CCS welcomes a new leadership team in the 2019-2020 school year. We are excited to have Laurie Thigpen as our new Head of School and Dawn Russell as Assistant Head of School. They took the time this summer to answer a few questions, so that new and returning families can get to know them.
Would you describe the responsibilities of your new position?
Laurie: My main responsibility is to faithfully lead CCS families, students, faculty, and staff in fulfilling our mission to provide a biblically based and classically taught education as well as to provide an atmosphere which allows students to cultivate a deeper relationship with Christ. On a practical level, this means making sure that all the many areas of operation of the school are functioning well. We are blessed with wonderful faculty and staff who are working hard in many different areas, but all with the same goal to fulfill our mission.
Dawn: Overall, my responsibilities are to promote our school mission and support and encourage our school families and teachers. My role as Assistant Head is a support role to Laurie, so I look forward to conferencing with her as well as praying with her. Since this is a new position this year, some of the more specific responsibilities will be developing as we go. For the immediate future I will be more in the day-to-day operations of the Grammar School and learning more about our Upper School.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to the new leadership role you are assuming.
Laurie: My family first joined the CCS family in 2007. I brought my children from homeschool to CCS in grades 1,3, and 5. Several years later, I joined the faculty as a 4th grade teacher. I have also taught 5th, 7th, and 12th grades. In the Upper School, I taught English and Humanities. I have served as a Dean of Logic School and on the Administrative team. Since I love learning myself, I returned to school to get my master’s degree in Education. I believe the Lord ordered my steps and led me to this opportunity to serve at this time.
Dawn: I have been at CCS in a 1st grade position for 9 years, serving as Dean of the Lower Grammar School for 2 years and Dean of the Grammar School for 1 year. This gave me exposure to an administrative position, but it was truly God who led me in this new adventure. I had no desire to fill a more administrative role, but through much prayer and discussions with family, our previous Heads of School, and other trusted counselors, it became clear that God was leading in this direction.
How have you been preparing for this transition?
Laurie: The shortest and best answer is prayer! Dawn and I know that we cannot serve in our capacities without the Lord’s grace and mercy in our lives. We worked closely with Jane and Stephanie to observe them as they handled the daily tasks of the office. Their insight and advice will be invaluable. We also attended the ACCS Leadership training and made contacts with other school leaders. We rely heavily upon our wonderful staff and faculty who continue to do so much and are helping us along the way as well.
Dawn: Ditto to Laurie’s answer, and I reiterate prayer. Our experience on the administration team as deans in the past three years has also given us some exposure and experience that will benefit us this year.
What makes a classical Christian school different than a traditional school?
Laurie: I believe the distinguishing marks of classical, Christian education are its goals as well as the methods of achieving these goals. Some of these main goals are to cultivate in the students a life-long love of learning, an understanding of the world from a biblical perspective, a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ, and a love of the good, the true, and the beautiful. It was these goals that drew me to investigate classical, Christian education for my own children.
Dawn: The classical method has been proven to work over the years while traditional schools are always looking for a program that works better, leading to a lot of fluctuation and frustration. A Christian classical school teaches from a Biblical worldview in which everything is taught with the purpose of learning more about God and His creation. The classical method teaches students according to their cognitive development and how to be lifetime learners. By the time students leave CCS as a graduate, they will know how to think, speak, and write well and be able to defend their beliefs in a winsome way.
What do you like most about working for Covenant Classical School?
Laurie: I love working at CCS because I have the privilege of working with people who truly love the Lord and each other. I am continually inspired and encouraged by the servant hearts of our CCS faculty, staff, and families. I would not want to work anywhere else!
Dawn: I like the family atmosphere. I am so appreciative of the wonderful support and encouragement I have received as a teacher and as I enter this new position. I am also excited about what is taught in the classrooms for I am seeing the fruit of my own children’s education. I love that Christ is the focus and we pray together.
What is your vision for the future of CCS?
Laurie: My vision for the future is to continue to be steadfast in our commitment to provide a Christ-centered, classical education and to do so with passion, integrity, and love. I do believe the Lord will continue to provide the opportunity for us to welcome students and families into our school. I am so thankful for those He has brought us this new year. As God provides, we want to be faithful to continue the work that was started 23 years ago by Mr. and Mrs. Drye and be good stewards of the resources the Lord has given to us. We will plan wisely, always with the desire to seek and follow the Lord’s vision for CCS.
Dawn: I want us to stay on the path God has set and see the amazing things He's going to do in the school and in our students' lives. We want to continue to draw families in that are like-minded in our mission and to continue to produce warriors for Christ. I would love to see our community grow where whole families are involved in school activities, programs, and studies, not just our students.
Is there anything you most want parents and students to know about Covenant Classical?
Laurie: At Covenant, we love the Lord and desire to see students walking in a vibrant, growing relationship with Him daily. We love our students and are passionate in our desire to share our love for learning with them each day as well.
Dawn: First and foremost, our faculty and staff desire to see each child grow in his/her relationship with Christ. We want to work alongside our families in raising their children to walk closely with the Lord and to commit their lives to Him. We want to see our students thrive and become excited in what they are learning and become independent life-long learners.
Working in a leadership capacity for a school is demanding on many levels. How do you replenish yourself?
Laurie: I enjoy spending time with my family, especially when we travel together. I love sitting by the pool reading a good book. I love watching certain sports (football!) and walking (something that I need to do more!). My daily replenishing comes from my quiet time in the mornings.
Dawn: Prayer (personal and with family and friends), reading, spending time with family, playing board games, and crocheting.