Newberry Academy’s headmaster of 29 years will not be returning in the upcoming school year.
Former headmaster Bob Dawkins’, 64, last day was Thursday and he said that the school’s board chairman came to him last Monday asking him to retire at the end of June. The chairman also told Dawkins that the board would not be renewing the five-year contract that would expire at the end of July.
Dawkins said, “I respect their (the board’s) decision that they were ready for change. I’m not happy (with how they did it).”
The academy’s board is made up of nine parents who are nominated and then elected. Dawkins says it’s a good system and the board is made up of good people despite how they presented the decision.
In a press release that the board sent out, they stated, “On behalf of the entire Newberry Academy Family, we wanted to sincerely thank Bob Dawkins for his 29 years of service to our school and community. His dedication, love and contributions to students, parents, teachers, staff and graduates have been immeasurable. The academy’s long tradition of outstanding academic achievement, impressive list of successful graduates, and proud legacy of championship athletic teams would not have been possible without his leadership. We wish Mr. Dawkins all the best and extend our eternal thanks for all that he has done to impact so many at our school. A statewide search for a new headmaster will commence immediately and a search committee has been formed.”
Dawkins says that he will miss the school in which there is an amazing student body along with a great staff.
“Newberry needs that school,” said Dawkins, “for those who prefer independent education. It is a fabulous school.”
While the rules and regulations are strict and according to Dawkins has been toughened out during his 29 year tenure, the students stay out of trouble and become assets to the world. Dawkins says the school provides training for life.
He mentions that he has run the school the same way today as he has always has.
However, Dawkins does mention that in his 29 years, the thing that has changed the most is the attitude of the parents.
“They love our rules until it’s their child that has broken one of the rules,” says Dawkins, adding that is generally true of any school, independent, private and public.
Hard decisions are part of the job, according to Dawkins. In fact, there were a couple of contracts for teachers that he did not renew for the upcoming year which he states was for educational purposes.
“I’m here to hire people who are there to teach, not be best friends with students,” said Dawkins, who points out that one was a good friend of his which is not an easy thing to do.
He says that it’s not possible to keep everyone happy and that there are always parents who do not like a decision he has made.
As for what Dawkins will do now, he is not quick to make any decisions. Dawkins was formerly in the business field before becoming headmaster in 1983.
All three of his children attended and graduated from the academy in 1993, 1994 and 1995. While he says he applied for the job because of his children, he stayed there because he fell in love with it and had found his niche.
As for the next headmaster, Dawkins says tough skin is a needed requirement and he wants the school to continue and to succeed.
“Newberry Academy is and has been for 46 years a real asset to this community,” says Dawkins, adding that there is no government assistance and the school is totally on the shoulders of the parents.
Newberry Academy is a member of the South Carolina Independent Schools Association (SCISA) and has been since 1966.