St. Stephen’s installs new Head of School

4 mins read
The Gunnin Family; (left to right) St. Stephen’s new head of school Chris Gunnin with his three children and wife, Nancy
The Gunnin Family; (left to right) St. Stephen’s new head of school Chris Gunnin with his three children and wife, Nancy

On October 7th, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School community gathered to celebrate the installation of Christopher L. Gunnin as the 12th head of school. The program was led by the Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Following a rousing performance by the school’s Thunder Drumline and an opening hymn and prayer, members of St. Stephen’s board of trustees, search and transition committees stood before the Bishop with the new head of school.

“Chris, you are entrusted with the oversight of nurturing the spiritual, intellectual, social, physical and artistic development of the students of St. Stephen’s,” the Bishop said. “Working in partnership with the staff, faculty and trustees, will you strive to foster the love of learning, intellectual curiosity, spiritual foundation and moral character each student will need to achieve his or her fullest potential as a student, a citizen and a child of God?”

“I will, with God’s help,” Gunnin responded, as attendees stood, pledging their support to Gunnin, who was then commissioned by the Bishop as the new head of St. Stephen’s.

St. Stephen’s choirs performed during the installation ceremony
St. Stephen’s choirs performed during the installation ceremony

A highlight of the installation program was an address by Arnold E. Holtberg, headmaster emeritus of St. Mark’s School in Dallas. “As you know, Chris is a distinguished graduate of St. Mark's, where he went on to serve as teacher, coach … and head of the upper school,” Holtberg noted. “He was one of my key advisers, someone whose judgment was unwavering and who was willing and able to do the hard, right thing in every circumstance. His sensitivity to the needs of students and adults alike helped make our school a place of high expectations, compassion and nurturance. My most fervent hope for St. Stephen's, as you move forward from the accomplishments of the previous head and commence the Chris Gunnin era with hope, determination and confidence, is that all of you thrive and that Chris Gunnin succeeds beyond all success, as I know he will.”

Following performances by St. Stephen’s orchestra and choirs, the installation program closed with a blessing from the Bishop and a recitation of the school prayer, which already has become a favorite of the new head of school.

An accomplished school administrator with 20 years of experience working in Southwest Preparatory Conference schools, Gunnin served for the past seven years as head of the upper school at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth. He joined the St. Stephen’s community in July. Gunnin holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education from Trinity University in San Antonio.

“I knew I would fall in love with St. Stephen’s, but I never imagined that I would feel so warmly embraced by the community,” Gunnin remarked after the ceremony. “I could not feel more proud or more aware of the responsibility with which I have been entrusted.”