By Arnab Sircar ‘22
The administration appointed Mr. Pat Clark as the new Dean of Students. The role of the Dean of Students is to work from the student perspective. and make sure that student needs are met. The job has two tracks; the first track, administration support, involves the approving of field trips, supervising clubs and activities, handling disciplinary issues, and attending to duties in the office. The second track is to be the student advocate, whose role Mr. Clark said is “to provide opportunities for students to share ideas, to support student initiatives; to be a visible presence, to help celebrate the things that we do well.” Essentially, his role is “student-centered.”
Mr. Clark is taking on the position with some new goals and ideas regarding mentorship, clubs and activities, and a different school schedule. Clark plans to spend a lot of time “ironing out the details” of next year’s radically different school schedule, already approved by the school board. A “power hour,” or “lunch and learn,” will be implemented into the middle of the day, during which clubs and activities will be able to meet and students who need extra help will have access to teachers. “Other places have done it, both in the area and nationally, and they’ve done it well,” Clark said.
When asked how he plans to accomplish his goals in this new position, Clark said, “Nothing gets implemented in isolation.” He will be working with Mr. Andrew Moister, who also supervises student activities, to organize and maintain continuity within clubs. The two plan on checking in with clubs periodically as a way to ensure that longevity of activities is maintained when new leadership positions are filled. Mr. Clark will also be helping student clubs with organizational items like approving fundraisers and group trips.
Mr. Clark is intent on bringing ideas on mentorship to this position. Regarding the importance of mentorship, he said, “Anytime someone who is new to a situation can lean on someone who has had some experience; it’s a bonus, not just for the new student, but [for] students who are looked upon as mentors.” In theory, he believes that mentorship is mutually beneficial, but these activities are tricky. “You can’t just pair up the freshmen with the seniors and expect results,” Clark said. Clark also wants to maintain and increase club and activity participation, because “each student has to be in a space where he or she believes they belong in the building.” From there, Clark wants to eventually “move to larger scale things, such as what the SHOC program does, but he wants to take his time to “make sure that everything that is done is done well.”
This being his 26th year in education, his experience ranging from classroom teacher, to Gifted Resources teacher, to football coach, Clark knows how to work with students of all different ability levels. Clark puts a big emphasis on how students are not “cookie cutter.” He values each student as an individual, and treats each of their problems with a slightly different approach.
However, Clark is aware that added responsibility comes with new challenges; his greatest challenge will be having to reject some ideas that students bring to the table.
Clark would still like to incorporate student ideas, like those for new clubs and activities, but with different approaches that continue to involve the students with facilitating questions such as: “Is there an alternative path we can take?” and, “Can we do something that looks like what you’re proposing and get that done?” Ultimately, Clark feels that “we have such a wide range of students and interests that [we have] got to try to understand the individual and what’s important to them,” and that this understanding will improve the community of the high school.