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Finding My Dream Job

Updated: Apr 24

The culture and community of FernLeaf's team members is priority number one. If teachers are happy, students can sense that joy. Want to learn more about what it's like to be a team member at FernLeaf, read on for a first hand account, when you're done reading head HERE to hear more!

I’ve been in the workforce for just over 40 years, having started my career path from within the corporate world in my 20’s. This was contrary to the Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education I had earned through which I intended to either teach or work in a social services capacity. For a variety of reasons and circumstances, I chose a different route.

On reflection, my career journey that has afforded me opportunities in the corporate, nonprofit and educational spaces has been just right for me. I consider myself a seasoned, well traveled employee having acquired a depth of knowledge, experience and transferable skills over many years. Most of all, I know with clarity when the organization I’m working within is the right fit for me.

After all, isn’t that our goal as job seekers? We seek to find a place where we feel valued for our contributions, fulfilled through the work we do, respected as our authentic self, and where the collection of our colleagues represent a group of individuals with whom we feel privileged to work alongside.

While I have had some previous employment opportunities that have been pretty great, FernLeaf is without question the overall best fit for me. Not everyone takes as long as I did to land a job that represents the ultimate opportunity but it’s not about a span of time. It’s about knowing when you find the best fit for you no matter when or where it may happen to be. 

FernLeaf is the best fit for me because of what I have experienced from the day I completed the application (the questions make it clear they want to get to know you), to my first day with staff and all the days I’ve experienced these past 4 years. The centerpiece around which all aspects of FernLeaf are driven is relationships. It’s not just a catch phrase. Relationships do matter here. Every day you see it and feel it throughout the interconnectedness of the many tentacles of our school community; staff, students, families, leadership team, broader community.

Through our mission, you can sense a clear theme of relationships woven throughout. We seek to embody and model it every day for our students.

FernLeaf's Mission is "to foster a rich learning environment that embodies the essence of community, understanding and the human spirit. Grounded in humble respect for our surroundings, the individual and the world as a whole, we seek to engage the unique passions and aptitudes of our school community so that in addition to achieving academic fluency, students become thoughtful, compassionate and engaged."

When you have strong relationships between students, teachers, staff and families, when faculty and staff have relationships that create a desire to share time outside of school as friends, when you have a leadership team that leads through their actions to support staff in a variety of ways that demonstrate how they are respected, valued and cared for….well, everything else comes together in a very real and organic way.

The academic focus is certainly held with a high regard as they are in any school. Teachers are challenged and encouraged to seek creative (outside of the box) learning opportunities that will engage and challenge their students both in and out of the classroom. Project Based Learning (PBL), Outdoor Education and Experiential Learning are the pillars that support our strong academics. The academic data is monitored rather than presented as a mandatory measure by which everything else is considered. It’s an important aspect to the sustainment and growth of the school but it’s not the driving force. It’s the relationships within this school community that, in large part, represent the best place for me. 

But wait, there’s more! Never have I worked within a school where the calendar is intentionally designed to allow for breaks just when they are needed to give staff and students time to recharge. Each Friday there is an early dismissal for students at noon, which allows for an afternoon to plan, attend committee meetings, schedule professional development, whatever the needs are this is a weekly window of extra time for staff. The benefits of working at FernLeaf would truly be hard to match.

Oh, did I mention that I’m a Teacher Assistant, one of the many on staff for support of grades Kindergarten through 8th grade? Through the relationships I mentioned, the support of one another is always there whenever and for whatever is needed. And the support comes in very handy considering there are at least 8 fieldwork day trips scheduled for each grade level in addition to an annual overnight fieldwork. These opportunities to spend time off campus, whether it be for the day or on a 3 day, 2 night overnight experience, allow for the relationships between staff and students to deepen in ways not always or easily achieved through the day to day classroom engagement.  The value from which is both immeasurable and far reaching. 

A lot is always happening at FernLeaf. We give a lot to our work and our school community. It’s how FernLeaf continues to grow in so many ways and on so many levels, none of which have to do with the number of staff or square footage of our building. The return on all we invest each day is also impossible to measure. Although you can get a pretty good idea of the return if you walk through the hallways on any given day. It’s hard to miss the smiles and sound of laughter.

We may work hard but we balance it with a lot of fun. Our staff culture committee makes sure of that because if you don’t allow some time (remember those early release Fridays?) to let go and just enjoy time together for some fun and lots of laughter, well, things can get old fast. Whether we’re getting ready for the annual Fern Olympics, competing in a Ping Pong Extravaganza, enjoying each other's company at our year end staff retreat or one of the many other creative opportunities to come together, these are times to be with colleagues from all grade levels where new connections can be made and relationships can be strengthened.  

Suffice it to say, FernLeaf is simply a special place. It’s not perfect, but by my measure, it comes pretty darn close. If you happen to be looking for a new opportunity, I encourage you to check us out. Who knows, FernLeaf may be the right fit for you.

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1 Comment

Stephanie Jär
Stephanie Jär
Jul 04

Everything that Porter mentions represents for me precisely why FernLeaf is the school community of my dreams! As a former executive within the international learning and development field, who has also previously worked as a teacher in several other countries, this school impresses me like no other. After 8 years at FernLeaf, it seems to me that they have cracked the code on what the world's most successful pedagogical institutions have learned and managed to implement those best practices in an ideal environment, empowering their staff to actually thrive, thus benefitting my own children to grow into secure and passionate life-long learners, not just anxious students, as had been their previous academic experience.

Thank you, Porter, for sharing your experience…

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