Andover Faculty Undergo Tough Selection Process

Just as prospective Andover students undergo a lengthy selection process, potential PA faculty members also must endure applications and interviews. Andover’s reputation helps attract some of the best and brightest secondary school teachers. Even when there are no job openings, the school still receives unsolicited applications, the best of which are kept in case of future need. This year, the school hired 44 new teachers. The administration narrows down the applicants for each position to two or three finalists, who are then invited to campus for a series of interviews. New Instructor in History and Social Sciences J. Megan Williams said, “The interview process was really great. Not only did I sit in on classes, I met the curator of the Peabody Museum, toured the facilities, met with Martha [Fenton, head of the Athletic Department] and was really excited about the prospect of coaching a sport… All of this got me really excited about the prospect of teaching here.” Andover goes to great to lengths to advertise its job openings for new teachers. “We go through the normal channels, like the Education Research Group, and we advertise, but first we sit down with the department chairs to anticipate the needs of each department,” said Dean of Faculty Temba Maqubela. In addition to these recruitment services, the school also uses professional magazines such as Physics Today and Nucleus to advertise job openings. Recently arrived Instructor in Physics Mika Latva-Kokko was working at MIT as a post-doctoral research associate when he saw a job offer in The Chronicle of Higher Education. After logging on to the Andover website, Mr. Latva-Kokko decided, “This is the kind of place I want to be.” Ms. Williams gave her résumé to a teacher placement organization and within a short period of time received calls from both Andover and Exeter. Although she visited both schools, PA impressed her more. “I love absolutely everything about this place. The thing that really sells is that Andover is a really multifaceted campus. It’s a place to teach, which is my life’s work, but it’s much more than that. It’s also a place where I can grow professionally,” said Ms. Williams. Andover also finds new teachers through the teaching fellow program. Each year, approximately 12 fellows teach in all academic departments, as well as in the Community Service office. Teaching fellows are recent college graduates who come to Phillips Academy to gain teaching experience. After their first year at Andover, some are hired as full-time faculty members, while others seek employment at other secondary schools or enter graduate study programs. The Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), located in Draper Hall, provides opportunities for minorities in the education profession. “We feel very strongly that there are not enough outstanding people of color teaching at secondary schools. [IRT students] have the top grades and great recommendations. We encourage them to apply to graduate schools, where they pursue masters’ degrees in education or Ph. D’s in the humanities,” said Executive Director of the IRT Kelly Wise. Since its inception in 1990, the IRT has amassed an alumni base of over 1,000 people, the majority of whom now work in education. Although most IRT graduates teach in urban areas, many work at private secondary schools like Andover. Instructor in Spanish Yasmine Allen, Interim Director of the IRT Chera Reid, and Associate Director of the IRT Leslie Godo-Solo are all program alumnae. “We try to balance gender, geographical, and racial diversity, but the most important thing is their qualifications. We look for the best faculty. Everything else is a secondary consideration,” said Mr. Maqubela.