New Dean of Students: Jennifer Rundles


Richard Zhang, Managing Editor of Digital

 When Chris Tennyson was announced the new Head of School in March of 2022, a new question arose: “Who would be the next Dean of Students?” After an open search of candidates for the position, Jennifer Rundles was named the new Dean of Students in July of 2022. 

Growing up just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Rundles described herself as a lifelong scholar, “I have an undergraduate degree in chemistry, and I have always loved math and science, but I also love history at the same time.” However, before her long stint in education, Rundles worked for the Coca-Cola company as a Quality Assurance Technician – checking the sugar levels, carbonation, preservatives, and the taste to see if the coke formula was ready to go. After a few years working in STEM, Rundles decided it was time to share her lifelong passion for scholarship with students and began working at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina, an all-girls boarding high school. For 15 years, Rundles taught chemistry, physics, math, and also served as the Associate Dean of Academics and the Interim Dean of Students. Rundles felt for a change of scenery and “decided to go back closer to home” through her next job at the Darlington School in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia called Rome. There, she worked as the Associate Head of the Upper School. 

An attractive feature of LFA’s location to Rundles was the diversity of the city of Chicago and its surrounding area. She said, “this gave me an opportunity to be really set in a place of diversity that I really love, because Raleigh (North Carolina) is very diverse, and going from that for 15 years to Rome (Georgia) where I didn’t really feel that, made me want to go to another place that was similar to my experience in Raleigh.” 

She loves to steer students towards their ‘aha’ moment and said, “What drives me the most is being able to create spaces for students to be able to have as many of those moments as possible.” Through dorm-life, Rundles enjoys talking to students and getting to know them “in a way that I don’t think I have otherwise.” She is able to hang out in the commons, go on van runs, and participate in dorm events with the students she is looking to work so closely with. In her free time, Rundles also enjoys baking and binge-watching tv shows; her current being a rewatch of Game of Thrones in preparation for the new series coming out on HBO. 

Rundles called this year her “exploratory year” where she will talk to students and try to answer questions: “What is the culture at LFA?” and “What do we do and why do we do it?” This is her path to understanding the community and learning how she could make it even more enjoyable for everyone. With this, she said that her goals for the year are to “try something new and if they go over great, perfect. If they don’t, let’s try something else, or let’s adjust what we’ve done. Let’s explore and just try things out.” 

Regarding her bigger plans for the future, Rundles says she’s not too sure yet but “helping students try something new and being open to creating spaces where students can learn, grow, fall down, pick themselves up and keep pushing” are the objectives she wants to focus on to help the school grow.