Independent Spirit: Pablo A. Martinez

Summer 2020

Snappr-Pablo-5.jpgPablo A. Martinez
Spanish Instructor
Riverdale Country School
Bronx, New York 

Where do I want to work? What type of school do I want to be in? What type of community do I want to belong to? As a former university and parochial school Spanish instructor entering my 13th year of teaching, I began my sixth job search in February 2019. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to become more involved in a school community as well as make meaningful connections with students.
 
I didn’t really know about independent schools until they came up in conversation one night over dinner with friends. I learned how involved a faculty member could become and the autonomous nature of teaching that was supported. And that independent school communities value and encourage diversity in their people and curriculum.
 
Over the course of nearly four months during my search for a new school home, I visited some beautiful independent school campuses in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, DC. During the preliminary stages of my search, I focused primarily on the boarding school community—initially I was drawn to the idea of working and living in the community I’d be teaching in—but as more interviews came my way, I visited day schools, which appealed to me in a different way. After interviewing at three boarding schools and waiting for job offers, I was invited for an on-campus visit to Riverdale Country School (RCS) in the Bronx, New York.
 
At RCS, I was impressed with the variety of elective courses for students. For example, the joint curricular offering between the art and language departments was quite impressive; a unique course, Innovation and Design, combined both disciplines. Being able to work with colleagues across disciplines and across languages was something that piqued my interest and desire to join a school like this. I also saw the great learning opportunities for students in a large city.
 
I immediately felt the strong sense of community when I met the faculty, staff, and student body at RCS. The teacher-student mentor relationship continues throughout the middle and high school years. I had long craved that experience—it was something that was missing for me when I worked at universities and parochial schools. I thought, “Wow, what an amazing community of scholars.” I knew at that precise moment, as I witnessed the genuine interactions and people engaged in dialogue, that I wanted to join the Riverdale community. I could see myself working there for years to come; the experience of being there tapped into my desire to feel a sense of belonging to a school that values learning and community-building. Even as the offers from several other schools came in, I remained certain of which school I wanted to join.
 
And as I now enter my second year at RCS, I’ve never been happier. It’s a community that values and appreciates diversity on a multicultural and global level. And it’s a school that creates spaces where students, faculty, and staff from different backgrounds feel comfortable being their authentic selves on a daily basis.
 
What’s your independent school story? Share it with us. Send a note to ismag@nais.org.