New Year, New Dean
While the beginning of the 2018 academic year has brought with it many considerable changes, ranging from the updated website to the new Early Learning Center, the transformation of the Upper School administration is one of the most significant. All four Upper School grades either have a permanent new dean, or will have a temporary dean for some portion of the year. Each new leader will inevitably affect their respective classes in different yet equally valuable ways.
Michael Barbaro, dean of the Class of 2022, has been working in education for 26 years. He has worked at a variety of schools as a Spanish teacher, and worked as Director of Community Service and Associate Chaplain at the Trinity School in Manhattan before moving to Washington, D.C. after the birth of his twin sons. He returned to New York in order to work at Packer.
Mr. Barbaro is most looking forward to forming long lasting relationships with each of the freshman class’s 103 members, and is excited that they’re “in this four year cycle together, from beginning to end.”
Mr. Barbaro named one of the challenges of being a new dean as “really letting this class know how much I already care about them and want them to move through Packer successfully,” he explained. “By successful, I mean becoming strong, wonderful people, not solely academically [successful].”
As a single father of two four year old boys, Mr. Barbaro spends much of his free time exploring New York City and learning languages with his children.
Upper School English Teacher Ms. Larissa Dzegar is the new dean of the sophomore grade, taking over for Ms. Loryn Evanoff, who served as the grade’s dean in their freshman year. Part of what incentivized Ms. Dzegar to apply for the position was the relationship she had already established with this class, having taught half of them as freshmen. Her desire to apply was cemented when, after the passing of her father, the students treated her with an incredible amount of compassion.
“I didn’t want the job, I wanted the kids,” Ms. Dzegar said earnestly. She hopes that by their graduation, she “[hugs] every single one of them, because [she knows] them all and will have a hugging relationship [with them] at that point.”
A theater enthusiast, Ms. Dzegar spends much of her time outside of Packer either participating in or learning about productions. She is also busy writing a book about her racial identity in the United States, and enjoys cooking, or binge-watching HBO’s The Leftovers.
With Ms. Ali Iberraken, the current dean of the Class of 2020, going on maternity leave on November 2nd, 2018, Dean of Student Life Allison Bishop will be taking over as leader of the junior class. Ms. Bishop was offered this job once Ms. Iberraken announced her exciting news, and is not teaching this year in order to help manage what is bound to be an intensified workload.
Not accustomed to working with parents, Ms. Bishop suspects that engaging with student’s families in more of her work will be her biggest challenge. Regardless, those nerves are nothing compared to the excitement she is feeling at the prospect of getting to know the eleventh grade better.
“I love this grade,” said Ms. Bishop. “I really, really do, and I’m looking forward to getting to spend more time with each of them individually.”
Similarly to Mr. Barbaro, Ms. Bishop spends much of her time outside of Packer with her two children, whose artwork is prominently displayed in her office. She is an avid reader and enthusiastic traveler who hopes to soon embark on a continental road trip through the United States.
Director of Athletics Darrin Fallick took over as the senior grade’s dean on September 28th, and will hold the position until near Symposium, when Ms. Amy Roberts returns. He, too, had to apply for the job, and having known many of the seniors either since middle school or through sports, Darrin is hopeful that they will use him as a resource during this pivotal moment in their education and is eager to help them prepare for the next phase of their lives.
“It was never my dream to be an athletic director, it was my dream to be a guidance counselor,” Darrin explained. “So this job is the best of both worlds for me.”
Rather fittingly, Darrin devotes much of his free time to athletics and spending time with his daughter. A lover of the fall, he plans on spending a majority of his weekends outdoors during the upcoming season.
With each new dean comes a new perspective, all four of which are bound to impact both their specific grades and the greater Packer culture. While the adjustments accompanying the administrative shifts will certainly be felt, the changes will doubtlessly bring with them meaningful progress.