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Investiture of Carol Killebrew, Head of School

August 24, 2018

I want to begin by thanking today’s speakers for sharing their words of wisdom, and I am confident that I will reflect on them during those times when I find the answers that I am seeking are not quickly available.

I also want to thank President Doran for the mentorship and friendship that she has extended to me since my arrival.

And I especially want to thank my husband, Tony Meyers, for willingly making this move to Winston-Salem so that I could fulfill a dream. His support of my career has been selfless, and I am very fortunate to have him by my side.

I am a lover of words - narratives, song lyrics, poems, movie quotations - you name it, and I have quoted them, repeated them, butchered them, and adored them. Last year I started a journal that contains quotations from things that I had read or heard. In crafting today’s delivery, I decided it would be worthwhile to thumb through it in order to gain some inspiration. It did not take long for me to find exactly what I needed.

This quote is from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 11:

“We drink from wells we did not dig; we are warmed by fires we did not kindle.”

If these words aren’t humbling, I don’t know what is.

Here we are, on a campus that is almost 250 years old; on land that was purposely selected to build an educational institution for girls during a time when education for girls was not a priority.

We sit here in the pews of Home Moravian Church, and I hope that the setting of this ceremony is not lost on you. Salem Academy was founded by members of the Moravian Church, and our own school’s mission is shaped by the church’s beliefs which stress the importance of education and learning. I have a hand towel in my guest bathroom that has the Moravian motto on it, and it goes like this: In essentials, Unity. In non-essentials, Liberty. In all things, Love. Another quotation for my journal. I am not of the Moravian faith, and I know that my definition of what is essential is probably not what was intended when you read about the history of this motto, but I would like to share how these words apply to me in my role as Head of School.

It is essential that we provide an exceptional high school experience to young women. I am a product of a girls’ school and have only worked in girls’ schools, so my commitment to schools for girls is unbending. In my more than thirty years in education, when parents start to question whether or not to send their daughter to an all-girls’ school, I always say, “You only get one shot at high school, so why wouldn’t you want your daughter to have an experience where she can enhance her strengths, uncover her talents, discover her voice, and chart her path to a life of success. This will always happen in a girls school.”

It is essential that we educate the whole person. So much learning takes place in a non-traditional classroom setting, and the faculty and staff at Salem Academy recognize it and continue to present methods and means for students to grow in all areas of their lives. Last Saturday I spoke to the new parents about my wish that all students will be able to find a way to unplug from the demands of teenage life and just find peace - that can be in prayer, in meditation, on a run, in art, or simply in quiet. We all need to be well.

It is essential that we are grateful for the people who have come before us and the things that have been done for our benefit. And it is also essential that we return the favor and leave this place a little bit better than we found it. We can easily do this if we smile a little more often, if we use kindness with more intention, and if we care with our hearts.

Which brings me to the last part of the motto: In all things, Love. I have been here only a few short weeks, but I love what I am doing. I love the students who have been so welcoming and kind during these first few days of school. I love the Salem Academy Community who work tirelessly for the benefit of others and are often surprised when you say “Thank you.” And we all need to say “thank you” more often. I love driving down the school driveway every morning - what a welcoming place our beautiful campus is. But these are all my experiences of what I receive, so how am I going to share love? As an educator, there is only one way that I know how:

I vow to prioritize Salem students – those who have graduated, those who sit in front of me today, and those who are destined to join our ranks. Salem Academy is rich in history, rich in tradition, rich in accomplishments, and rich in results. I came to Salem Academy in part because I was reminded about something that I always write in the front of any journal that I begin: Go where you can make a difference and where a difference will be made in you.

You have already made such a tremendous difference in my life, and I am ready to return the favor. Thank you.