It’s been a month since CA’s new Dean of Faculty Jenny Chandler officially made the move to campus. So far, she has managed to unpack most of her boxes and find her way to the Upper Stu-Fac without getting lost much.
“I’m excited to be a resident on campus and a part of this special community. The surroundings are enchanting,” says Chandler.
In a way, Chandler’s journey to CA began back in 1985 at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Fairbault, Minnesota. Chandler taught middle school classes there for three years.
“I enjoyed the challenge of preparing for a class, figuring out how to excite students, engaging them in discovery, and making materials and ideas so meaningful to me accessible and, ideally, meaningful to them. I also grew to love what happens over the course of a class. My students have been some of my best and most memorable teachers. Teaching is such a privilege to me,” says Chandler.
Her hours in the classroom solidified Chandler’s interest in education. She vividly remembers being in a classroom in 1986 when the news broke that the space shuttle Challenger had exploded. “I reacted to that event as a teacher. I thought about Christa McAuliffe and what she was trying to do. That was a transformative moment for me because it made me think more deeply about what I love to do,” says Chandler.
Within a few years Chandler had enrolled at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, after which she became the Dean of Students at Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Moving to the Berkshires was a coming home of sorts for Chandler, who grew up in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Chandler’s position at the school evolved from Dean of Students to Assistant Head and then Dean of Academics and Faculty. After twenty-three years at Miss Hall’s, Chandler was looking for new challenges and something, perhaps, a bit more focused on the support and oversight of faculty.
“I was looking for a school that matched its mission in a very real way,” says Chandler who believes that, at CA, she has finally found such a school.
She came to that conclusion, in part, after meeting a group of CA students during her interview process. “Those kids spoke about their teacher’s capacity to deliver great content in an engaging way and the joy they had doing it. Their enthusiasm was very real.”
As Dean of Faculty, says Chandler, one of her jobs in this first year will be to “to listen for and capture what distinguishes teaching at CA.”
Chandler is also looking forward to teaching Profiles in Leadership in the spring, a course she has developed over the last two years. She will be teaching US2 in the fall.
“My aim is to get students to appreciate their own capacity to lead. I appreciate that at CA I have been given solid time to prepare for the classes that I will be teaching,” says Chandler. “That is a real gift.”
Still, Chandler will be taking time away from unpacking and class prep to indulge in a few guilty pleasures. That includes catching episodes of Downton Abbey or The Good Wife, eating a cupcake or two, and taking long walks in town with her Dalmatian Gracie and on some of the trails around the CA. campus. She also looks forward to welcoming her son Owen home to CA when he visits from Sarah Lawrence College, where he is a sophomore.
She also hopes to make time to finish her current bedside books, Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking and Rachel Maddow’s Drift.
As she sits in her new office, Chandler says she often thinks back to the journey that brought her to Concord Academy. “I think about the events that have shaped my journey and I have really begun to realize that this is what teachers do—we help students navigate and shape their own journeys. CA seems to honor this connection in a very thoughtful and distinctive way.