Housemaster title changes to Dean


Maya Waldman

by Maya Waldman
In an attempt to rid both Newton schools of a negative atmosphere, North and South principals Mark Aronson and Joel Stembridge decided that the supposedly outdated term “housemaster” will be replaced by the more modern “dean” in both high schools shortly after December break.
Parents received an email from Stembridge and Aronson on Jan. 26 to explain the decision and the reasoning behind it. According to Stembridge and Aronson, “The term ‘master’ has powerful, negative connections.”
“Our job as deans is to be approachable and help students make progress in their education,” said Scott Heslin, dean of Beals house. “We don’t want our title to seem offensive or intimidating to anyone.”
“I never thought of [the negative connotation] until they said it,” said guidance counselor Shani Leichter. “Now that I think about it, it makes sense,”
Aronson added that he and Stembridge had been debating the change for about a year prior to the announcement.
Aronson said that the term “dean” is “simply more accurate” in describing an educational background, and is used in many colleges when referring to a person who has authority and responsibility.
According to Heslin, the houses will still be called houses, and deans will still have the same job they did before; “to be supportive and helpful.”
Although an email was sent out to all North and South parents, many students in both schools are still unaware that a change ever occurred.
When asked what she thought about the change, North freshman Yael Dekel said “I was not made aware and I don’t understand why it makes such a big impact.”
Freshman Imani Bibuld said, “I don’t generally call them ‘housemasters’ anyway. I call them by their names, which seems more respectful.”
According to Leichter, even guidance counselors received limited information, and were sent the same email that was sent to parents.
Leichter added that although many people don’t understand the significance, “this important change will occur eventually.”