The school places immense value on community and continuity, and rightfully so. In order to cultivate a comfortable and successful learning environment in any setting, there must be a strong community where there is familiarity among students, faculty and staff.
With such a transient student body, and to some degree teaching staff, it is paramount that the school and senior administrators continue to look within the school when filling new or vacant positions.
Before I explain the extent to which giving more faculty members promotions could benefit the school, I must note that by no means is familiarity with the school the only reason an employee should be selected. Ultimately, the school must hire the best candidate, and the administrators know this. However, often the best candidate lies within Waverley Place, not half-way around the world like the ones that are so often chosen.
I also realize the school has hired internally in the past. This provides further proof that not only must they continue to pursue these opportunities, but also change the attitude towards the hiring process when internal candidates are involved.
The best example of a faculty member progressing up the administrative ranks is that of Middle School Principal Peter Lutkoski, who started working at ASL 14 years ago as a music teacher. He then became the department head before transitioning to Middle School assistant principal and now principal.
However, Lutkoski should serve as a prime example, not an exception. With someone who’s spent over 10 years at ASL before occupying a principal position, Lutkoski can better understand how a teacher or other Middle School faculty members would fit within the community than any external candidate. He can fulfill his job with greater success because of his experience, and hire employees who better fit ASL’s mission statement and attitude.
Lutkoski understands more intimately the nuances and logistics of life at ASL, which no doubt facilitated a smoother transition. His knowledge of various fields at ASL makes him a more understanding administrator and gives him a better holistic understanding of ASL than a principal hired from outside of London would.
Hiring internally allows for people who understand ASL’s problems to address them from a position of knowledge. While a “fresh perspective” often benefits the school, allowing someone with a familiar perspective to enact change can prove as much if not more powerful to improving the school.
For the three administrative openings this year (Head of School, Director of Academic Advising and College Counseling and Lower School Principal) none of the nine finalists were from ASL. It remains difficult to understand how not one person currently working at ASL would not be considered at the very least as a finalist for one of those positions. It displays a lacking commitment to searching within for qualified candidates.
When the school posts job openings they feature numerous requirements and desired experiences. It is perfectly understandable why the school would want someone with prior experience as an administrator to fill an identical administrative role (i.e. the school wants someone with experience as a principal to serve as a principal at ASL), but that does not mean they should automatically exclude or pressure candidates from within ASL from applying.
Unfortunately, faculty members at ASL have showed interest in a new opening and conversations occurred where they have been told, implicitly, they should not pursue the application process. The school should never eliminate a candidate from exploring the process.
Although it may be difficult to choose an external candidate over an internal one due to numerous pressures from the community, ultimately the administrators must focus on what benefits the school most, not the backlash to their decision. Allowing an internal candidate to proceed with pursuing a vacancy could lead the school to a better person for the role and any amount of public repercussions makes that worthwhile.
To the school’s credit, the process for hiring internal candidates mirrors that of external candidates. They follow the same schedule as any external candidates and job offerings within ASL are shown first to ASL employees. However, the mindset among administrators remains unforgiving to internal candidates.
ASL emphasizes professional growth and development. With an increasing number of professional development days and the rotational system of Department Heads that remains clear. By cultivating an environment where ASL employees feel comfortable to pursue promotions within the school the school can greater facilitate professional development. In addition, truly considering those candidates and allowing them to pursue the process only furthers their development and the development of the school as a whole.
The majority of the time the school hires incredible people to fulfill vacancies within the school. Instead of constantly looking elsewhere to replace those in higher, administrative positions, the school should look within. Those great candidates are no further than a few doors down the hall.
Teachers and other faculty members at ASL should continue to search fearlessly for openings within the school if they wish to do so. The administration should foster an environment where ASL employees can do so in order to breed better continuity within the school.