"As our founding Director of Security, Steve’s ever-present smile, thoroughness, and diligence have established his team as the envy of independent schools everywhere,” said Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760. “During our most recent school accreditation, Steve’s department was highlighted as a core strength of the Academy, and other schools regularly inquire into how we have built such a dynamic security program - all credit to Steve and his dedicated team! Steve has never been ‘just’ our Security Director, however. Parent to a GA alum and a GA teacher, multi-season coach, and international trip chaperone extraordinaire, Steve’s imprint on life at GA has been as impressive as it is wide-reaching. While we know his retirement will be rich with travel, adventure, and grandparenting, we know his GA roots are deep and look forward to seeing him for many years to come on our campus.”
Dolan’s background includes serving as a fire marshal in East Norriton Township and Whitpain Township, and as a police officer in the Whitemarsh Township Police Department from 1991-2012, retiring with the rank of Corporal. Dolan also served in the U.S. Air Force for four years. Dolan is officially a USAF Fire Protection Specialist and Crash Rescue Specialist, an Emergency Medical Technician, an advanced hostage negotiator, and a fire arson investigator. He earned numerous honors while serving with the Whitemarsh Police, including a Valor Award when he captured and disarmed an armed bank robber.
Dolan brought his skills and positive outlook on life to GA in the winter of 1996 as a part-time security guard. In fact, his first assignment was to help with crowd control the night a Lower Merion High School player named Kobe Bryant came to campus to take on the Patriots.
“Jim Connor and Jim Fenerty needed some help with the crowd,” recalls Dolan.” “It was the biggest crowd ever in the Big Gym.”
Dolan was named the school’s first Security Coordinator in 1999. Since then, he became more involved in the daily operations of the school and went on to build a first-class security department and program from the ground up that has greatly benefited the entire GA community.
“We had very few facets of what you see today in security when I started working out of the lost and found room in the old Upper School,” said Dolan. “Long-timers will remember – it was across from the world map that was on the hallway wall.”
Some of Dolan’s accomplishments at GA include the creation of emergency plans, the swipe card system, the camera system, the radio system, the lightning alert system, reserved parking spaces, traffic control, crosswalks and sidewalks, panic alarms, fire extinguishers, inspections, drills, exterior lights, emergency lights, first aid trauma bags, and Automated External Defibrillator (AEDs) with the help of nurse Lori Andress ’88. He also recently orchestrated a 40-hour School Resource Officer (SRO) Certification class for the security team, which currently consists of 40 full and part-time men and women.
In addition to serving as team leader of GA’s Safe to Say Something program and GA’s Safety Committee, Dolan also found time to coach Middle and Upper School soccer and basketball, serve as the varsity football team photographer, lead an Upper School exchange trip to London, chaperone the varsity girls’ basketball trip to New Orleans, and help out with Summer Programs’ “The Cathedrals of Baseball Tour” along with Tim Ginter.
While Dolan’s adventures have taken him abroad and across these United States, the best part of his career was having the chance to interact with young citizens of the world on a daily basis.
“The best honor is hearing the tiny voices of the kids in the Child Care Center and the Lower School who say, ‘Good Morning, Mr. Dolan’ as they drive by me in their car or use the crosswalk with their parent,” said Dolan. "I will definitely keep those memories with me."
Why Steve stayed:
Exciting work and the challenge. This has been the opposite of boredom. Mostly, it's the people who teach and run the institution, they are fantastic because they always recognize other people who work both the visible and not so visible jobs. We all share a piece of keeping the wheels of the school turning every day. I want to thank the past and present Board of Trustees, Heads of School, Division Heads, Chief Financial Officer, and the Facilities Director for "trusting the process."
So many. Sports, coaching, working with fantastic Security Officers that have taken the job to heart. The "red shirt" team has been a pleasure to lead as GA's first-ever Director of Security.
What Steve is most thankful for:
Family - Cathy and I and our three sons have had so many wonderful events and friends over the years with our GA family. These connections are not unique to just us. Here are our connections: Andrew Dolan teaches in Middle School and met his future wife, Megan Cipolloni Dolan ’07, while working for GA Summer Programs. Megan's mom is long-time Lower School teacher Barbara Cipolloni ’72. Shane Dolan graduated college and worked in the GA Admission Office for a time, and now is successful in the commercial real estate world. Ryan Dolan ’12 played college ball and is now working for NBC Sports in New York City. We have two grandchildren, Livi and Avery, who will be at the Child Care Center in April. The circle keeps going.
What Steve will miss most about GA:
The traditions - both old and new, official and unofficial. The older official ones being the opening of school Flag Raising ceremony and Commencement. The newer traditions of Coach Dence and the football team with the end of season "burning of the shoe." Then there is the unofficial annual Security Department "red shirt" party and awarding of the "Lee Dolan Memorial Security Officer of the Year" trophy.
Favorite place on campus:
Connor Quad and the views of the Administration Building with the iconic Belfry. As I travel around campus and view the silhouettes of each building, it always makes me stop and appreciate the vision of the administration and Board of Trustees to move and build this beautiful campus and then rebuild it again.
Favorite GA tradition:
GA/PC Day. Busy day with all the moving parts coming together without major incidents.
Memorable quote to live by:
“You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat!" - Jaws
The next chapter of life:
Family. If anything, the last couple of years have taught me it's that you better enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. Time is fleeting. I hope to stay active, enjoy some travel, and our grandchildren, and maybe get better at my photography hobby and woodworking projects. Who knows what opportunities tomorrow might bring my way?
Send Steve a Note!
Steve would love to hear from alumni, parents, and colleagues.
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Honor Steve with a Gift to GA!
Making a gift to the school in honor of Tom's retirement is a wonderful way to celebrate his tenure at GA.