By Dara Levy
The BOE appointed Ms. Maureen Mazzarese and Ms. Christine Hough to the positions of Coordinator of Counseling K-12 and Head Counselor 9-12, respectively, to replace former Director of Guidance Dr. Richard Charwin. The unanimous decision was announced during the Aug. 30 BOE meeting, less than a month after Charwin’s resignation.
Resigning 11 days shy of working a full year in Westfield, Charwin is the fourth consecutive Director of Guidance to have served for less than a year. Charwin left to fill the Director of Pupil Personnel Services position at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. According to BOE President Julia Walker, Charwin’s leave came as a surprise.
According to Walker, the BOE decided to split Charwin’s responsibilities because the department needed certain functions assigned immediately, with many counselors already busy. Filling Charwin’s position was about “leveraging the talent in the high school,” said Walker.
Mazzarese has worked at WHS for the past 23 years, most recently as the Student Assistance Counselor and Project ’79 Guidance Counselor. She was also coordinator of the Transition Project, a post which she says she reluctantly gave up upon her new appointment.
According to Mazzarese, the bulk of her work will still take place at WHS, though some tasks must be delegated to other counselors as she takes on new responsibilities.
She said: “As someone who’s been in the department, I felt confident not stepping into unknown. I’m new to this position, but certainly not new to the school, course of studies…or most importantly to the kids.”
Hough is not new to the WHS guidance department either. Her added responsibilities include department organization and coordination of evening events.
Said Mazzarese, “[Hough] is an essential person in the leadership of this department.”
Hough said she looks forward to working with Mazzarese. “[The guidance department] has had a great start to the year and I am looking forward to a fantastic year ahead,” said Hough.
Mazzarese said the guidance department will “continue to work the best that it can for students in all areas-- academic, college, career, social and emotional counseling.” Mazzarese said that the new structure will allow for improvements to the school community.
Walker acknowledged the guidance department’s frequent turnover in leadership over the last five years. “The Board has certainly asked a lot of questions about why and what can be done by the Board so that position becomes more stable,” said Walker.
Some students are concerned by the lack of a steady Director of Guidance. Senior Alix Jason said that having four leaders in four years was disappointing.
She said: “It worries me that while school is in full swing, the guidance department is still adjusting to its newest addition…. It seemed like when I was ready, the department wasn’t.”
Junior Kendall Reid said that by passing the job from one person to another, “things fall through the cracks.” He said consistency would help the guidance department improve and become more efficient.
Despite concerns about inconsistency, Walker remained confident that the new system would ultimately benefit students. Walker said: “Every change brings an opportunity to learn how to better the status quo.... As always, the goal is to provide the high school with a strong guidance department.”