Joining the SV Team with Ms. DeeAnn Graham
Ms. DeeAnn Graham, Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School Principal
DeeAnn Graham has just completed her 17th year as a building administrator, with 15 as a principal. She started her career as a fifth and sixth grade teacher in a private school before stepping out of education temporarily to work in domestic steel sales. However, being an educator was foremost in her heart. An opportunity presented itself to teach in Seneca Valley. That was 25 years ago, and she still thinks Seneca Valley is the best place to work and learn!
IN THIS EPISODE, WE WILL REVIEW
File Name: Voices E42 DeeAnn Graham.mp3
File Length: 00:10:40
FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)
00:00:02:23 - 00:00:07:25
Introduction: Welcome to Voices, a podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District.
00:00:10:22 - 00:00:17:22
Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff, I'm with DeeAnn Graham, principal at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School. Thanks for being with us today.
00:00:18:24 - 00:00:20:09
DeeAnn Graham: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
00:00:20:27 - 00:00:40:16
Jeff Krakoff: So let's talk a little bit about preparations for the next school year. I'm sure there are some positions available. You're the principal, one of four elementary schools in the district. So if I'm an elementary teaching candidate, what should I expect from the hiring process at Seneca Valley?
00:00:43:05 - 00:01:13:15
DeeAnn Graham: I know that interviewing for a teaching job can be really nerve-racking, and so I recommend that candidates visit the District Human Resources website first and foremost, to gain a better understanding of each district's application process. Oftentimes in our district, we will have contacted a potential candidate might reach out by phone or by email and try to send the resume.
00:01:13:27 - 00:01:49:06
DeeAnn Graham: And that is not always the most effective way to secure an interview in Seneca Valley. You see, our District strives to provide equitable opportunities for all candidates to obtain an interview, so we utilize a TalentEd portal and this portal is an opportunity for each candidate to upload all of their application and supporting documents. And then that application is then visible to every building administrator, not just the one you may have reached out and spoken to by phone.
00:01:50:03 - 00:02:24:13
DeeAnn Graham: So first and foremost, we suggest that the candidates ensure that their application is complete with clearances, letters of recommendation, resume and a cover letter. And once those applications reviewed by the administration, we begin interviewing. So it's interesting, in Seneca Valley, candidates must successfully complete three interviews to obtain a position in the district. We begin by offering every single applicant a short screening interview.
00:02:24:17 - 00:03:00:06
DeeAnn Graham: It usually lasts about 20 minutes, six or so questions with one building-level administrator. And we utilize a common rubric to score the candidate's answers. So then top scores are invited back to a building-level interview. This interview is much more in-depth and last around 30 to forty-five minutes with two or three building principals present. And the final interview for those successful candidates is with several administrators and includes our assistant superintendent.
00:03:01:28 - 00:03:34:14
DeeAnn Graham: One other piece of advice would be that candidates become better acquainted with the district prior to interviewing, they can do this by visiting the building websites. Some will talk to community members, current employees, or even just driving through the various school locations at the end of each interview will ask the candidates if they have any questions for us. And I can tell you that it is always nice when a candidate references something lovely that they learned that is happening in our schools.
00:03:35:24 - 00:04:07:26
DeeAnn Graham: And finally, I'm often asked by prospective teacher candidates if they have to teach a live lesson to be hired in the school district and we do not expect that of our candidates. We found that our interviews are in-depth and comprehensive, and we have our questions geared toward your practices as well as theory and philosophy of education. So typically, after that third personal interview, we feel very confident that we know our candidates well.
00:04:08:15 - 00:04:18:04
Jeff Krakoff: OK. Yeah, they've met with a lot of people. So those are some great tips for candidates. I'm curious, from your perspective as a principal,
00:04:19:22 - 00:04:22:26
Jeff Krakoff: how do you see the interview process going when you're involved in it?
00:04:24:17 - 00:04:55:08
DeeAnn Graham: Thank you. Securing highly qualified, passionate and dedicated educator educators is critical for any building administrator, and we all approach the interview process with the seriousness of purpose. We devote hundreds of hours each year vetting patients and interviewing candidates for openings. And we are really looking for candidates that have a desire to help students succeed.
