Staff Spotlight: Calvin King
What is your role in CSA?
I’m the Boys House Dean. And what that means is I am responsible for the well-being of the boys that participate in the residential life program here at CSA. One of my main goals is fostering positive relationships with both the boarding students and their parents. But on a broader level, I have the responsibility of ensuring the academic, athletic, social, and emotional development of our male boarding students.
What motivated you to work at CSA?
Honestly, when I visited the school and met the staff and students, the vision of CSA felt perfectly aligned with my life’s journey. Growing up, I was definitely a knucklehead and faced a lot of challenges, but I experienced first hand the power of boarding schools in shaping people’s lives. When I was seventeen, I went to Eagle Rock, a boarding school out in Colorado. There I was exposed to a lot of caring mentors and awesome opportunities. This played a huge role in setting me up to attend Morehouse College. Once I graduated from Morehouse, I came back to work at Eagle Rock in the Residential Life department. I loved working with high school students. But it was just fascinating seeing Eagle Rock’s vision of working with students in high school compared to CSA’s vision of working with students as early as three years old. That was really intriguing to me. Plus it’s rare to see a school like CSA where the faculty is so diverse across lines of race and gender. So when I knew I had the opportunity to help build CSA’s boarding program, I was sold. There’s just something special about the opportunities you experience and relationships you develop in a boarding school.
Describe yourself in three words. Happy, outspoken, flexible
What’s your spirit animal?
The combination of a grizzly bear and wolf, so a grizzly wolf. I’m the oldest of four boys, so I’m always used to running with a pack. That’s why working at a boarding school is such a natural environment for me. The grizzly bear is because everyone loves to call me a teddy bear. But I’m not a teddy bear, I’m a grizzly bear!
Who is your spirit celebrity?
DJ Khalid, because he’s all about uplifting people! Similar to me, he just likes speaking life into people and people naturally gravitate towards him. He’s also a big personality and a big guy trying to lose weight like me! I’d also say Dave Chappelle, because people think I’m funny. Well, I think I’m funny! In my past life I could have been a stand-up comic.
What inspires you to continue working at CSA?
The mission. CSA’s mission is so important to me that it gives me the energy to make sure I see my work through. Just think, if we are able to get our students to elite high schools, then to college, and finally come back to Trenton to have an impact spanning the education, government, business, and nonprofit sectors?! The mission is to create agents of change for this city and for society at large. That’s real impact!
Another huge source of energy that inspires me to continue my work at CSA is our parents’ trust. The amount of trust our parents place in this school by allowing their children to participate in our residential boarding program is something I don’t take lightly. What’s more powerful than a parent’s love for their child and their desire to provide the best opportunity for their child? CSA parents are inviting us into this transformative process. That’s all the motivation you need!
What is your favorite quote?
“Without struggle there is no progress.” At Morehouse, after late nights of studying, I would walk back and look at this quote, and it made me reflect on all I’d been through in my personal life. It kept me going. This quote also makes me reflect on what my ancestors have been through, and the things that are currently troubling me seem like a small feat in comparison.
What is the theme song of your life?
Stronger by Kanye West. I’m constantly an optimist. All the different obstacles I’ve faced in life have been pretty tough, but they also have made me stronger. My mom passed away when I was seventeen. There were times in my life when I was homeless. But all these challenging experiences pushed me to grow as an individual.
Who is the greatest influence on who you are today?
I’d say my mom. So much of who I am is rooted in her: my personality, my social skills, my values. I am a spitting image of my mom. I’d also say my second mom, L’Tanya Perkins, who is the Director of Admissions at Eagle Rock. She took the foundation my mom built and helped expand on it. She pushed me to think critically about things like what kind of man did I want to become and what college did I want to attend.