Highlander Profile: Meet Chris Hinchey
By now you’re probably aware of new Head of School Chris Hinchey’s impressive resume as a teacher, administrator, and coach. But did you know about his passion for lawn care, his secret love of ‘80s rap music, or his unusual taste in donuts? Read on to learn about all of that plus his feelings about Southern food, SEC sports and more.
What attracted you to the Head of School position at Heathwood?
The sense of community. The students are known, and the teachers care about each other and the young people they’ve been entrusted to teach. The first 22 years of my educational career were at two different boarding schools, and I believe strongly that children learn better when they collaborate and interact with the adults in their community. Additionally, our Episcopal heritage, our commitment to the welfare of others, and our faith help us develop young people with nimble minds, caring hearts, and strong and honorable character.
What’s been most rewarding about the job so far?
I enjoy being part of a team, and the coach in me feels grateful that I’ve inherited a talented, passionate, and deeply caring group of educators and professional school people.
What’s been most interesting about it?
I have learned so much about the rich history of the school, and it has been humbling and exciting to learn more about Susan Gibbes Robinson, Earl Devanney, Bob Shirley, and Jimmy Gasque. It has also been rewarding to think about the future of Heathwood with colleagues, parents, students, and alums.
What’s it like being both Head of School and a parent at Heathwood?
It has been a smooth transition. Because Heather and I started our family on a boarding school campus, we are very familiar with the overlap of job responsibilities with one’s personal life. Our three boys love coming to the campus on the weekend to walk around the campus, bike on the roads, and enjoy the beauty of the space.
What do your children like about being here?
They love Heathwood Hall, warm winters, walks in Shandon, trains, the Gamecocks, Southern Belly Restaurant, Harpers, Pelicans Snowballs, Chick-fil-a, Smash Burger, Krispy Kreme, Rosewood Dairy, and trips to Charlotte and Charleston. I just recently learned about Mack’s on Laurel and an insider taught me that the line forms through the back door.
You spent most of your life and career in New England. What was it like for you and your family to come to South Carolina? What have y’all enjoyed most about being here? Have there been any interesting moments of culture shock?
The move has been great and our boys love South Carolina. They miss the snow, but they love being outdoors, wearing shorts year round, and swimming in the ocean in late October. My wife and I enjoy sitting on our porch after dinner during the fall, winter, and spring. The coleslaw, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, shrimp and grits, and pimento cheese are all culinary upgrades. That said, we are still looking for the perfect pizza place, hoping for more Dunkin Donut coffee, and recovering from our first Palmetto bug sighting.
You’re a longtime athlete and coach—what’s it been like moving to SEC/ACC country?
I love it. As both a student and an educator, athletics has played an enormous role in my development and that of the young people that I have had the opportunity to teach and coach. Unfortunately, my schedule has prevented me from seeing as many football and basketball games as I’d like. Watching A’ja play at the Colonial Life Center with the Heathwood community was one of the highlights of my time in Columbia.
What are your favorite things to do in your spare time?
I like to go to the beach, read the New York Times, watch the CBS Morning Show, work out, do yard work, and hope for the Boston Celtics to get a good draft choice.
You’re a new dog owner—how’s that going so far?
House training has been going well, but in hindsight getting a new puppy that coincides with the start of school and afternoon temps in the high 90’s was not the best decision. Other than that, the boys LOVE him and he has filled a void left by our first dog, a black lab named Bailey.
What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?
I just finished reading the most recent Michael Jordan biography by Roland Lazenby (Michael Jordan: The Life). I have read some other books about Jordan (The Jordan Rules and Playing for Keeps), but his other-worldly competitiveness is on full display in this biography. My wife and I are preferential to The Americans on FX. It is an excellent show about cold war espionage in the early 80’s. Season 3 does not start again until January, and Keri Russell (think Felicity) is surprisingly excellent.
What do you think members of the Heathwood community would be most surprised to know about you?
The film version of the Sound of Music is a guilty pleasure (blame my mom). I really like 80’s rap, and I am preferential to Eric B and Rakim. I have a weakness for apple cider cinnamon-sugar donuts.
We understand you’re something of an expert in lawn care. Any tips for the Heathwood community as we transition from summer to fall?
I suggest a reapplication of fertilizer in September accompanied by consistent watering. In early October, when the evening temperatures cool a little, reseed the lawn and develop a strong base for the summer months.
What excites you most about this year at Heathwood?
It has been rewarding to meet more students and families from other divisions, and I enjoy sharing all that is great about Heathwood Hall with members of the Columbia community who are not YET members of the Heathwood Community.