Dunbar departs KO after 43 years

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When you think of loyalty, what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of someone who has been by your side for a while? Or maybe you think of someone who always has your back and does their best to help you through any situation? Coach, advisor, and history teacher Scott Dunbar is a perfect example of all of those qualities and so many more, and after 43 dedicated years at KO, Mr. Dunbar is set to retire. 

According to Mr. Dunbar, he was bitten by the teaching bug early on. “It’ll be a little strange not going back to school in September because it’ll be the first time since I was four years old,” Mr. Dunbar said, “Dwight Eisenhower was president the last time I didn’t go back to school in September.”

 Mr. Dunbar’s father, who was also a teacher, certainly influenced his career path. While growing up living on Phillips Exeter Academy’s campus in New Hampshire, the school community quickly became a home for Mr. Dunbar, in both a figurative and literal sense. 

For the bulk of his adult life, Mr. Dunbar has been teaching at KO. “I started here in September of 1978,” he said. “I graduated from college in 1977, and when I arrived here, I was young, and the school was larger and had more students. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but it was still in the process of merging between Kingswood and Oxford.”

Fellow history teacher Ted Levine began working at KO at the same time as Mr. Dunbar. During their time at KO, they both had many different jobs on campus together. 

“I remember the first meeting we had; we were both Middle School soccer coaches together,” he said. They got along great in all aspects of their careers. “It’s been a great collaborative experience, just working together,” Mr. Levine said. “I always like to stop by his office and see what he has been doing and what’s on his mind, and seeing what his views are on what’s going on in the world.”

Since they both started at the same time, Mr. Dunbar and Mr. Levine were able to see the school evolve in a way that very few have. That experience is definitely something that kept their bond strong during their tenures at KO. “We see it like the end of an old era and the beginning of a new era, and we saw the emergence of a different type of school,” Mr. Levine remarked.

 Many of the friendships Mr. Dunbar has made during his time at KO have been extremely long-lasting. Another teacher who Mr. Dunbar is good friends with is history teacher Peter Jones, who has lots of fun memories shared with Mr. Dunbar over the years. 

“He was a longtime hockey coach here, particularly in the first half of his career,” Mr. Jones explained. “When the school decided to convert the hockey rink to the Field House, they obviously had to melt the ice and get all the ice and the water out. He still had his skates in the coach’s locker room, and even though it was a little bit watery, he was the last person to skate on the ice.”

Mr. Jones praised Mr. Dunbar for his passion and dedication to teaching, coaching, and advising. “I admire his love of history, education, and the whole school culture with students, their parents, and his colleagues.”

Science teacher Fritz Goodman also admires the way that, despite already being a teacher, Mr. Dunbar always wants to learn more. “He’s a multidimensional person,” Mr. Goodman said. “He is someone who thinks deeply about cultural issues, pragmatic issues, and he is a great problem solver. I admire his curiosity.”

It’s this curiosity that has led Mr. Dunbar to be such an effective teacher for so many years. “We who teach history really feel at times that, if anything, we’re basically the guardians of the story of how we got here,” Mr. Levine said. “[Mr. Dunbar] wants everybody to basically look at history as something that is dynamic.”

“I just enjoy being in a classroom with students,” Mr Dunbar said, “and talking about issues and history and basically discussing what it means to be alive and to be dealing with people by looking at what other people have done in the past.” 

When asked about what he plans to do during retirement, Mr. Dunbar replied that he hopes to travel once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Many will miss Mr. Dunbar, and it will definitely be strange for him not to be on campus after teaching at KO for over four decades. 

“He’s touched many different peoples in different worlds as a form dean, a college advisor,” said Mr. Levine, “and he’s seen the school from so many different angles and perspectives, and that’s rare.”

We all applaud him for his hard work at KO and wish him the best in whatever the future holds!