Introducing Alethea Dunham-Carson


Gordon's new Assistant Head of School, Alethea Dunham-Carson, doesn't officially begin at Gordon until July.

Still, she made time to connect with Gordon's Middle School students at a recent morning meeting... and she made every minute of that visit count.

In a freewheeling conversation led by the two eighth grader Student Leadership Co-Presidents, she spoke frankly and authentically about a range of topics, including Gordon's national reputation, her own middle school years, the differences between public and independent schools, the power of language, learning for the sake of good grades, the role of art in social change, and her idea of the perfect day.

When she was asked about the best pieces of advice she had ever received, she thought back to middle school, saying:

My teacher knew that I was really obsessed with learning only for grades, and I was really obsessed with getting a job that I thought was going to be impressive.

She asked me one day, "What do you want to do when you get older?" 

But I was like: "I want to be a lawyer, it sounds cool." I was interested in civil rights, but mostly I thought it was an impressive job.

She said to me, "You'll know that you found the thing that you are meant to do when you care about it enough that it makes you either smile in the morning, or if you get angry about it when you go to sleep at night. If you feel that way about something every day, that's what you are meant to do."

Some of you may feel that way about animals. Maybe they make you smile when you see them, or you might get angry about how some animals are treated. 

Maybe some of you really care about medicine, and you care about the fact that we are in a pandemic, and some people have lots of access to support and medicine and some people have none. 

Maybe you have no idea what that thing is yet. 

But those words have always resonated with me, and helped me think: I care about education, because being a part of somebody's learning makes me smile in the morning, and thinking about the fact that some people in our country don't have access to high quality education makes me really angry. Those two feelings really are catalysts for why I do what I do.

Ms. Dunham-Carson, we're proud that you've chosen Gordon for the next step in your professional journey, and we're grateful that you'll be pursuing your passions with us at Maxfield Avenue.

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