Taking the skills he developed while leading the band at St. Stephens High School in Hickory, Casey Oakes is now assisting with the leadership at Lincolnton Middle School. Oakes did his student teaching at North Lincoln High School with Neil Underwood before going out on his own as a music teacher. Born and raised in Hickory, Oakes attended St. Stephens High School.
“A lot of what we did in the band world is similar to administration, working with personnel, finances and students and doing long-range program planning,” he said. “It seemed like a natural fit. My real push to becoming an administrator was to have a greater impact on students. I wanted to be involved in all different areas of the school.”
Growing up, Oakes said he was a bit of a nerd and loved school and like being a band director, an administrator position is a people-centered job which he also enjoys.
“I’m always working face to face with folks doing a lot of coaching,” he said. “Whether it’s music or now coaching teachers or students. A lot of times when you’re working with musicians, you can’t do the work for them. You have to show them how it’s done and then allow them to practice until they get it right. You get used to the idea of connecting students with resources. Now that I’m working at the administrative level, my number one goal is to connect our students and staff with the resources that they need to be successful.”
Drawn to Lincoln County Schools due to the county’s performance statewide, Lincolnton Middle drew his attention in particular because of its high growth year after year.
“You never know what kind of student is going to walk through the door but it’s the mark of a really great school when you can see growth from the beginning of the year to the end in all students,” he said. “I’m thankful for being here because it’s taught me so much in a short period of time. There’s been a lot of situations that I would have never imagined coming from a classroom, that you don’t think about when you’re only concerned with a classroom. Pam Hoffman (assistant principal) and Allison Rhyne (principal) have really given me the chance to take it on immediately and do the work.”
Normally, when a school has two assistant principals, one is the assistant principal of instruction and the other the assistant principal of administration which is the position usually given to the more junior administrator. At Lincolnton Middle, Rhyne has split the duties so each assistant has a variety of duties to perform.
In his first year as an assistant principal, Oakes plans to grow into the job and become more comfortable with the processes, build relationships with the staff and community and hopefully to have a positive impact on the students’ education by designing instruction programs that meet every student.
“My focus is going to be on reaching out to the at-risk population who are usually underserved and finding ways to interact and engage with them as students but also to engage with their parents and the community,” he said.
Oakes lives in Hickory with his wife, Lauren, and three-year-old daughter, Amelia.