Get to know our new faculty and staff! The third interview in our Q&A series is with Keino Terrell, our new Director of Middle School.
Keino came to us from Friends’ Central School, where he was named Assistant Principal in 2016. For 23 years, he served in various roles at FCS, including Dean of Students, Diversity Coordinator, English and Language Arts teacher, and Director of the Summer Outreach Program.
Keino received his Master of Education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and his Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from Shippensburg University. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Temple University’s Graduate School of Education.
Learn more about Keino!
Where does your passion for education come from?
In college, I was a communications major and I thought I was going to move into sports broadcasting as a career. I was also a journalism minor and I love to write, so I thought I was following my passion! During my senior year, I had a professor and mentor who became ill and had to take a leave of absence. She went to her superiors and told them she had a student who would be capable of teaching her 100-level communication courses. She had already identified something in me that I hadn't yet explored. So, I ended up teaching college before I had a college degree, which lit this fire within me. My passion for education really came about by chance. Educators sometimes see things in their students that maybe remind them of themselves. I'm forever grateful for that opportunity.
What is your educational philosophy and how will you carry it into your new role?
For my students, I don’t assume anything about you when you arrive in my classroom and you’re not held accountable for anything that I don’t teach you. When we start instruction, that’s when I begin to hold you accountable. I try to use that same philosophy as it relates to my staff. I don’t comment with any notions of who you are and I appreciate what it takes to get to know you. We have to start from a place where we can build knowledge together.
I am an optimist. There are very few problems I feel like we can’t solve. I actually enjoy the chase to the solution. I credit any success I’ve had to the relationships I’ve been able to build. Right now, maybe more than ever, we have to work really hard to build those relationships.
What are you most looking forward to about working in Middle School?
I’ve been teaching English for 22 years. Even as an administrator, I’ve always had one class, and it’s the best part of the day! When you think about the amount of growth that happens from sixth to eighth grade, students develop so much in a social emotional and academic sense. That can be scary to some, but I’ve always seen it as really exciting and motivating.
With Middle School, there’s also the opportunity to develop a culture of experimentation that’s consistent with where they are developmentally. So, I can actually cater this curriculum and programming to meet this developmental stage in ways that are different from Lower and Upper School. In Upper School, there has to be a focus at times on transcripts and classes, and in Lower School, kids are developing the fundamentals of learning. In Middle School, we have this freedom to explore, and for me, that aligns with how I learn and teach. Since we don’t have the same restrictions, that’s both beautiful and it requires a huge amount of responsibility.
How do your experiences shape your educational philosophy?
I grew up in West Philadelphia in the same zip code as the University of Pennsylvania. It wasn’t really what we think of as being University City now, but you had this prestigious and wealthy University footsteps away from where I grew up in an economically challenged neighborhood. It always seemed like the individuals at Penn were completely oblivious to the reality of the surrounding community. I started to think about this more when I was a student at Penn and I was learning to navigate those two different worlds. Growing up in West Philadelphia has allowed me to connect with certain families or kids in our schools, and to be able to share that type of perspective, which I think is very important.
What does a Quaker education mean to you?
Besides the unbelievable learning and resources we can provide for kids and the phenomenal structures and facilities, I think I appreciate the aspirational nature of the testimonies. They align with this idea of continued revelation and that our work is never done in this global partnership that we have. That should motivate us to continue to shape the next generation of leaders to do transformational work. It’s our responsibility as educators to leverage and to take full advantage of the myriad ways that the testimonies unite us.
My relationship with the practice of silence is what has sustained me. At first, it felt uncomfortable because I’m constantly moving in my day-to-day life, so having moments of inactivity was odd until I started to believe that I could be active in the silence. So, I embraced that.