College Counseling and Alumni Relations

By Bart Gummere, Upper School Head

WHEN I WAS FIFTEEN, THERE WAS ONE line of work I knew I’d never pursue: education. More specifically, I could not imagine a career revolving around college admissions. You see, my father was the Dean of Admissions at the college in our town. I was sure I was going to carve my own distinct path.

My career in the world of college admissions started innocently enough. Approached in my senior year by the dean at my own college about a job in his office, I quickly agreed (girlfriend, more skiing). The appeal of both waned, but I still stayed on, having to admit that I actually loved the profession.

Thirty-six years have passed. It’s been gratifying to switch from a college to a high school; it’s much better to advocate than deny. It’s also been a privilege to develop into increasingly diverse and complicated roles in my schools. Throughout, though, I’ve never fully let go of the college admissions world. The role of college counselor has always been some portion of my job. I could comment at length on the privilege of interacting professionally—sharing friends and experiences—with my father all that time, but that is likely the fodder for a different essay. To get to the point, when Terry Macaluso asked me if I’d like a new role combining my two great joys—the students, past and present, of EPS and the rite of passage that is college admissions—I agreed in seconds.

Our graduates to this day emerge from high school with the most valuable skill: confidence in who they are and in the direction they are choosing for their future education.

Our staffing in the College Counseling office is unique and reflective of the willingness to innovate here at Eastside Prep. It’s my strong belief that we are building a program that will serve as a model to be emulated by other schools. I’m thrilled to have more time going forward to lead this program. Crafting and developing strong alumni relations is important in any school, and here it will also be an integral part of our College Counseling program.

Mr. Gummere with alumni in Boston.

Our graduates to this day emerge from high school with the most valuable skill: confidence in who they are and in the direction they are choosing for their future education. Part of my new role is to better connect with our alumni. I want to see in real time how that confidence and direction is playing out. In many schools, graduates are proudly sent off to college, and little is done to follow up on how they are doing over the next four years. My first focus will be to connect with our graduates in more detail while they are in college. Feedback from our graduates is now often anecdotal, gathered during college campus visits or more often when students choose to return to our campus. I’ll be charged with developing systems to communicate more consistently, and more deeply, with our alumni. One goal is to better gauge how their experiences and education at EPS are impacting their experiences and education while in college. Our hope is not just to better inform our College Counseling program, but to better inform our whole educational approach. I know of no other school doing this and trust it will help EPS continue to innovate wisely and put forth the best educational product possible.

I can’t write fully on my new role at Eastside Prep without reflecting some on my thirteen years as Upper School Head. I came to EPS in 2006 and it looked little as it does now. It included a few piecemeal classrooms, located in some lightly renovated buildings within an office park. Twenty-three students populated our ninth and tenth grades. Eastside Prep was a young school and much smaller than my previous experiences. I was drawn by the design of the education, the simplicity of the mission, and the shared enthusiasm of the employees. The happy continuation of those foundations now plays out daily.

I reminisce fondly on our beginnings, and I could not be more excited for our future and my new job. Already as I connect with our young alumni, their enthusiasm for EPS remains palpable. However, when many of our alumni return to campus, they have a hard time seeing their old school still here. Who can blame them? Most of the original buildings are gone, and the scale of the new campus is nothing like what they remember. What is still the same is the relationship of the faculty and students; the curiosity fostered in the classrooms; and the ability to choose from a rich, diverse curriculum. EPS remains committed to helping students find their best, true selves and to providing multiple definitions of, and paths to, success. It will be my job, and pleasure, to reconnect these young adults with the school, and show them ways in which they can continue to be part of this community.