so that my use of technology could be seen (and copied) by colleagues.

As you know, technology is merely a tool to help with some bit of learning.  I picture students using technology to further other disciplines.  I see students creating a wiki about the biology of the campus; I see students keeping semi-official blogs about life as a student; I see outreach offices, such as alumni and development, using Web 2.0 tools to get the message about Saint Swithins to the widest constituency as possible.

In terms of formal educational preparation for this position, I have none.  In terms of informal study and hands-on use of the technology tools, I have plenty.  I'm not "bleeding edge," but I'm definitely "cutting edge" when it comes to trying and using new technology, particularly Web 2.0 tools.  I have a more than passing familiarity with a variety of computer operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, Linux, and VMS.

Please do consider me for the role, Ken.  I think you'll more than agree I'm a good fit for the job, and you know my desire to be on a resident faculty is tremendously strong.  As you know, you can find my candidacy package online.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Reading over it, I come off too forcefully. Sorry, Kenneth.

And that, right there, is part of what is so interesting about blogging in the open. It's all out there.

So, dear readers, I have a question for you to consider, if you'd be so kind. Well, actually, I have two questions.

1. Do you think, after looking over this blog and my credentials package, I'd be able to compete well for the appointment, do the job, and also excel in the role?

2. Do you think my letter was too strong & over-the-top?

Please do let me know what you think; post in the Comments section below.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My thanks to all of you...

More Crayons
Originally uploaded by angieu
... who have taken the time to check out my credentials package and provide feedback. And a special thanks to Mr. California Teacher Guy who posted a link, no, rather an entire post, to my plea for assistance.

And the feedback has been most helpful. It's forced me to tweak and re-tweak and think and re-think. I know it's not possible to please everyone, but the critical eye from everyone has been helpful in forcing me to at least articulate in my mind certain decisions. Certainly, more review and comments is welcome.

Current status: Continuing to hold. I have a couple of open applications, and more unanswered applications than I care to think about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Soliciting counsel

Gentle reader, I beseech you to check out my new credentials package and provide feedback, if you would. Thanks.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Why teach? Why this calling?

With the lag of progress on my search, I've thought a bit about this call. Is it truly a call, or is it something I invented? Am I doing this for those I'd serve, or am I doing this for me?

It is real.

I am doing this as service, not for myself.

Over at The Daily Grind (h/t to Dana Huff at huffenglish... and how I didn't catch it myself as I have The Daily Grind on my reader), Mr. McNamar proposes the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teachers, with apologies to Dr. Steven Covey.
  1. Desire

  2. Be Yourself

  3. Prepare

  4. Don't Move on until the Concept is Understood

  5. It's about the students

  6. Go with what works

  7. Don't Give Up
These speak to me; they speak to me louder than most of what I have read the last several weeks.

Okay, that's not saying much, perhaps, but they have spoken to me. Habits 1, 2, 5, and 7 resonate with me in my current situation.

My call is sure. My skills are honed. My passion is aflame.

I am ready to serve.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Online Poll here at "A School to Call Home"

survey 1
Originally uploaded by Dasha_K
I'm using Blogger's new draft interface, and there's a cool polling tool. I've placed a poll in the sidebar; please respond. If you read A School to Call Home in an RSS reader, please swing on by to answer the poll.


And if you want to leave a comment, please do so on this post.

Still circling; still holding

Schools Out For Summer
Originally uploaded by arodphoto
I've decided to stop holding my breath.

Scott Elliott notes, "a few years ago, we were worrying about an impending teacher shortage here. Now with the economy in the dumps, districts are cutting teachers left and right."

While he's referring to public school districts, I'm not sure the independent school teacher market is any better.

Nothing. Nada. No joy.

The academic dean who visited last week never got in touch with me; I can only assume no interview is likely. The admissions dean out west looking for an associate dean has not responded to two, short, carefully-crafted emails expressing interest (these followed kind words by the head of school).

Perhaps this isn't going to be my year to end up back at a small boarding school. At least I still have a job.

A quiz for you... History teachers might find this of interest

Over at my Tidewater Musings, I've posted a speech with a challenge: Identify the speaker. Give it whirl and see how you do.