The faculty, as teachers, are the frontline where in a private school—with all its various supporting components—has its most important interface with students. No other group of people in the entire school community—administrators, staff, board, parents—has as much daily contact as the teachers. Teachers—as coaches, advisors, mentors (and house parents, in boarding schools)—are the frontline where the school engages its students with its athletic, extracurricular, social and moral/ethical/character curricula.[i]
Research has shown that the faculty is the critical school component not only in student achievement, but also in student satisfaction and enthusiasm. Studying countries such as China, Finland, Canada, and Singapore, Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, has indicated that industrialized countries are in broad agreement on the key role teachers play in student achievement.[ii] Based on its research, Independent School Management (ISM) states the categorical importance of faculty to a school’s mission accomplishment: “…there is no more pivotal, important task than ensuring your school hires mission-appropriate faculty.”[iii] The dean of faculty, or principal in a public school, is the critical administrator in hiring and retaining these teachers, the frontline “service providers” of the school’s product.
[i] Independent School Management (ISM) uses the metaphor of the teacher as “the linchpin to student success.” “The 21st Century School: Teaching Time,” ISM, Ideas & Perspectives, Vol. 34, No. 13.
[ii] “Teacher Quality: What’s Wrong with U.S. Strategy?” Educational Leadership, Dec 2011-Jan 2012, 42. See also Bess Keller, “Teachers Seen as Making Difference in World’s Top Schools,” Education Week, November 7, 2007, p. 8. For a study of 800 pairs of twins that demonstrated the importance of good teachers, see Debra Viadero, “Twin Study Bolsters Arguments for Value of Good Teachers,” Education Week, April 28, 2010, p. 8. David Bouton, principal of Trinity High School, PA, maintains “a good school is one that finds ways to unlock the change agent within teachers—so that they, in turn, can unlock the potential within every student.” “The Key to Unlocking Student Potential: A Collaborative Learning Model,” Independent School, Fall 2011, p. 58.
[iii] “Characteristics of Professional Excellence: Faculty Interviews,” ISM, Ideas & Perspectives, Vol. 33, No. 10, August 11, 2008, 41. A study involving 2.5 million students over 20 years showed that teachers who helped raise their students’ standardized test scores appeared to have positive, longer term effects in other areas of the students’ lives. See Annie Lowrey, “Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain,” The New York Times, January 6, 2012.