Students Speak about Hopes for New Leader


Tyler Barlow, Staff Writer

Being the Head-of-Upper School for school like ODA is a rewarding but exhausting job. Add to the challenge, filling the big shoes left behind by recently-departed Mrs. Dougherty. The school’s official job sounds pretty cut and dry; but when you actually talk to a person who is living this job, it does not sound like sunshine and rainbows. It’s definitely not a job  just anyone could do.

The official job posting highlights quite a few of the responsibilities of the Head-of-Upper School. One of the responsibilities this leader has is to embody the school’s core values and set an example for all of the students.

Another responsibility is to manage the Upper School Leadership Team, which includes the directors of Student Activities, of Collaborative Learning and Educational Outreach, Academic Services & Counseling, College Counseling, and the Assistant Head of Upper School.

“Ensuring that the Upper School maintains an appropriate balance between high expectations for achievement and wellness and holistic growth for all students and faculty” reads another one of the responsibilities from the posting.

While the posting seems pretty clear, after talking to Mr. Seldis you learn that this job is so much more than those words could ever explain. He says that there are four major components of the job.

Faculty Development

The Division Head must  assure that the faculty have everything they need to teach the students to the best of their abilities.

Parent Communication

It is the Head’s job to communicate with parents on a range of topics including struggles, concerns, or simply checking in. It is also their job to oversee the weekly release of the Banyan Weekly to all ODA parents.


As many people know, the Head is in charge of disciplinary action if the offense goes beyond the classroom. The job also includes supporting students in their academic and extracurricular pursuits.


They are also in charging of exploring where the school going to be in five to ten years. Where is the technology going to be? What is learning going to look like? Then they have to help move the school into gear.

While this is all well and good, the school knows what they want to see in the new Head-of-Upper School, but what do the students want?

“I would like them to be a person I know will listen to everyone’s side of the story and make objective and fair decisions.” A sophomore commented thoughtfully

Two ninth graders shared that they thought the leader should be really nice and caring about their students, enforcing the rules but not being super strict.

When a junior was asked what he would like the new Head-of-Upper School to do he said, “I want money for my club [Health and Wellness], because there are so many programs out there like yoga and meditation that I want to bring to the school but don’t have the funding for.”

“I want it to be someone who listens to us. In the past, Mrs. Dougherty and now Mr. Seldis always listen to the students. For someone in that position that is a good attribute to have. As teens, we feel as if adults don’t listen and it is really great have someone in that position who does,” a junior said.

If you have other ideas about what attributes our new Head-of-Upper School should have, be sure to share them with faculty to make your voice heard. Hurry. The decision will be made soon!