Ryan S. Dahlem Begins Tenure as Ninth Head of School

Ryan S. Dahlem is the ninth head of school at Rivers. He arrived on July 1, 2023, having previously served as assistant head of school at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, a PK–12 school of 1,240 students in San Juan Capistrano, CA. There, he created a unique student-centered Innovation Strategy rooted in design thinking that has been recognized nationally in the world of independent schools. At Rivers, Ryan continues that approach of student-centered learning, built on a foundation of strong relationships and the school’s philosophy of Excellence with Humanity.
"Above all, I value deeply personal relationships between educators and students. They are at the heart of a transformational education."
Ryan graduated from Stanford University with an AB in psychology and from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a master’s degree in teaching and curriculum. He is a trained musician and avid mountaineer who has climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. Ryan and his wife, Anne, have three children: Peter, Ella, and Colin.

Ryan was initially drawn to The Rivers School for its mission, core values, and tradition of Excellence with Humanity, which, he said, resonates deeply with his own educational philosophy. Building on the school’s momentum, he is delighted to lead Rivers into its next chapter.


Ryan S. Dahlem, our ninth head of school, spent several days on the Rivers campus before his official arrival. He visited classrooms, met with students and faculty members, and began the process of becoming a member of the Rivers community. We caught up with him on one of his early visits, and in this video, he shares his first impressions of the school and his excitement about his new role.

Head of School News

List of 3 news stories.

  • July 1 marks the official arrival of new Head of School Ryan Dahlem.

    Ryan Dahlem, Ninth Head of School, Begins Tenure Tomorrow

    On July 1, the next chapter for The Rivers School begins as ninth Head of School Ryan S. Dahlem arrives on campus, ready to assume his new role. In anticipation of this pivotal moment, Alan D. Rose Jr. ’87, president of the Board of Trustees, shared the following letter with the Rivers community.
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  • Head of School Ned Parsons, Anne and Ryan Dahlem, and Board President Alan D. Rose, Jr. at last Tuesday's gathering in The Revers Center.

    Incoming Head of School Ryan Dahlem Returns to Rivers

    It was back to school last week for students—and back to Rivers for incoming Head of School Ryan Dahlem, who paid his second extended visit to campus to meet with various constituencies in the community from March 27 to 29. Dahlem was accompanied by his wife, Anne, and the Dahlems took the opportunity to further acquaint themselves with the community ahead of their July move to Weston. Dovetailing with a busy admission session, the visit advanced Dahlem’s immersion by broadening the focus to current and newly admitted families.
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  • Mr. Dahlem visited an advanced art class and served as the

    Getting Acquainted: Incoming Head of School Ryan Dahlem Visits Campus for Two-Day Immersion

    Incoming Head of School Ryan Dahlem visited The Rivers School on February 2 and 3 for a two-day immersion in the life of the school that included classroom visits and meetings with students, trustees, faculty, staff, deans, and department chairs. The itinerary, mapped out by the Heads Transition and Support Committee, was designed to give Mr. Dahlem an opportunity to experience the culture and community of Rivers firsthand before his official start in July.
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