ABOVE: Clergy pray for school administrators Sunday. “What can you do for the children and staff of Chesterfield? You can pray. When you speak... Prayer time: Community event includes prayers for students, teachers, administrators

ABOVE: Clergy pray for school administrators Sunday.

“What can you do for the children and staff of Chesterfield? You can pray. When you speak to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you put protection around all of us.”

With those words, incoming Chesterfield schools superintendent Merv Daugherty tried to encourage those in attendance at a Sunday evening gathering at Thomas Dale High School.

The sixth annual “Praying for our Schools” event was organized for Chester Clergy by the Rev. Shawn Franco, lead pastor of Cornerstone Assembly of God.

The hour-long event involved students, teachers, administrators, parents and others. It also helped serve as a welcome of sorts for Daugherty, who took the oath of office Friday, Oct. 5 and starts his new job Nov. 1.

“God put me here,” Daugherty said, who is moving to the area from Wilmington, Del., where he has been superintendent of the Red Clay Consolidated School District since 2009.

“My wife hates change. We sold our house in one day. We found a house in one day. God told me it’s time to roll. When God tells you to do something, everything falls into place.”

Daugherty said he has walked with God for over 40 years, and noted that a high school coach changed his life forever. As a result of his faith, Daughterty said he prays for everybody in the area while he’s driving to work each morning. “What drives me is to get out and serve children,” he said. “Our kids come from a lot of storms.”

He cited a Biblical passage from Matthew 14 about Jesus Christ reaching out his hand to help the Apostle Peter when he began to sink after stepping out onto the water. “He didn’t end the storm, but He reached out His hand,” Daugherty said.

Chesterfield school board member Carrie Coyner introduced Daugherty at the event, and said she prayed for the right superintendent and the right principal for Thomas Dale High School. She believes that God answered her prayers with Daugherty and Chris Jones, who recently began working at the 2,400-student Chester school.

The event “is such an important part of the start of our school year. I know the power of all of us coming together,” Coyner said, and asked those in attendance for a commitment “to pray the entire year over our schools.”

“When you drive by schools, pray for that school building … employees and students,” she said.

“We want to support our schools. Teachers are the heroes of our community,” Franco said prior to the event, which included 13 area pastors and ministers, 19 teachers and staffers and four administrators.