NEA tabs Dickens as Headmaster

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, April 26, 2016

LASKER – The interim title has been removed.

The Northeast Academy Board of Trustees announces that Leon Dickens has accepted the position of Headmaster for the coming academic year after serving in an interim capacity since January.

L. Dickens

L. Dickens

In January, Dickens replaced Ralph Graham as NEA Headmaster. Graham had served in that capacity since the start of the 2014-15 academic year. Although Graham resigned in January, he returned to the school at least five times this year to present morning devotional programs.

Except for his time as a high school student at Weldon, his college years, and his first two teaching positions in Virginia Beach and Weldon, Dickens is a lifelong resident of Northampton County, born on a local farm in 1945.

Dickens attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship. While he was an Alston-Pleasants scholar, he participated in the honors program and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society as a junior. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in history and also a North Carolina Teaching Certificate in social studies.

“Some things that I do not like are wasted time, wasted abilities, and arrogance,” Dickens said, referencing the things in life that most matter. “I thank God, however, for providing me with the people and things that I definitely do love. I love my wife, our children and their spouses, our granddaughter, my extended family, my church, observing nature’s wonders, teaching, farming, and music. I especially love young people, and I value highly the rapport I am blessed to have with them.”

Dickens and his wife Brenda both have served Elam Baptist Church, located near Seaboard, and Northeast Academy over an extended period of time. Brenda has served as pianist at church and at school, and she has served, literally, in the NEA lunchroom for 25 years. At Elam, Dickens has served as deacon, Sunday school superintendent and teacher, and choir director. Over a period of 31 years at Northeast, he has been at one time or another a board member, teacher, assistant headmaster, and interim headmaster.

Reflecting on what lies ahead, Dickens stated, “Knowing firsthand the challenges that await anyone in the field of education, I nevertheless look forward to working with our parents, and teachers in helping young people grow and mature into responsible, educated, caring adults. It is amazing what students remember.

“Among the things I used to say was, ‘Life is sad.’ I still say that at times life seems bitterly unfair, but as I look around me, I see what has always been true: life if full of beauty and grace,” he added. “Another of my famous quotations concerns how few things people really must do. We have found that what makes all the difference is the choices that people make. Our plan is to provide pleasant memories for our students as we help them make the right choices.

“The future years promise great things for Northeast. The Board, teachers, parents, and students are all on the ‘same page,’ recognizing the dedicated, unified effort necessary to achieve lofty goals. A spirit of positive volunteerism is present in abundance at Northeast as plans for next year are being discussed,” Dickens concluded.