Allison Gill joined the DVFS community in 2014 as a member of the Spanish department. She has been active as a student advisor, coach of the cross country team, and faculty advisor to the student Activities Committee. In 2016, Allison also served on the Faculty Evaluation Committee helping to develop a process for evaluation, professional development and mentor support for DVFS faculty members. Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, Allison transitioned to the role of Upper School Dean of Students, where she is responsible for issues related to student life and well-being, both school-wide and on an individual level. Before coming to DVFS, Allison earned her M.Ed. at Chestnut Hill College before traveling to Panama City, Panama, where she taught British and American literature and writing at a private Catholic High School and worked in Administration at a K-12 Jewish Orthodox School.
Q: How long have your been at DVFS?
I was lucky enough to discover DVFS 3 years ago when I applied for a teaching position within the Spanish department.
Q: What roles have you had at the school?
I have taught Spanish, coached cross-country and lacrosse, and been the faculty advisor for the Activities Committee and was a member of the Faculty Evaluation Committee.
Q: What will your new role be at DVFS? What does that mean/what will you do?
This year, I have transitioned into the Upper School Dean of Students position. The Dean of Students wears many different hats, but to sum it up in a nutshell, I am responsible for issues related to student life and student well-being, both on a school-wide and individual scale. I work extensively with our counselor, Beth, and our Academic Dean, David, to help kids find the joy in learning.
Q: Why did you want to transition into this new role?
As a teacher, I have always envisioned the root of my job as being the ultimate problem-solver. There are a million different reasons why a kid shows up to class and struggles to succeed, but it’s my job as a teacher to show them that they absolutely, without a doubt, can. If they’re not finding success, we’re not done. By transitioning into the role of Dean of Students, I am able to help kids figure out how to find success on a larger scale throughout their day at DVFS.
Q: What is your vision for your role at DVFS?
Although many students and parents typically only think of discipline when they hear the title Dean of Students, it is my goal to create an environment where staying engaged in classes and helping to build a warm and inclusive atmosphere are easy choices for students to make. When students feel supported and heard, they are more easily able to dialogue about issues as they arise, instead of reactively having to deal with them after they erupt.
Q: What do you find remarkable or unique about DVFS - as a school and a work environment? What keeps you coming back?
When I was job searching before I found my way to DV, I had a very vivid picture of the type of school I was looking for. I realized it was essential that I find a place that valued each individual member of the community and that allowed me a large amount of freedom in deciding how I wanted to grow my own practice. Simultaneously, I was looking for a school that offered pedagogy gurus, content masters, and dedicated, empathetic teachers to model myself after. It was very quickly evident that I had found this at DV. Since arriving to college, I have made long-distance moves at least every two years. DV is the first place that has allowed me to comprehend how someone could decide to settle down and dedicate his or her life to a single mission or workplace.
Q: Is there any experience in your own education journey that helps you relate to our students here at DV? Or inspired you to become an educator?
This question always makes me chuckle. In general, I have been very fortunate to excel in the type of tasks that traditional schooling asks of you, and I have never met a standardized test that I didn’t enjoy taking. However, as you become immersed in the language of the LD world, I am able to put a name to phenomena that I have always just assumed were the quirky pieces of my personality. I have always needed to work out in order to maintain focus on tasks, but when I fall off that bandwagon, I generally have word retrieval challenges. And, as any student who has needed to push over piles of papers and books in office knows, or had to remind me to update a grade that isn’t accurate, adult EF difficulties are real. But, similarly to our students, I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by teachers who were able to provide me with strategies that have helped me mitigate these challenges.
Q: What did you do before coming to DVFS?
After college, I received a M.Ed. at Chestnut Hill College before heading down to Panama City, Panama. While abroad, I taught British and American Literature and Writing at a private Catholic High School and worked in Administration at a K-12 Jewish Orthodox School.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at DVFS?
Read teacher blogs, and think about how I can continue to improve the environment of inclusivity and positivity at DVFS. Ha… just kidding! I only do that on Saturdays! On Sundays, I reserve time to run, read, and spend time exploring Center City Philadelphia which is an absolutely incredible city full of history and culture.