The Loomis Chaffee School welcomed newly-appointed Dean of Students Jessica Matzkin and her family to the Island this month in advance of the new school year.
Jessica’s career in education began with teaching Spanish in public and independent day and boarding schools on the East Coast, including The Taft School, her alma mater. She also taught for a time in Mexico. More recently, Jessica served as a dean of students at Blair Academy in northern New Jersey, and she comes to Loomis from Thayer Academy near Boston, where she was director of counseling.
“I love working with teenagers — they’re so interesting and fun. I really enjoy having conversations with them and guiding them,” Jessica said. Listening, helping students solve problems, and helping students connect with faculty and each other are the primary aims of her role as a dean, according to Jessica.
She looks forward to taking part in programs addressing this year’s all-school theme of “Belonging” which she says speaks to the core of the deans’ work with students. As the primary dean for the junior class this year, she said she hopes to help the juniors grow in understanding that they “belong to each other,” both as individuals and as a larger part of the school community, so that they form relationships that will endure long after they graduate in 2021.
Jessica stressed the importance of good communication in forging relationships and in leading a successful personal and professional life. Face-to-face interactions are crucial for developing social skills, especially at a time when people tend to “hide behind their screens,” she said. And daily life at a school like Loomis enables these in-person interactions regularly — in classrooms, in the dining hall, on the playing fields, and in the dorms. Jessica plans to help students develop their communication skills, including their abilities to self-advocate and to approach difficult conversations effectively with peers and with adults.
Jessica earned a bachelor’s degree from Colby College; a master’s degree in American studies from the University of Wyoming; and a master’s degree in social work from Boston College. Her family, including her spouse and her three children, entering grades eight, six, and four, are a little nervous about moving to Connecticut from their home in Massachusetts, but Jessica, who was both a day and a boarding student in high school, is excited that her family will be part of the dynamic, educational community at Loomis Chaffee. She said she’s looking forward to embarking on a journey to graduation alongside this year’s junior class.