Kannapolis City Schools names new superintendent

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2016

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to name Dr. Daron “Chip” Buckwell as superintendent of Kannapolis City Schools. Buckwell has served as interim superintendent since October.

Buckwell’s contract has not been finalized, School Board Chairman Todd Adams said, and his salary has not yet been determined. The previous Superintendent, Dr. Pamela Cain, was paid a salary of $135,000 according to her 2011 contract.

Buckwell’s current salary was unavailable Tuesday evening.

Buckwell says he is humbled and honored by the board’s choice, and is excited about the district’s future.

“I believe in the staff we have, I believe in our kids, I believe in our community. It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said.

Adams had high praise for Buckwell and the work he has done.

“We heard from so many people in the school system and in the community. They all said they have a lot of respect for Dr. Buckwell, they appreciate the effort that he puts in and the care he has for the students and community. I honestly don’t think anyone could love this school system or could do a better job than Dr. Buckwell, and we believe he will be an outstanding superintendent for Kannapolis City Schools,” he said.

Adams says that Kannapolis sees Buckwell as a leader. Principals, teachers and community members admired and respected him long before he was named as interim superintendent. When Kannapolis City Schools began looking for a new superintendent, Adams said, they wanted “to move on.” The system quickly realized that conducting a search was taking too long, and someone new to the system would take a long time to adjust to the district, the teachers, and the community. To Kannapolis City Schools, Buckwell was the answer.

“There’s no one who loves and cares for Kannapolis City Schools, our students or our community more than Dr. Buckwell — he has been for a long time our loudest cheerleader.”

Buckwell has been with Kannapolis City Schools since 1985. He started out as an athletic trainer and teacher and “essentially worked his way through the system” Adams said. During that time he has served as a teacher, dropout prevention coordinator, director of Student Services, director of testing, principal and assistant superintendent.

During his time as principal of Kannapolis Middle School, he was named Kannapolis City Schools’ Principal of the Year after leading KMS to high or expected growth for five consecutive years. Kannapolis Middle School also received the Innovator in Digital Learning Award from former N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue in 2012.

Buckwell began as assistant superintendent for Kannapolis City Schools in January 2013 and was named interim superintendent in October 2015 after the school board terminated the contract of Cain, the former superintendent. There are some challenges to overcome, he says, but if the teachers, students and community working together, Kannapolis has a lot of potential.

“We’ve just all got to work together and get better day by day,” he said.

Buckwell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University, and he earned his graduate license as a school principal from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He also holds a doctor of education degree in school administration and instruction from Nova Southeastern University.