Luke Zavala to serve as interim dean of students at Lab middle school


Midway file photo

Luke Zavala throws a baseball inside during the 2019-20 school year.

Amon Gray, Reporter

Luke Zavala, a P.E. teacher and head baseball coach, will serve as the interim dean of students at the middle school this year. Former dean Ryan Allen became middle school principal in July.

Rickey Harris, former dean of students at the nursery and primary schools, was set to be middle school dean for the 2020-21 school year. However, he accepted the job of assistant principal at Whitney Young in late July, so Mr. Zavala was interviewed and offered the job.

Mr. Zavala has been a teacher at Lab since 2014.

In his new position, Mr. Zavala will be responsible for approving new middle school clubs, answering students’ questions and handling discipline.

Mr. Zavala said the school administration and students need to have flexibility as they try new things.

“Some of the new things are going to be great and some aren’t. When we have the ability to be more flexible, I think we can be better as a school, and that goes the same with this new job,” Mr. Zavala said. 

Before teaching at Lab, Mr. Zavala taught at Oak Park River Forest High School, where he helped peer leaders work with students, give presentations and moderate conflicts. 

Mr. Zavala said, “If there were issues that came up between students we had the unique position to put a peer mediator in to help facilitate those discussions instead of there being an adult in the room facilitating them.”

Mr. Zavala anticipates his past experiences will help him fulfill the responsibilities in his new position.

“Conflict resolution is something that I have had a lot of experience at between teaching PE and coaching multiple sports over multiple years along with the idea that conflicts arise when emotions are heightened and trying to help, especially middle schoolers resolve them in a healthy and productive way,” Zavala said. “I think that will lend itself to this new job.”