I traveled to Houston, Texas in mid-June to spend a week with Quenby Jackson Mott ’89. She is the Head Upper School Dean at Kinkaid School, a private school with about 1,400 students. I attended a school similar to Kinkaid during my middle and high school years (Bullis School), and I hope to return there to teach one day. I specifically expressed interest in this externship because Kinkaid is a private school, and I wanted to learn what it is like to be an administrator at a private school. I learned just that, in addition to picking up a few pieces of life advice along the way.
I spent a lot of time in the Dean’s Office during the week. I got the unique opportunity to sit in on phone calls and meetings to get a true sense of what it is like to be an administrator. I expected that there would be a lot of emails, phone calls and meetings. I was pleasantly surprised that I got to sit in on an interview for a job candidate, see how an administrator/student/parent meeting goes, and how a full-time professional juggles a family and work. I’m not sure how Quenby manages to spend time with her husband and daughter, cook dinner, read, stay well-informed about the news, exercise, run errands, etc., but I was impressed to say the least.
I enjoyed meeting the many members of the Kinkaid administration and staff most. Everyone was so friendly, and I was so grateful that they were willing to take time out of their day to tell me about what they do. I met administrators from each division of the school, members of the advancement office, information technology, athletic coaches and most of the Upper School Deans. This gave me a nice wide-angle view of a school and how the different components come together to produce the educational experience that the school provides. Each person offered me unique advice about reaching my career goals. I especially enjoyed my interaction with the Middle School Principal. She has a great exuberance about her that I envy. She told me a story from early in her teaching career, which struck a chord with me. She was meeting with a superior and talking about mentorship. She asked him if he had a suggestion as to who she could seek out to be her mentor. He responded by asking who she was mentoring. As a new and young teacher, she didn’t expect that question. Through the conversation she had with him, she realized that she could and should mentor others, even as a young teacher. I appreciated this story because I too seek to build relationships like that, and I find it comforting and even inspiring to know that as a young person, I have the ability to mentor others. I feel that being a positive force in another person’s life is my purpose, and the conversation I had with her reaffirmed my career aspirations. Conversations just like this one happened every day while I was at Kinkaid, and I found that I was constantly reaffirming my plans to go into education.
Visiting Kinkaid also gave me a fresh look on private schools. I often found myself comparing Kinkaid to my middle/high school, and I asked myself questions like “is the Kinkaid model something that would work at Bullis?” I think that we often learn best from our peers, and I think more inter-school observation and collaboration would be beneficial for anyone involved. I hope to continue to learn more about how other schools operate in the future and integrate that information in my future career.
I cannot say enough about my externship experience. Quenby, her family and everyone at Kinkaid was so welcoming, and I have never felt more sure about wanting to pursue a career in education.