SPS Today: Meet the Faculty
Institutional Researcher Libby Barlow
Libby Barlow, Ph.D. is one of 10 new faculty members for the 2018-19 school year. Barlow is stationed on the second floor of the Schoolhouse as the new director of institutional research. And it’s ok if you have no idea what she does.
“There are very few of us doing this work in independent schools and it’s really exciting to get to figure out how this can work best in an independent school setting,” says Barlow. “The hope is to make St. Paul’s a leader in this field and, to some extent, it is incumbent on me to show it.” After earning a master’s in religious studies, Barlow joined the faculty at Northfield Mount Hermon, teaching South Asian philosophy, before taking on various roles within the administration. However, an unintentional foray into institutional research sparked a 20-plus-year career that has taken her from the University of Houston to Syracuse University to St. Paul’s School.
The work in her first few months at SPS has been extensive; collaborating with the IT Department to improve the data environment at the School, clarifying SPS priorities with the administrative team, and determining which data points to pursue. Her initial focus is on social and emotional competencies among students, and how best to quantify and analyze behaviors presented in the classroom. But the most important constituency she works with, according to Barlow, is the faculty.
“It does no good to sit in a corner, make up something to measure, and say to the faculty ‘find meaning in this,’” she says. “It has to be a partnership.” All of this comes in an effort to measure the impact of a St. Paul’s School education and bring about change in an evidence-based manner.
“It’s not quick work, it’s not easy, and there is some investment that needs to be made,” notes Barlow. “But being able to articulate what the School is doing well, where the areas of improvement are, and the rationale behind both is certainly worth the wait.”