From volunteer to principal: “God always takes me out of my comfort zone”

Diana Reed had a decision to make.

She was serving as a volunteer in a kindergarten class at Shepherd Academy when the organization’s executive director, Jay Height, approached her with a question. Would she take a job as a preschool teacher?

I can’t be a teacher, Reed told Height, I have only a high school degree.

Well, why not go to college, Height asked?

Why not? Reed had two young children who needed her time and energy. She had bills to pay. She also had doubts about her own ability.

But Diana Reed took a step of faith. She went back to school, earned an associate’s degree, and became a preschool teacher at Shepherd.

“It was a hard road,” Reed says today. “I had to juggle school, family and work.”

Yet, as she traveled that challenging road, she was learning about faith and trust, and about answering God’s call.

“I had to trust God,” Reed says today. “He would always take me out of my comfort zone.”

A second opportunity to grow out of her comfort zone came a few years later. Jay Height approached her again, this time to ask if she’d become the preschool director.

I can’t be the director, Reed told him, I have only an associate’s degree?

Then why not go back to school, Height asked?

So, Reed took another giant step of faith, and earned a bachelor’s in early childhood education.

Even then, God wasn’t done yet.

Height came to her a third time, to ask if she would become an administrator at Shepherd Academy.

By now you know Reed’s answer. She returned to school, graduating with a master’s in education.

Now, 16 years after stepping forward to serve as a volunteer, Diana Reed is in her first year as principal of Shepherd Academy. More than 150 children, dozens of families, and a school full of teachers and staff count on her leadership, wisdom, and faith.

“Jay and others at Shepherd always see the potential,” Reed says. “They push me to the limit because they know I am capable of doing it. I’ve learned that I am capable. I’ve learned that I am intelligent and I have gifts to share.”

What did Height see in a classroom volunteer that convinced him she was ready for much more?

“It’s all about the heart,” Height says. “What she demonstrates is her heart for others. The skill can be taught. The heart is a blessing from God.”

For Reed, sharing her heart is a core part of the job. That includes those times when a child’s behavior warrants a trip to her office.

“One of the things I tell them, before I talk about consequences, is that I love them,” Reed says. “I also tell them that I forgive them, and that I will always love them. A couple of times the child has broken down and cried, not because they were in trouble, but because I showed them love and forgiveness.”

Comfort zones are nice. We all need places to rest, regroup, and prepare for the next adventure. But God has a way of calling us out of the safe places and into new areas of faith and trust.

Diana Reed heard that call. Her answer not only transformed her own life but continues to change the lives of hundreds of others she’s led and inspired along the way.