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South Carolina principal takes night job at Walmart to support struggling students

"I know that my students will not always be in poverty. I know that because that's what we are," Henry Darby tells TODAY.
North Charleston High School principal Henry Darby says his students “are the best of the best. We love them dearly.”
North Charleston High School principal Henry Darby says his students “are the best of the best. We love them dearly.”TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Henry Darby goes above and beyond what is expected of him.

Darby, the principal at North Charleston High School in North Charleston, South Carolina, has taken on a second job stocking shelves at a Walmart store during the overnight hours, with every paycheck earned going to his students in need.

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Walmart approached TODAY about Darby, who is not one to seek accolades.

“The attention, I'm not used to it,” he told TODAY. “I don't think that I've done anything worthy of distinction to warrant the attention.”

Darby hard at work stocking shelves.TODAY

Darby’s efforts are particularly important because 90 percent of the student body live under the poverty line.

“I get a little emotional, because when you've got children you've heard, sleeping under a bridge, or a former student and her child, they're sleeping in a car, or when you go to a parent's house because there's problems and you knock on the door, there are no curtains and you see a mattress on the floor,” he said getting choked up.

“And these people need — and I wasn't gonna say no. And at my age, you know, we don't ask for money. We just don't. You just go ahead and do what you need to do.”

Darby talks to one of his students.TODAY

Darby decided to take a job at Walmart and elected not to tell his manager that he works as a principal during the day.

“Even before we knew, there was something special about him,” store manager Cynthia Solomon told TODAY. “I would be so happy to have Mr. Darby for as long as he will have us as a part of his family and beyond.”

Darby’s students also rave about him.

"He's ready to help anybody," one student told TODAY.

"He's there when you least expect it but when you need him the most," another added.

Darby has literally been working day and night to help his students in need.TODAY

Darby hopes students follow his lead by being kind.

“It's quite simple, simplistic: Just learn to help others. That is one of the greatest things that we could do in terms of human beings,” he said.

Darby also remains steadfast in his belief that things will improve.

“I am an optimist. But I'm also a determinist,” he said. “I know that it's going to get better. I know that these times will not always be with us. I know that my students will not always be in poverty. I know that because that's what we are. America makes it better for everybody.”

Walmart is doing its part to make it better for his students right now.

Darby was blown away when Walmart gave his school a check for $50,000.TODAY

Solomon surprised Darby with a $50,000 check for the high school live on TODAY Friday, prompting the students on hand to shout “Darby!”

“You’re awesome and we appreciate you here at Walmart for all you are doing to serve your community,” she said.

“I’m speechless, sir,” Darby told Craig Melvin.

“Thank you so very much. This is going to go a very, very long way with our students, sir,” he added.

Darby, who has no plans to leave Walmart, also gushed about his school.

“Incomparable, sir,” he told Craig. “These students, they are the best of the best. We love them dearly.”