Committed to Cabarrus County Schools — it’s a family affair.
Brian at the bus stop with his sister.
Brian's first students at Winecoff Elementary School.
He's a 'Dance Dad' to his two daughters, and often an extra in their productions.
Connecting with students, principals, and teachers is a daily part of the job Brian welcomes.
After having taken the helm of Cabarrus County Schools midway through the year — during a pandemic — we sat down with Brian Schultz to get to know what makes him tick. Many of you already know he has a wife, Vicki, who is a CSS teacher, and two daughters, one who is a CCS middle school student, and another who is a CCS graduate. And you probably already know that he started his teaching career at Winecoff Elementary School in 1996.
Schultz considers husband and father his most important roles; however, the role of serving as CCS’s interim superintendent of 33,000 students and more than 4,000 staff is a career highlight, especially in a district where he has spent so much of his professional life serving in various positions before assuming his latest role. But you can read about those kinds of details in his bio.
Let’s get to know him better. You might be surprised at what you learn. But one thing is for sure, you’ll be pleased.
When did you know you were meant to be an educator?
I knew during my senior year of high school. During that year, I participated in two life-changing programs: one was a mentorship program in law enforcement where I shadowed the Police Chief, and the other was a Teacher Cadet Program where I worked in kindergarten classrooms. It was there I saw how the male students, particularly the ones who didn’t have male role models at home, were drawn to me – hungry for male attention and interaction. I also found watching children learn and make connections incredibly rewarding. That experience let me know education was my calling.
What excites you about the field of education?
I am excited about the influence I’ve had on forming community and bringing people together – whether that’s been as a classroom teacher, a principal, a central office administrator, an assistant superintendent/deputy superintendent or even now as interim superintendent.
What’s the best thing about living, working, and sending your kids to school in Cabarrus County?
I think it’s how this community plays such a big role in shaping you and your family. There are generations of Cabarrus County residents who still live and work here – they feel a sense of ownership to the county and the municipalities within it. They feel the same way about the schools – and because of that, they support our schools, our students and our school system tremendously.
What is the singular most important issue facing CCS?
What keeps me awake at night is making sure we can continue to recruit and retain really great people. CCS is blessed to have great leaders and staff members, but we can’t rest on our laurels – we have to continue to recruit more great leaders and staff members and retain the ones we have. Great leaders follow great leaders.
What are your aspirations for the district?
Continuing to provide our students with an excellent education that prepares them for college or career is a given, but I want us to go above and beyond that to ensure that every student has a trusted adult in school and in the community that they can turn to – not just in times of trouble or crisis, but also just someone they can go to when they want to celebrate an accomplishment.
Partnership and collaboration are important to you. What does that look like?
I like to characterize it as a three-legged stool — home/school/community. Each leg has to work with the others to stay in balance. Partnership with students means listening to their feedback and making sure their voices are heard. That doesn’t mean we do everything they want us to do, but we do give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas to help influence the decisions we make. Partnership with parents means parents are involved and invested in the school community. They provide feedback to the district and work with staff to benefit students. Partnership with staff means we are representing all employees and every level and staff members provide feedback to improve the district and they are allowing opportunities for feedback from parents and students, too. Partnership with the community means we are giving them opportunities to be involved in ways that truly impact outcomes for students. For example, through volunteering, donating time, supplies or money and creating avenues to help students, staff and the district in general. Additionally, we must consider the needs socio-emotional and economic needs of our community. By doing so, we can ensure that our graduates will be able to make valuable career and civic contributions to Cabarrus County.
How has CCS evolved since you first joined the district in 1996?
Outside of the obvious – extraordinary growth, CCS has become a school system that others look to emulate. We are at or near the top of many public school accountability measures. Our community has grown from a small town to a large community, but still with a small town feel. One of the challenges for us is keeping that small town-feel while being an organization of more than 4,000 employees and 33,000 students. It is a constant struggle. There is a lot of push-pull…you take pride in having personal relationships with people but at the same time, you know that you cannot operate such a massive organization like it’s a small business. Having served as a deputy superintendent, what surprises you about your new position that you didn’t know? I’ve had really great mentors and have been courtside to many different superintendents – being their number two or number three. It’s really been a true blessing to see all of the inner-workings of a district from many different angles – teacher, principal, chief academic officer, supervisor, deputy superintendent, auxiliary superintendent. But what surprises me most about being in my current position, is how instantly recognizable I have become in the community when I’m out and about.
How do you plan to leave your mark on CCS in your new role?
