Nick Baer Named Interim Upper School Director


Ava Falk

Nick Baer, who will soon begin serving as Interim Upper School Director, is a beloved improv teacher.

Current 11th and 12th grade Dean Nick Baer will replace Upper School Director Kristine Von Ogden following her impending mid-year departure. He will officially transition to the role on February 24.

Mr. Baer’s Latin connections are extensive. A “Latin lifer,” Mr. Baer spent 14 years at Latin as a student, graduating in 1996. He received his B.A. at the University of Illinois and his M.A. in Directing and Theatrical Production from Roosevelt University. Soon after, Mr. Baer returned to Latin, where he has taught ever since.

Mr. Baer has experienced and been involved with almost every aspect of the school. Among many roles, he has taught in the English and Performing Arts Departments and currently serves as an Upper School Dean. Throughout his 20 years at Latin, Mr. Baer has consistently dedicated himself to supporting students. Whether he is directing plays, leading Project Week activities, or coaching baseball, he enthusiastically spreads his love for Latin throughout the school.

Michael Meagher ‘20 will forever remember Mr. Baer as one of his favorite teachers at Latin. “He’s one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met,” Michael said. “He really has a way with students.”

Michael worked side-by-side with Mr. Baer as a teacher’s assistant for two improv classes. “He’s a great person to learn from and to work with. He does a great job of creating community and makes people feel like they really belong in his classroom.”

Upper School science teacher and former Interim Upper School Director Steven Coberly agreed. “Mr. Baer is a great choice as interim because he is already very familiar with the school,” Mr. Coberly said. “He has been a teacher here for 20 years and has served in a variety of roles—teacher, department chair, and dean, among others.”

In addition to a busy home life with his own family, Mr. Baer devotes enormous energy to the Latin community, and he is already thinking about his new assignment at school. “My focus will be to work with Ms. VO to create a smooth transition and then try to keep the ship afloat as we finish out the year,” he said. “Really, I just want to make sure everyone still feels supported and comfortable and like they’re part of a community.”

Amid transitions sparked by COVID and administrative turnover that includes not just the Upper School Director but also several other key positions including the recent hire of Head of School Thomas Hagerman, Mr. Baer has embraced unpredictability. Regarding his reaction to being appointed interim, he said, “I was definitely surprised, but we’ve all learned to expect the unexpected around Latin. I was certainly honored, though, to be asked.”

Still, even for somebody as experienced as Mr. Baer, serving as interim director is no easy feat. “The role can be a difficult one,” noted Mr. Coberly. “One reason for that is that the division director is involved with and interacts with so many different aspects of the school—students, faculty, department chairs, deans, parents, administration, et cetera.”

Mr. Coberly also noted the additional complexity of coming into the role mid-year. “Mr. Baer will be responsible and answerable for every aspect of the Upper School, yet it is a complex school that he has inherited. Change takes time, and time is something that an interim director simply does not have,” Mr. Coberly said.

Although the job may be challenging, students at Latin have a lot of faith in Mr. Baer. Improv enthusiast and junior Calvin King said, “Mr. Baer will be great. He has the knowledge and experience needed to get the job done. He is always calm and understanding and willing to talk through any issue.”

Similarly, junior Chloe Sedler said, “I definitely think Mr. Baer will do a good job. Since so many students already have a connection with him, I feel as though they’ll be more honest with him and help share their needs and what they’re looking for.”

Mr. Baer has long been a role model for members of the Latin community. Whether in the classroom, on the stage, or on the field, Mr. Baer has a unique, deep understanding of the community. “He knows the ins and outs of the school like the back of his hand,” Michael said. “Like I said, he will succeed in this role largely because of the relationships he’s developed in the community. People look to him as a leader.”

And, most importantly, Mr. Baer is prepared to take on this feat. “Latin is a complex place, as we all know,” Mr. Baer said. Asked what he thinks the biggest challenge will be, he replied, “Just trying to keep all the balls in the air without screwing anything up.”

“I know he’ll have a lot of success,” Michael added. “He’s an amazing, amazing person who’s been able to touch so many lives.”

Additionally, Mr. Coberly said, “Even if you disagree with his decisions, you can be absolutely confident that he made it with the best interests of the Latin School at heart.”

However, there is still one issue worrying students: Most fear their cherished teacher won’t continue to teach classes. “I am excited about Mr. Baer assuming the director role as long as he continues to be my improv teacher,” Calvin said.

Thankfully, Mr. Baer does not plan on leaving his teaching role. “I had already had to cut back on my improv classes as dean, but I still plan to teach the Advanced Improv class this semester,” he said. “Don’t worry, Calvin!”

There has never been a doubt about the Upper School’s admiration for Mr. Baer. His kindness, laughter, and optimism are contagious. “He is always really fun and very relatable in class, and also especially this year as the dean,” Chloe said.

Echoing Chloe, Michael said, “It’s more about the lasting sentiments that I’ve taken away from him, rather than specific moments, which I think is one of the ultimate compliments you can give someone. You know, people always say it’s hard to remember every specific moment, when it’s really about how they made you feel. And I’ll always remember how Mr. Baer made me feel.”

In times of uncertainty, one thing is sure: If Mr. Baer ever encounters unfamiliar territory in his new role, he can always improvise.