Steering the Ship
Principal’s life story shapes educational pathway and philosophy
January 25, 2019
April 22, 1963.
Life began for principal Scot Finch in Wichita Falls, in a trailer home with round ends.
“We were the poor people in the trailer park,” Finch said.
His parents, aged 18 and 19, got married soon after his mother graduated high school. In order to live a better life, his dad continued his education in Texas Tech Agricultural College and soon moved to Dallas after receiving a better job. After moving throughout Texas, the family settled in Wylie.
Growing up in a small town changed your outlook on life. You get to experience so much. [In a small town], everyone has to do everything in order to make things work.”
— Joanie Finch, principal of Arbor Creek Middle School
“Growing up in a small town changes your outlook on life,” Finch’s wife and principal of Arbor Creek Middle School, Joanie Finch said. “You get to experience so much. [In a small town], everyone has to do everything in order to make things work.”
Finch found an interest in athletics while playing Pee Wee football in elementary school. After entering Wylie High School, he played football, basketball and track. It was here Finch met Joe Longino, his head basketball coach and U.S. history teacher.
“There was something different about him,” Finch said. “[He was] very outgoing, very dynamic. He cared a lot about me. Through his coaching, the wounds you get in middle school and high school — those started healing.”
Because Finch had a strained relationship with his dad, the coaches he had growing up held his dad’s place.
“[My dad and I] weren’t as close at the time as I wish we would’ve been,” Finch said. “I always point back to [my coach] as a reason I got into education. He’s the one who set me on that path. But that path didn’t surface for me until a few years later.”
After graduating high school in 1981, Finch enrolled at Texas Tech University wanting to be a park ranger. After his freshman year of college, Finch got a job at the Corps of Engineers as a park ranger over the summer, which lasted 25 years, at Lake Lavon.
The interest of becoming a park ranger piqued because of his experience with the outdoors. Finch’s father was a fisherman and they lived near a lake during his childhood, giving him access to fishing, boating and hunting.
“I also wanted the job because I could be with animals,” Finch said. “But the only animals I dealt with were humans.”
During his third year in college, Finch had a change of heart. He changed his major to education because he wanted to do what his coach did for him. Before pursuing an education degree, Finch said people did not give teachers the respect they needed during his childhood, influencing him to steer away from that job path.
“Being a teacher was the last thing I wanted to do,” Finch said. “Which is strange, given where I am now.”
While at Texas Tech, Finch’s roommate was a drum major who brought Bibles to school, which Finch said he found interesting. Talking to his roommate and other guys on the floor, Finch found an interest in Christianity.
In October of 1983, Finch made the decision of committing his life to Christianity.
“It didn’t happen right away,” Finch said. “It took several months and talking to people. Me and my parents went to church to a Methodist church in Wylie. My dad had a falling out with the pastor and I don’t know what happened there. But from then on, we didn’t go to church except on the big days like Christmas and Easter.”
After graduating from Texas Tech, Finch moved to the metroplex. With his teaching degree, Finch got a job at Williams High School, feeding into Plano East. After five years as a basketball, football and track coach and biology teacher at Williams, Finch was hired as an assistant principal in Huffines Middle School in Lewisville. Finch later moved onto Lewisville High School for five years as an assistant principal and received a principal’s job position at Durham Middle School.
When Hugh Jones, Hebron’s first principal, retired over the summer of 2010, Finch received a phone call from Royce Cooper, former principal of LHS, informing him that a principal job position opened up at Hebron.
Finch was in the middle of a desert in New Mexico with his wife when he received the phone call.
“We somehow got reception,” Finch said. “[We got the information] and there were a lot of great candidates for the job. I was fortunate enough to win the position.”
Finch became the principal of Hebron in 2010 and is currently in his ninth year.
“I get to steer the ship [at Hebron],” Finch said. “I set the course. But I’m really here to serve the people here: the students and the staff.”
Finch connects this serving attitude back to his Christian values. He said that the essence of being a good Christian is sacrifice and serving others.
“The biggest love is Agape — the sacrificial love,” Finch said. “It’s what’s different in our [school] culture. We worry that we’re too selfish. Sure, we’re selfish sometimes, but overall as a school, I don’t think anyone else that does more service than any other school I’ve been to. Our students are service-oriented.”
Finch is also an advocate for kindness, a trait that goes hand-in-hand with serving. The time period and culture during his childhood normalized bullying, but he found kind mentors and upperclassmen that changed that concept. Using that as an inspiration, Finch executes kind acts as a way to normalize kindness.
I get to steer the ship [at Hebron]. I set the course. But I’m really here to serve the people here: the students and the staff.”
— Scot Finch, principal
“Life’s pretty hard already,” Finch said. “Why do we need to make it harder for somebody else because of the way we treat them. What skin off my nose is it to help them have a better day? What do I lose by doing that?”
Finch plans on staying at Hebron until retirement. He said he and his wife want to retire around the same time and move to their lake house at Cedar Creek Lake.
“I’m getting to be an old guy now,” Finch said. “And I’m not sure exactly what happens after this. It’s hard to predict the future.”