Aditi Deokar '21, shares the genesis of the following interview with Incoming Head of School Chris Kolovos:
I met Mr. Kolovos at Fall Festival during his October visit, and I wanted the school to get to know our incoming head of school better. As head of school, Mr. Kolovos will represent the school, and we at the Scarlet Letter, BUA's student-run blog, thought an interview with him would be beneficial to the BUA community. Below is the conversation that resulted.
How did you get to where you are now? More specifically, how was your high school experience? Did your time at Roxbury Latin influence your decision to become an educator and/or an administrator?
I feel so lucky because I am one of those people who is doing exactly what I dreamed of doing when I was a kid. My parents are immigrants from Greece; they never went to college, but really value education. With their support and guidance, I found my way to Roxbury Latin from 7-12th grade. That’s where I found my people! I was surrounded by friends who loved to read, loved talking about big ideas, loved the arts — just like I did. Plus, it’s where I made some of my best friends, who are still close to me to this day. I had incredible teachers and mentors: my headmaster, Mr. Jarvis; my chemistry teacher and newspaper advisor, Mr. Pojman; my history teacher, Mr. Ward; my art teacher and soccer coach, Mr. Buckley; my English teacher, Mr. Kerner; my theater director, Mr. Frank; my Latin teacher, Mr. Brennan; my college counselor, Mrs. Melvoin; and so many others. I loved school and wanted more than anything to devote my career to doing the kind of work I watched them do. It took me a while to do that, though. I studied history at Harvard, but rather than go right into teaching, I spent some time as a management consultant. Like a lot of kids who are in that first generation, I felt some pressure to find a career that is more lucrative and, according to some, has more social status. Then I headed back to Harvard for law school, clerked for a wonderful judge, and was all set to work at one of the big law firms in Boston. That’s when, with the help of one of my best childhood friends, I decided to take a chance. I took a job at Belmont Hill School teaching history, coaching soccer, coaching debate, and directing musicals. And I loved every minute of it! Just like I suspected when I was a teenager, teaching was for me. That was not an easy decision, but I am so glad I made it. I worked at Belmont Hill for nine wonderful years, before moving on to Greens Farms Academy in Connecticut, where I’ve been for the past seven years. Ever since I started working in schools, I have loved going to work every day. And all those experiences have made me a better teacher and leader, ready to join the community at BUA and help lead the school in this next generation.
How would you connect to the students?
I’m a teacher. The reason I started working in schools is that I love spending time with young people. At Belmont Hill, I connected with students as a history teacher, advisor, coach, director, and mentor — I still stay in touch with many of the alums I taught there. At Greens Farms Academy, I still teach and coach, in addition to my other work. It’s so important to me to stay connected to students, for two reasons. One is that it helps me lead. How can I know how to lead a community if I’m not connecting with students every day? Students are the ones who live the experience and are the experts in the culture. Another reason? Spending time with students is where the joy comes from! My best days are ones when I get to spend most of my time with students. Ask any of your teachers — they will tell you the same thing.
On my visit to BUA this October, students were my priority. That’s why I greeted every student on the way into the all-school meeting, why I sat with the juniors during their class meeting, why I visited a dozen classes, why I had lunch with students both days, and why I hung out at Fall Fest and the soccer games (way to go to both teams on their big wins!). Students will be my priority throughout my time at BUA, which I hope is a very long time!
What do you think is the most important job of a head of school?
When I have a hard decision to make, the first question I ask myself (and my colleagues) is “What’s in the best interest of the students?” My most important job is making sure that we keep students at the center of our conversations so that we move the school forward in a direction that best serves the students who are here and preserves a wonderful student experience for generations to come. That means making sure we have the resources to support the tremendous teachers at BUA. That means making financial aid a priority so that we can open the doors of BUA as widely as we can to the best students from around the Boston area. That means ensuring that the curriculum and the extracurricular program gives students the skills they will need to navigate their courses at BU, to succeed in college, and much more importantly, to live happy, successful, and purpose-driven lives as citizens of their communities. That means celebrating those core parts of BUA’s culture that make it distinctive and that we all love. And that means unifying the whole community around a vision for the future that embraces the school’s history and gets everybody excited for how we change and move forward together.
What changes would you make to BUA, and specifically to the BUA curriculum?
