7 Questions with Andy Carter
Name: Andy Carter
Current title: Head of School
Current organisation: Tupelo Christian Preparatory School in Mississippi
I have been in my current position at TCPS since January 2020, and have been in Education for 18 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator. I have been married for 20 years to my wife, Rebekah, and have one daughter Sydney. I also serve as an elder/pastor at Providence Church in Falkner, MS.
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
I accepted the Head of School position at TCPS two months before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. While it has certainly been a challenge, I also believe it was a great opportunity for our administrative team to come together with the type of unity that is forged in adversity. I have a great team, and they have been steady through these difficult months.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up at 5:30, and get ready for the day. I have a 30 minute drive to the campus, which gives a great opportunity to think about the coming day. I read a devotion in my office, then go to the lobby to begin welcoming our teachers and students to campus. Each day is different, which is an aspect of the job I enjoy. I enjoy our school’s athletic events and activities, and try to be at as many as possible. After school, I drive home and spend time with my family.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
There is power in being a leader who lifts others up! The political nature of leadership positions can lead to an overly competitive environment, where leaders on the same team view each other as rivals and threats. When others see that you encourage, support, and even initiate their growth, it creates a great team atmosphere. One of the greatest ways to accomplish this is by getting everyone on your team in the right seat on the bus. They will thrive, and your team will operate more efficiently.
4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Biblical Servant Leadership, and the Supremacy of God in Preaching. Both of these books have helped to shape my philosophy of Christian Leadership.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
Character and willingness to learn are keys to developing good classroom teachers. A well defined hiring process with a committee approach is the best way to ensure good hires. Keeping teachers is all about building positive relationships and a positive school culture.
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
I believe that a school will in most cases take on the traits of their leadership. A leadership team must then be intentional and purposeful in modeling a positive school culture and in leading by example. For those in executive leadership positions, this means holding our teams accountable to our shared mission, vision, and goals.
7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?
This may seem insignificant, but my most meaningful story so far at TCPS started out in a difficult parent/teacher conference. After three meetings, I got a letter from the parents that described the huge change they had seen in their child. Not only had the changes affected that one student, but the parents reported that it had really changed the dynamic of their evening family time together. The changes were a product of teachers humbly being willing to change and try new things, parents doing the same, and patience by all involved. Although shepherding everyone through this process was very difficult and at times frustrating, the end result made it worth all the effort. Solving problems like this is one of the greatest parts of being in educational leadership.