“I am just a kid from Porterville…This is where my heart is and where I want to serve is Morgan County,“ said Ken Adams, Morgan County School Superintendent. Adams was born in Porterville, one of eight children in his family. His father worked at the cement plant for forty-five years. He also raised cattle, sheep, and mink.
Adams attended Morgan High School and was active in school programs. He participated in football, wrestling, and drama. He was also in student government and participated in the FFA. Little did he know at that time that this experience would be preparing him for leadership in this very school system. He graduated from Morgan High in 1969.
Adams says that he encourages his teachers and students to make learning a lifelong endeavor. He talked of how he had been counseling with one of the teachers earlier about getting their master’s degree. Adams certainly practices what he preaches. He has a Bachelor of Science in sociology and history from Weber State University. He has a Master of Science in special education from Utah State, a Master of Arts in counseling from the University of Phoenix, and a Master of Arts in administration from the University of Utah.
He also had experience in county government. He served for two years on the county council. During this time he worked to have the council support the school resource officer for the school district. He sees the school resource officer as critically important for the high school. Adams was also the publisher of The Morgan County News for nineteen years.
He began his career in teaching in Ogden City, but after only two years came to work in Morgan where he worked in special education, sociology and history. He later became a counselor, then the middle school assistant principle. Adams was then selected as the high school principle, a position he served in for eight years until the school board selected him as the new superintendent. Adams and his wife, Marie, have raised five children in Morgan. She is a first grade teacher at Morgan Elementary.
Adams has high praise for Ron Wolffe and his accomplishments as superintendent, but also had a number of initiatives that he felt were important when he was appointed to this position. He is now taking action on these initiatives. One of his key areas of focus has been to unite the four schools in the district, a plan that has won praise from members of the board of education in Morgan.
At the school board meeting on Tuesday, administrators in the schools reported on their progress. One of the key areas they highlighted was the sharing that is happening with teachers inside the school and between schools. Teachers are asked to participate in peer reviews where they attend other classes. The objective is to try to bring more consistency in the curriculum and to find best practices. The teachers also visit other schools. The elementary school teachers visit the middle school to see areas where they need to make changes in what they are teaching to help students be better prepared for the middle school curriculum. The middle school takes the same approach with the high school.
This type of peer interaction and feedback is just the latest in a tradition of best practices in Morgan. Morgan Schools have traditionally produced some of the best education results in the state. When asked about these great results, Adams says, “It is because of the parents. Their socio-economic status, their values… We have good solid family values in Morgan and a highly educated populous who value public education. So we ought to be better than lots of areas of the state, because we start off better than most.” The school board, however, also gives credit to the school administrators and teachers. Adams leadership and vision have been appreciated in the district for many years in a variety of roles.
Adams has been working hard since accepting this new assignment for leadership of Morgan’s schools. He has worked with the board to bring to fruition the new P.E. facility and the new bus garage. He has also revised the mission statement, beliefs, and a new logo. The new mission is, “The Morgan County School District Community stands united in the pursuit of educational excellence. It is our mission to create a challenging learning environment that emphasizes literacy and numeracy. We seek to assist students as they prepare for responsible citizenship, meaningful work, advanced education, and life-long learning.”
He is now working on better teacher evaluations and good job descriptions for all those who work in the district so that expectations are clearly communicated.
Adams has been working quietly, but diligently, to gain support from the county council and city council to build a bridge at the end of Young Street. He sees this as a very important project to help with traffic problems and for the safety of students. The county, school district, and city are all exploring ways to gain funding for this project. Adams has also been working to gain the support of representative Brown in the state legislature.
On the 10th and the 17th of March the school district will be conducting the Sharp Survey. This survey is a tool for school administrators to use to make decisions. It measures student’s feelings about the school environment. It also asks many questions about student’s use of drugs and alcohol. Adams anticipates using this as a tool to better direct the districts efforts. He says that right now the district is only making assumptions about drug usage based on the information they have, such as arrests.
The sharp survey will provide much more specific information from which the district can understand the problem and target solutions. The Sharp survey is only administered to students if their parents sign the form giving permission. If the form is not returned or the parent does not give permission then the student will not participate in the survey. Strong participation will give the district better results on which to make their decisions.
There was recently some controversy over actions suggested by Adams for managing donations to the PTSO (Parent Teacher Student Organization). Adams took a moment to set the record straight. He said, “I deeply appreciate them [the PTSO]. Those organizations provide a great service to the children of Morgan School District. I really appreciate their time, their service, and their talents. We simply wanted to make certain that we protect them as individuals and the organization and our schools and district.”
Adams suggested that the donations to the PTSO be either directed to the Morgan Education Foundation or directly to the schools. Having the donations accounted for by one of these organizations places good financial, accounting, and spending controls that stand up to public scrutiny and audits.
Prior to becoming superintendent Adams had worked to establish the Morgan Education Foundation. He is proud that it finally came into being and feels very positive about the work they are doing. Adams, in the school board meeting, spoke of the fact that this year will be the 100th anniversary of the high school program in Morgan. Adams plans to have events celebrating this anniversary and has asked the Morgan Education Foundation to raise $500,000 this year to contribute towards the new PE facility. The Foundation reported that they are excited about this opportunity.
Adams, like the school board members who have been interviewed, recognizes the challenges of growth and limited budgets. The district is looking for additional land to purchase to be ready when the next elementary school is needed. They are also anticipating renovations that will be needed at the high school including more classrooms, a new lunchroom, and a new boiler.
The community has appreciated Adams long service, but he is equally grateful for the opportunity to serve. He closed the interview by saying, “I was born here, I was raised here, I went to school here, I came back here. I love this town and the people in it and the valley. This is not a job to me. It’s more than that. It is just an honor to do it. “