My first job at BUA is to learn. Like I did during my visit to campus in October, I plan to do a lot more listening than talking; fitting that we have two ears and one mouth! I have already learned so much about this beautiful community where students love learning, where young people form life-long friendships with one another, where there is such a close, mentoring relationship between teachers and students, and where students have access to the incredible opportunities at Boston University. Those are things that will not change. That is who we are. They are part of BUA and part of why I have fallen in love with the place. As I listen and learn, I also want to pay particular attention to the ways we can all make this community better. I want your ideas.
What is something you do for fun, and why do you enjoy it?
Can I offer a few things? I love to do the New York Times crossword puzzles, especially on Sundays. There’s something so relaxing and fulfilling about matching wits with the puzzle creator and discovering the puns and tricks embedded in a puzzle. My wife and I like to do them together sometimes, which makes them even more fun. I also love taking my dog Circe for long hikes. She’s a 45-pound rescue dog who loves to run through the woods and chase after unsuspecting squirrels! She has never caught one and probably never will, but I admire her determination! Cooking has been a hobby of mine for a long time. I grew up cooking Greek food with my mom, and we still cook together sometimes, but I’ll cook pretty much anything these days — it’s a nice way to be creative and a great way for me to relax. And I’ve been playing guitar and singing since I was little. My father was a professional musician, so I grew up around music. He and I still play Greek music together, which I love. Maybe we’ll play at BUA sometime. What do you think?
What are three adjectives that you would use to describe yourself?
Kind, Curious, Motivated. If I say humble, is that ironic?
Will Reason '20 and Ewan Henderson '20 share the following report of the BUA Boys' Soccer team's recent winning streak, starting with the Fall Festival game:
"On a cool evening under the lights of Nickerson Field, BUA Boys' Soccer fought back to win 2-1 against Boston Trinity Academy at the Fall Festival match. In a game of great importance and greater drama, our fans rose to the occasion. Equipped with signs, cowbells, and vuvuzelas their passion made Nickerson into a fortress and struck fear deep into our opponents' hearts.
Nevertheless, after conceding midway through the first half, and fighting futilely for an equalizer, we found ourselves trailing 1-0 with just six minutes remaining. All hope seemed lost, but nevertheless our fans rose en masse and walked across the bleachers to support us from nearer our opponent’s goal.
Feeding off the crowd’s energy, Nick Reason '23 escaped his marker and flew down the right wing. As he approached the touchline, he put in a high-flying cross towards the back post. Or at least it looked like a cross before it soared over the keeper’s head and swerved into the top right corner, giving us an equalizer from the acutest of angles. Cue pandemonium. Our players swarmed our freshman hero but our resolved hardened as BTA kicked back off. We had more than just a draw on our minds.
The big clock behind their goal ticked down to five minutes and stopped, meaning the referee could end the game whenever he saw fit. With it all practically over, Will Reason '20 (and older brother to Nick) received a pass from Nico Moldovean '21 and drove into the box. As a BTA defender stepped in to block his shot, he instead cut inside on his left foot before swiveling and slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. Pure elation. Our players and fans lost their minds and the stadium became a bubbling cauldron of joyous noise.
But with a short time remaining, we needed to refocused and hold out to win. BTA came close to equalizing a few times over the remaining couple minutes, but our players held firm to close out the victory. To win in such historic fashion, in such an important game, was only fitting for a team that has fought so bravely to rise to the heights of the Division 1 table, and sets the stage well for the semifinal berth we hope to claim in the next two games.
Following the victory at Fall Festival, BUA Boys' Soccer grabbed another win by beating CCA 3-1 and qualifying for the MBIL playoffs. We are still working out the scheduling details for our first playoff game, but it will likely be next Tuesday. Stay tuned, we'd love your support!
For the fourth consecutive year, BUA is proud to be an exhibitor at the Boston Book Festival in partnership with WBUR. The Boston Book Festival presents year-round events culminating in an annual festival that promotes a culture of literature and ideas, and enhances the vibrancy of our city.
This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 19 in Copley Square from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. BUA will be a stop on the Passport to Imagination Tour, a scavenger hunt where festival-goers can make their way through exhibitors’ booths, taking part in fun activities and picking up stamps along the way. Visitors to our booth can learn more about our school’s academic program, get their hand stamped with a picture of Rhett Jr., or pick up some candy and BUA swag. Be sure to stop by!
