Unsung Heroes: Dr. Kerney

Roselind Zeng, Staff Writer

Where there are rules, there needs to be people working behind the scenes to enforce them. They often go unrecognized, and sometimes, they are even mocked for their efforts. To combat this unruly judgement, you have to get to know these individuals firsthand. With this in mind, I set out to interview Dr. Keith Kerney, Dean of Students at Arcadia High School (AHS).

Having worked at John Marshall High School as a teacher, and at John Muir High School as a dean, Dr. Kerney has been on both sides of the spectrum. When asked about why he chose the career path of becoming a dean, Dr. Kerney pointed out that “you can not only reach out to students, but also help teachers in the classroom. You not only impact the people you come in contact with, but also are able to aid teachers in what they do best – teaching.”

Every day, Dr. Kerney’s schedule varies. Be it to answer questions from worried parents, soothe the qualms of students, or to instigate a tardy sweep, every day is a new situation to experience.  He attends meetings, both with staff and students, but takes great pride in getting to familiarize himself with the various students he works with. In his spare time, he enjoys walking around campus and talking to students, getting to know more about the community he helps every day.  In his opinion, “Getting to talk to students about the problems they’re faced with is a great thing.”

Of course, when facing the prospect of being sent to the Dean’s Office, many students feel intimidated. Dr. Kerney tries his best to combat this by taking part in their daily lives, and help them get through hardships through lessons on respect and compassion. “I hope that students don’t find me intimidating, but someone they can approach in times of need,” he said. Outside of his office, he participates in the Athletics Department, noting that a highlight of his day “would be to see students enjoying themselves through competition.” He says that it also gives him a chance to “come in contact with some great people at the Athletics Office, and help students in other ways outside of the disciplinary environment.”

A few of the fondest memories that Dr. Kerney holds about working at this job is, as he recounts, “When students who’ve been suspended or expelled come back to visit, sometimes years after they’ve graduated, and tell me, ‘Thank you for helping me out, you’ve made such a difference in my life.’ That’s a very gratifying thing to hear.”

Dr. Kerney’s message to the students of AHS is a quote from his college professor: “Try not to follow the ideals that have already been shaped, but try to shape ideals for others to follow.” And lastly, he wanted to express his gratitude. “I don’t consider myself an ‘Unsung Hero’—to me, getting to work here is a privilege of its own, as is meeting so many special people.”