Meet the Elms New Academic Dean: Q&A with Michael Gavin
Q: What professional road did you travel to get to the Elms?
After college I began a career in journalism and went back to school at night to get an MA in English. After five years I was offered two job opportunities: a reporter at the Naples Daily News in Florida and Alumni Director at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. I decided to stay out of the heat. Five years later I accepted an English teaching job at Saint Ignatius, which I did for 16 years, eventually becoming Assistant Principal for Academics for eight years. Last spring I read about the job opportunity at the Elms and applied.
Q: What appealed to you about the academic dean’s job at the Elms?
Several years ago I had a couple of occasions to drive some of the lads from Saint Ignatius to the Elms for its Author, Author program. In addition to the fine program, I was impressed with the teachers and students I spoke with during my brief visits. As important as academics are I was gratified to realize the Elms also focused on the arts, service, and spirituality. I also am a strong advocate of single sex education so with the Elms being an all-girls school with a long tradition of success I felt compelled to apply for the position.
Q: What impression has the Elms made on you so far?
The school community has been extremely welcoming and thoughtful. It feels like a close community that cares and supports each other. There are a lot of talented, energetic, and compassionate faculty and staff. I also would apply those three characteristics to the students who I am getting to know better.
Q: Based on your experience, what do you believe are the advantages of a single sex education?
I believe students in a single-sex school environment can thrive in ways that can be hampered in a coed school. A single-sex school provides opportunities for greater self-development without the distractions and undue self-consciousness that can occur with the presence of the opposite sex. The subtraction of distraction can result in increased curricular and extracurricular involvement, more leadership opportunities, and unbridled self-awareness and confidence.
Q: What are some of your goals in your first year at the Elms?
For it not to be my last year at the Elms! Actually, my goals are to observe, question, listen and discuss so that I can set informed short and long-term goals. I need to understand the Elms community before I can suggest how we can make it better.
Q: How about long-term goals?
To ensure Our Lady of the Elms School provides all that is necessary for the full formation of an Elms girl. This would include: 1) Maintaining challenging academics with constant vigilance of how our curriculum should evolve and grow to be sure we are meeting the challenges Elms girls will have after graduation. 2) Continuous emphasis of the importance of compassion and service for those in need. 3) Providing opportunities to better understand the environment, the arts, and what God is asking of each one of us.
Q: What do you think makes the Elms unique?
It’s the Elms!
Q: What is the most satisfying aspect of working with students?
Encouraging students, especially when they are ready to give up, to keep trying. At some point the light goes on and she becomes a more confident student.
Q: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
Well if I let you know . . .
OK, as much as I enjoy interacting with people, I have a strong need for occasional solitude and reflection. So with that . . .