The Exceptional People of Moravian Academy
Moravian Academy recently published a new strategic plan with three overarching focus areas: 1.) Enhance our Foundation 2.) Elevate our Sustainability, and 3.) Expand our Impact.
Over the next number of weeks, this newsletter will highlight some of the initiatives outlined in the plan as an effort to explore the potential impact that the realization of this plan will have on our school and students. Today, we will take a look at the foundational initiative, “Recruit, Support and Retain Exceptional People.”
A school can only ever be as great as its people. This is the principal differentiator at Moravian Academy–people who dedicate their careers to inspiring young people to achieve their potential. They can’t imagine doing anything else and chose Moravian Academy as the place to fulfill this calling. As one of our Swain faculty members said:
“What drew me here when I visited was the warm and welcoming nature of every teacher who I met. When I first came, I popped into many, many classrooms, and I noticed how every child was with their teacher…I just knew that was a place where I wanted to be.”
When new faculty arrive at Moravian, they are delighted to find such a supportive community of colleagues. They relish an environment that is close-knit where they can really get to know their students. As a teacher on the Historic Downtown Campus said:
“The faculty members here are very special. We create a tight bond with each other. The other special thing about this place is the relationship that I can have with my students. We have trust and good communication back and forth with the students because the class sizes are small enough.”
Then, because Moravian is an independent school and relatively free from the prescriptives of public schools, teachers have the opportunity to explore the interests of their students. As a member of the upper school faculty at the Merle-Smith Campus put it:
“What I love about Moravian is that it allows me the freedom to be hands-on with the students, and the students embrace that. That’s the culture here. Some days I say, 'Let’s try this. I don’t know what’s going to happen.' And they say, 'Yeah, let’s do it,' and they’re amazing.”
With such talented and dedicated people on our faculty at Moravian Academy, the questions becomes: What can be done to support them so that they will stay? And when we do need to hire a new employee, how can we position our school to attract top talent?
An essential aspect of support is to provide competitive salaries and benefits. For a tuition-driven school, this can be one of the biggest challenges in attracting and retaining great people. Moravian Academy competes nationally for top talent, with schools that have much bigger budgets, including public schools. With salaries and benefits comprising the single largest expense for our school, and tuition comprising the largest source of revenue, it is a challenge to balance these competing demands. This will continue to be a top focus for the school. At a minimum, we will benchmark our salaries and benefits against those of other schools in our region. Creativity in developing benefits that are most appreciated by our employees will also be an important consideration.
Most teachers, however, don’t enter the profession because of the salary. They are motivated by the mission. A work culture that is inclusive, attends to the overall well-being of its people, and embraces professional growth is one that will attract and retain exceptionally qualified and driven educators and administrators. For this kind of culture to be a reality, leadership will need to be attentive to the cultural elements of our workplace and ensure that robust financial and temporal resources are in place.
Finally, great people attract great people. Just as the school is in the process of finalizing its Portrait of a Graduate to define the skills and competencies that young people will need to thrive in the future, Moravian Academy needs to engage in a similar exercise for our teaching faculty. Our Portrait of a Moravian Academy Faculty Member will articulate the shared behaviors, skills, values, and attitudes that we want all teachers to have. Executed properly, we’ll continue to experience feedback from students and parents like the comments below:
“My kids just love going to school. They have such joy getting back in the car to tell me about their day. They just love going there because they know their teachers care. They feel safe and loved, and they can learn.” –Swain parent
“I love going into a conference, because each teacher really knows not just how the kids have done grade-wise, but also has picked up things about their personality, interests, and the dynamics of how they’re evolving as a student.” –Historic Downtown parent
“We get attention based on our needs as individuals. If we’re struggling with a concept in math, the teacher can sit down with us and help us. The teachers are very open to helping us with what we need.” –Historic Downtown student