After three years at the school as a dean, chair of the character education committee and teacher of a class he helped to create, Dean Pete Silberman will leave Harvard-Westlake and move to Tennessee.
“I will miss the students a lot — that’s why you work at a place like this,” Silberman said. “I will definitely miss my colleagues, and I’ll miss being in a really collaborative place, being in a place where you can bat around new ideas. You’re given a lot of support and autonomy in this community; I got to design a brand new class, I got to take on some interesting new responsibilities outside of dean stuff, and in dean land, we get to work with you guys, which is a lot of fun.”
Silberman’s wife will attend medical school at Lincoln Memorial University in the Cumberland Gaps, about an hour outside of Knoxville, Tenn. in a program that specializes in primary care and rural medicine.
“I’m thinking about it like an adventure,” Silberman said. “It’s a place that I think I’d never live on my own, and I think it will be a really different kind of community. I’m hoping that some of the opportunities that will come my way will let me do some things I really want to do professionally. I hope I get a chance to do more research, I hope I get a chance to work back in higher education.”
Higher education was where Silberman began, as assistant dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, where he read college applications, including those from Southern California. While living in Los Angeles, Silberman earned a doctorate in education from UCLA and wrote his dissertation about the use of educational technology in secondary schools. Silberman also worked with Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church to design the curriculum of a Kutler Center course called Unconventional Leadership.
“[He] epitomizes the core principles he and Mr. Church teach us in Unconventional Leadership,” John Copses ’14 said. “He actively teaches the student body how to behave, how to effectively work together to get things done and most importantly, he teaches everyone how to be a wonderful person, just by being the Silbs we know and love.”
As chair of the character education committee, Silberman helped lead Civitalks programming and shape the moral education of the school.
“I have always felt like he has helped be the moral compass of the dean group,” dean Beth Slattery said. “He’s always reminding us about the right things to do and, whenever we’re struggling with some sort of dilemma, he helps sort of crystallize things.”
Alex Berman ’14 called Silberman “my guidance counselor, my mentor, my role model, my comedic relief and my friend.”
“He helped me discover myself throughout my three years, whether it was through the college process or within various predicaments I encountered,” Berman said. “I will truly miss him, and the school will be missing a gem of an educator.”
Copses echoed Berman’s sentiments, saying that he felt Silberman was a great mentor and teacher during his tenure at the school.
“Silbs goes out of his way to remove the intense academic environment and truly make his students feel somewhere safe and at home,” Copses said. “I have really been able to connect him and he has been a very important role model.”