We tell our students that what we get out of something is proportional to what we put into it. Want to make an “A” on the history quiz? Put in “A”-level work and study time. Want to be a starter on the soccer team? Practice like a starter. It’s an adage that holds true for most situations in life, but I can’t help but feel like I cheated a bit on this. You see, as I prepare to leave the director’s position, I do so knowing that – no matter how many 60-plus hour weeks, 5 AM phone calls and broken buses/fire alarms/roofs/sewers/latest thing I dealt with – I came out on top in this deal. Being the director of Chinquapin has been the most rewarding professional experience of my life. No matter the challenges that face the school, the spirit of the Chinquapin community lifts up all in its path.
For seven years I have had the privilege of being a part of this community, of helping choose each student to become a Burr, and of calling out the names of our graduating seniors as they walk across the stage and into an exciting new chapter of their lives. I have worked the golf tournament, lost sleep at night worrying about making payroll, driven a mini-bus, mopped the dining hall, killed dozens of wasps, and pulled more weeds than I thought imaginable. I have been able to share the story of Chinquapin with so many caring individuals, whether through tours, presentations, or just people who made the mistake of asking what I do for a living. It is a missionary-like zeal that shines through when I speak of this place that has changed so many lives. While I enjoyed leading schools prior to Chinquapin, none ever inspired this passion in me. My life has been made richer, fuller, and much more fulfilled than before.
Bob Moore’s vision lives on at Chinquapin. His belief in the power of education and the long-lasting impact that it has on both the students and their families imbues our daily work with passion and purpose. You see it in every interaction, from chores to calculus to coaching. Our students want to learn and understand how important it is to their future. Our faculty and staff are inspired to give their best because they experience the impact of their work in tangible ways every day. The support, teamwork and collegial atmosphere on campus are the best I have ever seen.
There is always more work to be done, whether in curriculum, systems or facilities. While we made improvements to the campus during my time here – including our first girls’ dormitory, a new dining hall, administration offices, and sixth grade classroom, as well as a remodeled gym – much remains to be done. Roofs need replacing, classrooms need painting, and two buildings are slated to be remodeled for more productive use. But the sense of community and commitment to a greater good is as apparent as ever. The new director will take over a school where the mission burns as brightly as it did 50 years ago in a time when the need for Chinquapin is critical. May it bring them as much meaning and fulfillment as it did me.
Laura Henry, Ed.D.