Future Walnut Grove principal prepares for grand opening

Dustin Toth looks forward to creating a positive culture for ‘Wildcats’


Dustin Toth

As he holds his new sneakers, the future principal of Walnut Grove High School, Dustin Toth, receives customized Walnut Grove Nike Air Force I shoes. Toth was gifted these shoes by future Wildcats. He visited the Mathnasium in Prosper. The owner of Mathnasium is Jen Sanchez.

The first time he opened a new school he wore a mask, stayed six feet apart, and saw only students’ eyes – with part online and others in-person. These 2o20 pandemic obstacles didn’t keep principal Dustin Toth from starting a legacy at Rock Hill High School.

Now, that the world is out of the grips of the pandemic, the opening of another new school brings new opportunities and provides a fresh start for Toth as he opens Walnut Grove without the presence of COVID-19. In August of 2020, Toth participated in the grand opening of Rock Hill. In the fall of 2023, Walnut Grove will open.

“I think being able to go into the school year where we’re not having to do the different restrictions (due to COVID-19) and just have a normal opening will be neat,” Toth said. “Because, we didn’t get to experience that (in previous years.)”

With less COVID-related restrictions put in place, Toth said he anticipates this grand opening to be a ‘normal’ experience.

I’m excited to help create new traditions and establish a legacy there, but most importantly to be a Wildcat. I’ve only been able to meet Mr. Toth a few times, but he seems really, really nice. I can tell he’s excited to be at Walnut Grove next year, and that makes me excited to get to know him better.

— Nicole Steel, sophomore

“It’s going to be exciting, you know, I (opened a school) one time and that was fun,” Toth said. “Just being able to have an opportunity again. It’s going to be fun to kind of start all those new traditions, and everybody’s excited – everything’s new. So it’s just a really good experience.”

Before becoming principal at Rock Hill, Toth served as assistant principal at Prosper High. Now, as he reflects on the accomplishments achieved at Rock Hill, he looks forward to hosting events throughout the next school year for the students at Walnut Grove.

“So last year (at Rock Hill), we had a lot of success – we had different events, and we put on some really great concerts,” Toth said. “We even went to state softball – had some runners go to state, and golfers, we had a lot of events, so I think just being able to (experience those events was) really awesome.”

Mr. Toth’s strongest leadership ability is to build culture, and you can feel a difference in the atmosphere of the schools he leads. For students, he let us have a say in almost every single decision that was made, and when you feel like your voice is being valued, it makes you want to come to school every day. I don’t think I have ever seen a school where so many people want to come to school as I did at Rock Hill. His ability to impact people’s lives says a lot about him as a person and leader.

— Grant Johnson, 2021 Rock Hill graduate

Walnut Grove will open in the fall of 2023. Toth said there were many moments from Rock Hill that he will miss – some of them being the friendships he’s created with students and staff members.

“We built that staff and relationships with our students – and also our teachers,” Toth said. “And some of them will be coming over to Walnut Grove, and so, I think we can (try to) build that from nothing. It’s a really cool place, and so (I’m) definitely going to miss being there. But, (I’m) also excited about (the) opportunity to grow.”

Part of his responsibility is setting up and managing all of the technology at WGHS.

“Well, the biggest challenge would be technology because you can even look around here, and there’s so much technology that goes into it,” Toth said. “So when you open a new school, you hope that it’s going to work the way it’s supposed to work. But, a lot of times, there are some bugs to iron out.”

Throughout the year, Toth works with his team to keep everything running smoothly.

I am really looking forward to new opportunities and the overall brand new environment.

— Shayla Desai, freshman

“I think that’s the biggest thing is just seeing if there’s anything that needs to be fixed, or if there’s something (that needs to be) in the classroom that’s not there,” Toth said. “I think those things are challenges that you have to work through.”

Excited to begin this new journey at Walnut Grove, Toth said he hopes to make it a fun place for students and staff.

“I mean, it’s going to be a great experience,” Toth said. “Like I said, it’s scary because there’s nothing there. And, so then, you’re like, what’s it going to be like? But, I think we’re going to hire some great people – some great directors and coaches that are going to be making it a fun place.”

Toth said he hopes to make Walnut Grove a place where students want to be while preparing them for college.

“I think that the biggest thing, and that’s always my goal as a principal, is to make it a fun place for kids. I don’t want (Walnut Grove) to be someplace that people are going to dread coming to school,” Toth said. “So that’s always our goal, and you know, it’s going to look like a college, and so (we hope to) be able to use that space to get kids ready for college.”

Toth said one goal takes prominence.

“Make it a great place for students, I think that’s (my) No. 1 goal,” Toth said. “And then, also make it a place where our staff wants to be – I think if we do those two things, it’ll be successful.”

Editor’s Note: This story received updates on March 6.