Merrily Dunlap and Roger Bowen Honored at Biennial Conference 2012

Merrily Dunlap and Roger Bowen[New York, NY] During ceremonies at the National Association of Episcopal Schools’ Biennial Conference 2012 this past November, Merrily Dunlap and Roger Bowen received the Ruth Jenkins and John D. Verdery Awards, respectively, for their service to NAES and Episcopal schools.

Merrily Dunlap • Ruth Jenkins Award

I am honored this afternoon to introduce the recipient of the Ruth Jenkins Award, one the two highest awards bestowed to an Episcopal school leader at each Biennial. Ruth Jenkins was head of the Annie Wright School in Tacoma, Washington, the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California, and was among the strongest of advocates for women’s leadership in the Episcopal Church.

This year’s award recipient, Merrily Dunlap, is a remarkable treasure to our Episcopal schools. Mrs. Dunlap has served and supported hundreds in many, many capacities and Mrs. Dunlap’s work and efforts have permeated much of the success of this Association and our schools.

She was a teacher at St. Mark’s Episcopal School, Downey, head of Saint Mark’s Altadena, the first executive director of the Commission on Schools, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, co-owner of Stepping Stones, San Marino, and is the founding co-owner of College Counseling Services and Integrated Learning Solutions, San Marino, California.

Mrs. Dunlap has served not only as a mentor, a colleague, and a dear friend to many of us, but she served on the Governing Board of NAES for nine years, was on the search committee that selected Dan Heischman as our executive director, served on the board of the California Association of Private Schools, was a trustee of the Gooden School in Sierra Madre, California, and was on the board of the Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Churches.

Her strong community work, her valued leadership in education, her remarkable friendship, her wise counsel, and her magnanimity make her an unmistakable gem in our midst. She is the gracious wife of Bob Dunlap, who is here at Biennial, terrific mom to Jennifer and Lauren, and grandmother to Emily and Mia. Ladies and gentlemen, a remarkable lady and one of our best, the thirteenth recipient of the Ruth Jenkins Award, Merrily Dunlap! (Written by Doreen S. Oleson, Ed.D., NAES Governing Board President.)

The Rev. P. Roger Bowen, D.D. • John D. Verdery Award

If you have access to a high-resolution GoogleEarth satellite picture of Haiti from two weeks ago, and a month ago, and uncountable times stretching into the past, you can see high up in the mountains here and there a small cluster of houses with some sort of school structure, perhaps as simple as wooden poles and a palm-frond roof. Near the school is a cluster of children crowding in to see something, with amused adults watching intently as well. Zoom in for a closer look. In the center of the crowd is the Rev. Dr. Roger Bowen, and he is once again using his considerable sleight-of-hand skills to make a rock disappear, and then magically pull it out of a child’s ear. Screams of laughter greet the rock. “Anko, anko!” the children shout. Do it again.

A distinguished career as head of two wonderful Episcopal schools, preceded by years as a distinguished division head and chaplain, preceded by years in the Peace Corps on a remote island in Tonga, all in partnership with the delightful and patient Kennon Bowen, combined with long service on the NAES Governing Board, not to mention an honorary doctorate bestowed by Virginia Seminary—too much ground to cover in the allotted time! But for so many of us in this room, regardless of what position he officially holds at any moment, he is our eternal chaplain, the person to whom we turn for counsel, confession, the friendly ear, the thoughtful reflection. His caring, his guidance, his example help us make ourselves into better people.

Most people slow down when they retire; Roger has, if anything, sped up. His work in establishing and nurturing relationships between Episcopal schools in the U.S. and the more than 250 Episcopal schools in Haiti has led to 60 new partnerships since the earthquake of 2010. In Haiti, hundreds of children are now in school buildings with rock foundations and concrete-block walls, pulled as though by magic out of the ground, with stories of their building that lead along a winding path right back to the magician, Pe Rogé. His commitment to forging personal friendships between and among partners results in strong bonds that nourish both parties. No one who goes to Haiti with Roger comes back unchanged.

Anko, Rogé, do it again. Pull a rock out of someone’s ear, pull a new school partnership out of your hat, make a school building out of friendship and a rock, make the world of Episcopal schools a richer, more inclusive world, conjure and cajole us into being better people. And thank you. (Written by Serena E. Beeks, D.Min., Executive Director, Commission on Schools, THe Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.)