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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 adds two new upper school deans

Nathan Wang
The school hired Jee Won Lee and Michael Durant to serve as deans starting in the 2024-2025 school year. Printed with permission of Lee and Durant.

The school hired Jee Won Lee and Michael Durant to serve as deans starting in the 2024-2025 school year, increasing the number of upper school deans from 10 to 12.

Head of Upper School Beth Slattery said adding two new deans will reduce the number of students each dean oversees.

“We’re going to have a team of 12 so that we can reduce the caseload for all of the deans,” Slattery said. “Every dean [will] only get 25 kids in the 10th grade versus right now, they have 35 juniors and seniors each. [The addition] is going to make a difference [for the deans] to actually serve our population better.”

Durant received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Charleston and a master’s degree in sociology of education from New York University (NYU). He worked in the admissions office of NYU for five years before transferring to his position as a college counselor at the Miami Country Day School.

Durant said his experience working in the NYU admissions office prepared him to be a dean.

“Having an understanding of selective college admissions and of college admissions in general really puts me in a good place to help students understand their place in the admissions landscape,” Durant said. “I was on different committees, led different teams and saw that the big picture of the admissions process.”

Lee worked in the admissions offices of Pitzer College and Whitman College after receiving a Master of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Lee currently works at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore.

Lee said she is looking forward to continuing her work in counseling and assisting student growth at the school.

“I really love working in schools as an advisor and a counselor and guiding young people through what is one of the most exciting parts of their lives,” Lee said. “I also understand it can be really fraught with challenges and ups and downs. Just being there and offering guidance is an incredibly privileged job. I feel confident that Harvard-Westlake is going to be another amazing community where I’ll be able to build some meaningful relationships and hopefully be a really helpful advisor and counselor to young people and to families.”

Slattery said Lee and Durant’s expertise is well-known around the dean’s office and she is eager to introduce them to the rest of the team.

“The two people that we hired are just incredibly kind, thoughtful and really good with kids,” Slattery said. “They’re people that a number of deans have known for a while because the college counseling and admission community is small. They’ve just been people that we’ve admired from afar for a while, and the fact that they’re going to be here is great.”

Lee said she plans to foster interpersonal relationships at the core of her work.

“I see [that] the heart of my work is just people and relationships,” Lee said. “Prioritizing people and meaningfully putting [myself] out there to learn about the culture in a school have always served me well. That’s definitely how I plan to continue working with all of the people in the community that I’m joining.”

Durant said he wants to ensure students are just as academically challenged as they are mentally supported.

“When the pressure is coming from within a student that is very driven, I want to support that driven nature,” Durant said. “I want to support their aspirations, but It is really, really important to breathe, to relax and to give grace. As much as I will push the student to do their best academically, or their best athletically, or their best musically or artistically, I’m also going to push them to forgive themselves when they’re not perfect. Learning how to find that balance can help students achieve the maximum level of joy in their learning.”

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Nathan Wang, Presentations Managing Editor

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