Ross makes effort to get to know students

Josie Abugov

In an effort to strengthen a sense of Harvard-Westlake community, Head of Upper School Laura Ross is initiating meetings with students starting next week.

“The goal of these meetings is just to get the chance to know you a little bit better and to hear from you about your experience at Harvard-Westlake thus far,” Ross said in an email to upper school students. “I’d like to hear from students at all grade levels and lengths of time at the school.”

Ross will hold five meetings in her office, four of which will take place during common free periods with the students.

A final meeting will be held after school.

“My task is to think about the Upper School as a whole,” Ross said. “What is good? What could be better? What do we need to pay attention to? I don’t feel like I can ever know any of those things without directly talking to students.”

After notifying the student body about the meetings through email, Ross said students also contacted her directly, expressing interest in one-on-one meetings.

Ross noted the size of Harvard-Westlake’s student body as significantly different from her experience as Head of Upper School at the Greenhill School in Dallas, where each high school grade consisted of approximately 115 students.

“The scale here is so big,” Ross said. “At Greenhill, I knew every kid and most of their parents. I know it’ll get there. It will take me a while to form the relationships and that’s really important to me. As a leader it’s critical to me that I know students.”

Head Prefect Julia Cosgrove ’18 said Ross is a great addition to the Harvard-Westlake community and that she appreciates her various efforts to get to know the students on a daily basis.

“I love that Ms. Ross is reaching out to the students to get to know everyone,” Cosgrove said. “She seems very enthusiastic about joining our community.”

Ross said that after her first few weeks as Head of Upper School, she feels that she is connecting with the community.

“I had a moment the other day when I was walking down the stairs and was like, ‘I knew three kids in a row. I’m so happy,’” Ross said.

Discussing the excellence in the school’s extracurricular activities, arts and athletics, Ross also said she wanted to bring students together across all of their specialized interests.

“How do we have real conversations about what we believe in as a community in a place that’s so big, and people are so busy and people have these kind of silos?” Ross said. “You get these really close bonds with the people you do those things with, but how do you build the sense that we’re all in this together?”