This article appeared in the February 11, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A generous heart, midnight toil, and a school uplifted

Courtesy of Charleston County Government
North Charleston High School Principal Henry Darby is presented the Order of the Palmetto by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
Yvonne Zipp
Features Editor

Henry Darby is famous for pulling all-nighters. 

The North Charleston High School principal stocks shelves at a South Carolina Walmart from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. three nights a week – finishing just in time for school. He took the job to help his students, some of whom didn’t have enough to eat – and because, he told reporters, he couldn’t bear to ask his teachers and staff to dig any deeper in their own pockets. His mother and grandmother taught him, “Whatever your hands find to do, do that in helping others,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper

Mr. Darby’s plan was to quietly work and donate his paychecks to teens and their families, but a student spotted him on his first night. After The Post and Courier wrote about his willingness to go without sleep to help the teenagers in his care, Mr. Darby has found himself able to help on a larger scale: Walmart donated $50,000, and two GoFundMe accounts have raised about $200,000. 

This week, Gov. Henry McMaster awarded Mr. Darby the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor. “Principal Darby personifies the best of South Carolina, a selfless person who goes above and beyond for others,” the governor said. 

Some critics point out that calling stories like Mr. Darby’s “good news” overlooks a crucial fact: Educators shouldn’t have to have superhuman endurance, and children shouldn’t be going hungry. 

For his part, Mr. Darby has focused on helping his community and the students he loves.

As he told CNN, “They are my children.”

This article appeared in the February 11, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 02/11 edition
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