Bachelor of Arts, University of Pennsylvania
Seth Hanford has been Head of School at Elgin Academy since July of 2012. Mr. Hanford holds an M.A. in Educational Administration from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, with a specialization in private school leadership and a B.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania. Before becoming Head, he served as EA’s Assistant Head of School and as Upper School Director and as an Upper School history teacher. His past experience in schools also includes teaching and advising in both Middle and Upper School divisions at two other independent schools – Greens Farms Academy in Connecticut and Mary Institute and Country Day School in St. Louis, where he also served as a Dean of Students.
True engagement comes only through authentic experimentation and risk taking. While the classroom experience is the core of any student's experience, administrators are responsible for ensuring that the conditions to learn come not only in classrooms, but also on playing fields and courts, theaters, art spaces, and in the community.
- Seth Hanford
Administrators ensure that the conditions are in place to best support theirschool's mission. At EA, that means safeguarding the crucial relationships that enhance our ability to take learning personally by understanding the partnership between each student, their family, and the school. It is from the security of these relationships that students can progress through the basics of any given subject into true engagement with increasingly difficult material. This true engagement comes only through authentic experimentation and risk taking. While the classroom experience is the core of any student's experience, administrators are responsible for ensuring that the conditions to learn come not only in classrooms, but also on playing fields and courts, theaters, art spaces, and in the community. The results lead to students who are poised to enter the world around them, understand the complex issues that exist, develop solutions for vexing problems, and communicate effectively to lead others as they implement solutions. There is no greater feeling than to hear from our alums when they return to us about all of the many ways they are making real differences in the world.
Master of Business Administration, Northwestern University
As the child of a teacher, I witnessed the power of education as I was growing up. I always knew that I wanted to be part of a school that supports the growth and development of young people. I am very lucky to be part of such a community at Elgin Academy and am grateful be surrounded by such joy in learning as exists here.
- Marnie Kut
As Development Director, I help to enhance the learning experience for each student through fundraising. The fundraising efforts of the extraordinary team in the Development office help make it possible for our students to explore new worlds, confidently give presentations, learn their own strengths on the athletic field, and shine artistically. Development also supports the entire Elgin Academy community from our faculty to our parent volunteers. What happens at EA every day would not be possible without their efforts and the Development Office assists them in every way we can.
I am grateful to the entire Elgin Academy community which helps our students learn and thrive and happy to be a part of it all.
Bachelor of Science, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Students must feel comfortable before they can learn. I expect my classroom to be an environment where students are allowed to take risks. I look for situations when I can look at a problem for the first time with students and model for them how to try and potentially fail in finding the right solution, only to rebound and try new ideas
- Doug Sept
I do not simply teach mathematics; I teach students. I teach students to become critical thinkers, to accept and overcome frustration, and to feel confident in proposing solutions. I teach students about the importance of honest self-assessment, how to celebrate accomplishments, and when to humbly admit that they are having difficulties. I teach students to take the time to listen and value other ideas, to respectfully disagree, and how to act when someone else disagrees with them. I teach students to use their resources and to master appropriate technology as well as to discern when to forego technology because they have the internal tools to solve a problem. In order to accomplish all of this, I use mathematics as the primary vehicle.
Students must feel comfortable before they can learn. I expect my classroom to be an environment where students are allowed to take risks. I look for situations when I can look at a problem for the first time with students and model for them how to try and potentially fail in finding the right solution, only to rebound and try new ideas. I applaud students who find my mistakes, be they intentional or accidents, because having them critique my work builds in them the ability to scrutinize their own.
I believe that homework should be a safe place to make mistakes. After learning about a new concept, the initial homework assignment involves students checking their own answers. I let the students know that immediate mastery is not the goal, but that attempting every problem is what is important. During every class period, there is a time for students to ask questions as a whole or as individuals. When I informally assess that a certain level of mastery has been reached by the majority of students, I formally assess them through a quiz. If a few individuals struggle, I work with them one-on-one to increase their understanding and confidence. If the majority of the class struggles, I discern what I could have done differently and implement an alternate approach to teaching the material.
Building genuine relationships with students is paramount to successful teaching. Although the focus of our initial relationship is through mathematics, I need to show that I care about them as a person outside of their mathematical performance. I greet students by name as they arrive in class and wish them a good day as they leave. I also acquaint myself of their involvement in activities both in and out of school. This allows a common ground for discussions beyond mathematics – talking about a recent athletic event, an impressive piece of artwork or creative performance, or simply asking what they did that weekend and listening to and caring about their answer builds a personal bridge through which great learning can happen.
Overall, I expect my students to leave my class having mastered the material and prepared themselves for future mathematics courses, but I also expect them to leave my class having learned how to be better, more confident learners in all areas.
