As one of the founding leaders of Kingdom Prep, Assistant Principal Shawn Sprewer sees the graduation of KP’s first class in May 2022 as the highlight of the past four years since Kingdom Prep began in 2018.
“Graduation was the pinnacle of everything we have done at KP thus far,” shares Shawn. “Seeing these young men—many of whom I’ve known since they were in grade school—cross that stage, evoked a wave of emotions I’ve never experienced before. It was a proud moment, but it was also a moment that kind of slapped me in the face, as I realized how different things would be now that they would no longer be in the building.”
Real Conversations Result in Real Transformation
Kingdom Prep makes a promise to all students: that they will be seen and known. A major part of keeping this promise is to engage in real, sometimes challenging yet transformational conversations. Shawn recalls two graduating seniors in particular—Jabe Johnson and Nairobi Terry—as being among the most impactful people he has ever met.
“These young men always challenged my thinking and my approach in not necessarily a negative way, but in a way that made me think beyond “administrator,” “adult,” or “father,” explains Shawn. “Our dialogues showed me a new perspective; I value those two young men and our conversations even more than I realized at the time.”
Sprewer has known Nairobi Terry since grade school and specifically recalls how intense and sometimes difficult his conversations were with Nairobi. However, the two always came full circle and walked away with greater respect and understanding for each other.
“It was easy to look at Nairobi as always having a grudge during disagreements,” states Shawn. “But, he helped me to see things not from the point of ‘this is an angry young man,’ rather, from the standpoint of ‘I am learning and figuring out how to be able to communicate more effectively and be a better young man in what I do.’”
Shawn goes on to share a story regarding a personal disagreement between himself and Nairobi. “He challenged me because of how he felt about some things that may have been going on. We got angry with each other, but when we sat down and had a dialogue, I realized Nairobi was just expressing his frustrations—frustrations of not having a granddad around anymore, frustrations of where he was at with other personal situations. He and I never put ourselves in a position where we stayed mad at each other for an extended period of time. We always talked through our issues. In this way, he helped me become a better man, as I learned not to jump to conclusions and to maintain a level of grace.”
Life, Lessons, and Leadership
Shawn will always credit young men like Jabe, Nairobi and many other students, for helping him be better at life and to be a man of the Kingdom. Shawn’s work with them these past four years has taught him some profound lessons about brotherhood and the daily application of grace to his own life and leadership—especially in his daily relationships to students.
“It’s easy to come into these leadership positions and think because you’re an administrator, everything is authoritative, that things have to come across as punitive,” says Shawn. “Throughout my time I’ve been learning to break away from that and have dialogue. . . where we have the opportunity to sit down and hear what’s going on and provide a level of grace to these young men as they learn. Extending grace—learning to be able to give more grace every day— has been a place of deep personal growth for me these past four years.”