Dear St. Paul Community,
I write to share with you a letter I received yesterday from Ken Cheeseman regarding a new calling that God has placed on his life:
In my time at St. Paul, I have written thousands of letters, and this one is the most difficult to write. I write to tender my resignation as Head of School at St. Paul Christian Academy, effective on my 51st birthday, December 31, 2016. I have accepted the position as the President-elect of Fort Worth Christian in North Richland Hills, Texas. While Cathy and I are convinced that this is God’s call on our lives, we both are sad to leave this special school community. St. Paul has been one of the greatest blessings in our lives.
God has been so gracious and generous to me and my family during these past 16 years. He has allowed us to build a treasure chest of wonderful memories of watching our children blossom in this community. Our three oldest children, Allison, Claire, and Carter, all alumni from St. Paul, deepened their faith under the tutelage of this extraordinary faculty and developed curiosity, grit, and the desire to be their best while being nurtured and challenged during their childhood years at St. Paul. In short, they formed a foundation of excellence that has equipped them to thrive in their next-level schools. Our little Abby Faith is excited to come to school every day because of the ways she is known and loved by this community. Cathy and I will forever be grateful to this community for helping us raise our daughters and son to know and love the Lord, strive for their utmost, and selflessly invest in community as servant-leaders.
It has always been my hope and prayer that whenever God called me to another school community, He would have allowed me to invest in St. Paul in ways and by means that made our school and our precious community a better place than when I arrived. Looking at the extraordinary work our faculty have accomplished in the hearts and minds of our graduates and current students, I am so encouraged and grateful. Reflecting on the changes in the physical plant and assets that the school now has, I am blessed. Examining the academic and Christian character strengths of our St. Paul students, I am humbled by the work of which God has allowed me to be a part. God has been so gracious in allowing me to partner with extraordinary men and women on this faculty and board over these sixteen years, and it is through the synergies of those relationships that God accomplished much for our school.
As I ponder my closing months among our parents and this esteemed faculty, I know that I will carry a piece of each of them in my heart as I make my transition to Fort Worth. I am a far richer man for having been immersed in this precious community! St. Paul will always hold a deep and special place in my soul. I look forward to the fall semester, helping St. Paul continue to be the best version of itself and to helping you find the next head of school whom God is calling to lead our community. Godspeed! I am
Yours in Christ,
Head of School
Ken has served as the Headmaster at St. Paul Christian Academy for 16 years – longer than any other St. Paul Head of School. In those 16 years, he has guided our school with wisdom, integrity and a deep, abiding passion for our mission: to integrate academic excellence with a passion for Christ to develop a strong foundation for young leaders who uniquely shape the world in which they live. When Ken came to St. Paul, he was a 34-year-old former English Teacher and Academic Dean at Brentwood Academy. As he departs on December 31, 2016, Ken will leave a lasting and powerful legacy that will impact our school for years to come.
The scope of Ken’s vision has changed St. Paul in every conceivable dimension. Ken crafted and oversaw significant curriculum enhancements, which have resulted in St. Paul’s superlative academic performance in an unfailingly Christian environment. Our graduates are consistently ranked among the most competitive students in the seventh grade prep school admissions process in Nashville and go on to lead and excel at their middle and high schools. He has established a collaborative culture in the faculty, staff and administrative team that ensures our students are known, loved, and challenged to be their best for God’s glory.
Under Ken’s leadership, St. Paul launched the country’s first elementary one-to-one Apple laptop initiative, and introduced Wi-Fi and many classroom-based technologies including iPads, MacBooks and SmartBoards. Ken championed a capital campaign that brought St. Paul 60,000 feet of new and renovated teaching and learning space, including our state-of-the-art gymnasium and meeting space (the Rochford Center), the fine arts building (Schaeffer Hall), the library building and the clock tower (Kuyper Hall). Three new playgrounds have been developed along with an outdoor athletic complex featuring a state of the art turf track (Massey Athletic Complex), which, as all of you know, is very dear to Ken’s heart. His vision has created a physical plant that supports a wonderful environment for curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular teaching and learning.
So what is next for St. Paul? The passing of the torch from Ken to a worthy successor will be conducted with the utmost deliberation and prayerfulness. There is no greater privilege or responsibility for your Board of Trust. The Board is already in the process of appointing a search committee, which will conduct a national search for a new head of school. St. Paul parent and former Board of Trust Chair Joe Cook has graciously agreed to lead this effort. We have also retained the services of Charter Resource Group to advise us as we begin this important work.
Throughout the summer and until the search is complete, the Board and the search committee will actively update our full school community on the search process. There will be an area devoted to the head of school search on the school website. Please check the website on Monday and the Weekly Academy News for a survey we will use to collect input from our community on the attributes of the next Head of School. There will also be a guide that you and your family can use to pray for Ken, for Fort Worth Christian, for St. Paul, for our search process and for our next Head of School. As we begin to identify finalists, we will host forums in which you can meet, hear from and interact with the candidates themselves.
In the more immediate term, your children will have questions about this transition. Please take a moment tonight to let them know about this announcement. Let them know that the job at Fort Worth Christian is a wonderful opportunity for Ken and that he will continue to be at our school until December. Assure them that their teachers and friends and everything special about St. Paul will continue. Most importantly, remind them this is all part of God’s plan – both for Ken and for our school.
To say that the St. Paul community will miss Ken, Cathy, Allison, Claire, Carter and little Abby Faith is an enormous understatement. As one parent and faculty member shared recently, “The ministry of St. Paul Christian Academy has blessed my family forever. God has used you, Mr. Cheeseman, in powerful ways to allow St. Paul to thrive. The environment of trust, support, and faith that we experience daily is a treasure that I did not know existed in the education world. Moreover, the biblical truths and godly examples that my children witness everyday cause my knees to bow in deep gratitude.” That sense of deep gratitude is shared by all in our community.
We look forward to thanking Ken and celebrating his legacy at St. Paul over the course of the next six months, as we also look forward to bringing St. Paul a new and inspiring leader who will take St. Paul to new heights of excellence in every dimension of the life of our school.
Chair, St. Paul Board of Trust