Superintendent Darryl Adams has turned a poor, rural district into a hotbed of innovation
Few superintendents can claim to have met personally with President Obama. Fewer still can claim they toured the country opening for Hall and Oates in the 1980’s. But Dr. Darryl Adams, of Coachella Valley Unified School District, isn’t your typical superintendent.
“I’ve always had a knack for making the impossible possible,” remarks Adams. In 1984, he was in the first all-black rock band in heavy rotation on MTV and had a hit song on the radio. After 8 years of touring with his band, he decided to teach his love of music, and became a music teacher at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Soon after that, he became a principal, and then got his doctorate, which led him to his current position at Coachella.
“As the leader of my band, I developed the ability to make things happen and serve people,” remarks Adams. “I’ve always been on the side of trying new things, exploring new ideas, continuously improving whatever is good, and never accepting the status quo. And this quality is as important for education as it was for music.”
CVUSD is one of the poorest districts in California. One hundred percent of its students are on reduced lunch. There are high populations of undocumented students, and students living on Native American tribal lands. When Adams stepped in as Superintendent in 2010, one of his first goals was to show the community that regardless of their socio-economic status, the district can provide to them a 21st Century education that fully prepares their students for college, careers and citizenship.
(Next page: How CVUSD is bringing internet to every student without breaking the bank)