Buckwell promoted to second in command in Kannapolis City school system
KANNAPOLIS — The principal of Kannapolis Middle School has been promoted to second in command at Kannapolis City Schools.
The Board of Education voted Monday to make Dr. Chip Buckwell the new assistant superintendent. He’ll replace Dr. Debra Morris, who retired Dec. 1.
“Chip has been an excellent leader in our school system for years and has done a phenomenal job at the middle school,” board member Todd Adams said. “He has a unique way of reaching students and he’s been very successful at the school level, I’m looking forward to him taking that district wide.”
Buckwell, the district’s principal of the year, has led Kannapolis Middle since 2001. Prior to that he held the top spot at Woodrow Wilson Elementary.
He joined the school system in 1985 as the in-school suspension teacher at A.L. Brown High School. He later became the district’s dropout prevention coordinator before moving into the role of director of student services and testing.
Buckwell said having a wide range of experience throughout his career has prepared him for his new role.
“I’ve loved each and every one of those jobs and I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve worked with,” he said.
Buckwell said the position will provide a “new life challenge.”
“When Dr. Morris decided she was going to retire I was hopeful all along that she would second guess herself and come back because I really like Dr. Morris. She is a good friend,” he said. “When she didn’t, I looked around and said, I’ve got a lot of background, I know a lot about the district, I know a lot about what’s going on, I think I can help us continue the good work we’re doing and get better.”
Adams said Buckwell’s promotion is well deserved.
“He’s put his time in at the system and has continued to advance himself, continued to study.”
Buckwell earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University. He has a graduate license as a school principal from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
He also holds a doctorate degree in school administration and instruction from Nova Southeastern University. Adams said Buckwell is currently pursuing certification under the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as part of the first class of principals to participate in the program.
“He’s just a swell guy, he’s always trying to find ways to do better for all of our students,” he said.
Board Chairwoman Danita Rickard said Buckwell has proven to be an excellent leader. She pointed out the fact that he was the driving force behind the student uniform policy at Kannapolis Middle that later expanded to the rest of the schools in the district.
“He’s just exhibited that kind of leadership over the years,” she said.
Buckwell said one of his top priorities is helping the district continue to move forward with its technology initiatives.
“We’ve got to really work on trying to make sure we continue the funding of technology wherever we can and make sure our students have access to 21st century tools,” he said.
Buckwell said as he moves from the school to the central office, he’s determined to find a way to stay connected to the students.
“I don’t ever want to lose touch with where the real important work is done, in the classroom,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m in the schools as much as possible, keeping a finger on that pulse.”
It’s uncertain when Buckwell will move into his new role as assistant superintendent.
“I’m excited, I’ve worked with the last four assistant superintendents and they’ve left a huge legacy of helping our district get better, and that’s the only thing I want to do,” he said.
Rickard said there is no greater cheerleader for the district than Buckwell.
“He’s been very loyal,” she said. “He loves the school system, he loves this town and he loves the kids.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.