By Julian De Ocampo ’13, Roan Enright ’13 & Michael Ahearne ’14
“There was a bit of a perfect storm,” said Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Mr. Seamus Walsh about the cause behind the influx of new faculty members to the Brophy community.
Although there are usually some new teachers every year, this year there are more than 15 new faces on campus.
“The faculty who departed left for a variety of different reasons, from faculty moving to Dubai, faculty moving to Africa and faculty going home to take care of their kids,” Mr. Walsh said.
In addition to the two new Loyola Academy faculty members and the four alumni service corps members, 15 new teachers and counselors have joined the Brophy community in nearly every department, many of them taking the vacant positions created by the departure of numerous former staff members.
Mr. Walsh said that “the most important thing is that (applicants) are a good fit,” emphasizing there is no template for what makes a Brophy teacher — rather, each faculty member is expected to bring their own experiences, talents and background to the forefront of the community.
Mr. Walsh highlighted a number of qualities administrators looked for during the application process, including an understanding and exhibition of the Graduate at Graduation qualities, an ability to teach a number of courses in one’s respective department, a “commitment to high academic, co-curricular and service ministry standards” and a “high level of confidence and openness to growth.”
The religion department saw the biggest overhaul with four new teachers joining their ranks: Mr. Chris Agliano, Mr. Tom Donlan, Ms. Megan McDonald, a Xavier graduate, and Mr. Marc Valadao.
“I pretty much knew after I had the interview that if they offered me the job, I would take it hands down,” Mr. Agliano said. “Brophy is a pretty incredible place.”
The World Languages and Science departments also saw major changes.
The world language department saw the arrival of Mr. Chris Calderon, S.J., Ms. Melissa Campana and Mr. Richard Cordova, while the science department was met with the additions of chemistry teacher Mr. Pete deLannoy and physics teacher Mr. Zachary Widbin.
In addition to Mr. deLannoy and Mr. Widbin, the science department saw the return of former science department chair Mr. Jim Frazier, who retired in 2007 but has come back to teach chemistry.
Mr. Widbin graduated with a B.A. in physics from Harvard and began working at Brophy as a lacrosse coach before applying for a teaching position.
“Coming into it, people outside of Brophy might think ‘You’re teaching at a school of just nerdy geniuses,'” Mr. Widbin said. “That’s not true. Everyone here is gifted in their own way. Every guy in this school that I’ve met has the ability to do something great depending on how he wants to spend his time.”
Mr. Noah Lewkowitz ’98, the sole neophyte to the fine arts department, knew firsthand what Mr. Widbin was talking about, having graduated from Brophy nearly 15 years ago.
“I had a wonderful experience at Brophy and I came back to coach (soccer) at Brophy just to be around,” Mr. Lekowitz said. “I just recently thought about teaching at Brophy.”
Two new teachers also entered the math department: Mr. Ian Aston and Ms. Jessie Mason, another Xavier graduate.
Rounding out the new faculty members are Mr. Pete Burr ’07, the new head of Digital Media Management and college counselor Mr. Rey Santos.
With a cast of faculty members that broad and that diverse, the beginning of the year provided to be an interesting transition period for everyone.
“Every teacher has their own advice, and it’s funny because it usually contradicts the last piece of advice that you just heard from somebody,” Mr. Lewkowitz said, “We’re gathering all these little pieces of advice that works for us.”
As the transition ends and each teacher finds their niche at Brophy, students will see a number of changes as each teacher expands his or her role.
For example, Mr. Agliano plans on starting trips to Muscular Dystrophy Association camps, where Brophy students would be counselors and help the children.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lewkowitz is planning on paving the way for Architecture and Art History classes, something that Brophy had previously never been able to offer.
“Brophy is blessed to attract such a talented and charismatic group of people,” said principal Mr. Bob Ryan. “I have every confidence that they’re going to make what is already a great faculty even better.”
Faculty application process has many phases
In the search for new faculty members, Brophy turned to a number of resources, posting job listings on a number of websites, including teacher networking sites like the Jesuit Secondary Education Association.
Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Mr. Semus Walsh said that perspective applicants download and fill out a job application with a number of questions that give Brophy a “glimpse into who they are and how they think about things that are important to the school.”
Then the applicants send a resume and cover letter to principal Mr. Bob Ryan and the interviews begin.
Interviews are conducted between the applicant and a council of Mr. Ryan, Mr. Walsh and the department chair.
“It was intense,” said Mr. Chris Agliano. “The first part of it was talking to Mr. Ryan on the phone and having a couple of discussions with him about Brophy’s philosophy, about my philosophy and how it merged together. I also had to talk to Mr. Walsh and Paul Fisko, head of the Religion department. ”
This process continues year-round, allowing Brophy to build what Mr. Walsh called a “digital portfolio of applicants by department” in the event that positions do open.