Former teacher Alan Nealley becomes new Dean of Student Success


Henry Manning

Student Dean of Success Alan Nealley works in his office on Friday, Sept. 16.

To combat absences in Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD), district administrators created the new role of Student Dean of Success, a position dedicated to addressing behavioral issues at school. This new position, headed by former teacher Alan Nealley at AWHS, began at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Although the new role will mostly handle disciplinary issues, Wes Cedros, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, says the Student Dean of Success will also be a support figure for struggling students.

“[Nealley]’s there to build authentic relationships and provide personal support to students…He’s another caring adult in the school setting that is looking out for students and trying to keep them safe and engaged – that way we hope to keep students out of the disciplinary system and on track to graduate and meet their personal goals,” Cedros said.

Although Nealley is in charge of ensuring low absence rates, Cedros acknowledges that some absences are out of students’ control.

“Students get sick or have things happen in their personal lives that will always lead to missing the occasional school day, so we’re never going to have one hundred percent attendance, but anytime a student misses school, they are missing out on the content taught during their absence and the social connection that comes from being present,” Cedros said.

According to Nealley, the number of student absences has become overwhelming. It leads to an overload of students needing to see the assistant principals or principal, which results in an influx of work for them.

The district was talking to the assistant principals and principals of the schools, and they were getting overwhelmed by a lot of the lower level attendance issues, so my role for the Dean of Students Success is to assist the administration team to make them more effective. It gives me the chance to talk to a student that’s not being successful because of attendance issues, and then dive in and try to figure out what is the root cause of the problem,” Nealley said.

Junior Alex Mackenzie believes that COVID-19 is a major factor in the rise in unexcused absences.

“COVID-19 could play a big role, people kinda normalized skipping class or not showing up to school because of the mindset of Zoom meetings being pointless,” Alex said. “I think it’s also partially due to the people you surround yourself with as well. Some people are more likely to ditch class than others, these people can influence each other. ” 

Junior Alex Wolfert says that once one student leaves class, others are likely to follow suit.

“Some kids see others ditching class which starts a chain reaction leading to more absences. I see it all the time,” Alex said.

TUHSD administrators hope the new role of Student Dean of Success will curtail absences.