Parker School’s New Head-Select

Announcement by David B. Kirk, Ph.D., Board of Directors President

The Parker School Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Mr. Stephen Dunn as head-select, to become the new Parker School Head of School effective July 1, 2020. The Parker School Head Search Committee unanimously recommended Mr. Dunn to the Board of Directors, who subsequently unanimously ratified his selection. This represents the culmination of an intensive international search that included input from the board, faculty, staff, and parents, as well as participation from students and extensive reference checks made by all Head Search Committee members.

The search committee spoke with many people who know Stephen well, and worked closely with him over the years. Stephen is universally described as warm and personable, and a great listener. He is known for strong relationships with faculty, students, and their families. Stephen has proven skills in enrollment, curriculum development, fundraising, financial management, and many other areas that are of critical importance to Parker School. Kindness and a sense of humor are trademarks of his leadership style. Stephen is passionately team-oriented and takes seriously the responsibility of leadership and role modeling as a caring, thoughtful and action-oriented leader. The search committee agreed that Stephen takes a deeply thoughtful approach to collaborative problem-solving.

Parker School has embarked on a vision-setting process, and is asking, “What’s next?” I am eager to help discover the answer to this important question.” – Stephen Dunn’s personal statement.

Stephen grew up in a small, rural ranching community in South Texas. He has spent the majority of his professional career as an educator, both in teaching and administration. After obtaining his BBA in Business Administration and Management and his M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University, Stephen spent some years as an instructor and assistant director of student activities at Texas A&M. At Texas A&M he taught, among other courses, “Seven Habits for Highly Effective Student Leaders” and “Freshman Leadership Development”.  Subsequently, he spent nearly 10 years in the private sector at several companies in New England, in software development, project management, and various executive and leadership positions.

In 2007, Stephen joined Ethel Walker School, a 100+ year old traditional girls’ boarding school in Connecticut. He served first as Director of Technology, and soon afterward became Assistant Head of School and eventually Interim Head of School for one year. During his tenure at Ethel Walker, Stephen led many important initiatives, including board-endorsed reshaping of curriculum, and technological transformation of school systems. He taught an 11th-grade design thinking seminar and a 9th-grade computational thinking seminar. In addition, he brought a $50M capital campaign to closure during his interim Head of School year and oversaw the construction of a 62,000 sq. ft. athletic & wellness facility. These experiences and the skills that Stephen has developed will serve Parker School well.

Stephen joined The Nueva School in 2016. In a highly competitive Silicon Valley market, enrollment increased by 20% during his tenure. The program at Nueva focuses on innovation, inquiry, independence, and project-based learning. We are confident that Stephen will use this background to lead Parker School to thoughtfully incorporate these ideas to improve our students’ educational experiences, where appropriate.

Stephen and his wife, Dr. Sheri Lyn Schmidt, have one son, Jason, who lives in Bozeman, MT. Sheri’s Ph.D. is in social justice, and it was a position at U. Mass. that took her and Stephen to the Boston area. Sheri and Stephen have been visiting Sheri’s family on Hawaii Island for twenty-six years and have fallen in love with the Waimea community. 

Stephen and Sheri visited Parker School and received a brief campus tour in April. “We left campus knowing it would be a personal and professional privilege to join the school community.”  During their campus visit, Stephen and his wife were particularly struck by the enthusiasm and warmth of Parker School. We will continue to prepare and to welcome them over the remainder of the coming year. Stephen will officially assume his responsibilities as Parker School’s Head of School on July 1, 2020.

Although my wife and I currently live in California, we consider Hawai‘i our home. My wife spent her childhood in Honolulu and most of her immediate family are long-time residents of the Big Island. We spend as much time as possible on the island and purchased property near Waimea in 2013 knowing that someday we wanted to live on the island that we love. We have come to the conclusion that “someday” has arrived.” – Stephen Dunn’s personal statement

We are thrilled to have attracted a leader with Stephen’s experience, education, and passion for educating the whole child. The Board of Directors would like to extend its sincere thanks to the many parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and students who participated in this process. I would also like to extend special thanks for their efforts to the Head Search Committee Chair and Board Vice President Mimi Kerley, Co-Chair and Board member Gerrit Keator, and the rest of the very dedicated and capable Head Search Committee. They put in countless hours of hard work to make the best selection possible.

Please join me in welcoming Stephen and his family to the Parker School ‘Ohana and the Waimea community!


David B. Kirk
President, Board of Directors

Transition Committee Members