In interviews, we tell prospective teachers that we are looking for two main things: passion for subject and passion for teaching teenagers.
Passion for subject means that our teachers are self-proclaimed nerds. They love what they teach in a beyond-enthusiastic way, as evidenced by math history facts of the day posted outside classrooms, biology-related comics adorning exams, an announcement of the discovery of a new black hole in Morning Meeting, a play adapted by teachers from the works of Poe for students to perform, international cultural and language trips, and — most importantly — excitement around the topic in each class every day. It’s a quality that we prize in our faculty and always want to see on abundant display.
Passion for teaching teenagers is arguably the more challenging characteristic to find in teachers. Teenagers are, as their parents well know, simultaneously the most delightfully wonderful and maddeningly frustrating beings on the planet. Therefore, our job in hiring is to find those teachers who genuinely enjoy and appreciate teenagers — quirks and all. Our faculty find that in treating students with respect and expecting them to have valuable contributions to class and the School from day one, they rise to the occasion most of the time, becoming more articulate, responsible, and independent each year. We know that our method — to meet teenagers where they are, value them as individuals, believe in them, know they can become who and what they aspire to, and help them get there — takes effort. But it’s the work of a Progressive school and we embrace it.
Another remarkable attribute about our faculty is how qualified they are. For most families, the top priority in choosing a high school is the education students will receive: it should be an education that has the capacity to transform their lives and send them off to college ready to conquer the next level of their educational journey. Every full-time member of our faculty has at least a master’s degree, most of which are in their subject area, and nearly 40% hold PhDs. The relevance of this statistic is that it is evidence of our faculty’s serious commitment to intellectual pursuit and their deep content knowledge. Each academic department has three full-time members; the art department has four part-time members or artists-in-residence, all of whom are practicing professional artists in their respective fields. Several of our faculty members also currently teach classes at the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, and Indiana University Southeast.
Here are some sample faculty highlights:
- Physics and history teacher Benjamin Studevent whose undergraduate degree is in Optics from Rose Hulman, and who was a Professor of Assyriology at Harvard University before coming to SFS, published a book titled Sumerian Tests from Ancient Iraq: From Ur III to 9/11. From the Amazon.com blurb: “The 145 tablets presented in this volume are among a larger group of 302 tablets confiscated by U.S. customs which were being stored in a World Trade Center building when it was destroyed on 9/11. The editions offered in this volume complete an incredible journey for the tablets and the stories they hold.”
- History teacher Diane Pecknold, the former Chair of the University of Louisville’s Women and Gender Studies department, published three book chapters/articles: a chapter on women’s rights’ activism and working-class women in Women and Social Movements in the United States (with one of our Goshen Campus teachers, Julie Mushkin); an article entitled “The Politics of Voice in Tween Girls’ Music Criticism”; and a chapter on identity, cultural authority, and musicianship among tween girls in Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture.
- Filmmaker-in-residence Jou Jou Papailler is the writer, director and producer of By Design, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Having teachers who love their subjects, genuinely care about teenagers, and are supremely qualified in their subjects leads to the very powerful connection formed between St. Francis faculty and students.
You can view our current course offerings here. We welcome you to schedule an in-person tour or opportunity for a classroom visit. Please contact the Admissions Office to schedule your visit now!