The Westword sat down with Mr. Tom Pereira, Westhill’s Dean of Students, on his last day on duty at the hill.
The Westword: How many years have you been working at Westhill?
Mr. Tom Pereira: This would have been my 15th year, so 14 whole years.
TW: How and why did you become the Dean of Students at Westhill?
TP: I interviewed for it. The job opened up when Ms. Obis became the interim principal at AITE and that is similar to the career trajectory I wanted to follow. It was a good opportunity for me so I applied for it. I am the second-ever dean in the district.
TW: What did you do as Dean?
TP: It was different day to day but my main responsibilities were assigning the substitute teachers, and working closely with administration and the SRO’s on cases of discipline. I did attendance appeals, everyone knows that. Obviously, it depended but those are the major things I did.
TW: Have you ever worked at different schools?
TP: I did one year at Masuk High School in Monroe as a student-teacher. For the most part, my professional career has been at Westhill.
TW: How would you compare Westhill to those schools?
TP: It is different because they are different communities. Westhill is a lot more diverse than it is in Monroe. Every school has its strengths, and Masuk is definitely smaller.
TW: What is the position you are moving to?
TP: I am going to be what is known as the Dean of Student Life. It is an administrative position where I oversee five house deans, the office of student activities, and I handle the majority of disciplinary cases. I also act as the community liaison for the agencies that come to help the current high school students.
TW: Were you always interested in education and administration?
TP: My start definitely was something that grew on me when I was a teacher, and I hope one day to be the principal of a school. This is a great opportunity to help me on my career journey.
TW: How has Westhill changed since you started working at WHS?
TP: It has gotten bigger. When I first started here, there was no freshman wing. When it was added on, I was one of the first teachers in the freshman program. It also got more technological. All you guys have laptops now and Promethean boards. I would say those are some of the most major changes around the school. I see a lot of younger siblings and people that I used to teach coming back now, whether they are subbing or actually teaching.
TW: What is the deal with the hawaiian shirts?
TP: That is my thing in the springtime, wearing a lot of hawaiian shirts. For my going away, everybody decided to wear a Hawaiian shirt- many of which I had to bring in for them.
TW: What was your favorite moment at Westhill?
TP: A ton of them, it is hard to narrow it down to one moment. I just really enjoyed coming to work here every day. I have met a lot of my friends and family here. Some of my favorite moments were coming in with Ms. Tobin and driving together every morning, as well as being able to pass by all my friend’s classrooms. It is hard to limit it to one moment!
TW: What will you miss most about Westhill?
TP: The camaraderie between the staff and the students.
TW: Do you have a message for the students?
TP: Use every opportunity that is given to you, positive or negative, to grow and learn. Always strive to move forward and try to be better than you were the day before. That is the biggest thing. As long as you are growing and moving forward you will do great things.
TW: What about the staff here?
TP: I love all the staff here. They are great and always have the best interest of the students in mind. Just keep on doing what you are doing. I know that students who come to Westhill get a great education from this staff who care deeply.
TW: Is there anything else you would like to say to the Westhill community?
TP: Just keep going Westhill, nothing can kill the hill!