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Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

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Meet Dean Stephenson

Dean Stephenson Photo by Carolina Bedoya

Joaquin Stephenson, who was hired as a new Dean of Students, is getting used to having an entire office all to himself. For now, it’s pretty plain. He sits at his desk wearing his red windbreaker jacket. Although he has only been here for such a short time, he already has his school spirit in sync. Red water bottle, red shirt, red walls. A true Niles West Wolf, indeed.

Stephenson sits in his big black chair, in his red-painted office and thinks about my next question:  How do you like Niles West so far?. He smiles, and declares, “I love it! You guys are great!”

Some interesting things to know about Stephenson:

  • His favorite color is red, duh. Come on whose isn’t?
  • He enjoys playing volleyball in a league at the Glen.
  • He works out here or at Lifetime Fitness with buddy and head of security, Brent Fowler.
  • He loves to eat Churizo, a delicious Mexican sausage.
  • And in the future, he plans to get married and have some kids.

When asked about females in the school who find him attractive, he replied, “I believe in drawing boundaries. Once I had a group of girls at lunch whistling at me, and I went over and addressed it right away. I told them that if they wanted to compliment me, they could tell me they liked my shirt or that I looked nice today, but the way they were acting is making me feel very uncomfortable. If I let it slide, they’re going to think that kind of behavior is okay. You guys are like my little sisters, and I wouldn’t want my little sister yelling ‘You’re fine as hell’ to a 20 or 30-year-old man. You guys are my kids; I say that from the start.”

Stephenson has accomplished a lot in the past years. He got his Bachelor’s degree at North Eastern (in Physical Education/Health Endorsement), took a break for two days, and started his Masters Degree at Concordia, while having a first-year teaching job at Schurz High School, which just happened to be the one he went to. Oh, and he also managed to coach three sports. Busy, busy alright.

Teaching at Schurz was a good experience for Stephenson. Being a former student there, he helped show other students that you can grow up and make something of yourself. At Schurz, Stephenson was able teach and write the adventure education curriculum, teach health, drivers education, and dance.

Interestingly, for Stephenson, dance was natural. At a young age, his mother dragged him to parties where they would eat and dance. Having such a culture-inspired Mexican/Italian background, his mother pushed him into dance at the age of four. His experience with dance enable to teach a variety of dances such as salsa, meringue, samba, bachata, the Argentine tango, hip hop, stepping, and modern. From the age of five until his 20s, he spent his time in a dance group called Groupo Forklordico. “You’ll definitely see me dancing at Homecoming,” he says.

His mom is his hero. “She was a single mom raising three boys,” he said. “Sometimes all there would be to eat was Mac and Cheese and peanut butter and jelly when she came home from work, but that was okay.” She kept him active, from baseball to dance to school. “We didn’t always have everything we wanted, but we always had everything we needed.”

Not only does Stephenson love to bust a move, but he also loves being in a good thinking environment. After his previous years at two Chicago Public Schools, he has seen everything from gang violence to girl fights. All the resources that West has to offer students impressed Stephenson. He likes to devote his disciplinary time with students to mediation and critical thinking skills, so they can actually think about the mistake they made and how they could have changed it.

“It’s more of a life skill, for us to be critical thinkers,” he states.

Stephenson also sees his role as another person a student can talk to and approach easily if they have any problems. “I think that’s number one,” he says.

While obtaining his Master’s degree, Stephenson did his administrative internship program with Karl Costello, the athletic director and Robert Freeman, who just happened to be the  former principal, respectively, over at Niles North. While working with them, Stephenson thought to himself, “What a wonderful place to work,” and as soon as the Dean positioned opened up at West, he applied for it right away online.

Dean Stephenson Photo by Carolina Bedoya

Stephenson’s goals for the year are to bring his enthusiasm to the school, so every bad situation doesn’t have to be negative. “Enthusiasm is contagious,” he shares. “It is key for life.” He also hopes to share the expertise of leading and influencing other students to do so.

Only teaching for six years gives Stephenson a bit of a “rookie” status, but he definitely knows what he wants. He eventually hopes to become the Superintendent, which is his “long-term” goal, and in the meantime, he hopes to either become the athletic director (because of his love or sports) or vice principal (because of his love of teaching).

“West is like an all-star team,” he says. “Everyone has such a great spirit to be here, and they all know what they want to do.”

Carmen Shamoon contributed to this story.

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  • M

    Maggie WibrightOct 14, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Thanks for checking that Jack. We fixed it right away

  • L

    LikeAG6Oct 13, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    You misspelled “complement.” Also, this article was sufficient.

  • M

    Maggie WibrightSep 24, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    @enlightenmui…thanks for reading!! There will definitely be more stories like this.

  • E

    enlightenmuiSep 23, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    Thanks for writing this article. As the others have said, it’s good to know a little bit more about the new dean–his academic ambitions and other random interests–and the article is very easy to read. 😀

    Welcome to Niles West, Dean Stephenson!

  • A

    amychowderSep 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    I like that we got to know more about our new dean. The pictures are good too 🙂

  • M

    melber3Sep 20, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    This is a well written article.