Back and forth between Memphis schools and her home in Tunica, Mississippi, Kirk McClintock is someone who has absolutely gone the extra mile in every endeavor. Her passions are family and education, and words cannot contain Kirk’s abundant positive energy and love of life. She brings these qualities to every tour she gives of St. Mary’s school as Assistant Director of Admissions. Meet Kirk, our StyleBlueprint FACE of Memphis today!
You cross the state line between Mississippi and Tennessee almost every day. How does Memphis fit into your definition of home?
When I first moved to Memphis in 1981, I immediately understood that “Memphis” is more than the area contained within the city limits. Back then, a friend called Memphis “an urban island in an agricultural sea” which was so true, particularly at that time. When I married and moved to Mississippi, I still felt connected to Memphis. Everyone in the surrounding areas had to go to Memphis to buy shoes, to go to the doctor, to do all those things that we couldn’t do in our small towns. All these years later, we have supported the museums and the zoo in Memphis, we dine in the wonderful restaurants in Memphis and we certainly come to Memphis to listen to all kinds of great music! I think of Memphis as the biggest part of this wonderful area called the Mid-South. However, when someone asks me where I live, I always reply, “Tunica, Mississippi.” I work and am involved in all kinds of activities in Memphis and I LOVE Memphis, but I am also proud to be from Mississippi.
Describe your family and how your job as a mom has coordinated with your professional career.
My husband Murry and I have been married for 30 years and we have three children—two boys and a girl. Our children have always gone to school in Memphis so we have spent LOTS of time together in the car. For years, I had almost everything anyone needed for school in my car. Scissors? Check. Glue stick? Check. Pipe cleaners? Check. Straws? Notebook paper? Highlighter? Stapler? Check. Check. Check. Check. Many times, homework was done on the way home from school and on rare occasions, on the way to school!
I have been very fortunate that my “professional” career has always meshed with my job as a wife and mother of three children.
Your current position at St. Mary’s seems to bring many of your interests together in one place. What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy meeting girls of all ages and their families and I love showing them around St. Mary’s and letting them see for themselves the “magic” that happens here every day. It is so much fun to watch our girls grow and thrive at every age and in every endeavor. I love to walk down the halls and hear laughter and lively discussions, music and sometimes mayhem! I am a strong believer in girls’ education and I love, love, love our girls!
Through many transitions (and many miles!) you must have become a master of focus and flexibility. What are three tips you can offer for making it through changes in life gracefully?
Are you kidding me? Gracefully? I have no advice for doing anything gracefully. All I can say is: Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Persevere. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh, a lot.
What are three favorite places you show guests when touring St. Mary’s, and why?
1. I love the libraries (one for the Upper and Middle Schools and the other for the ECC and Lower Schools.) They are where so much happens! The Lower School library is where our amazing librarians foster a love of reading, and the Middle and Upper School library is a virtual hive of activity.
2. Chapel, on both sides of the street. In the Lower School and the ECC, chapel is where our girls learn about character, respect and responsibility. Chapel time for our older students is really about coming together as a community. We are an Episcopal school, but of course that means that our identity is one where all faiths are welcome–and made to feel welcome. I love chapel!
3. The Windland Smith Rice building is such a great space. It was built in memory of Wendy Smith Rice, who graduated from St. Mary’s in 1988, and is home to our middle and upper school library and the middle school. Wendy was an accomplished nature photographer but more importantly, she was a lovely young woman who pursued her passion and came back to St. Mary’s to encourage our girls to pursue theirs. Wendy’s photographs line the walls of the staircase, which looks like a roll of unwinding of film. The floor of the foyer looks like the aperture of a camera and the skylight represents the camera lens. Everything in the building is well thought out and well designed. It’s the heart of St. Mary’s.
What unique projects at home are you working on right now?
I have a notebook with grid paper in it and I am constantly drawing a new plan (to scale!) for our kitchen. Everyone in my family knows that the plan changes constantly (and I think they avoid me when they see me drawing in my notebook!) When the plan remains unchanged for six months, I’ll know it’s time to get serious about renovating the kitchen!
Best advice you have ever received? Favorite quote?
Best advice: Before I got married, my mother advised me to spend time with happy people and then I would consider myself happy as well. She said that spending time with others who complain constantly would make me find things to complain about. Wow, was she right! I find I am drawn to happy people!
Favorite quote: Bloom where you’re planted. (Yes, I am a farmer’s wife!)
Are there any charitable organizations where you volunteer your time or support? What’s meaningful about this outreach to you?
The third Saturday of every month since January, 2003, we have distributed food to those in need in Tunica County. This effort started as an outreach of our “Episcoterian” Sunday School class. We distribute over 400 sacks of food every month. I always come away feeling as though I got more out of the day than did the people whom we served.
I am also on the board of the Wolf River Conservancy, an organization I became involved with through the conservation efforts of my garden club. The Wolf River Conservancy was originally founded in 1985 to oppose a new gravel mine on the banks of the Wolf River near Summer Avenue. In the years since then, it has expanded its mission to “protect wilderness, to connect people to the outdoors, and to transform our community by completing the Wolf River Greenway.” We’re the only local conservation organization in Memphis and while our group has done great things in the past, I think we are about to do even greater things in the future. If you want to support the completion of the Greenway, join the WRC and put one of our great “wolf head” stickers on your car!
What books are you reading, or have you most enjoyed reading lately? Do you prefer a Kindle or e-book, or just good old-fashioned paper?
I have a Kindle and I like to use it when I travel but I prefer “good old-fashioned paper.” I have several books on my nightstand right now but I am reading Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton. I recently read Proof of Heaven, which I found absolutely fascinating. I also just finished Philip Mudd’s Takedown about the hunt for Al Qaeda. What a great account of a life spent in U.S. Intelligence.
Favorite vacation or travel destination? (If there’s one place in the world you’d suggest someone visit, where would that be?)
That’s tough. I can’t name one place. I love Washington, D.C, Jackson Hole, New Orleans, the Shenandoah Valley, any mountains, anywhere, especially with my family.
I think that everyone should visit someplace where they can experience nature and feel small. This summer, I was on a beach at sunrise and during the hour I was riding my bike, I never saw another soul. There were no houses and no trace of humans anywhere. It was wonderful. I had the same feeling when we were out west, where all you can see at night are stars. No light pollution. Just the sky above, full of stars. That trumps all the travel sights I can think of.
What three lighthearted things could you not live without?
1. A good laugh (out loud) every single day.
2. A coffeemaker with a self-timer (Essential when you leave home at 6:30 a.m.)
Thank you, Kirk, for taking us on a tour!
And thank you to photographer Whitney McNeill for our wonderful images of Kirk and the St. Mary’s campus!