Q&A w/ Mr. Greer: Latin’s Official Director of Upper School

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Tejas Vadali Mr. Greer is the fourth Upper School Head in the last five years. There were certainly concerns entering this school year. Would the school continue its search for a new head? Would Mr. Greer miss teaching? How would the faculty react to this change? However, Mr. Greer removed all doubt almost immediately. As a result of his success, he was recently given the position of permanent Upper School Head. Mr. Greer has been an excellent leader, encouraging core values and promoting the theme of action throughout the school year. With a new role, he has accepted new responsibilities, and with this power, he hopes to make an impact. *** TV: How do you feel about no longer being the interim head? KG: I’m certainly excited by the challenge of being the permanent division director. It’s been freeing in some ways to be able to really think long-term and think strategically about the future of the school. I was missing teaching quite a bit, but now that I have a sense of what the role is like, next year, I will be teaching a class, both in the spring and in the autumn. Now that everything has been solidified, I feel like I will have a good balance between the teaching I still love to do and having a bigger role in the school.   TV: Did you ever see yourself in a higher role than as a teacher at Latin? KG: I enjoyed being a Department Chair for a long time, and honestly, that’s as much as I had expected. But Mr. Dunn has been very generous with different opportunities over the last few years. I had been the Director of Studies two years ago in an interim role. I enjoyed the role, but I definitely felt that teaching gave me much more energy and satisfaction. That role felt a little isolating from the rest of the school. So this role does feel more balanced because I’m able to connect with some students, and I can still connect with the faculty in one-on-one settings and help them grow as teachers while still being able to shape the school’s direction in a greater sense.   TV: What traditional aspects of the position of Upper School Head do you intend to keep, and what are you looking change about your role? KG: One component is that I want to maintain my skills as a teacher and continue to push myself, and as I try to support the faculty in growing, really experimenting in my own classroom and seeing it almost like a laboratory for some of the innovative work that we were trying to do across the school. So doing that, being a teacher, an experimenter, and a division director could, I hope, be a nice twist on the traditional role of the position. And at the same time, we’ve also expanded the number of deans; we have associate deans now. We have an assistant division director who handles a lot of student support responsibilities and oversees Advisory and Affective Ed. I think, in the past, all of those responsibilities had landed on the division director’s desk, so these changes kind of liberate me to still be at least a part-time teacher and to focus on my classroom and curricula while also allowing me to encourage our community to continue to innovate and head in the right direction.   TV: What do you want your legacy to be as the Upper School Head? KG: It’s going to be hard to answer this with a straight face. One thing I do think a lot about is the incredible [amounts of] stress that students face, and it seems to be increasing by the day in the external pressures of college and how those shape the choices students make so early on, even at the very beginning of ninth grade. I would love it if we could build a school that resists those outside pressures and that all of us—students and teachers—are able to find a little bit more joy in what we’re learning. I hope we can learn and stretch ourselves for those reasons because we are truly curious and engaged. I want us to challenge ourselves out of curiosity instead of thinking about what some mythical college admissions officer is going to think. And if we can do this, I’m sure we will develop and be more present and engaged within the moment rather than focusing on the future. *** The ball is in Mr. Greer’s court, and he intends to make the most of it. The transition from one of the Upper School’s most respected faculty members to Upper School Head has certainly brought new responsibilities for Mr. Greer, but he does not at all intend to stray far from the classroom. Mr. Greer intends to be involved in students’ learning processes just as he has been in years past, and he too will try to grow alongside his faculty colleagues, encouraging them to experiment in their classrooms exactly how he intends to do so in his. With so many responsibilities resting on his shoulders, one would expect Mr. Greer to feel the mounting stress associated with his new job. However, in knowing Mr. Greer, the Upper School already knows that he will be the same maverick as a division leader that he has and will continue to be as a teacher. The bar is high, but Mr. Greer intends to move it higher.]]>