For more information about exhibitors at the 2019 Boston Book Festival, visit https://bostonbookfest.org/.
The Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE) is hosting their annual Expo for Families of Color Exploring Independent Schools at Boston University's George Sherman Union - right in BUA's backyard!
Boston University Academy will be hosting a booth where families can learn more about our distinctive academic program and warm, close-knit community of learners. BUA's own Director of Admission Nastaran Hakimi will be part of a panel discussion on the Independent School Admission Process, and Director of Financial Aid Paige Brewster will be a panelist on the Independent Schools Financial Aid Process panel. BUA student volunteers will be available help guide Expo attendees around the GSU.
The event will take place this Sunday, October 6 at 1:00 p.m.Visit this link for more details and to register.
Carlos Martinez will join Boston University Academy as an English Instructor in the fall of 2019. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas in San Antonio and received his doctorate in English from Brandeis University. His dissertation, entitled "Cormac McCarthy and the American Absurd," is a monograph on the author that treats themes associated with Southern and Southwestern American Literature. He has taught writing and literature courses at Purdue University, Brandeis University, Wheelock College, Boston University, Framingham State University, and Newbury College.
This summer, we sat down with Dr. Martinez to learn what makes him tick.
Where did you grow up, and how did that impact who you are today?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, but my family is from a small town near Monterrey, Mexico. I spent much of my youth going back and forth to Mexico, and that helped me appreciate cultural difference on a very personal level. When I started graduate school, I was focused on European Modernism and was interested in a career in Comparative Literature, but I gravitated more and more to my roots, slowly through the process. My dissertation ultimately became about the places I grew up, and my current research and writing is almost exclusively focused on them.
What drew you to English as a discipline?
I’ve always loved story-telling. And reading largely came naturally to me. But my first choice was to become a psychologist like my older brother. But when I started studying psychology in college and interned in a lab, I quickly realized the day-to-day experience of the work was not right for me. Meanwhile, I felt like my mind was being blown the most in my English classes. Then I developed friendships with my literature professors as I worked and studied in the McNair Scholars program, and I never looked back. Since a young age I’d always loved the idea of Literature, the idea that tough novels existed and that reading them would reveal interesting things about the world that could only be arrived at through patience and diligence. Making a career out of it ultimately came out of that love.
Name three things that you can’t live without (oxygen, food, and water don’t count).
The first would be tennis, playing and maybe even watching it. The exercise is great when playing it, obviously (and I can’t seem to motivate myself to do exercise without it), but mainly it’s the camaraderie and the spirit of competition it affords. What I love most about it is that it affords a space to practice in order to improve, and that there will always be room for improvement. Thus, watching tennis often feels like training, since I’m often learning so much about how to improve my own game. And I find watching the sport incredibly exciting at times, especially now that my wife is largely into it also.
In a time not too long ago, music would have come first, playing and listening. But now tennis is at the forefront. Playing music has been one of the most humbling things I’ve ever done. I’m not naturally good at it, so I needed to get outside of my comfort zone to make it work on any level. But listening to music is one of the greatest feelings I experience. I’m currently on a bit of record hunting spree that’s been developing over the last five years. So, now it’s also more active in that I’m often traveling to and then working my way through antique shops and old record stores, rifling through to see if I can find an elusive Peter Gabriel or Badfinger album, or, and this has not yet happened, a stray Smiths single.
This one should have gone first, but it seemed too hokey to put it first, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my family and wife. At every turn I’ve always had at least five people there egging me on: to prioritize education, to push for good schools, then to finish the dissertation, to push to the next level of everything. I never take it for granted, and I also don’t know how to thank them enough.
What are some attributes that make a school great?
This is a biased answer, but I feel the most important thing is for the teachers to care about what they are doing. I’ve been privileged to work at places where all of my closest colleagues were giving everything they had to the job because they fully understood how much needs to go into it in order to make it really work. I think great schools need to be student-centered, and not just trying to keep students or to be meeting requirements. It’s always felt to me that when the teachers are really into what they are doing, then the support teams really start to rally around them, which also seems necessary for a great school. I’ve been very luck to work at places where everyone collaborates and tries to produce the best experience for all of the students. Then, of course, the students feed off of this and really make it great.
Related question: what are some attributes that make a great teacher?
