Executive Director Cameron Curry Discusses His Four-Month Leave of Absence


Mr. Curry, Executive Director of the Classical Academies, pictured center. Photo credit Joel Williams.

Brigid Ambuul, Content Editor

As we move into a new semester at CAHS, business is shifting behind the managerial curtain. Mr. Cameron Curry, Executive Director of the Classical Academies, is just over a month into a four-month leave of absence (beginning on December 18, 2018, and ending on May 1, 2019). The sabbatical was approved by the board of directors, allowing Mr. Curry some rest after leading the Classical Academies since its inception in 1999 within the Currys’ own home.

“We’ve gone for probably twenty years now with really not a break, just trying to develop schools and do great things for kids in our community,” Mr. Curry said of the decision. “And I’ve come to a place personally where I know I’m tired, and so I just need to step back.”

It was in June of 2018 that talks of a sabbatical began between Mr. Curry and the board president. “With the summer, when we opened Classical Academy Vista with the county, I had to work all summer. There was no break at all, and so it just basically contributed to the whole idea,” Mr. Curry said. According to Mr. Curry, the Board of Directors came together in September and approved the plan wholeheartedly, telling him that “this is the perfect time to step back and get away.”

The board of directors has put extensive plans in place for Mr. Curry’s absence. According to the initial announcement of the sabbatical, an email from Chairman of the Board Mark Reardon, Mrs. Jalyn Hall has taken over the “academic and educational side of the organization” and Mr. Mark Kalpagian has been placed in charge of “business and operations.” Mr. Curry chose these replacements himself and has granted them full autonomy in decisionmaking.

I’m excited to see them rise, to actually make some decisions and take over for the next four months,” he said. According to him, there are several “projects and priorities established” that Mrs. Hall and Mr. Kalpakgian will be at the helm of — most notably the behemoth task of developing next year’s budget.

“What I’ve been trying to do is really empower the different site leaders to really be in charge of their budgets, really be in charge of all the decisionmaking that needs to happen … I don’t see anything changing at all [in my absence].”

With all of these plans in place, Mr. Curry is confident that “everything is really moving in the right direction.” This is why, he said, “it made the most sense for me to start the school year, get everything going, step away in the middle of the school year, and be back for all the graduations, promotions, and all the events and activities.”

Mr. Curry is acutely aware of the fresh challenges that will face charter schools in the coming years as the outspokenly anti-charter Gavin Newsom steps into office as governor. In Mr. Curry’s opinion, the four-month break will serve as a perfect opportunity for him to regroup and return with a new mindset for tackling such problems. “Having me recharged and ready for some of those [challenges] will be much better for us in the long run,” he said.

How exactly does he plan to recharge? Well, he’s put in just a bit of thought as to how he’ll spend the upcoming months. “I’ve got a couple trips planned. I’m gonna do a photography and road trip up to see some friends, and probably do some couch surfing … for a while. My sister just moved to Oahu, so … I’d probably hang out with them for a while … But for the most part, [I’ll] just hang out in the backyard, do some gardening, and really just disconnect and maybe listen to some music and have some fun.”

Fear not, however — he does not plan to get swept away in the tropical Hawaiian sea and forget about us. This absence is purely temporary, as Mr. Curry hurriedly assures me. As he put it, his return to normal Executive Directorial duties “was definitely part of the deal.”

“I’ve been fortunate the board has said ‘stick around for a couple more years,’ so that’s what I’m doing right now, and we’ll figure out where we go probably after 2022, ‘23 … but so far so good,” he said. As for now, Mr. Curry has “every intention of being here [at the Classical Academies] and having a great time.”