Photo by Jose Cardenas ’16 – Mrs. Dorothy Dunnion talks about subject and verb agreement in sentences Aug. 27. Mrs. Dunnion teaches English 3 and Contemporary Humanities.
By Jose Cardenas ’16
Students know that a class lives and dies by its teacher, and those who have her say that the classes of Mrs. Dorothy Dunnion not only live but thrive.
She balances the role of an educator with the role of an entertainer, keeping students both informed and engaged.
“Her personality reflects really well in how she taught,” said Ian Bolton ’16. “She really makes it obvious that she wanted students in her class to succeed, and would feel let down if one of them ever failed.”
Mrs. Dunnion has been teaching at Brophy for 25 years since 1991. She first discovered Brophy when searching through high schools for her son Greg Dunnion ’92.
“We moved here from New York when he was four,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “I came with my big eastern bias and started looking for high schools, which I thought give him access to a highly competitive college. In every place I went to ask, the answer was always Brophy.”
Her son made many accomplishments such as making varsity diving and being the writer of the words to the fight song hanging in the gym.
Long after his graduation, Mrs. Dunnion continues her career as one of Brophy’s most beloved instructors.
She teaches English III, a full-year course, and Contemporary Humanities, a half-credit fine art elective.
Even though these two classes are different, with English III focusing on primarily written work and Contemporary Humanities being largely film-oriented, Mrs. Dunnion’s goal is still the same.
“Both classes, as everything in the humanities field is, and I would think every field in education may be, are about the human condition and how people are,” she said.
Mrs. Dunnion said she tries to further student understanding of humanities through student-driven discussions that prioritize raw thought over technology.
“I may start the discussion by asking an open-ended question, but it goes where it goes, which is up to how the students respond and how they inspire each other with the ideas they come up with,” she said.
Mrs. Dunnion also works beyond the classroom as the moderator for Knowledge Masters, a no-cut competitive academic team participating in a national competition. Here, instead of the grandiose themes covered in her courses, she and her members appreciate the basic facts of life.
“I like ‘Jeopardy!’ and I like questions,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “I like that whole format of question and answer, and I think most people my age like that because, unlike you guys, we had to memorize an awful lot of facts and stuff because we didn’t have the world in our palms.”
She said she has seen the declining use of such skills as instantaneous recall due to the increased business of our daily lives.
“There is very little place for that knowledge except in something silly like Knowledge Masters or a quiz like that,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “Much of the instant recall that Knowledge Masters or any kind of academic bowl requires is that kind of fact stuff, which, because of time constraints, you don’t use so much, which … I find fun.”
Members seem to agree with that line of thinking, as they achieved sixth place in the country for this competition. Mrs. Dunnion admires them for their commitment and their niche interests that contribute to the whole.
In fact, she said that it is the students she teaches and the friendships she has developed that make everything so fulfilling for her.
“I seriously get up every morning and say ‘Yippee! I get to go to work today,'” Mrs. Dunnion said.