Mr. Greer: What's His Job & What Are His Plans?

Margo Williams Should you go see Mr. Greer if you’re worried your math class is too hard? Probably not, your teacher is probably the first person you should go to. Should you go see Mr. Greer if you’re anxious or too stressed? Nope, you should talk to a counselor or your advisor. Mr. Greer said “I’m going to keep the door open for a reason and one of the things that I love about Latin is the relationships I’ve been able to build with students, so I always want students to feel comfortable approaching me. But I also want to make sure I don’t undermine the teachers or the deans who are working with kids every day.” So – if he’s not the guy to come running to when we have concerns – what is Mr. Greer’s job? Mr. Greer has been thrown into a tough position this year. The Learning Commons took a social system established years ago and discreetly cast it aside over the summer without giving students a heads-up. The hallways this week have been buzzing with conversations about long lunch lines, concerns about the two-swipe system, and the seemingly giant amounts of freshmen… As Mr. Guzman pointed out in Gathering on Thursday, the construction of the Learning Commons lasted until right before the beginning of school, leaving faculty little time to do trial runs and work out kinks. What the school is asking is that we be patient as they make adjustments, which they’ve been doing rapidly. To that end, Mr. Greer was asked to fill the role as Interim Division Director of the Upper School well after the Learning Commons project was underway. On Friday morning he shared with the Senior class that the timing of his filling the role meant he wasn’t able to address the changes in social norms earlier, which likely would’ve eased the transition. So what does it mean to be Division Director of the Upper School? It seems that the job description is somewhat flexible; Mr. Greer said “each Division Director I’ve worked under here has looked at the job a little differently.” The responsibilities the job entails have also changed significantly in recent years; “there are now a number of positions in the Upper school that the division director used to have direct responsibility for.” Ms. Horvath is the Assistant Director of the Upper School – a recently created position –  and she coordinates student support work i.e. counselors, learning resources, deans, etc., which used to be the responsibility of the Director. Mr. Greer said “her expertise [from having been] a counselor is really invaluable to make sure that all students have the support outside the classroom that they need.” Though he said “the transition [from teacher to Director] was definitely a surprise for me this summer,” Mr. Greer’s background affirms he’s more than qualified for the job. He’s been the History Department Chair at Latin for seven years (Ms. Gallagher is filling his place this year) and two years ago he was the Director of Studies. As Director of Studies, Mr. Greer said he “didn’t have too many interactions with students and that’s one of the reasons I decided to go back to the classroom last year… [however,] that role prepared me to think in different ways about how to help teachers maintain student engagement.” Independently, Mr. Dunn explained why he chose to ask Mr. Greer to be Upper School Director: “In all the years I have been Head of School [Mr. Greer] has demonstrated that he is able to take on complicated roles for the school and perform brilliantly. He has done this in his oversight of a significant financial gift that school has received and, most importantly, he did a fantastic job as interim Director of Studies and Professional Development a few years ago. His calm demeanor, thoughtful approach, and ability to listen are exemplary. He cares deeply about people and ideas, and… the upper school is filled with dynamic and complicated people and ideas. I am so glad he said he would do it.” Mr. Dunn and Mr. Greer have worked together closely before, and it’s obvious that the two are largely on the same page about their work. “Mr. Dunn has really been generous over the years and given me a number of opportunities to work alongside him – like in the Interim Director of Studies role – and I think that [we] have grown to trust each other over the years…I know that whenever [Mr. Dunn has] asked me to serve the school in some way I’ve always said yes because I respect him as a leader and I’ve always felt that he understands Latin… I want to work for a leader who understands what it means to strive and to challenge ourselves.” What does this work entail? Well, because Ms. Horvath has taken over a sizable portion of the Director’s responsibility, Mr. Greer will be able to focus more on faculty this year. He wants to focus on “getting us to move in a direction that encourages us to promote even more student engagement in classrooms, more creative assessments, [and] imagine more opportunities for faculty to collaborate together.” His primary goal is “for the faculty to use our time together to share strategies that will make each class period memorable… That’s my focus and how I’m interpreting the role. ” Aside from sharing teaching strategies, Mr. Greer is really excited about the opportunity he’ll have this year to see his coworkers in action; “Part of the teachers’ evaluation process is the [department] chairs and I will observe classes.” That’s not to say that Mr. Greer is looking forward to grading teachers on their teaching, but rather that “it’s an honor to see so many of my colleagues teach and to be in their classrooms…The evaluation process is really just encouraging our faculty to set goals and giving feedback on they they’re doing achieving those goals.”]]>