Teachers provide feedback for administrators in faculty survey

Frank Jiang

Over the past four months, faculty and staff have provided anonymous feedback for the school’s division heads through online surveys conducted by FNS Consulting. Division heads include President Rick Commons, Head of Upper School Laura Ross, Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish and Head of Athletics Terry Barnum. The survey included a variety of questions that covered four main topics: leadership, communication skills, organizational capacities and team-building behaviors.

The majority of the survey’s questions utilized a numerical rating system in which the faculty could rate each administrator’s performance in a certain area from one to five. In addition, there were several short answer sections. After recording and analyzing data from the survey, administrative leaders met with their respective divisions and discussed concerns about the results.

Teachers explain their caveats

Science teacher Richard Vo said that, due to his lack of interactions with both Commons and Ross, he discovered that he could not answer many of the questions for fear of providing misinformation.

“Even though I feel that I don’t interact with the administration that much, I feel like that is by design,” Vo said. “They don’t want to get in the way of me doing my job, and so the most efficient way for me to do my job is to interact with people who help me do my job better, and that’s my department, that’s my team. I imagine that if I had a lot of meetings with the administration it would feel onerous like it was overhead, and I don’t think they would want that so I do appreciate that.”

Yang talks about similarities

Science teacher Steve Yang ’08 said he felt that the effects of the survey were very similar to those he witnessed with the annual questionnaires he administers to his students.

“It’s nice to know what works and what doesn’t work so I do find them useful,” Yang said. “But sometimes I personally dread opening [feedback] up because it’s a little nerve-wracking since I have to try to separate who I am as a person and who I am as a teacher, because [the feedback doesn’t] normally critique me on who I am as a person.”

Commons responds to survey

Commons said that he felt the survey was very beneficial for administrators, and that the results of the feedback helped him recognize the need to help the faculty grow. Although Commons said he will continue to work on specific areas, he said he felt that the division heads were still performing their jobs very well.

“There hasn’t been this sense that ‘I’ve got to make sure that Mr. Wimbish is doing is his job well,’ of course, he’s doing his job well but can he do it better? Yes, and of course in many ways, I hope that I’m doing my job well but can I do it better? Obviously, and I’ve got a lot of good feedback that is going to help me to do so in the future,” Commons said.