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The Middle School Dean System

By Davis ’24

When I first arrived at Harvard-Westlake, I really had no clue what a dean was. 

Not blaming my 7th grade self though – there was no way I could’ve known. I knew people named Dean, but I honestly didn’t know what a school dean was, or what they did. My friends and I came from schools where you would spend most of your day with your homeroom teacher. That meant having someone who was constantly there for you and always knew a solution for your concerns.

At Harvard-Westlake, you have a different teacher for each class, so that feeling mentioned above isn’t there. But the deans are the solution to that. The deans have a global view over the lives of students and serve as resources to us. So, what I quickly realized a few days into 7th grade is that deans are there to help us in so many ways – be it academic, social, or emotional. 

There are 7 deans at the Middle School campus – two for 7th grade, two for 8th grade, and three for 9th grade. The 7th grade Deans work exclusively with each 7th grade class and work throughout the year to welcome the class to Harvard-Westlake and help them adapt. The deans who work with each class in 8th grade stay with the class through 9th grade. There is also a 3rd 9th grade dean, who helps cover the additional 100 new 9th grade students. 

I write for the Spectrum, which is the Middle School’s newspaper. Recently I wrote an article about how the Middle School deans are adapting to virtual school. When I asked every Middle School dean how they would describe the job of a Middle School dean, a phrase I heard repeatedly was “school parents.” That may sound like a strange way to describe a faculty member at school, but honestly, it’s true. Just like real parents, they nurture and support us throughout our Middle School career. In each new grade we enter, they help us adapt and learn to really seize the opportunities we’re given. Deans also occasionally have to discipline us (just as real parents do sometimes). But the nurturing and supporting outweighs the discipline by a ton. 

The Deans are also super easy to get to. Each grade has a lounge at the Middle School (a dedicated social and workspace) and the deans have their offices in the lounges. A large amount of students spend their free time in the lounges, so quickly chatting with the deans or setting up a meeting is always super easy. 

I’ve found every Middle School dean I’ve had to be amazing. Whether you need help communicating with a teacher, are dealing with stress or any other feelings, or just want to talk about something fun, the Middle School deans are always there to help you.

With help from the deans, by the time you’re walking across the stage in the Saperstein theater during the 9th grade to 10th grade ceremony, each student is ready for all the challenges and opportunities at the Upper School. 

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Tags: , Last modified: September 29, 2020