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Newton-Conover Schools Announce the 2016 Red Blazer Award Recipients


Newton-Conover Schools Announce the 2016 Red Blazer Award Recipients

The 2015-16 Newton-Conover City Schools Red Blazer Committee has selected two individuals to be recognized with a Red Blazer Award, the district’s highest honor which is awarded annually to those who have gone above and beyond in lifelong service and dedication to the school district.

This fifth installment of distinguished recipients consists of Don Patrick and Kevin Campbell.


Over the past four years, the Newton-Conover City School District has awarded the distinguished Red Blazer Award to fourteen dedicated individuals who have committed themselves to the success of the district over the past century.  These individuals have given of their time, efforts, finances and other resources, leaving a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of students and staff members that none can deny.  There is no question that the success of the N-CCS district over the years has been due in large part to these impressive individuals.

Don Patrick: Nationally Acclaimed Athletic Director and Leader

2008DonPatrickDon Patrick, a native of Cleveland County, has collected nearly any and every award that is offered to a football coach and/or Athletic Director while he served as the Football Coach at Newton-Conover.

A graduate of Appalachian State University, where he excelled in sports and academics in his journey to becoming a coach, he became the elected President of the ASU Student Body.  Additionally, he was named to the “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.”  He was also named the Newton-Conover City Schools Teacher of the Year, in addition to being named the District 3 Teacher of the Year.

Throughout his active career as a coach, Patrick won 198 games.  He won or shared thirteen Conference Championships, qualifying for the playoffs fifteen times.  In 2003, he was chosen to be the National Athletic Director of the Year by the NASPE National Convention in Philadelphia, PA.  In 2000, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the North Carolina Athletics Directors Association, and in 2003, he was issued the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Former NC Governor Mike Easley.

Patrick completed his term as Athletic Director at Newton-Conover High School, a position that he held since 1974 until his retirement, where he worked tirelessly for the advancement of High School athletics statewide through his retirement.  His work has been recognized by many individual agencies and groups within the Newton-Conover community, including the Newton Police Department and the Conover Optimist Club.  He was also selected to coach the NC Shrine Bowl, where he received the Shrine Bowl Jacket.  In recognition of his life-long coaching career, the Don Patrick Fieldhouse was named in his honor.

Jerry Willard, a lifelong colleague and former recipient of the Red Blazer Award, shared some insight related to what makes Patrick an ideal choice for a Red Blazer Award.

“I have been blessed with many mentors in my own career in education; but no other ranks higher in impact, not only on my life, but the lives of so many as Coach Don Patrick . . . There are many people in this world who know how to do things right, but it is rare, especially in the world of competitive athletics to serve a leader who demands that we do the right thing,” said Willard.

Willard’s relationship with Patrick taught him the importance of empowering young people with the tools and skills they need to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

“While the theme was to remember the game, the field, the fans in the stands, the traditions, the closing remarks before having those seniors simply walk and stand and quietly reflect on their days of toil and joy as a Red Devil, the final remarks were always directed to have them think about how they could make a difference after Red Devil Football. Again EMPOWERING young men to think beyond the moment, to their strengths yet to be discovered that would ultimately empower them to give back to a community,” said Willard.

Kevin Campbell: Mentor of Leaders and Award-Winning Principalkcampbell

The late Kevin Campbell, former Principal of Newton-Conover High School, is the second of this year’s Red Blazer Award Recipients.  As highlighted in his incredible nomination, Mr. Campbell’s dedication to both Newton-Conover Schools and each student that he served touched many lives as was evident in the outpouring of love shown following his sudden death.

Campbell began his career at Newton-Conover High School as an exceptional children’s teacher.  His support of N-CHS students went beyond the classroom as he also served as the trainer for all athletic teams during his early years at N-CCS.   After several years in the classroom, Campbell decided to continue his education as he earned his Master’s Degree in School Administration.

Immediately following his graduation from the MSA program, he became an assistant principal at N-CHS and then later at N-CMS.  In 2001, he was named principal at Thornton Elementary and in 2007 became the principal at Newton-Conover High School being honored as N-CCS Principal of the Year twice during his tenure there.

In his early years, Kevin served as an EC teacher who worked closely with teachers in all academic areas to ensure the needs of students assigned to his caseload were being met.  One of his nominators, Julia Styers, had the opportunity to “work with him as a mathematics teacher to determine strategies and modifications to ensure success of the students we both taught.”  In all of her years with N-CCS, Kevin ranked at the top of her list of EC teachers who truly showed compassion for the students for whom they were responsible.  This parent and colleague attributes their child’s happiness and passion for education to their formative years at Thornton with Campbell as their principal.  

Campbell’s compassion for students, teachers, and learning were contagious to all.  From the moment a student entered the hallways in the morning to the time the football player left the field after the game on a Friday night, they knew Mr. Campbell’s love and support was there.  He greeted every student by name every morning.  There was never a doubt that students knew how much Mr. Campbell cared for each one individually.  Teachers knew that, while he cared about them and their well-being as well, his decisions were always made in the best interest of students.  

Styers continues to boast regarding Campbell’s visionary leadership: “While his duties as high school principal could have been quite overwhelming, Kevin always took time to mentor and guide me on my journey to my first principalship as he did with numerous others who now serve in leadership positions in our school system.  Those of us who had the amazing opportunity to serve and learn under his leadership are proud to say – Kevin Campbell taught me that!,” said Styers.

Kevin Campbell embodied all that “I am Newton-Conover” could ever mean.  In his final full year as Principal, Campbell was named the Principal of the Year for the Greater Catawba Valley.  This is in addition to Newton-Conover High School’s designation as Finest High School and Finest Overall School in the Catawba Valley as well.  He was well respected in our community and was truly a man of class and compassion as he dedicated his all to Newton-Conover City Schools.  

Styers puts it best in her final statement: “In my 33 years with NCCS, I have known no other individual who has served in as many roles, touched as many lives, and could ever leave such a legacy as he has,” said Styers.

Community members, family members, friends, and former colleagues are encouraged to attend the Fifth Annual Red Blazer event on May 19th, 2016. This celebratory banquet will take place at the Catawba Country Club at 6:30 pm. For information on how to purchase tickets to this event, please contact Mr. Jamie Frye, Public Information Officer at 828-464-3191 or prior to May 9, 2016.


Jamie Frye
Instructional Technology Facilitator and Public Information Officer
Newton-Conover City Schools
Jamie_frye (at)


About James Frye

James Frye (@mrjamesfrye) serves as Instructional Technology Facilitator and Public Information Officer for Newton-Conover City Schools. Formerly, he was an English and Journalism Teacher at Newton-Conover High School and a Blended/Virtual English Teacher. He is a NC Teaching Fellow and studied education abroad at the Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal in Germany. James holds a Post-Masters Certificate in Educational Leadership & Cultural Foundations from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction with a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology from Michigan State University, and a B.A. in English/Education from Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he serves as an Adjunct Professor. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law with The University of Kentucky. In addition to modeling technological and leadership innovation and leading various professional learning, Jamie also serves statewide on the NC Digital Learning Initiative Advisory Board/Home Base Design Team, the NC Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Board of Directors, the #NCed Leadership Team, and is co-founder of Edcamp WNC. He is a member of the NC Digital Leadership Coaches’ Network, and was named an international Emerging Leader by ASCD in 2015. He resides in Hickory with his wife and their baby girl.

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