We have a number of Randolph employees whose roles are unique to our school and whose work makes a difference to the quality of the student experience. Michael Treadwell, 9th/10th Grade Dean, is one of Randolph's Difference-Makers.
What do you do, metaphorically?
I’m like a gardener. I give those I work with tools to do what they need to develop or grow autonomy, a sense of belonging and competency. I sow these seeds through our advisory program for the four crop cycles that represent their time in the Upper School. Over this time, our students grow and mature until they are ready for college. Gardening is cyclical and based on growth—a better metaphor for my work than something linear or product-driven that is based on producing a certain kind of graduate. Soil conditions vary from year to year. You have some conditions you can’t control, like weather and pests. You know growth will happen, but you can’t predict how each given year will turn out.
Some of the tools Mr. Treadwell uses are postcards from the Center for Creative Leadership, designed to facilitate conversations about how students see themselves in the context of growth, mindset, and personal development. At the 9th grade retreat, freshmen and senior peer leaders chose cards to represent the growth they hoped to achieve during their high school careers.
At school, I’m never without …
Coffee and my cell phone.
What’s different about your work here?
The institutional commitment to conversations as we help students grow. I can’t tell you how many times people say, “Have you talked to…” We invite and create the space for conversation at every level.
When you tell people what you do, what kinds of things do they ask?
Is a dean like an assistant principal? Sort of. At Randolph, deans look after a specific cohort of students. But I don’t think people outside of Randolph understand how much we work creatively and tailor specific situations to the growth of the unique individuals involved.
What does a child need to be happy/successful at school?
Describe a great day at work.
I teach two sections of 9th Grade World History and spend the rest of the day rotating between meetings with kids, parents, colleagues helping people choose next steps.
Favorite school tradition?
Garth pizza Fridays and the entire 9th grade experience. Our freshman year is the most uniform academic experience in the Upper School – there’s a spirit of togetherness, starting with the 9th grade retreat at the start of the year and ending with the Chicago trip. The shared experiences give students opportunities to find their fit.
Where can you be found most days?
In my office or walking the halls looking for people.
Best time of the school year?
August for 9th graders. It’s a fresh start and a time of great hope.