“I’m going to miss the people,” replies Principal Dan Alig when I ask what he will miss most about the Lovett community.
Last month, Mr. Alig announced that he will be stepping down as Lovett Upper School Principal at the end of this school year to become the Head of School of the St. John’s School in Houston, Texas, the place where he first began his career in education. Although he hadn’t originally planned to change positions, he knew he would have to seize the opportunity when he learned that St. John’s, a school very dear to him, had an opening.
This next step is a natural progression for Mr. Alig, who has been on his administrative path since 2005, but he says it is also bittersweet to be leaving Lovett after eight years on the riverbank. In his time here, he has worked with and taught thousands of students, and he has also learned a lot about how to best serve the needs of his school community.
While the students don’t always see the many ways he makes an impact on our lives, his trademark bowties and handwritten birthday cards to all Upper Schoolers have definitely made him a well-loved member of our school community.
“It is full of a lot of joy,” says Mr. Alig about his role as an educator, “and it’s also full of some difficulties, some challenges, even some pain from time to time.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing issue of racism in our community, the last year has been especially challenging for him, as a person and as the Upper School principal. He recognizes that these problems, and so many others, will continue to impact our school community after he leaves, and we all must work together to overcome the issues and make our school a better place for current and future students.
“At the same time,” he says, “I think that we’ve weathered so much this year and we’ve come together in ways that we haven’t fully realized. It’s been powerfully educational for all of Lovett in the last year.”
Among his all-time favorite memories at Lovett is a student assembly a couple of years ago in which Congressman John Lewis recounted his life story, challenging Lovett students to carry on his legacy of kindness and equality.
“I’ll never forget the outburst of applause and the standing ovation that [Congressman Lewis] received,” Mr. Alig says. “Students literally almost rushed onto the stage to take selfies with him, to shake his hand, and to thank him.”
The inspiration that Mr. Alig saw in his students in this moment made him hopeful for the future of our school and our greater community. Watching students graduate and move on to wonderful colleges and careers has always been a rewarding experience for him, and this moment was a beautiful representation of the potential his students have.
Mr. Alig will be taking what he has learned in his eight years at Lovett to his new job. This includes some smaller things, like carrying on his tradition of handwritten birthday cards, a ritual that I’m sure his new students will appreciate as much as we have.
When I ask him how he would like his students to remember him, Mr. Alig says he hopes they will think of him as “a teacher, an understanding administrator, and someone who cared a lot about them and their growth.”
And, Mr. Alig adds, “I know I’ll certainly never forget my Lovett students.”