COLUMBIA, SC — The new headmaster at Ben Lippen School is adjusting to being an hour ahead.
Chip Jones has never lived in the Eastern Time Zone before, so getting used to the time change is one of the differences between his former home of Hattiesburg, Miss., and his new one here in Columbia.
Still, he said, there are some similarities between his assignments in the two communities – in particular, a passion for Christian education, a field in which he as worked for 33 years.
From his new office at the private Columbia school where cardboard boxes line the walls while he gets unpacked, to sports games and choir performances, Jones said he enjoys all aspects of a school setting.
“I love to be involved in the life of a school,” he said.
He realized he would be interested in education while a student at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., when he began coaching a junior high school football team.
He was a pre-med major at the time, but a D on a biology test and a newfound enjoyment of helping students caused him to rethink his path.
He switched to major in the Bible, then switched again to history education and got a master’s in social science.
He realized that on one hand, he was a teacher. On the other hand, he was a Christian.
So after teaching two years, he got a second master’s degree in education for school administration from Reformed Theological Seminary.
The program taught him the Christian perspective on education and merged his profession and faith. The objective on his resume summarizes his mission: “To serve the Lord, impact students, and influence our world for Christ through Christian education.”
Jones aims to get the word out about Ben Lippen in the community and called the private school a “hidden jewel” within the city of Columbia.
With the school’s international students and boarding program, Ben Lippen is in a position to not only impact the Columbia area but the world, he said.
Jones is filling the position because the previous headmaster, Mickey Bowdon, who was serving as an interim, retired recently after working 46 years.
Bowdon met Jones about 20 years ago in Alabama. Bowden followed Jones’ career and thought he would be a great fit for Ben Lippen.
“I was very impressed with his leadership and how well-respected he was by the people there,” Bowdon said, calling Jones a team builder and strong leader who follows through with his decisions.
Jones and his wife are soon to be empty nesters because their youngest son just graduated from high school and in the fall is going to the University of Alabama.
It will be the first time since 1988 that Jones will not have one of his own four children as a student roaming the halls of a school where he works.
But Jones views all of the students at the school as his own children, though, he joked, he is glad he doesn’t have to pay for all of them.
Reach Cope at (803) 429-4951.