Getting to know a 2023 Lab Scholar–Kenny Chilton
by Kenny Chilton, Elementary Educator, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School TX
1. Who are your favorite writers?
I’m a big fan of fiction, and Emily St. John Mandel’s ability to world-build and connect stories of diverse people is very fulfilling as a reader. I have also loved rereading through Mary Oliver’s poetry, especially her book Dog Songs.
2. Who are your heroes in real life?
My heroes in real life are everyday people who choose kindness and equity in a world that offers us many chances to do otherwise. Some who come to mind are notable figures like Emily Ramshaw who started and runs The 19th News, and also ordinary folks like the parents of students who go the extra mile to make sure their children have enriching and meaningful educational opportunities.
3. Who or what motivated you to become an educator?
I had a high school theatre director named Raymond Blanchard who taught me the value of hard work and how to inspire young people to lead. His impact on me helped me see myself as a leader and educator.
4. Your idea of happiness…
My wife and daughters, are happy and healthy. Friends and family around me.
5. In a nutshell, what is your definition of leadership?
Helping others see the best in themselves and act on their hopes for the future of their world.
6. What do you most value in your friends?
I value vulnerability, trust, laughter, and time with my friends.
7. What do you do for self-renewal?
Exercise, play games, and be with people I love. I love to laugh, and watching or doing something that makes me laugh always helps me feel renewed.
8. Who is your hero/ heroine of fiction?
Don Quixote. In the face of a world of disbelief, he holds onto his ideals about what is good. A good sense of humor, too!
9. What is your current state of mind?
My current state of mind is one of renewal and growth. I’m hoping to digest some of the things I’ve learned in the last year while also feeling refreshed for another adventure.
Kenny Chilton is an elementary educator and aspiring school leader in Austin, TX. Kenny currently serves as a 3rd grade teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, and has previously worked as a math department chair and an educator in various elementary grades. In his current role, Kenny enjoys integrating service projects and experiences outside the classroom into student learning, as well as centering social justice and leadership in the curriculum, helping students see themselves as people capable of making an impact from any age. Kenny’s background in theatre comes in handy as he seeks to make connections between what students are learning and the world, much like any good play seeks to do. Kenny was a participant in the gcLi Leadership Lab in June 2022, where he developed plans to expand his sphere of influence beyond the classroom. The work he is proudest of over the last year includes helping reshape the SEL curriculum for the Lower School at St. Andrew’s, developing a system for live feedback for the Head of Lower School based on the system in place at gcLi, and leading the development of community norms for the faculty and staff in the Lower School. When he is not teaching, you can find Kenny playing with his two daughters and wife, playing Dungeons & Dragons or recording his D&D podcast, playing any sport outside, or getting lost in a good story.