As Christ Church Day School (CCDS) wishes Nancy Funk, who taught at the school for nine years before taking on the role of Head of School for the last five years, a happy retirement, they are simultaneously welcoming Payton Hobbs to step into the role. I had an opportunity to speak with Hobbs as she prepares to join the CCDS community.
Hobbs will be bringing a wide breadth of experience in the field of education to the position. “I have been in the world of education for over 20 years now and have served as an educator and leader in both private and public schools,” Hobbs began. She started her career journey as a classroom teacher where she mostly taught kindergarten, first, and second grades before she moved into leadership roles as Director of Curriculum and Instruction for kindergarten through eighth grade.
“I’ve served as the assistant head of a lower school (generally encompassing grades K-5), head of a lower school, and I’ve worked in admissions as well,” she continued. “So I’ve served in many capacities over the past 20 years and I feel that it’s my calling; a passion that aligns with my strengths and what I can offer.”
Learning and education wasn’t always a passion for Hobbs. But as a young student one of her teachers made a profound impact on the way she viewed what school and teaching could be. “When I was in middle school I had my first experience with an educator who connected with students and academics in a different way, more than facts and figures,” she told me. “Mr. Woodland was my social studies and homeroom teacher and he helped me realize that school could be a place that was an extension of family and a place to connect to a larger community. That’s when I first thought maybe I would want to be a teacher.”
Hobbs followed that thread in college as she began to take some education classes and began to have her first experiences in classrooms as an educator. “It felt like home,” she said. “It was a place where I could use my passions and talents and make a difference. My other college classes felt like work, but when I was talking education classes it felt like joy and when I recognized that, I decided to commit to this as a career.”
Hobbs, who had previously been working with a school in North Carolina, moved with her family to Southern California about four years ago when her husband’s job brought them across the country and she took a position with La Jolla Country Day School (LJCDS). “I was working at a school very similar to La Jolla Country Day and was very lucky to find them when we first moved here,” Hobbs commented. “What drew me to Christ Church Day School was the idea of the possibility here and seeing this school community that had such a strong foundation and surrounding community that is so connected as a family.”
Someone Hobbs admires as a leadership mentor is academic, author, and speaker, Brené Brown, who has defined leadership as, “Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” Hobbs takes that sentiment to heart and looks forward to developing CCDS’s potential in the role of Head of School.
“CCDS has a long legacy of success and happiness, and I see a capacity for that to grow and an opportunity to be a part of that journey and share the story of this amazing school community in a more broad and expansive way,” Hobbs continued. “It felt like a calling; I saw the potential in the people [at CCDS] and answered the call to develop that. I think there’s a special story in this community, and I’m not sure everyone knows about the beauty and magic happening down here.”
As the new CCDS Head of School, Hobbs will be partnering with the faculty of the school, the school board, and the Christ Church parish to look to the future. “In my first year I’d like to bring us all together and ask the questions: Who are we now? And who do we want to grow into next? One of my responsibilities is to lead that strategic planning process,” Hobbs explained. “We know our mission and what we can do now is understand how our mission can evolve into a vision of the future.”
In her work, Hobbs has found that a particular priority and passion point of hers is the idea of the human connection and experience. “When you’re working with the youngest learners, the perspectives and mindsets formed in those early years are ones I refer to as habits of the heart and the mind,” she explained. “These habits are ones that will not only impact the individual’s success and joy, but that of the collective community as well. I believe how we interact with and how we appreciate and celebrate other humans ultimately determines our experience and the level of success we will find in life.”
When Hobbs can help create and foster a learning community that works with open minds and open hearts, she finds some of the most rewarding parts of her work come to life. “And I think this is what the Episcopal faith is all about; seeing the beauty that can exist in all humans and to care for all humans, despite our differences. No matter how much education you have, if you don’t have communication, collaboration, and an appreciation for others, there is a breakdown in society.”
Another rewarding aspect of leadership in education, for Hobbs, is watching those she’s worked with flourish and become leaders themselves. “I’ve worked with a lot of aspiring leaders and taken great care and responsibility to see their potential and capacity to lead and serve in a way that impacts others,” she said. “When you invest in that journey with them…that’s where I get my most rewarding experiences; seeing the fruit of that work where they reach that position to have their passion and purpose align in their work. You can see how the world just got better because of the work you did together.”
Similarly, when Hobbs can help students find joy in learning, especially if they’re struggling, and create an environment of understanding, she knows she’s done something right. “When we have kids that school is hard for, whether because of their specific learning profile or where they are emotionally and developmentally, I work to create a shift in that experience for them,” she mentioned. “I might work with an educator to create a different environment for them or help shift the way somebody sees them so that we’re seeing the person and not the behavior. When you’re able to do that, you can see the weight lifted off this young person, and it is super rewarding when I can make something easier and more enjoyable for somebody.”
As Hobbs integrates into the CCDS and larger Coronado community, she’s looking forward to learning more about the people and places of the island that gives Coronado its identity. “I want people to know how eager I am to get to know them,” Hobbs noted. “The more I know, the better positioned I am to serve and to lead a school that exists within this Coronado community.”
Payton Hobbs will begin her first full year as the Christ Church Day School Head of School next fall with the start of the 2022-2023 school year. You can connect with Hobbs via email at email@example.com, and with Christ Church Day School at 619-435-6393.
VOL. 112, NO. 23 - June 8, 2022