KANNAPOLIS — Daryle Adams, Kannapolis City Schools’ STEM and Career and Technical Education director, has been named North Carolina’s CTE Administrator of the Year.

This comes after he was honored as the Southwest region’s CTE Director of the Year in July. Under Adams’ leadership, KCS has significantly expanded its Career Technical Education program to include 26 career pathways and 48 professional credential certifications that are offered to students.

“I need to really thank a whole lot of people for this,” Adams said. “No. 1, I have a great staff in the high school, I have a great team in Mallory Harris and Ashley Altman … our partnerships that we’ve been able to establish with the chamber of commerce — we have Barbi Jones, who has been phenomenal with Wayne Brothers (Inc.) and the apprenticeship program with S&D Coffee, with David Hollars and the work force development board and it goes on and on and on.”

Adams 1.jpg

Daryle Adams (middle) was named the North Carolina CTE State Administrator of the Year on Tuesday.

Kannapolis City Schools’ CTE program has received multiple honors over the last few years, with one student being honored as the N.C. Young Apprentice of the Year last year, Adams being named the regional and state CTE Administrator of the Year this year, and earning the distinction of receiving the N.C. Governor’s Award of Distinction for Innovation and Excellence.

That is while 99 percent of the program’s students graduate, and a large number of students go directly into the work force where they are already impacting the Kannapolis community.

“Forty percent of our students that graduated last year went into the workforce. That has been growing recently. What I’m proud of is the fact that our system recognizes it. In fact, our system is really doing everything from K through 12{sup}th{/sup} grade to prepare kids to take the next step,” Adams said. “I think that cultural shift is important. And the reason why that is important is that we are a high-poverty school system and a high-minority school system; not saying one equates to the other, I’m not saying that poverty equals intelligence, I’m not saying that at all, but it sometimes limits opportunity and access.”

He continued: “When we move a kid and provide an opportunity for them, and they actually get a job, it is seismic in their family because now they can provide for themselves, they can provide for their family, and it gives opportunities to their family members to move into something else.

“It might lift that child out of poverty, and once you start moving out of poverty, you start contributing back into the community they’re in, so they’re going to buy homes in Kannapolis, they’ll buy cars in Kannapolis, they’ll shop in Kannapolis or Cabarrus County, so they’re reinvesting back into the community, so now they’re becoming strong community members because we’ve been able to provide opportunities for them.

“All we’re doing is providing an opportunity; they have to step through it,” Adams said. “I think that’s the two things we really need to be proud of, the cultural shift of how we view careers and what we’re providing kids in terms of allowing them to make choices now to move them out of the poverty that they may be in and rescue friends in the process.”

Born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Adams has been the head of Kannapolis City Schools’ CTE program for a few years, and this comes after he earned two bachelor’s degrees and considered dabbling in politics as well.

But, ultimately, he moved into education, spent a decade teaching in Georgia and made his way to Concord and eventually Kannapolis before taking over the program.

Since moving to his new job, though, he has been absolutely “100 percent CTE” because he said he fully understands how important it is. And the schools have truly seen his impact in the program.

“Under the leadership of Daryle Adams, the students of Kannapolis City Schools are the real winners of this award,” said Superintendent Chip Buckwell in a news release on the schools’ website. “The work Mr. Adams has put in over the last four years and how that work has changed the lives of students and families is the reason he is the North Carolina CTE Administrator of the Year.

“Words cannot describe the impact Mr. Adams has had on the lives of so many of our students. At the end of the day, if you have positively impacted a child’s life, you have done a full day’s work. Daryle Adams has done that and so much more. Everyone in Kannapolis City Schools is extremely proud of Daryle Adams, and he is very deserving of statewide recognition.”

Under Adams’ tutelage, the program has seen positive growth among students and, using the welding program as an example, the interest has clearly risen. Adams says the class can accommodate 10 to 12 students, and a couple of years ago, they had about 15 students trying to get in. Last year, that number rose to 25 to 30.

Adams 2.jpg

Daryle Adams poses with his award.

Students are seeing a chance to have success, and they are taking advantage of it. That is a huge story for the program, but none of this would be possible, according to Adams, without the overwhelming support the school has given him.

“We have been very successful in what we’re doing, and it’s because of the teamwork that exists,” he said. “CTE does not operate in a silo, there are a lot of people in this building that are making this successful, and it’s not just me.

“Jessica Grant, who is overseeing our secondary and student support, a lot of it is some of her ideas and ‘Can we do something?’; we do it. Dr. Chip Buckwell, who comes in with his ideas. I need to work closely with the finance department. I need to work closely with the HR department to make sure we’re hiring the right people. I need to work closely with child nutrition and EC because we’ve got to serve all kids, and we’ve got to make sure when we serve all kids, we are serving them to the best of our ability.

“We’re making sure we have the right classes and grade teachers correctly, building fidelity in our teachers to look beyond the deficits our kids bring with them, but to look for their strengths … looking at our kids and saying, ‘You can do this,’ and for those kids who have never been exposed to (challenges) to realize they can compete with anyone.”