By Robin Koppen
JCPS Communication Specialist
Lyndsey Dunn may be a small town girl, but as the new principal for McGee’s Crossroads Elementary her vision is large.
A native of Washington County, North Carolina, about 45 minutes from the Outer Banks, Dunn is warm and sunny, just like the beaches she comes from.
Her Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) journey began back in 2007, and it was the beginning of a career that almost didn’t happen.
From the time she was a little girl, Dunn wanted to be a teacher. She loved imaginative play and setting up the classroom. She had natural leadership skills.
Another thing she loved about the idea of being a teacher is having a blank canvas and seeing the impact a teacher makes.
As she went through school, there were so many opportunities to see where her strengths laid. “It always mirrored what I imagined a teacher would be or the teachers I had,” she recalled.
Up until it was time to go to college, Dunn fully planned on studying to become a teacher so it was a total shock to her family when she announced she would study to become a pharmacist while attending Campbell University. “I was good at math and science, and wanted to make a lot of money,” she remembered.
However, it didn’t take Dunn long to figure out it was not for her. Just one semester into her studies in pharmacy, she and the other students went to do observations to see if they were going to like being a pharmacist. “I hated it,” Dunn exclaimed. “I love people and I love talking. I get a lot of energy from that.”
She knew right away that being behind a counter was not for her, so she changed her major to music education and then informed her parents of her decision. Dunn has never looked back.
Fresh out of Campbell University, Dunn got her first job as the music teacher at Benson Elementary, where she taught for one year.
After that Dunn was the music teacher at Four Oaks Elementary. A lover of all things musical, she also helped with the school’s theater productions during her two year tenure.
As most journeys go, Dunn’s path was not a straight line. Although she had fallen in love with Johnston County, where her husband was born and raised, his job took them to Wilmington, NC.
Dunn’s love of teaching was not dulled by the move. She taught music for one year while in Wilmington. From there, they were transferred to Florida, where she taught middle school for two years.
While in Florida, they had two children, and as soon as they had the opportunity to come back to Johnston County, and JCPS, they jumped at the chance.
Dunn was able to go right back to Four Oaks Elementary, where she taught 4th and 5th grade math and was the testing coordinator.
“One of the beautiful things about education in Johnston County is that people stay. They want to invest in the area they grew up in,” she said.
That’s exactly how Dunn felt about JCPS, and the reason she wanted to come back to Johnston County Public Schools. Initially, Dunn chose JCPS because of the opportunities afforded by such a large district.
It was the administration at Four Oaks Elementary that encouraged her to pursue her administrative degree. She became a NC Principal Fellow and earned her Master of School Administration from East Carolina University.
Dunn did her one year principal internship at Cooper Academy. From there, she served as the assistant principal at Riverwood Elementary for four years, where she was also recognized as the 2021-2022 Assistant Principal of the Year.
Education is important to Dunn for various reasons. “It’s always been something I’ve thrived at,” she recalled. Being from a small town, smaller than McGee’s Crossroads, education was a way to see her strengths and what she wanted to be a part of. “Education was the key to seeing what my opportunities were,” she said.
Dunn stays motivated by being involved in the school. “For me it comes from being in the classroom. It’s not an easy job to be an educator,” she remarked.
She connects with staff by seeing them as people first. “I find a lot of value in getting to know teachers as people,” she commented. That keeps Dunn motivated to her why.
The way she connects with students is through finding common interests like sports. “I love having those little things about sports,” she said. It allows the students to see her as a person, and as someone who wants to be at McGee’s Crossroads Elementary.
Building relationships and connections is important to Dunn. “Once the relationships and connections are established,” she said, “then we can move forward and I can support in whatever way needs to happen.”
She believes that education is important for her students because it allows them opportunities, just as school did for her. “Elementary school students are a gift given to us where we can see what works and what doesn’t for students,” she commented. “It builds confidence and a sense of accomplishment and belonging.”
Dunn, however, isn’t all business all of the time. On her days off, she can be found wherever her family is. She has two children, both of whom are JCPS students, and they like to do projects around the house and just hang out.
She said that television is her escape because of the mindless thinking it requires. “I’m a little boring,” Dunn said. As a former music teacher, Dunn loves all things related to music, including Broadway musicals.
She also loves photographs and scrapbooking, mainly documenting her children’s special moments for them to look back on when they are older.
Aruba is her favorite place on Earth. She and her husband honeymooned there. “I love the idea of tropical and the all-inclusive resort where everything is at your fingertips,” she said.
Dunn’s vision for McGee’s Crossroads Elementary is as wide as the horizon. She plans to take the community and lead it right on the track it’s already going. “My vision is just going with that,” she said. “My vision is already here and established.”
She sees the future of McGee’s Crossroads Elementary as one where students grow academically and socially, and help them make the world a better place. “I see McGee’s excelling,” she said. “We’re going to do whatever so the students thrive.”