Taking the Reins

A new director for the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts in Marion.

Contributed photo

Catherine Schrenker Poole has made a career practicing and teaching color theory and graphic design, but this year, it’s as if she designed her dream job when she was named executive director of the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts in Marion. “I dreamed about this 20 years ago when I was teaching, about starting an art school from the ground up,” says the 52-year-old, who received her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Today, Poole is leading a renovation of the organization’s century-old schoolhouse located on Marion’s North Church Street, where classes in clogging, storytelling, art and music will be held this winter. 

In the works for about a decade, the school takes its name from the legendary luthier and musician from the nearby mountains of Grayson County, Wayne C. Henderson. 

“I can certainly be glad to help them,” says the always-easygoing Henderson, “and I guess I about have to. It’s got my name on it. But I do that sort of thing anyways.” 

The mission of the school is to preserve and promote Southern Appalachian heritage via workshops and classes designed to complement the locally produced and nationally televised “Song of the Mountains” music series that is broadcast from Marion’s historic Lincoln Theatre, as well as programs hosted by the Heartwood artisan center and the Round the Mountain organization, both in Abingdon.

“We want to create a school that has not just your average pottery and textiles,” explains Poole. “It’s going to be a wonderful flagship for the community.”

Poole sees the school building as an anchor for classes and activities that will eventually fan out to the nooks and crannies of Smyth County’s courthouse town. 

“We’ll be able to do a smatter,” she says. “It’s just kind of a sampling to see what’s out there.”

HendersonSchool.org

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