Now all of my answers are feeling hokey, but I do believe that humility is the base of good teaching. I think that much of my training amounted to a ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality, but I was never good at faking things, so this strategy was a tough one for me. From the very beginning, I knew I had so much to learn about how to become a good teacher, and now that I am a little more comfortable with my skills and ability, I find it even more necessary to hold on to my sense that I am still nowhere near where I can be as a teacher. What grounds me, then, and what I think makes teachers great, is the ability to listen to students and teach the students in front of us. I was always so impressed by teachers who seemed to have both an agenda and then an amazing ability to riff off of it, almost like musical improv. It inspired me to want to reread texts to see what else I could wring from them. The best classes for me are those that seem guided by the discussion, and not by a fixed agenda, but that then still cover all the materials I set out to cover.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Gardening, and often intense landscaping, and in a broader scope just home improvements. Ever since we were fortunate enough to ‘own’ where we live, there have been seemingly endless possibilities for things to improve. What I most love about gardening is that just enough care is needed in order to grow things well. And what I love about landscaping and home improvements is that both offer an opportunity to be outside in a focused capacity, and when it’s done I can then marvel at the pristine, finished product.
I’m also really into movies and love going to the Brattle in Harvard.
What were your hobbies and interests in high school?
In high school my first extracurricular activity/priority was music. I started a band my freshman year and spent at least three-to-five days a week practicing and writing. It was, thus far, one of the happiest experiences of artistic collaboration that I have experienced. And then playing shows around town was always so thrilling. I had been collecting and really into music since I was five, and finally being able to be in a band to try to emulate and then expand upon on the stuff I’d been listening to was a major highlight of my youth.
But I also played on the tennis team and kept a fairly busy tennis-playing schedule with friends.
Lastly, I was part of a book-reading circle that pushed each other to read tough books. That took up whatever free time was left. We used to go to an all-night diner, buy the $2 cup of coffee, and just talk about the books through the night. I’m not entirely sure they loved having us there.
What are you binge watching this summer?
When possible, I watch as much of the tennis grand slams as possible. So, I can say I binge-watched a lot of the French Open and then Wimbledon. The U.S. Open, of course, is right around the corner. I don’t try to watch every match, but I often get hooked into very many matches.
But I’m also finally watching GoT. I’m really impressed by it. On the back burner, I have a season and a half of Masterpiece Mystery’s Endeavor to catch up on. And on and on and on. Too much!
Do you have a hidden talent?
This question has really stumped me. I’m not sure I do have a hidden talent, and now I’m thinking I should go and try to get one.
Nutrition aside, if you could choose one food -- and one food only -- to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pasta. Going to Italy for my honeymoon was one of the best experiences of my life. The food in Rome was the best.
What books have you read recently that you would recommend to BUAers?
I really liked Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. It’s the first graphic novel I’ve read, and I can’t say enough great things about it. I would also recommend reading Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives. People seem to either really like or really hate that book, but I think it’s an interesting way to think about the ways that literary author’s lives impact people, and I like that it takes place in Mexico.
Follow-up question: can you name just ONE favorite book?
My all-time favorite book has been The Picture of Dorian Gray, if mainly because it was the first novel I read that seemed so different from anything I had ever thought about or experienced. I had not ever liked or hated characters at the level that book inspired.
What are you most looking forward to at BUA?
I can’t wait to get into the classroom and hear what students have to say about these great texts I’ll be teaching. I was blown away by the discussion the students brought during my teaching demonstration, so I’m itching to start delving into these texts.
To the BUA Community,
I am delighted to be joining the Boston University Academy family and honored to partner with all of you as we chart the future of this extraordinary school.
My visits to campus during the search confirmed what I have known for a long time: BUA is a special place -- a function largely of the people who pass through its doors. I met students whose intellectual ability and curiosity is matched by their empathy and kindness; faculty members who stoke that curiosity while they take the time to get to know each young person as an individual; staff who work hard to create a warm, thriving, dynamic school culture; parents and alumni who embrace the mission and are invested in the future of BUA; and university leaders who are committed to a vision where BU and BUA continue to elevate one another.
