Statement of Purpose

What do you remember about your experience in school?

During my years as an Admissions Director at an NAIS member day/boarding school, I listened to people answer this question on a daily basis and responses typically involved teachers—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“My 7th grade teacher truly understood me and changed my life—I felt worthwhile.”

“I felt somewhat misunderstood as a middle school kid. I wish my teachers had time to get to know me.”

“I remember my 4th grade teacher—this is the problem…I remember my 4th grade teacher.”

Scientific research and personal memory align—no factor matters more in our educational experience than our teachers.

This year marks the start of my third decade in education. During that time I have been an English teacher, a basketball coach, a dormitory parent, a Director of Admissions, and the Head of School at two NAIS member schools. I have personally led, taught, and coached students and teachers at every level from Preschool to graduate school. I am thrilled by the potential I see in each person and by the ways we become better when our efforts are coordinated towards a cause greater than ourselves.

I have come to know the profound impact great teachers have on their students. Students who thrive have teachers who engage them through an ethic of caring where the students’ needs take priority. 

In any act of teaching, the ways we know our subject and our students hinge entirely on our own background. When we cannot truly see ourselves, we will know only an unconsciously biased perspective on our students and our subjects. An absence of self-knowledge means that in assessing our students’ needs we see only a dim reflection of our own needs. Conversely, a truly self-aware teacher perceives students with attuned understanding.

My statement of purpose begins with teachers because regardless of the curriculum’s quality, or the program’s relevance to society, or the facility’s attractiveness, it is the relationship between teachers and their students that matters most.

This is why the fourth and final faculty meeting each month at St. Edmund’s Academy is dedicated to the inner-life of the teacher. Self-aware teachers who thrive have students who thrive.

With this ethic of care for teachers and students at the foundation of our work, there are six guiding principles that provide our purpose and direction at St. Edmund’s Academy:

Guiding Principles

List of 6 items.

  • Character is Commended

    We use public recognition and positive reinforcement of our Core Values to develop a foundation of strong personal character.
  • Differences are Cherished

    We believe that diversity enriches our students’ education, helping them to become kinder and more perceptive.
  • Feelings are Explored

    We believe that social and emotional skills are crucial to learning and orient our program to develop each student’s well-being and secure place in our community.
  • Learning is Meaningful

    We engage students actively in learning experiences—within and beyond the walls of our school building—that have real world implications and results.
  • Strengths are Discovered

    We identify and develop their strengths in the context of assignments that inspire them to think in diverse and meaningful ways.
  • Your Child is Known

    We know our students as individuals—including their interests and aptitudes—and in partnership with you, we develop their talents.
P. Chad Barnett, Ph.D., joined the St. Edmund’s Academy community as its Head of School in July 2014. Since that time, he has overseen a strategic planning process resulting in the school’s shared vision. Following that plan, the school implemented a daily schedule balancing the core academic program with dynamic enrichment electives and elevating signature experiences throughout the curriculum. Supporting the school’s commitment to cross-cultural competence, Chad restructured the school’s Senior Administrative Team in the Spring of 2019 to include a Director of Equity & Inclusion and instituted SEA-Connects Ambassadors to support inclusivity efforts through all levels of the community. In the fall of 2019, St. Edmund’s Academy will open the Center for Integrated Discovery, including a fully-renovated gymnasium, hall for visual & performing arts, and a multi-zone learning lab for interdisciplinary service projects. 
Chad’s focus on independent school leadership began in 2003 with his appointment to the initial cohort of NAIS’s E.E. Ford Fellowship Program for Emerging School Leaders. Following that opportunity, Chad has been an active scholar, teacher, and leader in education. His early graduate work in 20th century American literature and postmodernism led to the publication of “Tradition and the Pace of Change in 21st Century Education,” in Independent School Magazine. Completed in 2018, Chad’s Doctoral Dissertation, The Head of School at Dystopia’s Edge: Relationship-Based Independent School Leadership in the Age of Networks, through the University of Pittsburgh, explores the unintended consequences of social media and mobile technology on students, schools, and society and evaluates leadership solutions to replenish students exhausted by their networked lives.

Chad’s influence in independent schools extends throughout the state through his service on the Pennsylvania Association of Independent School’s Board of Directors as the Chair of the Committee on Directors. Additionally, Chad’s teaching career extends into higher education where he taught Methods of Teaching Secondary and Middle School English at Bethany College, WV, and served as a Teaching Fellow at The University of Pittsburgh where he taught Education and Society.

In addition to his years as a teacher and administrator, Chad’s career as an athlete and coach underlies his approach to leadership. The recipient of Bethany College’s Student-Athlete of the Year Award in 1996, Chad believes the team is always greater than the sum of its parts and focuses the group’s attention on shared outcomes and distributed responsibility.