Latin Struggles to Reassign Duties of Former Dean Who Wore Many Hats

Dean of Community Learning Suzanne Callis left Latin at the end of last school year and has proved difficult to replace.

Dean of Community Learning Suzanne Callis left Latin at the end of last school year and has proved difficult to replace.

Suzanne Callis, former Dean of Community Learning, departed Latin after a decade prior to this school year without a successor, impacting many aspects of community life at Latin.

Throughout her time in the Upper School, Ms. Callis wore many hats and filled many roles. Last school year, those positions included Dean of Community Learning; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator; Interim 11th and 12th Grade Dean; student government advisor; manager of clubs and affinities; and English teacher. When Ms. Callis left, Latin left many of these positions empty and, effectively, chose not to replace her.

11th and 12th Grade Dean Amy Merrell, the newest addition to the Upper School administrative team, said, “Having a centralized person for people to get their questions answered” is something the Upper School would greatly benefit from. She added, “Having to go through four different people just to get one question answered is something that is happening a lot.”

Upper School Assistant Director Karen Horvath said that “a division of labor approach has been helpful with these added tasks.” Ms. Horvath added, “Previous to this year, [we could] fully depend on the Dean of Community Learning to address various aspects of the community, so it has added more oversight this year than we had become accustomed to in previous years.”

As Junior Prefect last year, senior Diego Miranda worked closely with Ms. Callis on student government. Now serving as Senior Prefect, Diego said, “Ms. Callis is someone who is still greatly missed as an advisor. Not only did [she] know every action required for a dance such as Homecoming, or an event such as a pep rally, she also knew what steps we could and could not take.”

Longtime 9th and 10th grade Dean of Students and Upper School history teacher Bridget Hennessy said Director of Student Life Tim Cronister has taken on most of the Dean of Community Learning responsibilities. In addition to his usual role as Director of Student Life, the solution the school came up with was to have Mr. Cronister help with student government, clubs and affinities, and gatherings, rather than fully replacing Ms. Callis.

“Mr. Cronister has been an amazing creative mind in helping us plan the events that have taken place this year so far,” Diego said.” He also has brought a lot of energy and passion to student government, which is something that everyone on the committee has greatly appreciated.”

Taking on these many roles, Mr. Cronister said, has impacted the service he can do across the three divisions, because he is spending more time with Upper School students. “I am much more on the ground and in the weeds than I have been before, which makes it tougher to take trips over there,” he said.

To fill the gap, Human Resources has posted stipended opportunities on RomanNet for faculty: US Community Engagement Coordinator and MS Community Engagement Coordinator.

While Mr. Cronister has some help from the Upper School team, he is balancing a lot. “I’m busy, not stressed,” he said, “I’m getting my steps in every day, let’s say that.”