Over winter break, Meredith Herrera, former dean of student life, departed Branson. She vacated a position vital to the Branson student experience.
On Herrera’s recommendation, Sabrina Wilson took on the role of interim dean of student life. Wilson taught Spanish at Branson for 15 years and truly has a passion for adolescent education. However, she did not always have her sights set on teaching.
“When I graduated from high school, I was gonna be a dancer. I went off to Belgium,” Wilson said. “My best friend was Argentinian and she would speak to me in Spanish — so I started to learn Spanish with her.”
After returning to the United States and pursuing a Harvard Ph.D. in romance languages, she found her purpose in education. A friend of hers recommended teaching at an independent school and — given she has family in California — Branson was a perfect fit.
“What I love about being a teacher is just the give and take. Learning from you guys, having fun in the classroom, and hearing ideas I hadn’t thought about,” Wilson said. “Witnessing students grow!”
The dean of student life opening presented an interesting opportunity for challenge and personal growth while preserving that student connection.
“I wasn’t as much looking for an administrative position as it was that I’d been teaching Spanish for a really long time, I love education, and I’m curious,” Wilson said. “Meredith asked me if I would be interim and, after talking with her a lot, I said ‘yes!’ Because I really like being class dean, working with students, and figuring out what they need to feel happy.”
But, taking over as interim is challenging — especially halfway through a year so logistically complicated. Nevertheless, Wilson was up to the task.
“It’s a lot of stuff coming at once and there’s things that happen that you cannot plan for,” she said, but “my favorite parts are connecting with families, advocating for students, meeting with [the Student Life Advisory Board], Helena and Foster and just connecting with people [in a way that was harder as a Spanish teacher].”
The future is still somewhat uncertain for Wilson, especially in times like these.
“I’m applying for the job!” Wilson said, “I’ll be excited either way because I would still be class dean and teaching — I love teaching! No matter what, I’m going to be learning things and if I get the job then I’m really excited to step up to that.
Regardless of what comes next, this school year is still far from over.
“There might be some fun competitions and I’m excited to integrate community engagement into the school as more than just an appendage,” said Wilson. “My doors are super open for thoughts, concerns, and conversations!”