Do you have a teacher who completely influenced your childhood? I’m talking about the one who made such a positive impact on you that you still remember their name and maybe even them up when you’re talking about the good old days. Could it have been your English teacher, basketball coach, or even your high school principal?
In that case, you will be happy to hear that students attending North Charleston High School have a principal who is doing just that – changing their lives.
What is a high school principal’s job? It’s making sure classes run smoothly, and students gain from their education. Right?
A second job to support his students
In addition to his job as a high school principal, Henry Darby took a job stocking shelves at Walmart to financially support the students in his school .
There have certainly been teachers who positively impacted my life. However, they absolutely didn’t get a job to support me or my fellow classmates.
Clearly, Darby is devoted to his students in a way that’s different than most educators. Talk about a stand-up guy!
How it started
Darby has always believed in giving back to his community. Not only does he give back, he, without a doubt, will do anything for his students – including getting an overnight job .
“I get a little emotional because when you’ve got children you’ve heard, sleeping under a bridge, or a former student and her child, they’re sleeping in a car, or when you go to a parent’s house because there’s problems and you knock on the door, there are no curtains, and you see a mattress on the floor,” Darby shared while holding back tears on the TODAY Show .
When he discovered that 90 percent of his students live under the poverty line, he knew it was the right thing to do.
100% of his earnings went to his students
“And these people need — and I wasn’t gonna say no. At my age, we don’t ask for money; we just don’t. You just go ahead and do what you need to do,” Darby said .
For this reason, the South Carolina high school principal got an overnight job at Walmart, from 10 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. on select days of the week.
Every single paycheck he received went to his students.
He kept his day-job a secret
It should be noted that Darby, being the amazing guy that he is, tried to keep his second job concealed. That included not telling his Walmart co-workers about his reason for taking the job. He went as far as to not tell his co-workers about his job as a principal .
Cynthia Solomon, Darby’s manager at Walmart, spoke about her experience with Darby on the TODAY Show.
“Even before we knew, there was something special about him,” Cynthia Solomon expressed. “I would be so happy to have Mr. Darby for as long as he will have us as a part of his family and beyond,” .
Getting used to the attention
When the news broke, he was shocked.
“Not only did I have to help others, I had to help others without charging them anything,” he said. “From washing windows to visiting old folk’s homes to cutting grass. I was not allowed to charge, I had to just give back to my community,” .
Unlike Darby, his students know how extraordinary he is. They know he is ready to help anyone and is beyond grateful for his selfless nature.
“He’s ready to help anybody,” says one of his students.
“He’s there when you least expect it, but when you need him the most,” another added on TODAY .
A much-deserved surprise
Walmart caught wind of the principal’s selfless act and surprised Darby on the TODAY Show. He received a check for 50,000 dollars to support the South Carolina school .
In the hope that his students learn from him, Darby’s only ask is that his students learn from him. He asks them to pay it forward and always help others when they are in a situation to support.
Some hopeful words
Darby is an optimist – that much is clear. However, he is confident his students won’t always live in poverty.
“I am an optimist. But I’m also a determinist,” Darby shared. “I know that it’s going to get better. I know that these times will not always be with us. I know that my students will not always be in poverty. I know that because that’s what we are. America makes it better for everybody,” .
Henry Darby is an inspiration – he embodies everything an educator should and then some. And, if you are to take something away from this story, be thankful our kids may one day have a principal like Darby. Endlessly selfless and devoted to our children’s futures.
- “High school principal works overnight at Walmart to help students in need. NBC News. Minyvonne Burke. January 29, 2021.
- “South Carolina principal takes night job at Walmart to support struggling students.” Today. Drew Weisholtz. January 29, 2021.