An Interview Series: Q&A With Mr. Coberly, Latin’s New Interim Upper School Director

What happened behind the scenes before the student body learned you would be Latin’s interim upper school director? For an interim you don’t typically look outside the school, you find someone internally who is interested. Mr. Dunn sent around an email to the faculty saying if you’re interested, let him know by a certain date. Then he scheduled some interviews and went from there. I interviewed with Mr. Dunn and a panel of people the week we came back after spring break. Shortly after that he called me in and said that I would be the new interim. What is encompassed in the upper school director job description and how are you preparing to transition into that role? I actually just recently saw a description of the job. So I spent a lot of time over break making my own description thinking, “What’s involved in that? What do I see Mr. Graf doing out publicly? What do I see him working on behind the scenes?” trying to get my head around everything that job entails. The written job description I have seen is two pages, but it kind of boils down to directly or indirectly responsible for everything in the upper school. That ranges from working with faculty on curriculum, assessing students, hiring faculty and supporting and evaluating them, working with students and working with learning resources and counseling, working on scheduling with the registrar, working on scheduling the assemblies and the flex blocks, working with the deans. It’s a lot of ‘working with’ a whole bunch of different people. That’s all looking internally at the school. The other piece is being the outward voice for the upper school to parents, students, perspective families, and the board of trustees. That is the outward public aspect of it as well. As interim director what role do you play in hiring the next upper school director and what will that process be like? It won’t be my job at all. There will be a very different process than the one that chose the interim upper school director. It will be much bigger and much longer. I will look nationally, or it will probably even look globally. I don’t know what that process looks like. Mr. Dunn will set it up and ultimately run it, but there will be opportunity for a lot of input from students, from parents, from faculty. It will be a much bigger process that I will play a part in as a faculty member, but I don’t have any special job in choosing my successor. How are you going to apply your professional background to this new role? This is my twelfth year at Latin and because of changing over the science curriculum, because of building out this space, because of other roles I’ve had at the school, I have already had opportunities to work with a whole bunch of different parts of the school. I’ve worked with facilities, I’ve worked with Mr. Dunn on things, I’ve worked with Dr. Denevi, I’ve worked with the enrollment management office, so now, in this job, I will be able to use those experiences, use those opportunities I’ve had in the past to help me now. So I come into it already feeling like I know how that working relationship goes. How much will you miss teaching and the classroom setting? It has been really weird the last few days thinking about not teaching next year, not being in the classroom. That’s going to be really strange, I’m going to miss it. I think what gives me comfort is that it is just a year, so I take a break from [teaching] and come back and appreciate it even more. What are you looking forward to and what are you dreading about being upper school director? I think what I am most looking forward to is being able to work a lot more with awesome colleagues outside the science department. The science department is awesome and I love working with the people here, but there are some really great teachers that are in the other building that, in part because we don’t teach the same thing and in part because we are in separate offices, I don’t get to interact with much. One thing I will get to do next year is work with them a lot. I’m looking forward to helping those teachers take their great ideas and actually implement them; that will be really fun. The part that I’m dreading: student discipline stuff. I just hope no one gets into any trouble. No one, not at all, and then it would be a good year. What does the future look like? Do you see yourself in administrative roles such as upper school director? I don’t think so. I go into this and I’m really excited to do this for a year. Part of what makes it exciting is the ‘for a year part.’ Then I get to come back to the job that I know that I love, which is working with my science colleagues and teaching science. I also know that things are unpredictable and that this could lead me off in new directions, but my plan right now is to have a really exciting and eventful year, learn a lot, do what I can to help the school through this year, and then come back to the science department. Anything else you want to tell the readers of The Forum? I’m not going to wear vests and I’m not going to wear those funny glasses that close. I haven’t figured out what my thing is, but I will take suggestions if anyone wants to figure out what my thing should be next year!]]>