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 joined the St. Edmund’s Academy community as its Head of School in July 2014. Since that time, he has overseen the completion of a strategic planning process reflecting 18 months of community engagement and collaboration to form a shared vision of the school’s future.

For the past two decades, Chad has been an active scholar, teacher, and leader in education. His research and publications focus on the productive tension between tradition and innovation in independent schools. His recent work explores how networks transform the way students experience school—from social relations to curricular content—and how their sense of self takes shape through those networks.

Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Chad served as Headmaster at The Linsly School, a 5-12 coeducational day and boarding school with 420 students, 100 faculty/staff, and a campus spanning sixty acres with an Outdoor Center off site. It was a position that capped a 12 – year career at the school where he served as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Director of Summer Programs, Director of Intramural Programs, basketball & soccer coach, and dormitory master. Chad’s teaching career included English & Language Arts courses at all levels where he designed and taught nearly a dozen courses in middle and secondary education.

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 is a widely published author and frequent speaker on topics ranging from adolescent identity formation, to postmodern aesthetics, to the music and politics of Bruce Springsteen. He graduated from Bethany College and earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University. His dissertation for the doctoral degree underway at the University of Pittsburgh explores productive ways schools respond to postmodern cultural conditions.