Next year, after 14 years as the upper division’s dean of students, Erik Olson will step into a new role: dean of co-curricular education. As was announced earlier this year, Phillip Koshi–current world languages department chair, Spanish teacher, Day Hall resident faculty, and girls’ varsity soccer coach–will succeed him.
As dean of students, Mr. Olson has been an integral figure in nearly every Pirate’s experience for the last decade and a half. When asked to describe the role, Mr. Olson explains, “The dean of students works closely with the head of the upper division to oversee matters related to student experience: health and wellness, student leadership, student activities, advising, discipline, outdoor education, and residential life.”
During his tenure, Mr. Olson helped effect improvements in community life and programming. “We enhanced learning support,” he explains, “and also hired a superb and credentialed counselor, created a group that monitors students’ health and wellbeing, and helped onboard the School’s first director of equity and inclusion.”
Mr. Olson also played a pivotal role in figuring out ways to keep students engaged in the School community during the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped develop a range of virtual programs which–combined with on-line advisory and affinity group meetings–helped the Stevenson community stay close and strong, even though people were distant from one another.
Mr. Olson explains he accepted the School’s invitation to serve as its inaugural dean of co-curricular education because he is excited to tackle something new, but continue to do work consistent with his values and the School community’s continuing evolution. The dean of co-curricular education oversees a portfolio that includes signature programs which generally stand outside of but are complementary to the School’s traditional curriculum–such as outdoor education (grades 5-12), the Sophomore Wilderness Expedition, and specific School-sponsored travel programs–and also coordinates several standing School initiatives related to facilitating students’ civic engagement with Monterey County.
“My time as the dean of students has been challenging but rewarding,” he explains. “It has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to have an impact on so many people and programs. I look back fondly on colleagues that I have worked with and who have been great mentors to me. I have learned so much, and I look forward to using that knowledge in my next chapter.”
As Mr. Koshi steps into his new role, he shares that his first goal as dean of students is to focus on inclusion and belonging. He explains, “My aim is to be the dean of all students, in that each student, regardless of how they identify, feels seen and heard. Continuing to build an inclusive school environment is of the utmost importance to me.”
In becoming dean of students, Mr. Koshi will step away from the classroom for the first time in 15 years. He reflects, “While I do feel like I’m giving up teaching Spanish, I am not ending my job as a teacher. Being an educator transcends the classroom and so much of what students take with them and learn happens outside of their academic classes. I believe that I’ve been afforded an awesome opportunity to help students learn how to shape a joyful life and make smart, informed, and healthy decisions. I love the idea of helping students navigate a complex and crucial developmental period in their lives.”
He also looks forward to the opportunity to interact and collaborate with his colleagues. He explains, “I am eager to have a seat at the table where we are making decisions about how the School functions and working to enhance student experience. I am excited to work with a talented group of faculty and support them in the excellent work they do every day.”