New head of Overlake brings varied experience to school
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
August 15, 2012 · Updated 12:02 PM
Matt Horvat lived in Boston the first time he taught in front of a class.
He was coaching a high school rowing team and stepped in as a substitute math teacher. Horvat was attending Boston University (BU) and earning an advanced degree in mathematics at the time, so he thought his knowledge on the subject would make him an excellent math teacher.
He was wrong.
"Actually," he admitted with a laugh, "I was not really good at it."
Despite having subpar teaching skills back then, Horvat had a lot of fun working with the kids. So much so that it marked the beginning of an almost 20-year career in education, which has now brought him to Redmond where he is the new head of school for The Overlake School.
AN APPEALING SCHOOL
Horvat started his new job July 2 and replaces Francisco J. Grijalva, who stepped down June 30 after 17 years as Overlake's head.
Horvat, who holds a bachelor's degree in non-western history from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in mathematics education from BU, said one of the reasons he took the job was because Overlake is in such great shape, is so well organized and well managed financially.
"All of that, it's a testament to Frank," he said about his predecessor.
Horvat said the school's mission and commitment to service also resonated with him. He said the notion of service is not an extra entity at Overlake. It is engrained in the school culture.
"That's really appealing to me," he said.
Horvat has seen this manifested in the form of Overlake alums who have contacted him after he started his new job. He said service was something that came up in all of those conversations.
"They see themselves as being part of the community they live in," he said about the former Overlake students.
A VARIED BACKGROUND
Before coming to Overlake, Horvat spent six years as the principal of the high school at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school with students ranging from preschool to high school. He has worked in New York as the head of the Upper School at the Browning School, dean of students at the Collegiate School and a math and computer science teacher at The Chapin School. Horvat also taught math and computer science at the Taipei American School in Taiwan and the Noble and Greenough School in Massachusetts.
His new job at Overlake — whose students range from grades 5-12 — is the first time he has been the head of school.
"I believe Matt brings solid educational credentials and experience to the position," Grijalva said. "While he was not previously a head of school, he has taken every opportunity to prepare himself for this major responsibility and I have every confidence that he will be a terrific steward in this next stage of Overlake's development."
Grijalva said as the outgoing head of school he was not involved in selecting his successor, but he did meet the finalists so he could answer any questions they had about Overlake and provide information as they made their decisions on whether they wanted to be considered for the job.
"I enjoyed meeting Matt during our two interview sessions and was happy to provide him the answers to the questions he had on his mind," Grijalva said. "We got along great and the relationship was very professional."
A BIG MOVE
Horvat was selected and accepted the position in November 2011 and in preparing for his move, said he and Grijalva spoke frequently so he was kept in the loop.
Although he said Overlake is an ideal place for a first-time head of school, Horvat did not make his decision lightly. He discussed things with his wife, who is a writer and works for charter schools in the Bronx of New York and nonprofit charter schools in California, and said he wouldn't have accepted the position if she said no.
The couple also had to consider moving their two sons, who will enter the sixth and first grades, to a very different part of the country.
"Both of my sons were very much city dwellers," said Horvat, whose oldest son will be attending Overlake this fall.
Horvat said he has lived in urban cities since he was 18 or 19 so moving to an area with so much green space, which he described as "really beautiful, stunningly beautiful," has taken some getting used to.
"It's going to take me awhile," he said.
Classes at Overlake begin Aug. 27.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.