00:04:55:14 - 00:05:45:21
DeeAnn Graham: And this requires a focus on the whole child. And what I mean by that is that all learners, especially our young learners, must feel safe and cared for to access the curriculum. So educators must know their students and families very well. For example, we find that if a teacher is greeting students at the classroom door, are they noticing that a child may look tired or are they happy or are they worried or hungry? Our experiences this past year teaching during the pandemic have really solidified the need for teachers to provide students with not only academic instruction, but social and emotional learning opportunities as well.
00:05:46:08 - 00:06:02:27
DeeAnn Graham: So during our interviews, prospective teacher candidates really must be able to articulate how they will meet the needs of all our little learners. And that includes those that struggle to learn as well as those that require enrichment and acceleration.
00:06:04:25 - 00:06:41:28
DeeAnn Graham: We know we are also looking and very interested to find out how candidates value in the classrooms, does the candidate have a core belief that students are good? I believe that all students, including those that have differing values from their own or are culturally, racially or socioeconomically different from them are valued and included. Will the candidate tell us about filling their classroom with literature and planned activities that are inclusive of all learners? These are very important to us when we're interviewing.
00:06:43:02 - 00:07:02:00
Jeff Krakoff: OK, well, it sounds like you take a 360-degree approach to find the best candidates and the best of the best, I guess we can say. So if I am an educator, whether I'm a recent grad or have experience, why would I want to join the Seneca Valley teaching family?
00:07:04:11 - 00:07:28:10
DeeAnn Graham: That is that is such an important question and one that is very easy for me to answer. Oftentimes candidates will ask that, why should I? I work here and I. I just tell them that I have found my work family in Seneca Valley, I love Seneca Valley, I've been working in this district for twenty five years and
00:07:29:25 - 00:08:05:22
DeeAnn Graham: have found talented coworkers that is so important to any candidate. You know, my first year here, I was assigned an amazing mentor who helped guide me. And I've made lifelong friends with many of the talented colleagues over the years. Our teachers in Seneca Valley work and learn together and they drive our curriculum and instructional decisions. They're given the opportunity to make professional decisions about integrating resources that meet their children's needs.
00:08:06:18 - 00:08:37:15
DeeAnn Graham: In Seneca, creativity is valued. And that, for an educator, is a beautiful thing. When you walk into our schools, you instantly feel a sense of community and belonging, and that is because all of our teachers and our support staff care about our students, they care about our families, and they care about each other very important. Also important to get to prospective candidates is that you have a supportive administration.
00:08:38:16 - 00:09:15:14
DeeAnn Graham: When I first started here way back in the 90s, I was new to the area, new to the district and very, very nervous. And they heard something in those interviews to hire me and I'll be forever grateful that they did. I had a tremendous building administrator. He was accessible and knowledgeable. And I found that each administrator thereafter was exactly the same way. Open door, always asking, how can I help you? And in education, we call that approach servant leadership.
00:09:15:21 - 00:09:48:09
DeeAnn Graham: And at Seneca Valley building administrators are not only the educational leaders, they are the conduit to ensure that teachers can focus on students. And finally, and most importantly, the reason to be in Seneca Valley is our amazing students and their families. I can't tell you how supportive our Seneca family families are to our schools. They want to be involved in their child's learning and are truly educational partners with us.
00:09:49:16 - 00:10:17:16
DeeAnn Graham: As a new teacher, you really need to not only just you're not only looking for a job, you're really looking for an extension of your like your school family. And you need to ask yourself, will this district supports me while they support my continuing education. Will this district provide me with professional development. Well, they have a helpful induction program. And if you're looking at Seneca Valley the answer will be yes. It most certainly will be, yes.
00:10:17:29 - 00:10:33:00
Jeff Krakoff: Well, those are a lot of very good reasons why an educator would want to join the district. Thank you so much for all this great information. That was DeeAnn Graham e,lementary principal. Have a great day and have a great summer. Getting ready for next year.
00:10:34:06 - 00:10:35:07
DeeAnn Graham: Thank you so much.
00:10:35:20 - 00:10:36:16
Jeff Krakoff: All right. Take care.