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Heeding the call: New Trinity head of school ‘coming home’

Les Hegwood speaks to a group of teachers, parents and Trinity Church parishioners during a reception introducing him as the new head of school at Trinity Episcopal Day School. (Photo by Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — In many ways, settling in at Trinity Episcopal Day School is a perfect fit for new Head of School Les Hegwood. And it’s the answer to his prayers.

A Jackson native, Hegwood attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal Day School from preschool until his graduation in 1997.

His wife, Corinne Hazlip Hegwood, is a native of Tensas Parish.

“This is coming home for us,” Hegwood said.

Hegwood met a group of teachers, parents and Trinity Church parishioners during a reception introducing him as the new head of school. (Photo by Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Hegwood said his calling to educate became clear when he underwent the process of discernment to explore the possibility of becoming an episcopal priest at age 25. Through the process, he was drawn to the classroom setting there.

“The process worked; I was called to educate,” Hegwood said.

Hegwood said teachers, coaches and ministers who taught him with a “purity of spirit” influenced him to follow the same path.

A love for learning also pushed him back into the classroom.

“Teaching is a chance to learn every day,” Hegwood said.

At age 33, Hegwood admits he is a reluctant administrator.

“It’s going to be hard to keep me out of the classroom,” Hegwood said.

But the former teacher and coach said the job at Trinity came at a time when he was doing a lot of thinking and praying about the next step in his career.

“Now it’s an interesting challenge for me because I get to help instructors better their crafts, and along the way (I will) learn some things myself,” he said.

Figuring out the school culture and being responsive to it has also challenged Hegwood. So far, he likes what he’s hearing from teachers, staff and parents, he said.

“The common denominator — which is what’s great — is the word family,” Hegwood said.

“I think it’s crucial to collaborate with one another, and that part of the culture is already built,” he said.

Hegwood said he wants the school to operate with a vision, but he knows the visionary process can either be meaningful or ineffective, he said.

For a vision to have meaning, he said, teachers and students must know it and repeat it.

Hegwood said he’s open minded about creating a specific vision for Trinity, but there’s one area in which he refuses to budge.

“The responsibility (of the school) needs to be to the changing needs of the students; the only thing I’ll be dictatorial about is that (the vision) is student-centered,” Hegwood said.

He said adults often forget the most important stakeholders are students.

“How are we going to facilitate the growth we expect and want?” he asked.

Hegwood will be making the Miss-Lou home with his wife, Corinne, a 2-year-old son, Hays, and a baby boy, who is due in July.

His nine years of experience come from Raymond High School in Raymond and Signal High School near Chattanooga, Tenn.

He has taught English in grades nine through 12, advanced placement English literature and composition, AP language and composition, creative writing and theory of knowledge. In addition, he has coached baseball and cross country.

He attended Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor’s in English in 2001 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction 2005 as a part of the Mississippi Teacher Corps.

Hegwood said if he leads the school like his mentors led the classroom — with a purpose — he will be answering his calling.

“It’s a selfless application…There are a lot of ‘Is’ out there, but if it can be a ‘we’ situation, it’ll be OK, and I think we’ll soar.”

 

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