BUA is wonderfully positioned to thrive in its second quarter century. Its values resonate far beyond Commonwealth Avenue: unapologetically high academic standards; celebration of intellectual curiosity; knowledge that a small caring community gives students what they need academically and emotionally; a love and respect for tradition; a drive to innovate in order to prepare students for a future we cannot anticipate; an understanding that a diverse, inclusive, equitable community makes us all better. Those priorities are near to my heart and are part of what makes the community so magnetic. BUA also, perhaps uniquely in the landscape of independent schools, benefits from a deep connection with a world-class research university. A small, caring high-school community with access to the college course offerings, thought leaders, facilities, and other resources BU has to offer -- that gives BUA several competitive advantages in the independent-school landscape. More importantly, it provides our students with the best of both worlds.
Thank you to the search committee, its chair, Norm Blanchard, and to Provost Morrison not only for the professionalism and care they showed throughout the process but also for their confidence. I am also grateful to the faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni I have met for showing me the beauty of the community they love so much. My fiancée, Tracey, and I are both Boston natives and excited to be returning home, along with our dog Circe (she is from Mississippi, we think, but roots for Boston sports teams). We look forward to meeting you as we visit over the coming school year and when we formally join the BUA family in July 2020.
Incoming Head of School
Boston University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jean Morrison announced Monday the appointment of Christos Kolovos as Boston University Academy's next Head of School.
Chris Kolovos is Associate Head of School at Greens Farms Academy, an independent, pre-K-12 day school in Westport, CT, which has earned distinction for a rigorous, innovative, globally-minded curriculum that incorporates the surrounding ecosystems, the latest digital tools, and a student-centered approach to teaching and learning. In his six years at Greens Farms Academy, Mr. Kolovos has overseen the school’s academic program, from faculty hiring and professional development to curriculum and accreditation; directed major institutional efforts to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion; spearheaded the creation of a new schedule, service-learning program, and faculty evaluation system; and led the adoption of new courses focused on STEM, sustainability, global studies, and social justice. Mr. Kolovos previously served as Director of Global Education at Belmont Hill School in Belmont, MA, where he chaired the history department and designed programs around global citizenship. Mr. Kolovos is a native of Boston. He attended Roxbury Latin School and then Harvard College, where he graduated magna cum laude with a BA in history. He later earned a law degree at Harvard, while serving as coordinating editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Upon receiving the news of his appointment, Mr. Kolovos shared, “From the moment I stepped onto campus, I knew that BUA was a special place – students who are as kind as they are curious, talented teachers who know and nourish these exceptional young people, parents and alumni who are invested in the school’s success and passionate about the mission, a small, caring community with access to everything a world-class research university has to offer. I am honored to join the BUA family and to have the chance to tell the school’s remarkable story.”
Mr. Kolovos will assume his role of as Head of School in the summer of 2020.
On Monday, May 20, the BUA Class of 2019 received their diplomas at Boston University Academy's 25th Commencement exercise, held at the BU Tsai Performance Center. Boston University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jean Morrison spoke to graduating seniors about the privilege of their education and the special relationship between BUA and BU, and WBUR Morning Edition host Mr. Bob Oakes delivered a keynote address on the importance of civic participation.
The class of 37 graduates will matriculate at the following colleges and universities this fall:
Boston University (10)
Brandeis University (2)
Brown University (2)
The George Washington University
Johns Hopkins University
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Michigan
New York University
Northeastern University (3)
University of Rochester
University of Toronto
The University of Edinburgh
Tufts University (3)
Professional video of the Commencement ceremony is available here. Photographs will be available shortly. Congratulations to the Class of 2019!
Norm Blanchard, chair of the BUA Head of School Search Advisory Committee, sent an update on the head of school search to the BUA community on May 2, 2019.
Boston University Academy students took home a bevy of awards in this year's Small Independent Schools Art League (SISAL) competition. Congratulations to all the winners and entrants! View the winning artwork here.
- Painting, 1st Place: Saoirse Killion '21, “Cole”
- Drawing, 1st Place: Saoirse Killion '21, “Aidan”
- Drawing, 3rd Place: Michelle Lisak '21, Untitled
- Mixed Media, 2nd Place: Sasha Tyutyunik '22 (photomontage)
- Mixed Media, 3rd Place: Irene Mitsiades '21, Untitled
- Digital (Graphic Design), 1st Place: Richard Fu '20, Tuck Design for ’18 Prom playing cards
- Digital (Graphic Design), Honorable Mention: Richard Fu '20, Art is Never…
- Digital (Art/Illustration), 3rd Place: Martin Brunswick '20, District 17
- Fiber Arts, 2nd Place: Irene Mitsiades '21, Starry Knit