Interim Dean of Students Brooks Johnson has been a key part of the Dublin School community for the last decade. Under his direction, the Dublin athletic program became a force in the small school world for the first time. As time has gone by, he has wondered how he could do more to help the school. "I like Brad's (Head of School Brad Bates) vision that everyone is a teacher. I like teaching and I like the students..."
So when Simon McFall decided to return to the West this summer, Brooks put his hand up and volunteered to take on the Dean of Students role. Having worked in residential life with three former deans, Brooks is taking the best of what each of them did as he implements his style. To Brooks, it all depends upon trust. "With all of the physical change on campus, its critical that our culture not change. The students here have been key in building and protecting our culture. It's my job to support them and make sure they don't get off track. You know, they need to be kids too..."
When he talks about the inevitable mistakes that students (and adults) make, he views those in the first instance as teaching moments rather than discipline moments. "We have to leave room for mistakes - we should be learning from those. I am appreciative of those moments as they give me a chance to talk and connect. "
When he thinks about the challenges, one thing sticks out. "Everyone is going to have a bad day. Sometimes you need support. But sometimes you just need to have a bad day. Dublin is a really hard place to have a bad day. Because we are small, everything is noticeable. In our culture, everyone is pretty positive. The contrast between students that are being positive and those having a bad day can be tough. It can be pretty draining. There is a real difference between empathy and encouragement. It's one thing to be heard, and another to be told not to feel a certain way. It is important for us to be mindful of that difference."