Faculty and staff culture sets the tone

Employee culture plays a pivotal role in the success and vibrancy of any organization, and at University School of Milwaukee, a positive employee culture sets the tone for the entire community. A strong and inclusive community fosters a sense of belonging among faculty and staff, encouraging them to collaborate and share innovative teaching practices. This, in turn, directly benefits our students, who thrive in an environment where their teachers, coaches, and mentors are engaged, motivated, and committed to their growth as learners, leaders, and citizens.

Benchmarking success

The best way to support a strong faculty and staff culture is to ensure employees are heard and feel supported. To that end, in October of 2022, USM engaged with Independent School Management to survey all employees in the areas of academics, school environment and resources, and employee engagement and benefits. We plan to conduct this culture survey with employees on an annual basis. The data from this first survey was compiled and shared with Head of School Steve Hancock, who presented these to the faculty and staff in February 2023. These results will also provide benchmarks to measure progress toward specific goals and also find possible areas for improvement.

Survey results

The first culture survey, conducted in October 2022, featured the following ratings:
(All ratings based on a 1-5 scale; 1= Very Poor, 3=Fair, 5= Excellent)


  • Top 3 Ratings: Graduate placement (4.73), College counseling (4.55), Visual/performing arts (4.53)
  • Lowest Rating: Service learning (3.68)

School Environment

  • Top 3 Ratings: Campus setting (4.82), School safety (4.80), Campus facilities (4.67)
  • Lowest Rating: Diversity of employees (2.88)

School Resources

  • Top 3 Ratings: Maintenance and repair (4.54), Technology (4.48), Equipment and supplies (4.44)
  • Lowest Rating: Time to collaborate with colleagues (2.77)

Employee Engagement and Benefits

  • Top 3 Ratings: Lunch (4.48), On-site daycare (4.28), Sick days (4.21)
  • Lowest Rating: Personal days (3.26)

Key takeaways

The results of this initial faculty and staff culture survey served to affirm many important pieces, while also providing us with several areas to focus on, some of which we have already begun to address, including:

  • Begin by defining citizenship and its goals, in order to then begin work to improve our service learning initiatives
  • Improve employee recruitment efforts to identify additional candidates of color for faculty and staff positions
  • Implement new faculty and staff meeting structures to allow more time for learning, planning, and collaborative work
  • Conduct a comprehensive review of employee benefits in relation to the needs and wants of our faculty and staff

Of course, these are not our only areas of focus, and we must also work to ensure we don’t take the many positives in our employee community for granted. As we move forward in our work, and continue to gather feedback from our employees in future years, we seek to achieve our objective to offer higher levels of both support and predictability for faculty and staff. We are fortunate to be working from a position of strength, as our employees are our greatest asset as a school in our work to engage, support, and know our students.