Karen Horvath: Meet the New Upper School Assistant Director

Will Slater Karen Horvath will be Latin’s Upper School Assistant Director this year. As she envisions it, this new position in the Upper School will centrally involve acting as a unifier for the upper school faculty and staff. “[I’ll be] assisting Ms. Rodriguez in the academic arena. She oversees department chairs and faculty and things like that –  I’ll be a part of that. I’ll be assisting with the inner workings of the academic world, but on this side, the other side of things, I’ll be overseeing anything related to student support, and those types of arenas as well. So I would say as far as my vision for things going forward – and I’ve discussed this with Ms. Rodriguez and the leadership team – is pretty much my favorite part of the job, which is focusing on collaboration.” Ms. Horvath’s background is mainly in school counseling, having worked in various types of schools, the first of which was at a Catholic Archdiocese high school in Chicago. “During that time I was a generalist, which meant that I worked with students personally on their college and career, and also their academics, so I kind of covered those three areas.” This position, as a generalist, is different than anything we have at Latin, as we have individual counselors who focus on wellness, academics or college, not a single counselor to oversee us on the whole.  After getting a school counseling certification, and spending a semester at a large public school, she became the Director of College Counseling at Morgan Park Academy, a job she took on while also advising at Saint Xavier University. Following an interest in school administration, Ms. Horvath applied for an opening at Latin. In an introductory email to staff, Ms. Horvath wrote that her main goal at Latin will be to “[encourage] a climate that will challenge, excite, and guide each student toward discovering their full potential.” She elaborated in our interview. “Where I was going with that was the whole team, the whole upper school team I should say, coming together to offer opportunities for each student to explore their full potential, whether that’s in project week, in clubs, in athletics, through student support if they need extra help and guidance along the way… in the classroom, which is so important; helping them discover ‘what do I want to do with the rest of my life?’,  ‘what am I interested in?’, but also ‘where am I able to just offer my thoughts to my peers and hear their thoughts as well.” To Ms. Horvath, the first step towards discovering one’s full potential is giving students a wide breadth of opportunities to help develop some sense of who they are and what matters to them, in a setting where they’re comfortable and unafraid to voice questions or objections. This environment doesn’t come easily, but she’s confident that Latin has the setup and personnel needed to create it. Having only spent a matter of weeks here, though, Ms. Horvath looks forward to getting a better sense of Latin’s strengths and shortcomings when it comes to student comfort and communication as the year goes on. “That’s something I’ll be constantly exploring. Are we sending that message? If we’re not, or if a student’s not receiving that message, what can we do to enhance that feeling, or to change that… Are students comfortable voicing how they feel? Do they know where to go when they’re having a bad day, or having an issue going on? Are they joining clubs and activities because they genuinely want to?” These questions will hopefully be easier to answer in thanks to a new, more concentrated effort to give each student a tangible support system to turn to. “I view each student as having a team, essentially. We have counselors based on grade and deans based on grade and learning specialists based on grade… so that would be their individualized team. So whenever a student is having an issue, has a question, a concern, depending on what that concern, that question is, that team can address it, or at least we can come together to formulate a plan to address it if that’s necessary.” Deans, counselors and learning specialists, and our Advocate for Students of Color, Ms. Maajid, will have grade-team meetings, designed to address the needs of individuals and the grade as a whole. Ms. Horvath hopes this plan will give added support to each student in a way that’s more structured and intensive than has perhaps been the case in the past. Ms. Horvath’s counseling background infers everything she puts her energy into, and she looks forward to bringing her background and ideas to Latin.]]>