A framed piece of art in Andrew Terry’s office at Anchorage Public School includes the words of Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
It’s an important verse for Terry, who has been principal of Anchorage Public School since 2016.
“Proverbs 27:17 drives me,” said Terry, 46. “I probably grabbed a hold of that verse in my college days, and it’s always resonated with me. I coached a high school soccer team and that was our thing. The boys started putting ISI—iron sharpens iron—on their wristbands and headbands. One of my players went to the Naval Academy, called me and said, ‘Guess what their mantra is? ISI.’ It’s a guiding light for who I want to be as a Christian.”
Terry, who is a member of Southeast Christian Church’s River Valley Campus, has worked in education for 22 years.
“I think education/teaching is the gift that God has blessed me with. I’ve always been passionate about teaching—whether it’s on the sports field, in small groups or in the classroom—just working with kids to figure things out,” Terry added. “My goal is I want to do anything that I can to make you a stronger, better person. I’m relationally driven. That probably sums me up. I’m definitely a people person. My objective is that I hope in my interactions—whether it’s with a teacher, student or parent—that I’ve impacted you in a positive way.”
He said he feels like God led him to work in public schools.
“I thought about, ‘It would be so cool to be in a Christian school and to pray with your kids, sing Christian songs and to go to service together,’ and that’s all great,” he said.
“But the flipside of that to being here—while I can’t be as outgoing about my faith—the hope is that the impact that I can have here in being a light is that people know who I am and where I stand in my faith. I hope that through my actions and my words that people see Christ, and also in my imperfections—when I screw up—and I do that a lot.”
Terry and his wife of 24 years, Jennifer, have four children. He has volunteered on and off in Student Ministry at Southeast since 1999 and currently leads a small group for seventh- and eighth-graders at the River Valley Campus.
Terry also coaches club soccer for 14-year-olds and is on the board for Ignite the Ville, a Southeast missions partner at the University of Louisville—all while working on a dissertation for a doctoral degree.
“There are days where I feel like, ‘What is going on?’” he said. “And then there are days where I feel like, ‘I need to do more. Should I be serving more? Is there something else God wants me to do?’ My wife and family are super supportive and we make that work. I keep pretty busy.”
Terry grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and is of Puerto Rican and African-American descent and attended a Catholic church with his family.
“I grew up in a Puerto Rican community and then moving to Columbus in high school and then to Kentucky was a big shift because the diversity in Cleveland was incredible,” Terry said. “Our Catholic church was Hungarian. You had Italian and Yugoslavian neighborhoods. It was very ethnically diverse. Columbus was less diverse and Kentucky is even less. I talk about that with my own children and who they are in their diversity.”
Terry played soccer for two seasons at the University of Kentucky, and he met Jesus at Christian Student Fellowship.
“I pulled away from church when I got away from mom and dad,” Terry added. “My then friend, now wife, was bothering me to go to CSF, this student ministry on campus. She kept bothering me … and finally I was like, ‘Will you leave me alone if I go once?’ I just kept going and eventually fell in love with Christ. She actually baptized me. That’s when my faith became mine, and it took off from there.”
Terry was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life while working at a daycare and summer camps.
“My wife was like, ‘You’re with kids all the time and do great with them. Have you thought about education?’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Not really.’ So I started pursuing that.”
Path toward teaching
After graduating from UK, Terry taught middle school Spanish in the Oldham County School System for four years and then transitioned to high school for two more years before wondering if it was time for a career change.
“They call it the seven-year itch for teachers. It’s kind of a tipping point for people in education, for males in particular. ‘Am I providing enough for my family? Is there something else out there?’” Terry said. “So I started investigating that a little bit, but thankfully a principal friend spoke into me and said, ‘Have you thought about going into leadership?’ That’s how I transitioned from teaching to the admin side of things.”
Terry went back to school, got his certificate for administration and became an assistant principal at North Oldham High School for 10 years before landing at Anchorage Public School.
“Usually the further you get into administration, the further you get away from kids,” Terry said. “That’s the negative side of administration because my passion is teaching and my kids, but I’ve been blessed enough to be in schools that have allowed me to stay plugged in with the students so I get that feed. However, I’m able to impact a larger number of students because of the position I’m in.”