Haley Prickett/Newport Beach, California/Bucknell University.
Where do you teach?
Kent School in Kent, Connecticut
What do you do there (i.e., what subject do you teach, what sport do you coach, do you live in a dorm or supervise a club, etc.)?
I teach two different sections of theology. Both are required classes for all students. The first one (Theo I) is basically “How to Think,” and the second (Theo II) is about the “Origins of Christianity.” I coach diving and am in charge of the aquatic fitness group. I live in a dorm of 110 girls (with seven other Dorm Parents). I am an assistant chaplain and am responsible for helping with chapel three times per week. I am the faculty advisor to the Mission Committee (which chooses where the chapel offering goes each week), and the Indian Culture Club. I am an avid participant/competitor in Faculty Soccer (literally one of the highlights!). I will also be teaching a World Religions course in the spring.
What is your favorite place on your school’s campus?
I really like Skiff Mountain on the South Side of Campus. It is a beautiful place to appreciate nature and lately has been lovely with the fall foliage.
What is the best part of your job?
I love the material I’m teaching. I get to teach philosophers I actually like reading and thinking about. I love challenging my students to think in ways they never have before. All their other classes are about memorizing formulas and vocabulary but my class is about being an individual and forming your own opinion. I love feeling like I’m empowering the students to think for themselves.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part is that it never stops. We teach all day, then coach, and then we live in the dorm with the kids. There’s really never a break. When I said I was tired the first week, someone said to me “you’ll be tired until Thanksgiving!”
What is one unique thing about your school?
Kent has an incredible number of international students from 27 different countries. And, despite being an Episcopal School, chapels are not always about religion. Chapel talks can be on any variety of subjects (e.g. winter, mountain biking, the dress code—I even gave one on travel), and we always try and keep things interesting. The kids never know what’s coming! I love that all religions are accepted and we make an effort to accommodate all faiths.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since you started at your school?
I’ve learned that I really love teaching philosophy. I think it’s something I’ll be doing for a while…
Who was your placement associate/counselor at CS&A?
Alex McLean, another former Bucknellian.
Who are your mentors?
Gordon McNeil, the Headmaster at Sage Hill School (in Newport Beach), and David Greene, the head of the Theology Department here at Kent.
What advice would you give to aspiring teachers at independent schools?
It’s awesome. I would definitely recommend entertaining the idea. The ability to live on campus is great. My “commute” is literally fewer than 200 yards and 22 steps to my classroom. The faculty is a group of like-minded, academically motivated people who share your passion for learning. It is really something consider if you want to be a life-long learner. Here at Kent, they offer financial assistance for additional education if you teach in the summer.