Being a great leader is this great combination of having professional expertise and balancing that with having effective relationships. Just because you are an expert doesn’t make you a leader. You can know everything there is to know, but unless you can communicate that to people in a way that they can receive the information, it means nothing. People receive information when you create a relationship with them. I call that human or social capital – when you develop personal relationships where people care about what you have to say. If they don’t think you care about them as individuals, then what you have to say is meaningless. And if you only have relationships, and you can’t teach people anything, then that’s a void too. So it’s really about developing good relationships and possessing professional expertise at the same time in order to fully give back and make a difference.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a Dance Dad. My daughters have been dancing since they were three and four years old. For about a decade, I’ve played a party guest in the opening scene of The Nutcracker Ballet. I’ve performed in the holiday classic about 100 times.
As I reflect on what has unquestionably been a consequential, and dare I say, unprecedented year in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t help but think of the resilience of our students and families, and the resolve of our educators, administrators and staff.
Even our most unusual years in education couldn’t have predicted how swiftly the dynamics would change in a single school year.
As much as we’ve taught and studied history as educators and students, we likely never dreamed we would be a part of the story. Yet, years from now, the actions we’ve taken, and the resiliency we’ve shown as a school community and beyond, will light the way for future generations to manage through challenges with resolve.
In spite of the most obvious disappointments for the Class of 2020, we still have much to celebrate and be proud of – students and staff excelling academically and professionally, recognitions at state and national levels and continuing our district tradition of community involvement.
And although no publication can capture all that occurred during a single school year – especially this one – this summary gives us a look back at the year and pays tribute to the inimitable spirit, the tenacious grit and the steadfast determination of our students, families, staff and community. In the face of remarkable challenges, we met them face on and tackled them together as ONE.
For those who answered the calling to teach, the energy they get from interacting with their students in the classroom is the fuel that drives them. During this school year, they’ve had to reimagine how to connect with their students and parents. They’ve had to be even more creative and flexible in accommodating different learning styles. They quickly pivoted to effectively make an impact through a computer screen, mastering remote teaching with little to no experience, all while adjusting their teaching strategies each and every day. Their commitment, along with the adjustments they, their students and families have had to make to adapt to a new normal, has been nothing less than exceptional at heart and outstanding in practice.
The creativity and ingenuity that were quickly executed have been extraordinary and unbelievably rewarding to see. The only word bigger than thank you for their dedication is gratitude.
“Students are going to rise to the expectations that are set for them.”
– Emily Wagoner, 2020-2021 Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year, R. Brown McAllister STEM Elementary
“As a result of this, I’ve come to realize I’m a lot more resilient and flexible than I would have ever given myself credit for… and I’ve also realized that my students are resilient, and they can overcome a lot as well.”
– Michelle Furr, Exceptional Children teacher, Hickory Ridge Middle School
The first sign that life as we knew was about to change was when school field trips and professional development trips were cancelled on March 12, 2020.
A few days later, on March 14th, education as we knew it was flipped on its head with Governor Roy Cooper’s directive to close all North Carolina public schools for two weeks in response to the increased number of coronavirus cases appearing in North Carolina. Stay-at-Home orders for Cabarrus County and surrounding communities soon followed. Not deterred, but rather, determined, the district moved swiftly to begin providing meals and devices like Chromebooks to students, while simultaneously training and supporting teachers with effective strategies for remote teaching. It’s an understatement to say pivoting was on all cylinders! The dogged determination of everyone was our shining beacon of hope during the ever-changing and uncertain times of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We took the #MillionMaskChallenge
Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in the Academy of Engineering & Automation at Jay M. Robinson and Mount Pleasant High Schools partnered with CTE students from Kannapolis City Schools to put their 3-D printing skills to work in support of community healthcare workers and first responders. They produced 2,000 ear protectors for Atrium Health Cabarrus staff to help their masks fit more comfortably and produced and printed masks, face shields and components, and other assistive devices for those serving on the front lines.
School Nutrition Program (SNP)
Our School Nutrition Program didn’t skip a beat. They continued to provide breakfast and lunch to students throughout our community each weekday, ultimately serving more than 450,000 meals since March 17, 2020. There were 17 school meal sites and 10 different routes within the community providing breakfast and lunch pick up for students.
Area stay-at-home order
Teachers are trained on remote teaching
School closure extended for school year
Although it wasn’t the way Cabarrus County Schools seniors imagined their 2020 graduation ceremony would be, it was certainly memorable! With representation from 10 schools and nearly 2,500 graduates and equal number of vehicles, the Class of 2020 drove right into their graduation venue, the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Their 360-degree reflection of their K-12 careers and unprecedented school year couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate place as the checkered flag signaled the end of their CCS race and the beginning of a new journey.
