Hiring process begins for faculty

With nine job openings in four departments, Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts and other administration and faculty are busy reading resumes and interviewing candidates for the fall.

21 years ago, when she was a candidate, Foreign Language Department Head Margot Riemer, sat nervously at the lunch table with several other teachers. Her lunch barely touched, Riemer busied herself with talking to people who she hoped would eventually be her colleagues. Riemer’s road the Coldwater Campus started with an opening in the Foreign Language Department.

Fresh out of college with a degree in Spanish, Riemer sent in her resume and soon had a phone interview. The interview was in Spanish, so Riemer could show her proficiency in the language before the school spent money to fly her in from Michigan. The interview went well, and soon Reimer was staying at the Sportsman’s Lodge in preparation for the day of interviews to come. The Head Master Tom Hudnut, Department Chair John Corsello, and Will Sellmon, the teacher she would be replacing, all interviewed her. Reimer was offered the job, and she took it.

“I could tell that it would be a challenge,” Reimer said. “I could tell that the kids were the kind of kids who would push me, and who would ask me questions to which I might have to look up the answer.”

Mathematics Department Head Paula Evans had a different experience. When attending a conference, Technology Center Director Chris Gragg asked if anyone taught computer science. Out of the 200 people in the room, only Evans raised her hand. Gragg quickly asked her if she would like a job. Attached to her research at The Alabama School of Math and Science, Evans refused. Yet after persistent calling from the math department, Evans agreed and showed up for an interview.

“I was kind of  surprised I decided to come. I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t plan to come here,” Evans said.

By the fall of 1999, Evans was a math teacher at the upper school. When hiring a teacher, there are two possible ways in which the process starts.  Applicants send resumes to Harvard-Westlake and they reach Administrative Assistant Pat Nolte. When a vacancy opens up among the faculty, she searches through the resumes on file and chooses a select few to progress through the rest of the administration.

“The process of hiring is complicated in that there are many individuals involved in any single hire and depending on who were are hiring, the process can look very different from one case to another,” Huybrechts said.

It is also possible for an administrator or department chair to notice a good prospect for a teaching position at a job fair or convention.

Eventually all resumes are sent to Nolte, who enters them into Didax. Teaching experience, amount of education and a good phone interview make a desirable candidate, Director of Studies Liz Resnick said. The administration proceeds with one of two actions. If the candidate has a superior resume and phone interview, but he or she lives far away, Nolte or Executive Assistant to the Head of the Middle School Melissa Zimmerman books a hotel, flight and other necessary travel arrangements.

If a local candidate also has an impressive resume, the applicant will come in for about an hour to be interviewed, giving the administration an opportunity to solidify their opinion about the candidate.

Candidates then come to campus and take part in an Olympiad of interviews and activities.

They are interviewed by department heads and members of the prospective department. The day also usually includes teaching a sample class and possibly giving lectures to the respective department. Just as Riemer and Evans did, Chemistry teacher Narae Park had a phone interview and then arrived on the upper school campus in person for a formal interview.

“On the phone, it went pretty well because it was really casual, but when I came here, I was real nervous because it was my first teaching interview,” said Park.
When all the interviews are completed,  each interviewer sends his or her opinion on the prospect to Huybrechts, who makes the final decision. Huybrechts calls the prospect and offers him or her the job.

*Additional reporting by Aimee Misaki

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