Danita Rickard retires from school board after 28 years

Danita Rickard retires from school board after 28 years
Posted on 05/14/2018
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When retiring board member, Danita Rickard, was first elected to the Kannapolis City Board of Education in 1990, there were no such things as computers in the classroom. In fact, Rickard recalls struggling to fund the very first computer lab in Kannapolis City Schools during her first term on the board. Since then, however, the system has gone far beyond computer labs and dial-up internet. Students now have iPads, smartboards, chromebooks, laptops, distance learning, online courses, a Cyber Campus, robotics, and much more. Danita Rickard helped to lead the digital transformation in Kannapolis City Schools as a member of the Board of Education. However, after serving seven consecutive terms, she did not seek re-election and is retiring from the board. Her final board meeting was May 14th where she was honored by board chair, Todd Adams, and fellow board members and received a standing ovation. 

During her 28 years on the board, Rickard saw Kannapolis City Schools through a host of changes. Since she first took office in June 1990, the district has either replaced or made significant renovations to every school in the district. KCS has added magnet programs for the Arts, Global Studies, and Spanish Language Immersion along with a STEM program, Culinary Arts, and Performing Arts. The district also has added partnerships with Rowan Cabarrus Community College and the North Carolina Research Campus and created career certifications in welding, Information-Technology, graphic design, Adobe Suites, Career Readiness, cosmetology, nursing fundamentals, and construction. However, even with all of these accomplishments and many others, Rickard lists something else as the item that makes her most proud. “Of all the accomplishments in Kannapolis City Schools during my tenure,” Rickard says, “I am most proud of this intangible one: Caring. The Leadership team, teachers, and support staff in this district are without equal. They amaze me with their dedication, work ethic, and love for students. Without their vision and creativity, we would not have the facilities, programs, or growth in student learning that we have. They work hard, smart, and together. There is a feeling of family that goes beyond the classroom or the central office, and our students know they care.”


Superintendent, Dr. Chip Buckwell, has high praise for Rickard. He says she is a model of caring, and her wisdom and leadership will be missed. “Mrs. Rickard has spent the last 28 years representing all that is good about public education. She has made tough decisions and been a leader in describing all she thought was right and wrong. Her dedication to the children is rarely matched and is an example of the long-term focus by the Kannapolis City Board of Education on our most valuable resource—our children.”


During her seven terms on the Kannapolis school board, Rickard was elected several times as Chairman and Vice Chairman. She also served as a mentor to other board members. “Danita is the last member of the board that was serving when I joined, and personally I am going to miss her,” says current board chair, Todd Adams. “She is not only a great board member but has become a good friend as well. She has so much knowledge about our schools and town and has often brought a perspective that other members hadn’t thought of. She has always made decisions with the best interests of our Students and faculty in mind, and her positive impact will be felt well into the future in our district.”


Retired KCS Superintendent, Dr. Jo Anne Byerly, agrees that Danita Rickard is an eloquent voice for children and educators. Byerly worked with Rickard for 20 years before retiring as Superintendent in 2010. "Danita's contributions to KCS are immeasurable,” Byerly says. “She has been an outstanding leader and board member because of her wisdom, good judgment, and her ability to always put the interests and love for students and staff in her every decision."


Danita Rickard graduated from A.L. Brown High School in 1965 and earned a sociology degree from UNC Greensboro. In addition to serving on the Kannapolis Board of Education, she has been very active in the community. She was a charter member of the Kannapolis Civic Club, a past-President of the Kannapolis Junior Women’s Club, and a member of the Kannapolis YMCA Board of Electors. She also has been a member of the Active Living and Parks committee of Cabarrus County, an advisor to the A.L. Brown Juniorette Club, and a current member and former deacon at First Baptist Church in Kannapolis.


“She will be absolutely missed as a leader in our community and schools,” says Dr. Chip Buckwell. Todd Adams adds, “Being elected seven straight times is a difficult task, and it speaks volumes of Danita’s reputation and how she is thought of in our community.”


Everyone in Kannapolis City Schools is extremely grateful to Danita Rickard for the outstanding service she has given to the children and staff of the district, and Chip Buckwell says she will always be part of the Kannapolis City Schools’ family. “She is always welcome in our schools, and we hope she finds her way back to our schools any time she desires,” Buckwell says. 


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