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By Michelle G. Lyerly
Kannapolis Citizen
All it took to help better the schools of Kannapolis was one caring person and a little time.
Following a key victory for Dale Earnhardt in October 1993, the legendary driver donated $30,000 of his race prize money to the Kannapolis City Schools. This donation inspired the formation of a partnership organization between the Kannapolis system and concerned citizens ó the Kannapolis Education Foundation.
The Kannapolis Education Foundation is a registered nonprofit organization founded in 1994 for the purpose of raising needed funds “only for the school system,” according to Joseph Trull, chairman of the foundation and vice president of First Charter Bank.
The mission statement of the Kannapolis Education Foundation is “to enhance the quality of education for the community’s most valuable and worthy asset ó our children.”
“We work at all levels to provide technology as we can,” Trull explained.
The organization is represented by people from different parts of the community ó the school system, Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, various civic organizations as well as individual business people, parents and retired citizens. The organization has an active board of directors, which includes local educators and business professionals.
According to Ellen Boyd, director of community relations for Kannapolis City Schools and secretary/treasurer of the foundation board of directors, “a lot of the technology that is there (in the Kannapolis City Schools) is there because the education foundation provided the money.”
During its formative years, the foundation, through various anonymous donations, provided books, hardware and software, as well as various other educational materials for the area schools.
As technology advanced and state funding dropped, the foundation kept up with the times, providing computers, printers and various other technological essentials.
“We try to adjust to the needs of the Kannapolis City Schools,” Boyd said.
Now, with the emergence of the North Carolina Research Campus, the Kannapolis Education Foundation shares a new vision ó “To put research at the forefront to work on programs that are cutting edge, so that we can create a world class educational system and expand our focus on math and science,” Trull said.
Several years prior to David Murdock’s announcement of his vision for the N.C. Research Campus, Kannapolis City Schools began to incorporate biotechnology into the curriculum.
Even as early as the elementary grades, Kannapolis students are learning the basics of biotechnology, which include extracting DNA from strawberries.
According to Trull, this and other experiments allow students to “see at the lower levels what will take place at the Research Campus.”
Future goals of the foundation include creating a Biotechnology Campus at A.L.Brown High School, a Biotechnology Laboratory at Kannapolis Middle School and the construction of at least one greenhouse per school.
The foundation envisions the Biotechnology Campus functioning as “a school within a school” at A.L. Brown, working in conjunction with the N.C. Research Campus and sharing instructors and resources to create “a workforce for the future,” Trull said.As the foundation joins the wider community in embarking in this “uncharted territory,” Trull pleads with local business leaders to “assist us in order to make this a success.”
The estimated cost to begin this pilot program will be $100,000, with an additional $100,000 for operational costs per year. The cost for a greenhouse is estimated at $10,000.
Contact Michelle G. Lyerly at 704-932-3336 or news@kannapoliscitizen.com.

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