Dowling to leave for new post

By Mary Rose Fissinger

Director of Studies and AP Physics B teacher Dr. Deb Dowling will be leaving Harvard-Westlake at the end of this year for the position of Upper School Director at Bridges Academy, located on Laurel Canyon.

“I was ready for a new challenge, and I was looking for a chance to work with more students,” said Dowling, who had only been teaching one section of AP Physic B per year.

“I talked to a bunch of people about it, including Dr. (Jeanne) Huybrechts and Mr. (Tom) Hudnut and the people who help Harvard-Westlake find new teachers. Those people found out about the Bridges opportunity, and Dr. Huybrechts and Mr. Hudnut wrote me some great reference letters, so I applied and got the job,” she said.

Dowling has been at Harvard-Westlake for nine years, which is funny, she says, because when she applied for the job she informed Hudnut that she would only be here for a year, and then she would return to Australia.

“Harvard-Westlake is a big part of why my husband and I stayed – I had never imagined I could find such a great place to work,” she said.

For her first two years here, she taught science at the Middle School, and was chair of the department for the next two years. The following five years she spent as Director of Studies and AP Physics B teacher. As Director of Studies, she was in charge of the curriculum and professional development on both campuses. She also sat on several committees, and taught Choices and Challenges for two years.

She said she suspects her experience at Bridges will be very exciting and different, as it is a very different kind of place. There are 70 students in the entire upper school, grades 9-12, and they all have special needs of some kind. Classes range from 4-8 students and teachers go by their first names. She will teach, she said, but she doesn’t know what class.

Dowling said she would miss “the people.  My fabulous students, and my wonderful colleagues.  And the avocado sushi and the tiramisu in the cafeteria, and Wendy Van Norden’s geology field trips.  And the choir singing carols outside my office each December.  And the view from Feldman-Horn 201.  And the middle school faculty Scrabble club every Friday afternoon.  Ah, I could go on for ever.”