Bovard Named Outstanding Student
Hope Bovard, a Cabarrus Early College of Technology student, was named the 2019 William D. Weston Outstanding Student of the Year by the North Carolina Work-Based Learning Association. Hope completed an internship at the North Carolina Hall of Fame as part of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Work-Based Learning program and was able to secure sponsorships with potential donors and provide Braille assistance, as she is blind.
Image courtesy of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
MPHS Student Elected State Reporter
Abby Isenhour, a 9th grade student at Mount Pleasant High School, was elected by student members as North Carolina Technology Student Association’s (NCTSA) State Reporter for the 2020-2021 year.
Odell Primary Student Wins Art Contest
Zainab Mandal, a 1st grader at W.R. Odell Primary School, was selected as a winner in the North Carolina Farm to School Calendar Art Contest.
Student Leaders Honored
Students who planned and organized the 13th annual King of the Court tournament, which raises awareness and funds for local breast cancer charities, received one of two Breast Care Champions of the Year awards from Atrium Health Cabarrus after raising $15,532.
CMHS Women’s Gold Wins State Championship
Cox Mill High School women’s golf team won the 3A State Championship.
Poindexter Named Student Athlete of the Year
Cox Mill High School’s Wesley Poindexter named the 2019 High School Student Athlete of the Year by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Spelling Bee Champion
Supriya Akella, an 8th grader at Harris Road Middle School and 2020 Cabarrus County Schools Spelling Bee Champion, went on to place in the Top Five in The Charlotte Observer’s Regional Spelling Bee, completing 19 rounds of competition.
Mount Pleasant High School’s automotive program received a 2018 F-150 STX truck donation from Hilbish Ford.
Harris Road Middle School renewed its Global-Ready Distinction, and W.M. Irvin Elementary School earned its International Baccalaure (IB) Certification.
The Jimmie Johnson Foundation awarded a Champions grant to Cox Mill Elementary School for $32,000. Since 2009, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has awarded nearly $400,000 in Champions Grants to Cabarrus County Schools.
Cox Mill High School receieved a $73,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Mobile App
Development Grant Program, and Royal Oaks School of the Arts, W.M. Irvin Elementary School and Wolf Meadow Elementary School received a $76,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program.
Emily Wagoner, 3rd grade teacher at R. Brown McAllister Elementary School.
A relatively new teacher, she started her teaching career with CCS in 2014 at Winecoff Elementary School before joining R. Brown McAllister in 2019. This wasn’t her first honor. She’s also been named Hilbish Ford Teacher of the Month, Staff Member of the Month, and a Teacher of the Year school nominee twice before being selected for the highest honor for the district. Topping it off, she was also selected to participate in an administrative leadership cohort for a master’s degree in school administration through the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“Wagoner’s focus on excellence and attitude of high standards are contagious to all that are around her. There is no limit to her giving as her eagerness for student success is shown in everything that she does. ”
– Jessica Blanchard, Principal R. Brown McAllister Elementary School
2019-2020 CCS Teacher of the Year Finalists
1. Emily Wagoner, R. Brown McAllister Elementary School
2. D’Aulan McCord, Central Cabarrus High School
3. Rachel Harkey, Mary Frances Wall Center
4. Kate Clardy, Concord Middle School
5. Steven Stevens, Hickory Ridge Middle School
Jennifer Brinson, Wolf Meadow Elementary School
Her tenure with CCS began as a teacher at Winecoff Elementary School in 2001. Since then, she’s worn almost all of the hats there are to wear including teacher, lead teacher, instructional specialist, assistant principal of instruction, and principal. Continuing to climb in excellence, she was previously named CCS Assistant Principal of the Year. As the Regional Principal of the Year, she goes on to compete with principals across North Carolina. She is also the recipient of the Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University.
Richard Money, Concord Middle School
In order to lead teachers, it helps to have been one. Previously a social studies teacher in another school district and at Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College, Richard joined CCS in 2012, and just four short years later, became assistant principal at Hickory Ridge Middle School in 2016 before landing his current position in 2019.
Stephanie Henderson, Central Cabarrus High School
Sponsored by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), the recipient of the new category of honor is Stephane Henderson, an English teacher at Central Cabarrus High School.
Robin Hartsell, Rocky River Elementary School
She supports the exceptional children’s classroom, coming in every day with a smile ready to greet her students and work with her team to do what is best for each student. She has served as a teacher assistant in Cabarrus County Schools since 1991 and at Rocky River since 1996.