Master of Arts, Aurora University
My career in education has always centered around the middle school student. I have worked with my students and their families in multiple school environments: public, private, parochial, and independent.I find tremendous satisfaction in watching a young fifth grader traverse the roller-coaster ride of their middle school years and develop into an eighth grader who is confident and ready to accept the increasing challenges that lie before them
- Sandy Revak
The three words that form the basis of my teaching philosophy are challenge, encourage, and grow.
Challenge: I strive to challenge each and every student to expand their understanding of a concept/subject/world/themselves in an active learning environment. I want students to analyze ideas, consider various viewpoints, draw informed conclusions, and be willing to take the risk needed to stretch themselves beyond what they initially thought were their personal limitations.
Encourage: I encourage each student to realize their potential and develop the confidence in themselves to learn and share what they know. I want each student to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, both a learner and as an individual, so they can use this knowledge in their academic and social/emotional pursuits. Everyone can learn, and we all do so in different ways and at our own pace.
Grow: When a student develops confidence in their own abilities, it helps them become receptive to the diversity of the world and become the person they want to be. I want every student to see learning as a worthy pursuit and one which opens the path to help them find their place in the world and compels them to contribute to it
I find tremendous satisfaction in watching a young fifth grader traverse the roller-coaster ride of their middle school years and develop into an eighth grader who is confident and ready to accept the increasing challenges that lie before them.
Bachelor of Arts, University of Stirling - Scotland
I am an advocate of the holistic approach to education in recognition of the fact that social and emotional factors affect progress in the academic domain. However, not only should we give social and emotional factors consideration, we should coach students in managing the social and emotional factors which constitute a major part of the context in which their learning takes place.
- Harry Gould
When I was still a student in high school, one of my teachers sparked in me an interest in education and psychology through his regular diversions from our German language lessons into the realm of psycholinguistics. The thoroughly engaging lessons that he created for his students were unlike anything I had experienced up to that point, and it led to a change in direction for me. Some years later, I entered the teaching profession with a degree in psychology and a great sense of purpose.
Since then, my philosophy has developed though teaching general subjects in K – 8 classrooms in the UK, in international schools in Germany and the Middle East, in public schools in the US, and in recent years at Elgin Academy. This background has led me to cherish the diversity among my students, not only in terms of their cultural origins, but also as regards their individuality. In essence, I believe that we should celebrate this individuality and recognize it as a driving force in the educational process.
I am an advocate of the holistic approach to education in recognition of the fact that social and emotional factors affect progress in the academic domain. However, not only should we give social and emotional factors consideration, we should coach students in managing the social and emotional factors which constitute a major part of the context in which their learning takes place. This includes building confidence and a focus on character education, one that goes beyond important traits such as responsibility, honesty, and caring, to include for example, self-discipline and perseverance.
While each curricular area presents certain knowledge, skills, and concepts, I believe it is important for students to make cross-curricular connections, and for them to apply what they have learned. This leads me to encourage the active participation of my students in the learning process. I want them become involved in decision making about which resources to access in order to answer questions or solve problems that are interesting, relevant, and important to them here and now. Research shows that this purposeful approach results in higher levels of student engagement and motivation, and with that, more effective learning.
Also integral to this approach are the development of oral and written communication skills and expertise in the use of modern technology. As members of a community of learners, my students communicate with one another when collaborating with their peers, when addressing invited adult audiences, and when connecting with the world at large. Along with monitoring student progress on a daily basis, it is is here that I can observe the outcome of my endeavors and assess the effectiveness of what I do.
Master of Science, Northwestern University
As Director of Admission and Marketing, my mission is to continue to build a warm, nurturing and compassionate community for Elgin Academy.
- Tiffany Wells
As Director of Admission and Marketing, my mission is to continue to build a warm, nurturing and compassionate community for Elgin Academy. Throughout my career working at independent schools, I have been tasked with finding the right students for that particular school. I hope to continue this legacy at EA and ensure every student has the opportunity to witness EA being the right fit for them. There is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.
Administrative Support Staff
Master of Arts, Indiana University
There are not many opportunities in life to be surrounded by people of all ages striving to do their best each day. What makes being part of Elgin Academy rewarding and exciting for me is knowing every morning our community wakes up with the intent of creating a day better than the one before
- Kelly Fluegel
It’s not about how big or small are mistakes are, but how we correct them that define us. Life is full of choices that can lend itself to teaching opportunities. As a teacher I feel part of my job is to help students become equipped with the right tools, knowledge, and characteristics to grow both personally and academically in any situation. Elgin Academy naturally offers me the opportunity to teach in this way, which is inspiring.
- Trisha Shrum
Being a part of the EA Community means being in a place where people genuinely care. We celebrate each other in our successes and support each other in our challenges. We come to this place not just because it is a job or it is our school, but because we truly believe in the experience that takes place on our campus.
- Jenn Brown