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Introducing Trupti Patel: New Dean of Faculty


The new Dean of Faculty of Friends Seminary, Trupti Patel, has been making many changes to the school. This is Patel’s 30th year teaching, and she has taught as a third, fourth, and sixth grade homeroom teacher, as well as being a librarian and coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Greenwich Country Day School. Patel moved from Greenwich, Connecticut to New York for this job, and said that Friends had been her “dream school” for a very long time. She is very excited to be working at this school, in a role that combines all of her previous skills, and teaches her something new every day.

            The Dean of Faculty is a new role at Friends, focusing on professional development and collaborating with teachers to provide in-school and out of school opportunities to improve their teaching. When asked to describe her job’s purpose, Patel said she works to help “teachers [who] want to learn more about growing as teachers”. One such opportunity she has provided is bringing in the IFSEL, the Institute for Social Emotional Learning, to speak to the faculty. Principal Bo Lauder added this position to bolster professional development and create a position dedicated to it. The Dean of Faculty is what Patel calls a “faculty-facing position,” as it is primarily structured to improve the faculty. However, she does not formally evaluate teachers; instead, she goes to classrooms to learn teachers’ methods and assess how she can provide opportunities for them to improve. One important part of Patel’s job is social emotional learning, or SEL. For the Lower and Middle School, Patel and others she works with have also been trying the responsive classroom approach, an SEL-inspired method aimed to help teachers create a safe environment for their students, prevent distractions, and help students generate their own ideas about the subject. Patel plans for experts to come in and teach teachers about this method, and then let them try it on their own. Finally, Patel teaches one section of sixth grade English, one of her favorite parts of the job.

Patel works closely with all three division heads, tailoring specific opportunities for each division. Sometimes she focuses on big goals for the whole school, and sometimes only on more specific parts of the school. She also works very closely with Devan Ganeshananthan, the new Assistant Head of School, as he is in charge of much of the day-to-day operations at Friends. Her position also parallels Hassan Wilson’s, who is the Dean of Studies. Patel and Wilson work specifically with Michelle Cristella, the head of Middle School, on differentiated instruction. This means working with students to understand their different learning methods in order to meet curricular goals. So far, Patel thinks it is too soon to tell which division is improving the most. However, no matter what division, all teachers are working equally hard to make progress toward the SEL goal.

Patel’s main goal for this year is to get to know all of the faculty and teachers so she can understand what they need to work on. She wants to learn how to specify professional development for certain subjects, units in classes, and identify what specific teachers need, what she calls “boutiquing”. She is already working with the administrative team to discuss what next year’s professional development is going to look like.

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