The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

School hires new wellness director

The school hired a wellness director to add to existing mental health initiatives. She will begin her position in July.

Marci Reichert will join the school as the new Wellness Director in July. Reichert brings four years of experience as the Health and Wellness Programs Manager at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans and two years of experience as a wellness teacher at the Lakeside School in Seattle while simultaneously being involved in the Lakeside summer program for eight years.  At the Isidore Newman School, Reichert led a community well-being initiative encompassing pre-K through 12th grade.

Head of School Laura Ross said Reichert’s new role at the school will be to build a collective program to connect the seventh through 12th-grade wellness curriculums.

“Over the last seven years, we’ve been building up our [wellness] infrastructure,” Ross said. “We’ve added deans, counselors and learning centers, but there’s never been anyone thinking about seventh through 12th grades. We were looking for someone who had both a curriculum specialist background and parent education who could help train teachers in [social and emotional learning] skills. We’re excited for [Reichert] to come work on both campuses.”

Reichert said she is excited to work in an environment that is more open-minded.

“I worked [at a school in] Seattle, which is more similar to Harvard-Westlake than [Isidore] Newman School, where I’m at,” Reichert said. “There is a different climate of well-being on the West Coast than there is in the South, particularly in health and wellness. There is a lot I can’t do here that I will be able to do when I go back to the West Coast because it’s just more progressive when it comes to wellness. This role, in particular, excites me [because] I liked the fact that [the school] seems student-centered. I love that students have a strong voice in a lot of ways.”

Ross said Reichert’s experienced career in counseling qualifies her for the new position despite the differences in the schools she has worked at.

“One of the reasons we hired her [was that] she had done this before,” Ross said. “[A challenge is] listening and understanding our unique community and situation because there’s no one size fits all. You can’t take the curriculum she built at another school and [say] that’ll work perfectly. The community that we are in is a pretty special one.”

Reichert said she hopes to replicate her experience at the Isidore Newman School and foster a welcoming environment at the school.

“[At Isidore Newman School], I’ve created an environment [that] is student-friendly,” Reichert said. “I’m hoping I can do that at Harvard-Westlake because part of doing good work is knowing who the students are and creating an environment where they trust you. It’s going to take a lot longer at Harvard-Westlake because getting to know students is pivotal.”

President Rick Commons said the creation of the wellness director position further contributes to the school’s emphasis on mental health.

“[The addition of a wellness director] is a response to our recognition, especially with the tragedies of last year, that we have got to prioritize student mental health and wellness ahead of everything else,” Commons said. “In order to do that, we need to have somebody strategically thinking about every decision we make in the co-curricular life of the school and in the counseling that takes place.”

Ross said the school’s current wellness research will give Reichert existing mental health resources to utilize.

“We’re working with the JED Foundation right now, and we have a task force that is already looking at [the fall wellness surveys],” Ross said. “Luckily, we’re gonna be able to hand her a blueprint because this stuff is too important to [say], ‘Just come in and learn.’ She’ll partner with the counselors, the deans and the learning specialists because they’re the ones that see [student mental health] every day.”

Student Mental Health Association (SMHA) co-leader Micah Parr ’25 said he hopes the new position will allow the school to deal with mental health more effectively.

“I think the addition of a new wellness director would be amazing,” Parr said. “As one of the leaders of the SMHA, I acknowledge that we have not done as much as we should have. I hope the addition of the wellness director will bring change and make Harvard-Westlake a better place.” 

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