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Meet Matthew Horvat: Incoming Head of School shares leadership philosophy, aspirations

Replacing+interim+Head+of+School+Coreen+Hester%2C+Matthew+Horvat+will+assume+the+Head+of+School+position+effective+July+1.+As+an+introduction+to+the+school+community%2C+Horvat+answers+a+range+of+questions+surrounding+his+leadership+philosophy%2C+background+and+aspirations.
Photo used with permission from Luke Pickering
Replacing interim Head of School Coreen Hester, Matthew Horvat will assume the Head of School position effective July 1. As an introduction to the school community, Horvat answers a range of questions surrounding his leadership philosophy, background and aspirations.

Incoming Head of School Matthew Horvat visited the school April 3-5, meeting with various student groups and other members of the community. Horvat will assume the Head of School position effective July 1, according to an email sent to the community by the Head of School Search Committee Oct. 26. As an introduction to the school community, Horvat answers a range of questions surrounding his leadership philosophy, background and aspirations:

What aspects of or lessons from athleticism also resonate with your role as a leader?

Rowing really required teamwork. It’s nine people working together towards one goal. If one person stopped, you were all doomed. You had to work as a team, certainly when you were out in the boat. Then, you also had to work as a team outside. So, you had to sort of get along with each other and support each other, whether that was training or even just making sure that people were okay even if they were just struggling in school.

It’s also a lot of training for a very short competition. You spend way more hours training than you do actually competing, so you have to be willing to do that training and learn persistence. It’s one of those sports where you have to kind of welcome pain. That’s a leadership skill. 

You have to be comfortable putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, which is like leadership. People have questions about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You’re going to be in an uncomfortable situation.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be? 

Family, funny and thoughtful. 

When you face a roadblock, you can’t say, ‘Oh, I quit’ and instead think about, ‘How am I gonna get over this?’

Who is a teacher or professor who has had an impact on you?

I had an eighth-grade algebra teacher and his name was Nick Kueneny. I went to an all-boys school in Philadelphia, which was very different from here. All of my family is good in STEM and I’m the youngest of six. I got to ninth-grade algebra and I wasn’t very good. 

It was the first time I took a STEM type of class, and I was actually not even very good, but I was terrible. My teacher really helped me through it. He was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna figure out and get you better at this.’ He spent a lot of time with me. I then realized to never make assumptions that you’re good at something. You actually have to work at it. When you face a roadblock, you can’t say, ‘Oh, I quit’ and instead think about, ‘How am I gonna get over this?’ He was a great teacher and a really caring person.

How are you feeling about joining the ASL community?

Really excited. What a great school. When I interviewed with the search firm for this position, I said I’m at a really good school and I would only leave here for a place like ASL. 

What are your primary goals for the school in the upcoming year?

I’ll first spend some time just understanding how the school operates, understand processes, you know, how we do things here. From that, I’ll see where there are places to make positive change for students.

What do you foresee being your biggest challenges as the Head of School?

I’m in the kid business. I wouldn’t want to be working in any other place.

It’s a big school, so just managing a big school. It’s 1,400 students as well as lots of faculty and staff, an eager and engaged parent body and alums who care really about the school too.

What do you believe are the most important qualities for a head of school to exhibit?

You have to be an excellent listener. You have to have empathy and you have to be able to make decisions and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this.’ You need to give the reason and have good information about why you’re making certain decisions, but make decisions. Saying ‘We’re going to continue to think about it’ is the worst thing you can do. Everyone then wonders if we’re going left, right or straight, like, which direction are we moving? 

With good information, you should make good decisions. You have to really fundamentally believe in the organization. And, of course, I’m in the kid business. I wouldn’t want to be working in any other place. I really like working in schools. I wouldn’t imagine working in any other industry.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m really excited to come here. I’ve been with students, teachers and families and met with a variety of people that just have increased my enthusiasm.

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About the Contributor
Grace Hamilton
Grace Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief
Grace Hamilton (’23) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Standard. Her love for writing stemmed into a passion for journalism, and she became involved with The Standard in Grade 9. Journalism provides her a powerful platform to inform the ASL community and learn more about local and global perspectives, issues and events. Outside of journalism, Hamilton leads the Sustainability Council, writes creatively and sails competitively.

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