New Additions: Stephen Dunn

Oct 11, 2016 | Features, Profiles

Three months ago, Stephen Dunn packed his bags, stepped out the door, and left everything he had known for the last nine years in the dust. He was leaving behind a leadership position at the Ethel Walker School, where he had not just led, but changed the way the school had operated for decades. He was moving his family and livelihood nearly three thousand miles across the country for the opportunity to be our new Head of School.

Education has always been a keystone in Stephen’s life, setting him on a path that would eventually lead to Maverick blue. He attended Texas A&M University, where he received his Masters Degree in Education. Afterwards, he decided to keep building up the institution that had done so much for him, joining the A&M faculty as a professor. In his own words, the gap between, “how [he] wanted to learn and how [he] was able to learn”, was frustrating for an aspiring scholar.

Having already faced the issue himself, he set out to help future students avoid the pitfall of limited resources. After he left his position as a professor , Stephen dabbled in software development before turning to products management for a time. It’s even possible he learned the secret to using Canvas during this time.

Stephen had heard of the Nueva School before he applied for the job. Four years ago, as a community leader at his old school, Ethel Walker, Stephen decided the 100 year old educational system being used simply wasn’t a modern enough model of learning. Due to this, he began a deep investigation of several progressive institutions across the country, including Nueva. Drawing from many traits from many schools (including Nueva), Stephen was able to implement a full system reform. He even managed to give Ethel Walker a program similar to our Intersession, called J-Term.

Stephen described himself as, “in awe”, of the relationship Diane possesses with every student, and hopes to emulate this with time.

After coming such a rich background, Stephen finds himself sitting in a well-aerated office on the first floor, with massive panes of glass acting as the only separation between him and the rest of the school. “I like to have conversations and get to know people”, he said when the topic of the glass office came up. Stephen keeps his door unlocked and his time free to talk with anyone who would like to discuss school matters or just introduce themselves.

Considering the all-encompassing rigor of running a high school, Stephen spends much of his time dedicated to slowly getting to know the student body better. Speaking of student-admin relationships, Stephen described himself as, “in awe”, of the relationship Diane possesses with every student, and hopes to emulate this with time.

When asked about his long-term goals for the school, Stephen spoke of polishing and perfecting the curriculum we currently use, something he has done with great success in his own past. He showed keen interest in uniting the Science of Mind, service learning, and social justice programs at our school over time, to

deliver a more cohesive and streamlined version of what we currently have.

Stephen Dunn has more than a few hidden quirks to him. For example, he rides not one, but two motorcycles in his spare time and has a passion for dirt biking with his son on the weekends. Additionally, no student could possibly forget his iconic dab at our first all-school assembly of the year. When questioned, Stephen explained that he had intended to whip as well. Presumably the ensuing hype overload might have caused the ceiling to collapse, so in the interest of safety, he sheathed his dance moves for the time being. Stephen is a man who likes to have fun.

Apart from that, Stephen is frequently taken back by the consistent attitude of students not avoiding education, but rather demanding more. Finding the students remarkable and the school revolutionary, Stephen is ready, willing, and able to support Nueva in changing the face of education across the nation.