Sheena Hilton, Instructor in Chemistry and House Counselor in Paul Revere Hall, will replace Matthew Hession, Instructor in History and Social Sciences, as Dean of Flagstaff Cluster next year, having been selected after a series of interviews. Hession has been serving in the role since the fall of 2011, and his six-year term will be ending this June in accordance with school policy.
During his time as Dean, Hession has tried to foster a closer cluster community by reaching out to and looking after all members of Flagstaff.
“In all honesty, Mr. Hession is one of the people who makes Flagstaff Cluster what it is, a cluster of friendship and empathy. Every single time you go to a munch you have students walk up to him and he knows their names and he says something nice about them. He tries to make their day and cheer them up. He is one of the most understanding adults on campus,” said Abdelaziz Bahnasy ’17.
Hilton, who has been a house counselor in Paul Revere Hall for four years took a leave of absence for the past two years to receive her Master’s Degree from Cornell. Over that time, she has loved her experiences in her dorm. Though she will miss living in Paul Revere, she looks forward to getting to know all members of the Flagstaff community.
“Paul Revere has been my home the whole four years I’ve been in the cluster. I’m very partial to my dorm. I like that it’s big so I get to know a lot of different girls but I also feel that we have a strong community feel within the dorm,” said Hilton.
“I’ll be really sad to leave Paul Revere, but there are more than 200 people in Flagstaff, so it will be nice to be part of a larger group of children’s lives,” she continued.
Because of her time in Paul Revere, Hilton is already familiar with the Flagstaff Cluster. To her, the central location of Flagstaff means that she tends to be in the center of student life on campus.
For Hession, the end of the year will be bittersweet. Without the duties of Cluster Dean, Hession hopes to spend more time and energy with his family come next year. Being the Dean of Flagstaff, however, has shaped not only his own time at Andover but also his family’s, and the past six years will always hold a special place in his memories. At the end of the year, Hession and his family will move out of Newton-Hinman House, where he and his family have lived since his appointment.
“I know I’m going to miss all of the students that I get to be interacting with and sharing time with and there is going to be a longing there,” said Hession. “My son Will has gone from entering this world to turning six years old this summer, so [Andover] has certainly been our home and we’ve made it our home.”
Hession is optimistic about Flagstaff’s future and trusts that Hilton will effectively carry out all of the responsibilities that the job entails.
“I think Ms. Hilton is absolutely tireless in the support she has for kids. I think she is an educator here in school who takes a really strong interest in kids, in thinking about kids, in thinking about their experience here,” said Hession.
“When it comes to thinking about community, whether it be the dorm community that she has been a part of in Paul Revere, whether it’s the cluster community in Flagstaff, or her classroom community, she’s a person who is always thinking about how it is the kids are interacting with each other and the importance of making sure that all of those interactions are positive and that kids are finding meaning in what it is they’re doing,” continued Hession.
Due to the heavy time commitments of the position, Hilton will be dropping one of her Chemistry classes at the start of next year. Hilton hopes to continue fostering a positive cluster culture when she becomes Dean in the fall.
“I think I’d like to maintain and increase the community aspect among Flagstaff. I think a lot of students move here because of the location and it would be nice to maintain the cluster pride that’s already out there and to beef it up a little bit too, hopefully through more cluster munches and smaller munches with just maybe one or two dorms at a time so I can get to know people a lot easier. Same thing for faculty. We don’t have many opportunities to get together as a cluster faculty,” said Hilton.