New Academic Dean Appointed

An insight into Mr. Kardel's new job on the campus

New Academic Dean Appointed

Kerry Huang, Editor


Recently, KUA experienced a change in the Academic Office, which oversees and tracks the individual academic progress of all KUA students. Mr. Kardel, former Dean of Strategic Academic Planning, is now the new Dean of Academics. For the past four years, Mr. Kardel has also been the director of K-Term, KUA’s yearly project-based learning experience.


Kardel had previously been working closely with Mr. Porrazzo, the former Academic Dean. Familiar with the ins and outs of academic procedures, Mr. Kardel has experienced a relatively easy transition from his previous position to his new one. He did, however, acknowledge that there was a fair amount to learn, and he had to do so very quickly since he only started his new job at the beginning of August.


When asked if it is hard to balance the workload between K-Term and academic planning, Mr. Kardel mentioned that Mrs. Diamond, his co-worker on K-term planning, has proven invaluable in maintaining a balance. Although Mrs. Diamond has always collaborated with Mr. Kardel on K-Term planning, she is taking on more responsibility this year and learning about the responsibilities Mr. Kardel used to have. However, Mr. Kardel is “still very much involved” in the program.


As he focuses more of his attention on academic affairs, Mr. Kardel points out that when considering making academic decisions, he believes it is important to “work with the faculty together to figure out what [they] want to do as a group”. He will be “working with the academic department chairs and the faculty to begin to decide which direction we want to take the program in.” Kardel added,“I want everybody to have a voice in that so that they feel like they are participating in it and that they had some decisions to make”.


While focusing on “academics” seems like a straightforward task, it requires a broad range of skills and lenses: Mr. Kardel is responsible for overseeing the rigor of our most advanced students’ course loads as well as the systems of support provided to students with a variety of learning differences. The Learning Center is also a highlight of KUA’s academics, where the students are able to get extra help when they struggle or want to improve.


However, Mr. Kardel also acknowledges some weaknesses of KUA’s academics:“We try to do a lot of things, and I worry that by trying to do so many things, we may not be doing them well,” he said. While it is pretty amazing for a relatively small school to have various academic opportunities, Mr. Kardel sometimes questions,“Are we trying to take on too much, are we spreading ourselves too thin?”


KUA has 19 AP courses. When prospective students are visiting schools, they will be looking for the rigorous classes, and “AP classes communicate [information] very quickly”, said Mr. Kardel. However, he also acknowledged “In some ways [this] is good, but it also means that we are restricted to teaching to a test, which KUA teachers don’t always love doing.” To illustrate his point, Mr. Kardel uses his Spanish Four Honors class as an example. He admitted that if he didn’t have to worry about preparing students for the AP test later on, he would have different ways of approaching the class and make it more engaging. The dilemma is, if the AP courses are taken away, it might push away some potential families. The teaching however, might have the opportunity to be better if the AP courses were disbanded. Therefore, Mr. Kardel encourages the AP teachers to “come up with good ideas [that are] both engaging and helpful for the AP [classes]”.


Students’ voice matter in the Academic Office. This year, a new AP course, AP Economics, was added to the list. According to Mr. Kardel, students went around with a petition to create the course, and it filled two or three sections this year. At the beginning of this school year, the students in AP Physics 2 all wanted to take AP Physics C and they made it happen. Just as Mr. Kardel says, these actions are completely “student-driven”.


KUA looks forward to Mr. Kardel’s academic plans for the future.