Wildcat graduate returns to high school as principal

Facing pandemic challenges head-on
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 7:27 PM EST
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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -Dr. Garfield Adams remembers playing football for the Wildcats several years ago, and enjoys watching his son on the field now.

“I was a tight end and a defensive tackle. My son actually plays the same positions,” said Adams.

Adams is returning to his hometown and home school, with difficult strategic decisions to make everyday to keep students and staff safe and learning during the pandemic. For now, those decisions include keeping Oak Ridge High School on a staggered classroom schedule.

“They’re data-driven decisions. I will say that what we’ve realized is no question that in-person learning is best practice,” said Adams.

Yet because of pandemic precautions, most students attend classes in person only two days per week, while some remain on an entirely virtual learning option from home.

“It’s pretty cool that he is interested in what we’re doing,” said senior Ross Bunch when Principal Garfield dropped into his STEM classroom with instructor Dr. Kristy Hutson. It’s not the first time he’s seen his principal show interest in the science and technical work there.

“He’s come into the classroom that I’ve been in a few times,” said Bunch.

“He has always talked about making sure that we are focused on every single kid every single day,” said Hutson about the new principal.

Adams has experience teaching in both Knox County and Oak Ridge school systems. He served as principal at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge before taking a position as Special Education Director for Hamilton County Schools near Chattanooga. It was there his worked earned recognition as the Wayne Parker STEP Advocate of the Year Award for Tennessee.

“I just have a passion for students, especially in exceptional education!” said Adams. “I wanted to come back home and serve in my own community.”

Adams took the new position in early November 2020 after Principal Martin McDonald left to serve as principal of Greeneville High School.

Adams received his advanced education through both the University of Tennessee and Lincoln Memorial University.

“Very excited at the opportunities for our students as we find our way through the pandemic," he said.

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