HAMMOCK: Creel takes risk and finds new home at Cornerstone

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

The easy decision was right in front of Colin Creel. Sign his annual contract for a 12th year at Wesleyan and return to his routine. He loved the school, the kids and his jobs that included coaching the swimming and diving program to its first state championship earlier this year.

But the simple decision isn't always the right one. He passed on signing the contract.

"It was a huge leap of faith," the 37-year-old said, "to close one door and not know what the next door is."

It seemed the next step was at a school in Austin, Texas. Creel and his family -- he and his wife Krista have two children, 3-year-old Cole and 1-year-old Cooper, with a third due in December -- had pretty much decided to relocate by the time Creel flew to Texas for a final-round interview in May.

Before he boarded the plane, a friend called and told him that Norcross' Cornerstone Christian Academy was in need of a headmaster. During that trip to Texas, all he could think about was the opportunity at Cornerstone.

Over the next few months, that leap of faith paid off. Creel was announced last week as the new headmaster at Cornerstone, a growing kindergarten through eighth grade private school (affiliated with Peachtree Corners Baptist Church) that opened in 2001. He will oversee a staff of roughly 25 and a rapidly expanding student body of 185.

Cornerstone's not in Austin, Texas, either. It's in the office park across Spalding Drive from Wesleyan.

The Creels can stay near their friends and Krista's parents, who live in Alpharetta. They can keep their home in Norcross.

"That was amazing to be so close," Creel said. "It became really clear that this is where God wants me and my family."

That said, leaving Wesleyan wasn't easy.

He put years of work into the swimming and diving program, watching it grow from a small group without a home pool to one of the state's best programs with an on-campus aquatic center. He also assisted some of the Wolves' state championship cross country teams.

The St. Louis native and Wake Forest grad also is considered one of the school's best educators, as a teacher and administrator. He directed the chapel program, helped start the peer leadership program and served as the junior class chair.

Along the way, he touched the lives of many students. They also impacted his life.

"As much as I loved those kids and the opportunity to coach those kids, I was thinking long-term about what was best for my family," Creel said. "Because of my skill set, I always thought I would be best as a headmaster. To be able to coach was a surprise and a blessing for me."

His new job is a blessing, too, one that took the courage to bypass the easy decision for the right one.

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.