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An Interview with Stephan Reeves

On Hiring and Retaining a Diverse Faculty

By

Stephan Reeves

Stephan Reeves

Photo © Stephan Reeves
Editor's Note: Stephan Reeves is the President/Ceo of Montage Diversity Consultants, LLC. He very kindly has answered my questions about diversifying private school faculty.

Private schools have made some progress in diversifying their faculty and staff. What do you see as the obstacles to further progress? Are schools truly serious about diversification or are they merely paying lip service to the issue?

I believe that one of the most challenging obstacles private schools face in diversifying their faulty today is lack of assistance and process. There are no organizations out there that seem to want to try and understand the issues these schools are facing. There is frustration in the process because private schools are unsure of where and how to look for and to attract black teachers.

I think most private schools are making more of an effort to take diversity on campus seriously. Some may be simply paying lip service to the issue; but the difference is the commitment on the part of the schools' leadership. A school that is truly committed to increasing diversity will have all its key personnel involved in the process -- from the Headmaster to the Diversity Coordinator -- and will be intent upon making some commitment to addressing the issue with a long term outlook.

Retention of black teachers seems to be a problem for many schools. Any thoughts on the issue?

Yes! Retention is a serious issue which is why Montage Diversity aims to help the school create a culture of diversity on its campus. Typically, a black teacher leaves a private school because of lack of support- (or what they interpret to be lack of support), social interaction with other diverse (in this case similar) counterparts. If a school hires a black teacher and has programs in place which will help to assimilate the individual into the school culture, as well as provide outlets where that individual can feel connected to his/her own culture, then I think the problem of retention would slowly start to disappear.

A new agency such as yours faces an uphill climb to gain credibility and acceptance in the private school arena. What do you feel your agency offers that other more established agencies don't offer?

This is a great question, and one which I always want people to ask. First of all, Montage Diversity Consultants was created by black people who attended private school, a combined 20+ years from 7th grade to 12th grade. There is an outstanding understanding of the private school experience. In addition, the creators of Montage have gathered an advisory board made up of current heads of private schools, human resources executives, educators, and faculty members who all have the private schools' best interests in mind, either because they work there, have gone there, or have had children who have gone to such schools. Montage is a small organization which believes in helping those who want to help themselves. Besides the consultative, personal interaction that we share with our clients, we provide schools with a means to show others what they are doing in the areas of diversity, and why. We work closely with schools who intend to see results in this area. When a school works with Montage, we expect it to be a long term relationship.

Attracting qualified candidates into teaching is always a challenge. Attracting qualified black teachers, particularly males, is a serious challenge. How do we tackle the challenge?

I have been in sales/consulting ever since I graduated from Lehigh University. One thing I've learned is to network and build strong relationships. And yes, that's it! In order for private schools to attract qualified faculty, the network of organizations/ institutions, colleges, etc, from which recruiting is done, must be spread far and wide-- focusing on organizations who are committed to providing the highest levels of education. This must be coupled with the drive to find those candidates who are committed to teaching in an environment where they will truly be making a difference. There are numerous, well qualified faculty of color who would be eager to enter in an environment where they can teach, make a difference, impart their experiences and share their heritage.

Any idea how many positions might be available across America?

Typically, Robert, turn over in Private schools tend to remain fairly constant (on average 5 positions per year/ per school), but normally lower than Public School. We figure that out of the 1200 Private/Independent schools supported by the National Association For Independent Schools (NAIS), there is potentially 6000 positions available.

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