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Southern Teachers

Tuesday, December 3, 2019  
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“There’s nothing else like us in the world,” smiles Carey Goodman, director of Southern Teachers. “Our goal is to be the best possible resource for schools in the South.”

Founded in 1902 and shepherded over five generations by two families, Southern Teachers is dedicated to serving schools so they can provide the best possible education to their students. “The difference between a good hire and an average hire is enormous in the lives of these students,” notes Carey. His father served as head at four independent schools before purchasing Southern Teachers in 1981. Carey became director in 1997 and oversees his team of recruitment and placement professionals from offices in Charlottesville, VA. Their success lies in their commitment to build enduring and authentic relationships with candidates, colleges, and independent schools, even as they reach across the country and the world to draw exceptional teaching and administrative leadership talent to the South.

Serving more than 600 member schools in 16 southern states, regional agents stay in constant touch with their schools, assessing needs as they arise. Each agent builds deep relationships to ensure a full understanding of the school’s culture and values. Member schools can list open positions free of charge and only pay a placement fee if they hire a candidate Southern Teachers provides. Carey’s team focuses on screening and vetting candidates, reading between the lines of reference letters and recognizing what does – or does not – surface in calls to references. “Reference calling is a very difficult thing,” says Carey. “It is a fine art.” He believes candidates put themselves in a stronger position by letting the boss know directly that they’re looking for a new job. Wading into that difficult conversation – that it’s time to move on for whatever the reason – provides the candidate an opportunity for growth that builds important preparation for what’s next. Far better to do that, says Carey, than have a supervisor hear from a third party that you’re looking. In today’s hyper-connected world, rare is the job search that truly stays secret. Carey notes a marked increase in mid-year placements, something he attributes to a strong job market. People are simply more willing to leave their jobs despite being under contract, believing that record low unemployment means ample opportunity elsewhere. Suffice to say his team stays busy year-round.

Beyond teacher placement, Southern Teachers also helps schools with head and administrative searches. Schools can opt for a retained search process which is more fully managed by Southern Teachers or a commissioned search in which Southern Teachers provides resources to the search committee. Head searches in general are more challenging in today’s world, Carey says, because of the predominance of the dual professional household. It’s not just placing a head candidate but also finding a professional opportunity for a spouse.  

Critical to their work is extensive college recruiting to bring new candidates into the independent school world. Interest among college students in education continues to decline, Carey observes, with just 5% of students majoring in education – down from 25% in the 1970’s. On a single day in October, Southern Teachers college recruiters were out in force, explaining the advantages of working in independent schools to students on the campuses of Davidson, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt. Spreading the word about the distinctiveness and value of working in independent schools produces benefits that extend far beyond those on-campus interactions.  

Southern Teachers will hold three job fairs in early 2020, in Atlanta, Dallas, and Charlottesville. All candidates will be pre-screened through the thorough Southern Teachers process. Proprietary digital tools are provided to help candidates and schools register and pre-schedule interviews easily.

One unexpected way Southern Teachers supports their member schools is through their annual Student Art Contest. To recognize the role of fine arts in a comprehensive education and to promote creativity and imagination, Southern Teachers publishes an annual calendar of student artwork. Students in grades 8-12 have until March 31, 2020, to submit artwork depicting a distinctive, recognizable architectural feature of a structure or building on their school campus. The artistry of the twelve winners will appear in the Southern Teachers 2020-2021 Academic Calendar. Find complete contest rules here.

As if that’s not enough, Carey’s team also publishes The Friday Evening Star – a listing of administrative opportunities in independent schools. Subscribe here to join 35,000 educators across the country who receive this comprehensive listing. It is timed to arrive on Friday afternoon at 5:00 PM – perhaps after a busy week when a teacher or administrator might be taking a moment to reflect on what’s next or on a new opportunity that might suit. Should that teacher or administrator decide it’s time to take a step in a new direction, Southern Teachers will be there to help chart a new path that leverages their strengths and talents in the best possible way.


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