There's this African saying that a teacher's reward is in heaven. Why? This is because it is commonly believed that teachers do not get enough reward for their work on behalf of their students.
Did you ever have a teacher who went all out for you? Do you talk about the good old days in school and remember a particular teacher who positively influenced you? It might not even be a teacher. A coach? Counselor? Principal?
Well, students of North Charleston have a principal who has been changing lives. We know what a principal's job description is - to keep things in order, ensuring classes run smoothly with each student benefitting maximally. Well, this principal went above and beyond.
He Took A Second Job To Support His Students
Principal Henry Darby took a job at Walmart to support his students at school financially. Oh, he was not a part-time manager. He stocked shelves. Now that is really out of the box.
I'm sure you had a teacher who advised you on how to succeed academically or who went out of his way to visit you at home. But, financial support for you and your classmates? That is a one-in-a-million show of support.
Why He Did That
Darby believes in giving back to his community. His giving back clearly involves his students as well. On the TODAY Show, he got quite emotional when he said:
"I get a little emotional because when you've got children you've heard, sleeping under a bridge, or a former student and her child, they're sleeping in a car, or when you go to a parent's house because there are problems and you knock on the door, there are no curtains, and you see a mattress on the floor."
Darby realized that 90% of his students lived below the poverty line. In his words,
"And these people need - and I wasn't gonna say no. At my age, we don't ask for money. We just don't. You just go ahead and do what you need to do."
After thinking of how he could help, he decided to take up a job that allows him to donate 100% of his earnings. The principal worked an overnight job from 10 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. on selected weekdays.
His Day-Job Remained A Secret
It is admirable that he did not blow his own trumpet, that is, in this case, tell others about his good deeds in a cue to earn praise. His coworkers at Walmart were unaware of the fact that he was a principal during the day. Neither were they aware of his reason for taking the job.
Darby's manager at Walmart, Cynthia Solomon, shared her experience working with Darby on the TODAY show.
"Even before we knew, there was something special about him. I would be so happy to have Mr. Darby for as long as he will have us as a part of his family and beyond."
Dealing With The Attention
Although he tried to keep his second job under the radar, it became known. He has been getting a lot of attention and he says:
"The attention, I'm not used to it. I don't think I've done anything worthy of distinction or to warrant the attention."
Well, his students do not agree with him. They realize how extraordinary he is and are beyond grateful for his selflessness. They keep talking about how he is always ready to help anybody. One student said:
"He's there when you least expect it, but when you need him the most."
An Unexpected Surprise
When Walmart found out about the principal's selfless act, they surprised him on the TODAY show. To support the school, he received a $50,000 check.
He does not want his students to pay it back. He just wants them to pay it forward. He urges them to support others when they are in a position to help.
An Embodiment Of Everything An Educator Should Be
In his own words:
"I am an optimist. But I'm also a determinist. I know that it's going to get better. I know that these times will not always be with us. I know that my students will not always be in poverty. I know that because that's what we are. America makes it better for everybody."
Henry Darby is an inspiration to all, urging us to do what we can for others. There is also the lesson of going out of our way to help, not just helping when convenient. He truly is an embodiment of everything an educator should be.