Kevin Garay, principal of A.L. Brown High School, is Kannapolis City Schools’ 2011-2012 Principal of the Year. He has been principal of A.L. Brown since 2009. During that time, A.L. Brown’s graduation rate has skyrocketed more than 16 points and is now among the best in North Carolina.
When Kevin Garay became principal of A.L. Brown in 2009, the graduation rate there was 69%. During his first year, it jumped 8 points to 77%, and this past year it rose another 8.1 points to 85.1%. That places Kannapolis City Schools 13th in the state in graduation rate among 115 school districts. One of the reasons for the dramatic improvement is the Freshman Academy, which helps 9th graders make a smoother transition into high school and become more successful. The Freshman Academy was started in 2007, and its first class of students graduated in 2011.
Besides helping to improve the graduation rate, Mr. Garay also has been instrumental in launching the new STEM Academy at A.L. Brown. As soon as funding for the STEM project was approved, he got teachers involved in planning the new wing. He said he wanted to make sure it was designed around curriculum and not just architecture. “We knew we had a very special opportunity to make a difference,” Garay said. “We wanted our teachers to think about new ways to improve instruction if they had the right resources and facilities. 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.”
Kevin Garay has also integrated an international component and emphasis on health into the new STEM Academy. Besides Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, the STEM Academy features the teaching of World Languages and International Studies. There also is an ESL (English as Second Language) Welcome Center that helps non-English speaking families register children for school and connect with resources in the community. The STEM Academy also includes a Health and Wellness Center that houses the school nurse and provides wellness resources for students.
“Kevin Garay has done a remarkable job as principal of A.L. Brown High School,” said Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain. “He is a tremendous leader who truly keeps the focus on students. 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.”
Prior to becoming principal in 2009, Kevin Garay was an Assistant Principal at A.L. Brown. He served under Dr. Debra Morris who was the 2008 Wachovia North Carolina Principal of the Year. Dr. Morris is now Kannapolis City Schools’ Assistant Superintendent. Kevin Garay graduated with honors from Concord University in Athens, West Virginia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Geography. He also earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Concord University. In 2004, Mr. Garay graduated from Gardner-Webb University with a Master of School Administration degree. He also attended the West Virginia University College of Law.
Kevin Garay will now represent Kannapolis City Schools in the regional competition for Principal of the Year in North Carolina. He will compete against system-wide winners from other school districts in the Southwest Region of North Carolina. The regional Principal of the Year winner will go on to state competition.