Kannapolis Principal of the Year honored

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS — A.L. Brown High School Principal Kevin Garay doesn’t take full credit for being named the Kannapolis City school district’s Principal of the Year.
“I think it’s a tribute to a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment to our students from our staff here,” he said. “I’m really appreciative that our staff is being recognized, because it’s not just me, it’s all the administrators here.”
Since Garay took over in 2009, the school’s graduation rate has climbed by 16 points to 85 percent and is ranked 13th in the state among 115 school systems.
Garay attributes part of that success to the Freshman Academy, which opened in 2007 to help ninth-grade students transition into high school.
Garay also helped in the planning of the school’s new STEM Academy by asking teachers for their input to ensure the building met their needs.
“We wanted our teachers to think about new ways to improve instruction if they had the right resources and facilities,” he said in a press release. “The teachers planned courses around real-world science and technology and not just multiple-choice tests, then architects built their suggestions into the final design of the building.
“It’s made a big difference in how our students embrace learning, and I’m really proud of our teachers and staff.”
Garay said since he took over the top spot, his focus has been the students, staff and community.
“It’s not about the logistics of running the school and the management of running the school, it’s the people,” he said. “If you hold that most important, you’ll have a lot more success. … I think that’s essential.”
Garay said while working under Dr. Debra Morris, who is now the district’s assistant superintendent, he learned that as principal, you have to be the hardest-working person on campus.
“I think it’s critical that your students, staff and parents see you as the hardest-working, most determined and most compassionate person on campus,” he said. “I saw that in her year after year.”
Garay will go on to compete for the title of Southwest Region Principal of the Year.
“(Garay) is a tremendous leader who truly keeps the focus on students,” Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain said in a press release. “He hires outstanding people and gives them the resources they need to serve students well.
“I am so proud of the work he and his staff have done, and he is very deserving of this honor.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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