Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
BRANDENBURG, Ky. — A Salisbury native has been dubbed Kentucky’s top principal.
The Kentucky Association of Secondary School Principals recently named Bill Adams, principal of Meade County High School in Brandenburg, the state Principal of the Year.
Adams, who attended North Hills Christian School through 11th grade, graduated from Salisbury High School. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree and play baseball at Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky., where he met his wife, Joy.
“When we graduated, we really wanted to be closer to her family in the Louisville area, but we weren’t able to find jobs so we moved to Salisbury,” he said.
He ended up teaching biology at Salisbury High School for three years. During that time, Joy taught at Granite Quarry Elementary.
Adams said longtime Salisbury High principal Dr. Windsor Eagle, who retired in June, helped mold him as an educator.
“My first year as a teacher, I have to be honest, I really was not very good,” he said. “By all rights, Dr. Eagle should have said, ‘Bill you need to find another job.’ ”
Instead, Eagle offered some advice.
“He said here are the things you need to work on; if you work on these things you can be a fine educator,” Adams said. “He was honest with me, he worked with me and he supported me. I felt like that was the way to deal with people.”
Adams said he’s tried to mirror Eagle’s approach in his own experience as a leader.
“He has influenced me and I’ve tried to take those things from him and implement them in a Bill Adams sort of way,” he said.
Since Adams has taken over as principal, Meade County High has increased the level of rigor it provides students by doubling the number of Advanced Placement courses offered.
“Mr. Adams has been instrumental in school improvement at Meade County High School,” Mitch Crump, superintendent of the Meade County school system, said in a press release. Under Adams’ leadership, he said, the school has seen increases in state test and ACT scores, as well as more participation in advanced placement courses.
“Bill is a top-notch instructional leader and building administrator,” Crump said.
Adams, who taught biology at Meade for nine years before moving into administration, said the school was already “very good” before he took the helm.
“Sometimes what you find is that it’s easy to be satisfied with very good and it’s hard to move from good to great,” he said. “Our task easily was to take a really good school and really propel ourselves toward even better because our students deserve the very best education.”
Adams said he’s done that by utilizing a model of professional learning communities.
“That’s always been our change agent,” he said. “Our teachers work together in teams, they collaborate on curriculum and assessment. It’s a very, very good way of doing business in schools today.”
As Meade County High has grown, Adams said, so has the amount of paperwork and responsibility.
“I find myself out of the building more than when I started 10 years ago,” he said. “It’s difficult to be out of the building and interacting with students on a regular basis, but I really try to do that.”
Adams said that’s another area where Eagle excelled and he’s trying to model.
“I want to have a relationship with the students,” he said. “I want to be available and open. If they have an issue or concern, I want them to know we can work through that to find a solution.”
Crump said Adams is “never too busy” to see a parent, student or staff member who needs something.
“He takes time to build relationships with his staff members and his students,” Crump said in the press release.
Adams said he was surprised and humbled to learn he received the honor.
“This is not a statement about Bill Adams. This is a statement about the 1,600 students who go to school here, the 85 teachers who work hard every day, the fantastic community,” he said. “It’s about all of us doing things well, and that’s kind of exciting.”
Adams’ parents, Bill and Caroline, still live in Salisbury and his family travels here to visit once or twice a year.
“It’s always good to come back,” he said. “I have so many good memories of my days in school there, my friends growing up there. It’s just a wonderful place to grow up.”
The senior Bill Adams said he and Caroline are very proud of their son’s accomplishments.
“Obviously, I was excited when Bill told me he had been selected for this pretty nice honor,” he said.
Adams will go on to compete in the national principal of the year competition.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.