Popp ends 10 ‘transformational’ years at SJS, joins John Cooper in July

Gabe Malek and Christopher Zimmerman

Before serving as Dean of Students, Popp was a US history teacher. He will start work at John Cooper July 1.
Jared Margolis
Before serving as Dean of Students, Popp was a US history teacher. He will start work at John Cooper July 1.

Though he helped make the building possible and asked for student input throughout the construction, Dean of Students Stephen Popp will not be at school next year to see the opening of the Great Hall. While Popp joked that leaving before the construction is completed is his final act of solidarity with the Senior class, many factors contributed to his decision to become Head of Upper School at John Cooper in the Woodlands.

“St. John’s is a school where you are encouraged to learn and grow in all that you do,” Popp said. “I’ve learned so much in each role I’ve had here in the Upper School, and I’ve enjoyed every one of my ten years here at SJS. So, the decision to pursue the position at John Cooper was not made out of haste to get out of here, but rather to build upon what I’ve learned while pursuing a great opportunity for me and my family.”

Popp thinks some of the characteristics of John Cooper made the choice easier.

“I love SJS, and I love being here, but the John Cooper position was very appealing,” Popp said. “I found their mission statement very compelling, and in some ways very similar to SJS. [The school] is in some ways different but also has some of the same hallmarks as SJS: it is a very caring and intellectually driven place.”

Popp announced his decision before winter break and will start his job at John Cooper on July 1. While Popp is looking forward to the new opportunity, he still feels a strong connection to SJS.

“It is a bittersweet moment for me, and it is definitely not a reflection of my trying to leave,” Popp said. “Working at SJS has been wonderful, and my experiences here have shaped me as a person and professional. It has been a truly transformational 10 years here. But, the position at John Cooper is just a great opportunity for me.”

Having been the SJS Dean of Students for four years, Popp has some advice for whoever will take his place next fall

“It’s a privilege to work with SJS students, and you have to be yourself,” Popp said. “But, if you smile and care for people, it works itself out.”