Trinity Episcopal Day School prepares for new leader

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

NATCHEZ — Students at Trinity Episcopal Day School might have already said hello to the school’s new substitute teacher, but in a few months, they’ll be addressing him as their new interim head of school.

The Rev. Paul Andersen will begin new position on June 1 after current Head of School Les Hegwood leaves to attend seminary. Andersen is currently shadowing Hegwood, as well as substituting, to give him a chance to become acquainted with parents and students, as well as the day-to-day running of the school.

The school is hosting an open house today in which prospective students and their parents can tour the school and meet Anderson and others.

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The open house will have two sessions, one from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and one from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Anderson said he’s excited by his new role at Trinity.

“(Les Hegwood) has had a wonderfully productive ministry here, and God is calling him on to another kind of ministry,” Andersen said. “And I am very honored to come after him.”

Andersen’s past experience includes 10 years as the Rector at Christ Church Parish in Christchurch, Va. The church was associated with a private school, Christchurch Episcopal School.

Andersen has teaching experience at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts, Marist School in Atlanta, and has spent 20 years in the Diplomatic Corps of the U.S. State Department.

Originally Andersen and his wife visited Natchez thinking of it as a potential retirement location. Andersen said he talked with Hegwood and Trinity Episcopal Church’s pastor, the Rev. Walton Jones, who mentioned the possibility of involvement with Trinity School, given the two’s background in education.

The couple decided to come, and Andersen’s wife now teaches Spanish at Trinity. The board had another idea for Andersen.

The board decided to name Andersen interim head of school and have him shadow Hegwood to help with the transition.

“As we got to know him and understand his credentials, it just seemed like a great fit,” Board Chairman Mike Blattner said.

Hegwood said Andersen is wonderful to work with. He’s been showing him the ropes, including budgets and teacher recruitment for the upcoming year.

The school, Andersen said, is preparing to do some exciting things. It’s wonderful for an educator to work with a school that’s excited about its future and where it’s going, Andersen said.

“I think when people see where we are and where we’re going they will definitely share in our sense of joy and confidence and excitement,” Andersen said.

The school is in the first year of a five-year plan to improve in areas including technology, academics and athletics. Andersen said the school is also looking to increase its Advanced Placement offerings and expand its Global Studies program.

In the coming months, Andersen will continue to work with Hegwood. Hegwood’s last day is at the end of May, culminating four years as head of school.

The school, Hegwood said, is in a good position with a healthy, unique culture founded in Episcopal tradition and a good road map for its future, all of which were made possible by the school’s educators.

“I’m a builder and I think we have things built to a place where we can continue to go in a great direction,” Hegwood said.

Early next year, Blattner said the school would form a committee involving board members, teachers and parents to begin the search for a full-time head of school. Andersen, Blattner said, will probably become a candidate.