The Episcopal School of Dallas announced an anonymous gift to endow and name the Outdoor Education Program honoring Peter Lutken, who retired in 2014 after teaching 26 years at ESD, and Eddie Eason, who enters his 43rd year of service to ESD this fall.
Eason stepped down as Director of Outdoor Education in June and will continue in a reduced capacity for Outdoor Education. He will remain on staff to preserve ESD’s culture for onboarding new faculty and staff and to assist with alumni parent engagement in preparation for the school's 50th anniversary celebration during the 2024-25 academic year. Together, Lutken and Eason have more than 68 years of combined service at ESD.
“This gift reinforces a school priority to add significantly to the school's endowment for the purpose of investing further in people and programs,” said Denis Stokes, ESD’s Chief Advancement Officer. “Knowing the school's priorities, our donor thoughtfully suggested a gift calling attention to an offering unique to ESD while recognizing dedication to the craft of teaching and mentoring. Endowing a program and naming it to honor Peter Lutken and Eddie Eason hits the mark on each account of our priorities.”
This program has been an integral part of ESD, emphasizing outdoor education's importance in each student's development. The Outdoor Education program began at the school's founding in 1974 when Father Swann, two teachers, and 11 students traveled to Galveston to learn about the world around them. A Quarry amplifies the program on the school's main campus, class and grade-level wilderness trips and excursions, and ESD's Wolf Run Outdoor Education Center, a 112-acre ranch near Anna, Texas.
Davis Felder will assume the Director of Outdoor Education role in the fall of 2023. Felder, a 2006 graduate of ESD, has learned from Lutken and Eason.
“I am honored to follow in the footsteps of two great ESD educators,” said Davis. “I have fond memories sitting with Mr. Lutken at the Quarry and exploring Wolf Run as pioneers with just a block of cheese and bread for lunch. Working alongside Eddie has been a true joy in my career. As a mentor, his institutional knowledge of ESD has been very helpful as we continue the traditions of this school through the Outdoor Program. I look forward to continuing to offer experiences and challenges to ESD students outside the classroom.”
Proven to be instrumental in the development of children and young adults, outdoor education offers numerous benefits that positively impact the overall well-being and academic achievements of students. Research has shown that exposure to nature and outdoor activities improves physical health, boosts cognitive function, reduces stress and anxiety, and enhances creativity and problem-solving abilities. By integrating outdoor education into the curriculum, ESD nurtures both intellectual and emotional growth.
“Learning skills that allow young men and women to succeed outdoors at a young age provides a foundation to become mature, cooperative, and positive humans who appreciate their peers and environment,” Davis continued. “Students create lifelong memories with their classmates on the trips we offer at ESD. As classroom education becomes entwined with technology and social connection grows more digital, it is more important than ever to offer simple opportunities to disconnect and help students be present and cultivate genuine relationships.”
The Lutken Eason Outdoor Education Program Endowment will ensure future students have access to transformative experiences in nature for years to come.
The Episcopal School of Dallas is situated on 42 acres in the heart of Dallas for students beginning at three years old through 12th grade. The college preparatory school is led by a nationally-recognized faculty and complemented by a full array of artistic and athletic programs, daily worship, outdoor experiences, and opportunities to lead and serve others. ESD is a member of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest and the National Association of Episcopal Schools. For more information on ESD, visit esdallas.org.