Department heads to leave middle school

Liz Yount

Three middle school department chairs will leave the school at the end of the year. Spectrum adviser and English teacher Steve Chae will replace Middle School Communications Department Chair Jen Bladen, English teacher Amanda Angle will replace Middle School English Department Chair Jen Dohr and Spanish teacher Edgar Jurado will replace Middle School World Languages Department Chair Melissa Strong.

Bladen plans to move to Oklahoma to return to school to be a nurse. Chae said that he intends to build up the communication department’s online presence through websites and broadcasting.

“I’m really excited about being able to be involved in more of the bigger-picture decision making,” Chae said. “I think that this year and in past years, obviously I care a lot about how the [Spectrum] is, but now I get to step back and look at the publications department as a whole.”

Dohr will leave school in June to found Beacon School for Boys, a middle and high school without religious affiliation. She said that she plans to open the school in the fall of 2016.

Angle said Dohr has inspired her to focus less attention on the curriculum and more on the act of teaching and on the individual student. After teaching English at Harvard-Westlake for 18 years, Angle understands the program and is confident that she can lead the department.

“Ms. Dohr had us focus a lot on our teaching process and practices, so I definitely want to continue with that and push our department to experiment, take more risks and try new things,” Angle said. “I’ve always been very interested in making some changes to our book selection.”

Strong will join Viewpoint School as Assistant Head of the Middle School.

“I look forward to learning a lot in this new opportunity,” Strong said. “That said, I have been at Harvard-Westlake for 11 years, and I’m proud of our programs, love our community and will miss my colleagues and students dearly.”

Jurado said that he knows that he will face many challenges in the future, but is confident that he is surrounded by teachers who will support him and the students.

“My main goal for the first year is to make sure we continue on the current track that we’re on,” he said. “I would like to improve some elements of our teacher observation and feedback process and expand our access and communication exchanges with schools outside of the U.S.”