Susan Dean finds her passion through education


Courtesy of PAWESEHI

Susan Dean hugs her 23-year-old daughter Molly Dean before the volleyball game against Webster Groves during the 2016-2017 season. The match ended in a victory for the Longhorns in two games, 25-18 and 27-25. “The game was really special, in my mind that speaks for the tradition and longevity of our program,” Dean said.

After graduating in 1981, alumnus Susan Dean was not sure what she wanted to pursue in college. Her basketball coach, Steve Baxter, helped her find her way to teaching.

“I ran into him at Mizzou second semester sophomore year [after changing majors five or six times.] He talked with me about teaching and coaching and convinced me that I should be working with kids, not computers,” Dean said. “I switched majors and went into mathematics education the next day. I am so appreciative of the impact he and other teachers have had on my life, and the decision that changed my life.”

Dean played volleyball and basketball in high school, and always knew that she wanted to come back and coach. Dean did not play sports in college, but she participated in intramurals. She also decided to major in math education.

“I taught math and coached girls and boys volleyball and girls basketball at Parkway Central for 13 years before coming to West in 1999,” Dean said.

Dean’s children, Molly and BJ, were in the West feeder elementary schools, and she wanted to be at events and activities with them, which pulled her back to West.

“I taught math and coached girls volleyball at West for 18 years [along with being assistant athletic director for the last 10 years] before retiring last year,” Dean said. “All 31 years in Parkway have been a wonderful experience for me and my family.”

Dean made many memorable experiences through her years of teaching and coaching.

“In 2000 we were 37-0 [as our record] going into the district championship game versus IWA [in volleyball]. We lost in three [halves] and ended our season 37 to one. [It was] devastating to our girls. The next day in my classes, my kids were so kind and thoughtful, they knew I was hurting and my players were hurting. It was great to be surrounded by such good kids!” Dean said.

Since she retired, Dean began teaching AP Calculus and Precalculus at Whitfield School since she wanted to continue teaching after retirement.

“When I decided to retire from Parkway, I knew I still wanted to teach so I accepted the position at Whitfield. Even though it is a much smaller private school, I feel like the kids are just like West kids; [they are] respectful, hardworking and kind,” Dean said.

Teaching at West proved to be a very impactful experience for Dean.

“My favorite part of teaching at West was the many great relationships formed with my students, players and fellow teachers,” Dean said. “I enjoy working here [at Whitfield School], although I do miss the students and my many good friends at West.”

Dean believes teachers learn something new about kids and teaching everyday.

“The 31 years of teaching experience I have are still helping me be a better teacher each day,” Dean said.