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NOTEBOOK: Students’ welcome makes big impression on future Dowling president


Earlier this year when Dan Ryan saw that Dowling Catholic High School was recruiting to find a successor to President Jerry Deegan, he wanted to make sure the position was a good fit not just for himself but for his family as well. When I recently interviewed Ryan for a Closer Look interview, he relayed a story about how his wife and one of his daughters essentially mystery-shopped the school before he made the decision to accept the position last summer. 

“I had my wife, Michelle, who is a K-12 art teacher, and my now eighth-grade daughter tour Dowling without telling them who she was, and they didn’t pick up on it, so it was kind of incognito,” Ryan recalled. After taking the tour, their enthusiastic daughter was characteristically excited about the school, but it was Michelle’s observations that sealed the deal. 

“The very first words out of her mouth were: ‘We were on that tour, and four random kids came up to us and introduced themselves, asked us who we were and if we were on a tour, and welcomed us.’ 

“We kind of knew it was a special place, because that just doesn’t happen everywhere you go,” he said. “We just felt that from the very beginning, and once we went through the interview process, we felt it there as well. We feel blessed; we think it is truly a unique environment in the whole state of Iowa.” 

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