20 Under 40: Sarah Good

Age: 32
Business: Highland Park Presbyterian Day School
High School: Gulf Breeze High School
College: Dallas Baptist University
Faith: Highland Park United Methodist Church
Community Involvement: Member of Methodist Nursery Kindergarten Association and Central Dallas Directors Group; food drives and clothing drives, Operation Christmas Child, and outreach to local programs such as Juliette Fowler and Brother Bill’s Helping Hand.

A former teacher and currently the executive director at Highland Park Presbyterian Day School, Sarah Good has dedicated the past eight years of her life to educating children in the Dallas area. During that time, Good has run into her fair share of work-related dilemmas, but through those trials, she has learned the importance of standing up for what’s right, a lesson that has played no small part in her rise to leading the Day School. In her off time, Good loves to hang out with her husband and two boys at parks, zoos, and wherever else nature can be found.

What is the best advice you received when beginning your career? I was having a bit of a moral crisis one year as a teacher. I had a wonderful graduate professor who helped me through that – and ultimately I learned the importance of standing up for what is right and remaining strong in one’s convictions, even when it is challenging the norm. We have to have change-makers and thought-leaders pave the way into the future.

I also have loved working with my leadership coach, Daniel Allen. I’ve worked with him my entire career in leadership, and he has helped me learn the value of continuous growth and development. Being “lifelong learners” is a core value for the staff at the Day School, because it so imperative we don’t become complacent and stagnant.

Also with Daniel, I’ve loved learning about different strengths and hindrances we all bring to the workplace – it helps us all understand how to work well together and to appreciate one another’s unique gifts. Our staff members have completed the DISC profile, which was so eye-opening!

What is your business philosophy? As a graduate of Dallas Baptist University, I was trained in servant leadership, so that’s a big part of who I am as a business leader. We studied wonderful models of organizational management and leadership, such as Southwest Airlines, that shaped my overarching philosophy of servant leadership.

I feel the following are imperative parts of running a successful business and have been pivotal in the success of the Day School:
-You must have a clear vision, mission, and values. These things drive everything we do. They impact our staff culture, the families who become part of the school, the curriculum, our guidance and discipline, our community partnerships… everything. We don’t make any decisions without testing them for alignment with who we are and what we aim to achieve. At the Day School, we know exactly who we are.
-You must create an environment that appreciates and capitalizes on the many gifts and talents of each individual within your organization. The more I get to know each person on my staff, the more amazed I am with each of them. And the beauty that comes from collaboration among a group of people with diverse talents, personalities and strengths are what takes your business from mediocre to extraordinary.

What inspires you? I am inspired by people who are passionate about what they do. Recently, I heard Glennon Doyle speak at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, and she spoke about how what breaks your heart is where you will find your calling. Shortly after that, my church began a sermon series on the same thing. Everyone has a heart for something, whether it’s children, animals, human rights… When someone is doing what they are born to do, their passion is inspiring. We have to turn towards the things that are meaningful to us, even when it is a challenging or painful path.

If you could tell 16-year-old you anything, what would you say? 16 wasn’t an easy time for me, but I wish I would have known that many of the hard things weren’t significant in the long run. I would tell myself to focus on being the truest me I could be, and to keep my head up. That everything was going to be alright, and that my story takes a happy turn!

What is your proudest career accomplishment? This is hard for me to answer, because it’s not really my accomplishment alone. But, I’m proud to be leading the Day School, which has become such a sought-after early childhood program. We were thrilled to be voted Best Preschool by the community for 2 years, and I am just honored and humbled to serve our wonderful staff and families.

What did you learn from your best boss or mentor? I’m thinking of the words from a member of my original Board of Directors who told me: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I can get excited and overwhelmed wanting my ideas to come to life, and I always need to remind myself to slow down and take one step at a time.

What was your first summer job? I was a server at a few places, which I was terrible at. So, I eventually became a nanny – much better fit!

What do you love about your community? I love being a part of what is happening at Highland Park Pres right now. There is a great energy – a momentum – happening here. I’ve met so many amazing people in these walls!

It was hard to move away from the beach – I love being in nature. So, I love all of the beautiful outdoor spaces in the Park Cities. I love taking my young boys to the parks, and I recently began Camp Gladiator at Goar Park, which is so lovely!

Where is the best place for a business power lunch in Park Cities or Preston Hollow? MiCocina is a crowd-pleaser! Great atmosphere, great service and chips and queso.

What is your fondest Park Cities or Preston Hollow memory? Our Day School float in the 4th of July parade! We’ll be in it again this year. I also love bringing my family to the HP 4th of July parade!

Where will we find you enjoying your hard-earned time off? With my boys (including my husband) – we are together all the time. My sister calls us the “Good Pod.” They all even drop me off at work and pick me up every day. We love to be outdoors – talking walks, going to parks, the Arboretum, the zoo.

What do you want your last meal to be? chips and queso

What is your favorite color? soft colors, neutrals or a navy and fuchsia combo

What fictional world or place would you like to visit? I really can’t think of anything in particular – some beautiful fairy tale forest.

If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would you choose? I would not want to be on any reality TV show! I am already nervous about being in front of the camera for a quick interview for our school’s website video! I do not like being in the spotlight.

What would your superpower be? I wish I could automatically and clearly see what’s going on in someone’s heart when they bring their issues to me. Then I could always respond with empathy and with understanding, and better meet their needs.

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Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at Bianca.Montes@Dmagazine or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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