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Dunnion leaves lasting impact on students, builds tradition

Photo by Hunter Franklin ’19 | Ms. Dunnion, a long time teacher at Brophy, poses in front of  props from her theater productions from Brophy and Xavier.

By Hayden Welty ’19

Mrs. Dorothy Dunnion has been a part of the Brophy faculty for 26 years and has served in a variety of roles from theater director to English teacher to the head of student activities.

Mrs. Dunnion said that she is retiring this year.

In her tenure at the school, she helped found the Big Brother program, started the transitions Mass, expanded the end of the year awards program, ran the theatre program and even direct Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone.

One of Mrs. Dunnion’s English III students, Ben Herstam ’18, said that he thinks they talk more about life than they do literature in Mrs. Dunnion’s class.

“She just makes you think; it’s not just what the literature’s about,” he said. “It goes much deeper and how it pertains to life and the life lessons you can learn from that. She really delves into that and encourages her classes to do so as well.”

Herstam said that she’s one of the best English teachers he’s ever had.

“She’s the best; she’s fabulous,” he said.

Despite accomplishing all this, Mrs. Dunnion said that she did not do it alone and that many people helped all along the way.

Mrs. Dunnion said that she is proud of the impact she has left on theatre program.

“We would have productions that I would think certainly rivaled college productions,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “When I took it over, we would barely have 30 kids audition for a show, and [after I took it over] we would have hundreds audition for every show and our cast for our musicals usually ran between 85 and 105 because so many people wanted to be in it.”

Mrs. Dunnion said she also helped start the annual Summit as an extension of a play the theatre program did called “Dead Man Walking.” She said the first Summit was only a week long, and that it focused the death penalty because of the association with the play.

Similarly, she also started the Big Brother program because some parents were beginning to complain about the fact that big brothers of younger students formed bonds with their siblings and gave them advice and counsel.

Mrs. Dunnion said that she wanted to continue this brotherly bond throughout the school and decided to begin the “Big Brother” program, which is aptly named after the concern that elicited its founding in the first place.

Mrs. Dunnion said that she is especially proud of her English students.

“I’m very proud of my students for whatever tweench [tiny] part I have in any motivation or any excitement that they may have about literature or life because … we talk as much about about life as we do literature in my class,” she said.

Mrs. Dunnion also teaches two sections of Contemporary Humanities, which she has nicknamed “Movies 101.”

“We use movies to inspire us to conversation and reflection about the human condition,” she said. “We get into some really interesting and, I hope, useful conversations and ideas.”

Elliott Magri ’17 has a flex period for his third period, and he audits Mrs. Dunnion’s class every period three instead of taking the hour off, even though he does not receive any credit for the course.

Magri said he really enjoys the class.

“Yeah, you get to watch movies, but she also incites great conversations; a lot of debates go on in that class,” he said. “It’s just good conversation, I’m just constantly growing my knowledge too.”

Magri said he also had the opportunity to bond with Mrs. Dunnion when they went on Kairos together.

“[Mrs. Dunnion] and Mrs. Maynard are two of the sweetest women I’ve ever met in my life, so I think they’re great role models for me,” he said. “You can honestly feel the kindness of their hearts.”
Magri said he thinks Mrs. Dunnion’s presence will be sorely missed on campus after this year.

“You see her walking around, everybody knows her, she smiles at you, waves, says hi,” Magri said. “You’re just going to miss that loving kind of motherly instinct … everybody looks up to her.”

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