Conversations with our Headmaster

 

Click here to read Dr. Carleton's Blog.

 

On the educational side of things…

What is your philosophy towards education and young children?  How do you see yourself nurturing our mission of family, school and church united in the education and support of each child?  What compelled you to come to Presbyterian School?
(I’ll answer these three together.)  The children we teach at Presbyterian School will live, think, and learn almost exclusively in the 21st century, which will be characterized by a higher level of thinking that adapts to today’s rapidly changing world. Our students must no longer be passive recipients of facts and figures that they dutifully memorize and just as dutifully forget after a quiz or test is turned in. In a world where knowledge is always expanding, our challenge as educators is to stay ahead of that expansion by teaching our students to become better and more creative thinkers.  Into this complex context, I hope that I will promote a philosophy of education that is rooted in Christ’s teachings about the Kingdom of God, which is to say that highly stimulating and challenging learning should be available to all—regardless of station, status, or style.  I take very seriously Christ’s message that “whatsoever we do to the least of these, that we do unto Him,” and I hope that its challenges are reflected in the work we all do.  Academic programs that are rooted in moral purpose and that seek to grow critical and creative thinking skills will develop our children into adults prepared for a lifetime of thoughtful living, learning, and leading. 

In this important partnership, it is incumbent upon all of us to provide each of our students with as many opportunities to develop critical and creative thinking skills as possible with the aid of technology, experience, expertise, and desire.  As future leaders and problem solvers, our children will regularly grapple with challenges that we can only imagine today.  How exciting and invigorating are their future possibilities - it is our privilege to take part in their journey.

Our most important task in this endeavor is to promote an understanding of our mission, which has at its heart a powerful and dynamic partnership among three critical constituencies in children’s lives.  “Family, school, and church united in the education and support of each child” is a compelling statement because we see in our culture too many examples of these three institutions neither working together, educating, nor supporting children.  What compels me as the Head of this good school is the lofty premise that together we can be counter-cultural in promoting a new generation of leaders who will embrace a different world view and who will advance a different sort of excellence.

What piece of advice would you share with our graduates and alumni? The best advice that I’ve ever been given is a fact of nature that I try desperately to understand with only limited success: there is a reason God gave us one mouth and two ears.  The famous children’s author and illustrator, Shel Silverstein, had these wise words to say about listening, which I think provide great advice to all of us: “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 

On the introspective side of things…. 

What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life?  I’ll answer this vaguely and say that those accomplishments that I have realized after many difficult failures along the way are the most rewarding.  (Parenting my two children comes to mind very vividly when considering this idea!)  As another piece of advice to graduates and alumni, those things that come easily to us aren’t nearly as satisfying as those things for which we really and truly have to work.  

Who has had the most influence in your life? My wife Laurel is, without a doubt, the most significant influence in my life.  She is a woman of incredible sincerity, faith, warmth, and intelligence who makes me better every day in every way.  There is no harder worker, better mother, or faithful servant than she, and I am humbled to walk beside her through life.

What is your motto in life?  I take my personal motto from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous poem “Ulysses”: To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

What word describes you best?  Indefatigable

On the lighter side of things….

Tell us about your family.  Laurel and I have been married for twenty-one years, and we have two great children: Camille (apparently named for the famous Hurricane) who is thirteen years old and Richard (named for Laurel’s father) who is nine years old.

What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?  We love to swim together, which usually involves lots of splashing, dunking, throwing, and laughing!

What are your hobbies?  Laurel constantly accuses me of not having a hobby, which is probably true.  That being said, I try to run when I can--especially if I have a good TED Talk or podcast to listen to--and I do love to read.  (In the fall, I can also be seen snatching glances at college football and the Major League Baseball playoffs, when they're on TV.)  One of my goals each year is to pick up a hobby, so who knows what this year will hold?!?

What is your favorite candy?  This is actually a pretty easy question: Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M’s.  Ask anyone who knows me, and they will speak with great concern about this addiction.  I am not proud to admit it, but there are days when all I eat are these delicious morsels.  (Perhaps that explains the word that best describes me!)

What are your favorite sports teams?  Since our move to Houston eight years ago, we have become huge Texans fans and are suffering with our Astros.  We are also very passionate about the LSU Tigers and will fly that school’s flag proudly outside our house.  Having grown up on the LSU campus, having received a Masters degree from there, and then having married an LSU graduate, purple and gold flow through all of our veins.

Where’s your favorite place to travel or where would you like to travel?  We love any place with a beach and try to avoid winter and cold weather at all costs...we've also been known to ride Splash Mountain and Space Mountain at Disney World over and over and over.

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