by Ellyssa Jeong and Anya Lefkowitz, Centerfold Editors
photo by Hedi Skali
Faculty members rise to the challenges of a remote learning community and are going above and beyond to help their students. Hardiman, pictured above, works from his office at South
In a year unlike any other, many have stepped up to fulfill roles outside of their job description, but none so much as club and activity coordinator, counselor and now-Interim Vice Principal Christopher Hardiman. Each day, Hardiman attends Zoom meetings with the School Committee and students, sends countless emails to families, plans school functions and interacts with custodians about building issues, all while maintaining the roles of Goldrick house counselor and club coordinator.
For the past two years, Hardiman has acted as interim vice principal. This year he is a 0.75 Full-Time Employee (FTE) vice-principal and a 0.25 FTE counselor, advising 45 juniors. Due to the all-encompassing nature of his position, Hardman said he best describes his job as communications director and operations manager at South, a role that leaves him as the “go-to person when people don’t know who to ask.”
“There are some frustrated parents and teachers who want information as quickly as they can get it, and they just haven’t been able to get it. Sometimes that frustration gets sent back to me, even though I don’t make all the decisions, and I’m only one person on an administrative team,” he said.
Hardiman said that he understands their frustration, as the lack of a solid schedule affects teachers’ and families’ future plans.
Although his fairly new position has presented unforeseen obstacles, Hardiman said he enjoys working with the administrative staff, which allows him to see South from a different perspective than was previously afforded to him.
“I’ve learned a lot in this job,” he said. “When you’re an administrator, you see things from a much different, much broader view than you do as a counselor or a teacher.”
Among his many responsibilities, Hardiman said his top priority will always be the needs of South students.
“‘I’m always here, even though the vice principal job is a big one, and I don’t want you to feel like you can never see me or talk to me,’” he said he told the seniors whom he counseled last year. “I had some students that had some significant personal struggles, and I’m proud to say that I feel like I gave a lot of time to those students in particular and pushed other things aside. To say that I had to put some things off to the side knowing that I had students in crisis didn’t matter as much because to me [because] working in a school is about the students.”
Hardiman said his role wouldn’t feel complete without student counseling.
“I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed doing this job as much as I have if I was not able to keep a group of students on my caseload,” he said.
History teacher and South alumnus parent Rachael McNally said that Hardiman has proven to be compassionate and eager to help students.
“He was my son’s counselor, and now I know firsthand as a mom how helpful Mr. Hardiman was during the college process,” she said. “For my advisory, I have juniors, and Mr. Hardiman is back with them this year and will be with them next year. The other day I was singing his praises because he takes a somewhat-overwhelming process and makes it feel quite manageable. And he’s just full of wisdom and caring for all of the students.”
As vice principal, Hardiman said he hopes to ultimately transform South’s competitive nature into a more nurturing one.
“I’ve been grateful that I’ve been asked to be in this position and to help Newton South try to stay the course and change the culture at the same time,” he said.