WP: You and your husband own a pyro company. Tell us all about this.
DM: My husband will tell you his mother told him he would make a living blowing stuff up or be in trouble for it. He took the high road there! We sell and shoot professional fireworks shows – the big ones you see on the 4th of July. We also have contracts with many colleges during football, basketball, and baseball seasons. While we co-own the business, he is the one who keeps it all under control. It is hard work, and you have to love it. It can take days to set up for displays that last 30 minutes. The 4th of July is our busiest time of the year, but it is getting to where there isn’t much downtime. Weddings, sports events, music venues, and other exciting events book throughout the year.
WP: Outside of Pyro Productions, you are also the Principal of Rehobeth Elementary. How long have you been principal?
DM: January 2023 will be two years as principal. I was an assistant principal at RES for a little over five years before that. I am the principal in the community where I grew up, went to school as a child, and graduated high school. I’m not sure how many administrators can say that.
WP: Have you always wanted to be a principal?
DM: I can honestly say no to this one. While in college, I never thought about being a leader in a school. I just wanted my group of kids and to make my impact there. Fast forward ten years, and I returned to school to earn my Ed.S. in Ed. Leadership with the encouragement from a teacher on my hall. I had taken on some leadership roles and was trying to figure out if going back to school was something I needed or wanted to do. I finished my degree and continued teaching until God opened the right door for me to be an Assistant Principal at RES.
WP: What is the most fulfilling and exciting part of being Principal at RES?
DM: As a teacher, seeing my students faces when they achieved success was fulfilling. As an administrator, it’s the same, but I hear it from a teacher’s perspective; the joy and excitement teachers have over the accomplishment of their students (big or small). I think the most fulfilling part of being an elementary school principal is not only being able to watch my students grow academically, but form friendships, mature and become leaders within their classrooms and in our school.
WP: November is National Adoption Month. Your three-year-old Helms is adopted. Why did your family personally decide to adopt?
DM: We struggled with infertility for a couple of years before God led us to adoption. Charlie was ready before I was to start the adoption process. It took me a little longer to say yes. We talked with Allie before we decided on adoption, and she was so excited. She always wanted to be a big sister.
WP: How was the adoption process for you and your family?
DM: It is incredible to look back and see the people God placed in my life well before adoption was ever on my mind. We used a consulting agency that guided us through the mounds and mounds of paperwork and legal stuff. We had the sweetest consultant that held our hand, answered all the questions, and was our cheerleader and sounding board. Our church, family, friends, and community were so supportive. We had fundraisers, garage sales, and I baked more pound cakes than I care to mention to help cover fees. I say that if a baby could be made from sugar and flour, that Helms is (maybe that is why he loves candy and sweets so much).
I am not going to lie, the process was hard on me. Being presented with possible matches, us saying yes, and then getting a no in return over and over was difficult. I thought that after a couple of months, we would be matched with a sweet birth mama, and a baby would soon follow. Finally, in January 2019, I got a call that a birth mom wanted to talk to us that evening to see if we were the family for her little one. We talked with Helms’s birth mom and her social worker that evening and it went great! The original due date we received was the end of January. After another doctor’s appointment, it was changed to the end of February. We were on pins and needles and sitting on go for over a month. I received a text message on the morning of 2.22.19 that said, “You might want to head this way.” We were on the road shortly after, and Helms was born right as we arrived. We spent time with his birth mom for a few days, which was very special, and I have some of the sweetest pictures. After a short stay in the NICU, we were able to bring our baby home.
WP: What would your advice be to someone considering adoption for their family?
DM: I would encourage them to do their research and seek out friends or other families that have walked the adoption journey. Those individuals are a wealth of information and encouragement. Adoption can be an emotional rollercoaster. I would tell a family to stay positive, focus, and pray for the little one and the birth family that could soon be a part of their lives.
Dusty McKinley has been married to her husband Charlie for eight years. They have two children, Allie (17) and Helms (3). She and her husband own a local business, Pyro Productions, and she is also