7 Questions with Seth Parrish
Name: Seth Parrish
Current title: Upper School Principal
Current organisation: Christian Heritage School
11 years as a secondary school teacher, 13 as a school principal, in Tennessee, New England and Asia. Recently hired as the next Head of School at Presbyterian Christian School in Mississippi (Fall 2021).
1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?
The biggest challenge in Christian school leadership is being considerate and wise in giving direction and support for constituents with distinctly different ideas of what Christian school education ought to look like.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Big question! You have to prepare and protect the mind and the body for the day's work. That involves taking care of oneself spiritually and physically. I work hard to balance time between people and projects, between focus on today and focus on the future. It is valuable to spend time at a volleyball game supporting students and talking with parents. It is also valuable to be making plans and making calls about the project to build a gym that will better undergird the success of that team. one has to be strategic about what time is spent where.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Covid-19 has provided continual reminders that all we do is built on relationships. We have recently worked so hard to be the best school in New England in way of connecting with our families and students. All we have is each other. We are proud of how we have safely provided every means possible to keep Christ at the center and to keep our team together and unified in purpose.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I'll name two resources that have leaned on a lot: You are What You Love, by James K.A. Smith and Culturemaking by Andy Crouch. I also enjoy Craig Groeschel's Leadership podcast.
5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?
Tip O'Neil, longtime U.S. Senate leader, entitled his book "All Politics is Local." I would say that, unless one is very well resourced, the best teachers for your school are going to either be in your greater local community or be second-tier connections to that community. If they know your mission and they celebrate that or have been impacted by it, they are going to self-sacrificially give to make your school a better place. That is the starting point for success.
6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
They have to know I have their backs, and they have to be the kind of people who are eager to be growing in faith and in their professional lives. I'm here to lead our communal growth in Christ. We have to make one another better and be eager to move beyond the status quo. I have to lead by example of caring, loving, and challenging.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a Christian school leader so far?
We recently received a note from a guy we'd come very close to kicking out of school. He had a terrible attitude; his grades were horrible; his behavior reflected all of that. He left our school having graduated, but only having changed enough to get by. He saw the light while at Baylor. He changed. He wrote having just received an exclusive scholarship to a PhD program at Purdue. He wrote saying, "Thanks for not giving up on me. I saw; I noticed; I'm okay now because of you." This profession pays you back years down the road.