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Deerfield Names New Assistant Deans of Faculty
Lilia Brooker '19 Senior Writer
April 24, 2019

Head of the Science Department and Physics Teacher Mark Acton, Head of the English Department Michael Schloat, and Math Teacher Deborah Costello will all serve in the new role of Assistant Dean of Faculty. The position was created to help with faculty evaluation and feedback.

Dean of Faculty John Taylor noted that there are several faults in the current teacher evaluation system. Discussing the flaws, Mr. Taylor elaborated, “We were not talking enough about teaching and learning with the faculty and we needed more opportunities to do that.”

Explaining the specific purpose of the new positions, Schloat stated, “These positions were created with the express purpose of significantly increasing the school’s ability to provide that formative feedback to faculty in their development as master teachers.”

Credit: Britney Cheung
The future Assistant Deans of Faculty, Mr. Schloat, Ms. Costello, and Dr. Acton pose together for a group photo. They will work together in collaboration with the current Dean of Faculty, John Taylor.

Mr. Taylor additionally  expressed that he hopes that this new position will improve communication and dialogue between the administration, faculty, and students.

Currently, Mr. Taylor evaluates about twelve to fifteen faculty members each year, but the three new Assistant Deans of Faculty will help increase that number to about thirty.

When explaining the reasoning behind this decision, Mr. Taylor stated, “We want to give more feedback, more regularly, to more faculty.”

Mr. Taylor also indicated that he seeks to give students more opportunities to provide more feedback to a wider range of faculty members in order to give students more agency in the faculty evaluation process.

All three new members teach in different departments, a measure designed to expand the range and depth of possible feedback across disciplines.

When discussing their plans as the new Assistant Deans of Faculty, Mr. Schloat shared, “We will visit classes and engage in formative relationships with colleagues to help them achieve their professional goals.”

Many teachers have found these evaluations by their colleagues to be beneficial in helping them better their teaching methods and curriculum.

Dr. Acton commented, “I have found it incredibly valuable when another adult observes classes I am teaching… We are able to talk about what is working well and what needs some refinement.”

The selection process for the position included a search committee appointed by Mr. Taylor. The committee consisted of six individuals split into two groups of three, who reviewed and interviewed candidates.

They reviewed cover letters and resumes of several promising candidates. Head of School Margarita Curtis and next year’s Head of School John Austin then interviewed the finalists. Dr. Austin is currently the Head of School at King’s Academy in Jordan, where having three Assistant Deans of Faculty is working well.

Mr. Schloat is looking forward to filling this role next year.

He said, “Our colleagues are incredible teachers, coaches, advisers, etc., and one of the things that makes them so remarkable is their commitment to constant improvement.” Sharing his goals for his new position, Dr. Acton shared, “I hope to be able to work with our faculty across campus to support what they are already doing and to work with them on areas where they would like to improve… [All in all] I am really interested in helping faculty continue to improve as educators.”