Strategic Plan Update: Attracting and Retaining Diverse Faculty

For the rest of the school year, SGS will be posting monthly updates for the community on the progress of our strategic plan. Each month will focus on a different initiative within the plan. 

This month’s update is on the progress of the following initiative: Recruit, attract, and retain faculty that reflect the diversity of our community and provide powerful role models for our students. This initiative falls under the third goal of our strategic plan, Students Powered by Thriving Employees.

The work on this initiative is currently being spearheaded by our Assistant Head of School Phelana Pang, and fellow Equity Team member and A+W teacher Hannah McHugh. Starting this past October, Phelana and Hannah collected feedback from the current faculty about their own experiences with the SGS hiring process. They also answered the question: “What at SGS makes you feel welcomed, valued, a sense of belonging, and supported?” The responses to this question were powerful: faculty feel like they can be their authentic selves at SGS, which leads to positive relationships between adults and students that ultimately promote a culture of support and learning. A few of the answers from faculty members have been turned into a short video series on our employment page for prospective hires to learn more about SGS culture.

The focus on interpersonal relationships also extends to faculty recruitment. Along with Head of School Brenda Leaks, Phelana recently attended a virtual diversity career fair with 22 other independent schools in the area. Phelana and Brenda personally invited career fair registrants to talk to them directly about SGS. Phelana also keeps in touch with past candidates who applied to SGS to maintain those connections and deepen SGS’s pool of applicants.

Continuing work done by the Equity Team over the past few years, Phelana and Hannah have also refined the published job descriptions to reflect not only the mission and culture of SGS, but the specific anti-bias and equity work required of SGS faculty. Here are a few key examples of lines in a SGS job description:

·        Engage students in differentiated and meaningful learning through culturally responsive teaching practices.
·        Serve as an advisor to a small group of students, providing academic support and integrating social-emotional, anti-bias, and social justice learning based on shared grade-team goals.
·        Beyond your curricular responsibilities, actively engage around the larger mission of SGS to develop students’ leadership and their understanding of social justice.
·        Engage in continuous personal identity development work, specifically in regards to race and privilege, and support students in their own learning.

Through these additions and refinements, prospective SGS employees can see how critical the anti-bias and social justice work is at SGS.

Recent edits to the SGS website also serve to reinforce that SGS values inclusion and diversity. SGS added a page on the Equity Team so that prospective families and employees can see how their work is conducted. In addition to the videos of current faculty members speaking about their SGS experience, pictures of the equity team, the faculty and staff, and the leadership team were added to various pages on the website so that visitors get a better sense of who works at SGS.

Looking forward to the rest of the year, Phelana and Hannah hope to describe and flesh out more processes and systems related to faculty retention. This includes examining SGS’s onboarding program for faculty members at varying experience levels, strengthening SGS’s faculty mentor program, and reviewing and refining the initial DEI work that new employees do as well. Though challenges remain, they are optimistic in the progress and process changes started so far to reach the goals of this initiative. The work done so far has made our internal processes more transparent with external constituents and they will continue to find more ways to make current employees be stakeholders in the SGS mission.

Know someone who you think would be a great fit for the SGS community? Please share our employment page with them! 
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.