‘I am channeling my inner Archer girl’: Middle School Director, Assistant Head Pavliscak to become Associate Head


Photo credit: Courtesy of Archer Communications

Eighth graders Uma Bajaj, Karen Pavliscak, Daisy Marmur, Genevieve Sieve, Sydney Frank, Juliet Katz, Zoe Woolenberg and Margaret Morris sit with Pavliscak on the front steps. Pavliscak is currently serving as Middle School director and Assistant Head of School and will assume the role of Associate Head at the beginning of July.

Fear. Excitement. Dogs. These are three things incoming Associate Head of School and current Middle School Director and Assistant Head Karen Pavliscak said are important to her new role.

On March 5, community members received an email that announced Pavliscak’s new position and stated that she would be assuming the position starting July 1. The Oracle sat down with Pavliscak and Head of School Elizabeth English to discuss Pavliscak’s transition to Associate Head.

Pavliscak emphasized both her enthusiasm for her new role as well as her nervousness surrounding it. She described taking on this role as an experience of “joy of possibility but also fear” because she wants to do a “really good job.”

“I feel like Archer girls before NOLS. I’m excited, scared, anxious, happy [and] nervous, ” Pavliscak said. “It’s sometimes hard to tell — when you’re taking on a new challenge — whether that anxiousness is excitement or fear, and change is scary, and I care so much about this school …I want to lean into leadership, and so I am channeling my inner Archer girl.”

As for what the job entails, English explained both the details of the job of the Associate Head and why the position was created in the first place. English said that the Associate Head would help launch new programs and initiatives to attract and retain teachers.

“I just want to be more analytical about what we do,” English said. “I think it will be initiatives like that [which] will really benefit from the strategic partnership with an Associate Head.”

Pavilscak said that the “big picture” of these programs and initiatives excite her, and she is also looking forward to working more closely with English as the associate head.

“Ms. English is a true inspiration as a dynamic, innovative, forward-thinking leader. She is elegant and she is incredibly intelligent and she has a vision that inspires my daily actions and my big-picture planning,” Pavliscak said. “It is an absolute honor to get a chance to be her strategic partner.” 

Pavliscak and English have worked together in the past and explained that their partnership is a strong one.

“We both love dogs, we both have a similar taste in mid-century modern, we both really enjoy the creative process,” Pavliscak said. “I’m inspired when I see her speak publically — she has such charisma and eloquence — but she’s really fun, and I think that’s probably the most powerful component to a partnership…you enjoy being around each other.”

English echoed Pavliscak’s excitement surrounding their collaboration, emphasizing fun as an important part of their teamwork.

“[Pavliscak] is a wildly creative person. She is very future-facing in her perspectives, she’s obviously hilariously funny which is fun, but I think the main thing is that she’s very bold in her thinking,” English said. “I think we complement each other… I like that she pushes me to think in new ways… beyond boundaries that I might see.”

Pavliscak recognized that this is a big change, but with her experience at Archer, passion for Archer’s mission and commitment to innovative thinking, she will continue to “stretch and strengthen” her skills and “support” the school’s vision.

“I tell girls all day long, you’ve got to lean in, you’ve got to stretch your skill, you can’t shy away from challenge and you’ve got to wrestle with uncertainty and find solutions,” Pavliscak said. “That’s what my job is going to be all about and I’m really excited and I am, I would say, inspired by how Archer girls do that nearly every day here and now… I want to do it for Archer and for them.”

On May 9, community members received an email that Middle School Math Department Chair Jemma Kennedy will be taking over Pavliscak’s role as Middle School Director beginning July 1. The Oracle will provide in-depth coverage about this transition in the future.

Correction (May 16, 6:21 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Head of School Elizabeth English’s sabbatical would occur next fall. According to English, her sabbatical will likely occur next spring.