Press enter or return to search.


Mr. Bo Dixon

Amid the centennial celebration with fireworks, street vendors, parachutes, and general commotion last month, it was almost impossible to capture the full experience of the day. One thing most students did miss was the opportunity to meet Mr. Bo Dixon, who was the headmaster of the Columbus Academy from 1977-1987 and celebrated the school’s 75th birthday in 1986. One of only three living headmasters,Dixon is the polar opposite of what you would expect a former headmaster to be. His unassuming personality and genuine charm light up a room. His ability to connect with students is evident from the moment he begins to talk. In fact, as we sat down with Dixon, a former faculty member came over and put him in a playful headlock as the two exchanged warm greetings.

The first thing we noticed about Dixon was how he immediately engaged with us on a personal level. He jovially greeted us with a firm handshake and encouraging smile, and instantly, we felt like we had known him for years. As he spoke about his experiences in education throughout his life, it became clear that his ability to connect with teenagers served as a large asset for him. Dixon spent much of his time at all boys’ schools, so when asked about managing a co-educational institution, he says, “I had a lot to learn.” But he used his talent of communicating well with students to overcome this. Mr. Dixon says, “I remember gathering a group of seniors and asking them to inform me at meetings once a week whether I was ever showing a blind spot to girls’ interests.”

Dixon did not find co-education was a challenge. His capacity to see his students’ points of view made this transition easier. Dixon says, “Overall, I think kids are kids. And kids want respect. So I don’t think I had to switch to a different gear with co-education. I just always tried to ask kids what their perspective was.”

His aptitude in this area also made discipline less of a struggle. When asked about the hardest disciplinary issue he had to deal with,  Dixon answers, “The good news is, there weren’t very many. Most kids understood what was expected of them. But the few disciplinary issues were mostly around alcohol and kids speeding on Campus Drive! I once interrupted a class to make an example of a student going 40 miles per hour on the driveway!” In addition to safety, Dixon considered enforcing dress code a priority. He states, “Dress code has to do with tradition. I didn’t want Columbus Academy to be like any other school. And dress code sets us apart. There is a certain decorum and tradition which I respect.”

Regarding ther stress of college applications, Dixon says, “There’s definitely more pressure, because of the media. But my belief and advice to students is that where you go to school doesn’t make any difference. But what you do there does.”

Dixon’s concern for the future of education is apparent, as he says, “My biggest worry is that somehow, unconsciously, schools begin to look at things with lesser expectations. What should be considered average starts being considered as really good and schools pat themselves on the back for achievement when they really shouldnt. I believe that schools should stay focused on excellence.”

Students and teachers alike can all learn something from Dixon’s affable personality and talent for understanding people. As Dixon told us, “I learn so much from you guys.”

Written by Sandhya Ramaswamy’12 and Harry Wexner’13. Photo by Elliot Nick’14.


Comments are closed.