The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


St. Mark's School of Texas
10600 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75230
The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas


Atkinson named new Head of Upper School

After years of searching for a lasting Head of Upper School, the school recently decided to appoint William Atkinson ‘95 to the important role, which has, in the past, seen many different figures come and go.
INVOLVED Atkinson enthusiastically talks with his sixth-grade humanities students. Since returning to campus, he has taught various grade levels across schools.

William Atkinson ’95, the newly appointed Head of Upper School beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, is here to stay.

As he prepares to fill a historically dynamic role, Atkinson emphasizes his dedication to the school.

“My wife and I have a daughter in Pre-K at Hockaday,” Atkinson said, “and we love Dallas; this city means quite a bit to us. We’re here. I absolutely have a long-term understanding of this new role and look forward to committing to it for the next few decades.”

Having first enrolled at the school in fifth grade, Atkinson walked across the commencement stage in 1995, just as so many future Marksmen will, and attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he then transferred to Southern Methodist University (SMU), receiving his bachelor’s degree, and becoming a police officer, a calling that Atkinson believes his mentors helped him realize.

“I loved [being a police officer]. I truly loved it. But then I had another opportunity presented to me by [Former United States Secretary of Defense] James Mattis, where I was offered the chance to teach U.S. Marines.”

Since his tenure educating Marines in human behavior pattern recognition analysis, Atkinson believes working with students was always in his blood.

“Even as a police officer, I gravitated towards teaching. I taught at a high school, I taught at a college, I taught at a middle school. I was a field training officer, so I taught new police officers as well and taught at the community policing academy. I didn’t know I was gravitating towards all these educational opportunities at the time, I was just young and interested.”

Atkinson returned to the school as an eighth-grade football coach, a role that allowed him to work with many familiar faces, and has since received a Masters of Education from SMU.

“I came back to coach middle school athletics, and the following year I did student teaching with Rebecca Jenkins,” Atkinson said. “She was working remotely and then I was offered a full-time job.”

Initially, Atkinson believes his hiatus from the school lead to feelings of uncertainty, which were resolved quickly.

“Before I started coaching, it’d been a long time since I had been at St. Mark’s,” Atkinson said, “so I was involving myself in a very intentional process while I was getting my masters and student teaching: I wanted to try coming back to campus, so I was asking myself, ‘do I resonate with the boys? Do I even feel like this is still home to me?’ And luckily, I felt immediately at home and a strong relationship with the boys. It was a very thoughtful process of coming back here and making sure it was the right match, but I’m so happy for the process because it really got me to the right place.”

Reflecting on his time on campus, which has changed in more ways than one since he was grabbing his backpack and hustling from one class to the next, Atkinson believes the school is headed in the right direction.

“I always tell people [St. Mark’s] would be so proud of the things we’ve kept and so proud of the things we’ve changed,” Atkinson said. “The school is different in many ways, but the core experience is still similar to what I had. Continuity of experience is very important for our boys.”

And as Atkinson prepares to step into his new shoes as Head of Upper School, he is certain he will apply all his experiences, accumulated at the school and after graduation, to the role.

“Working with people and helping them be at their best to achieve their goals and get through tough situations — it’s who I am. It’s in my DNA,” Atkinson said. “That also takes a tremendous amount of training and education, so a lot goes into this. But it’s all a part of me.”

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About the Contributor
Zack Goforth, Print Editor-In-Chief