NEWBERRY — When Newberry High School students return to school Aug. 15, they will have a new leader to look up to, but not an unfamiliar one. Kyle Charles Cannon, former NHS assistant principal, is now the principal of the school.
The 35-year-old educator has been the assistant principal at the high school for the past five years.
“I was a part of the administration that was brought in here with Ms. Singletary under the school improvement grant to make some strides. Being a part of that process and being here for five years, it seemed like a natural fit,” Cannon said.
Before being named principal at NHS, Cannon was named the director of Adult Education in Newberry County.
He said that was a great next step for him, coming from an assistant principal position. His ultimate desire was to be principal of a high school or middle school, and he always had a desire to stay in Newberry County.
“I attended Newberry College and Newberry has felt like home since. I love this area, and I have no desire to leave this area,” he said.
Cannon began working as the director of Adult Education in July, but his tenure lasted just a little over a week. Superintendent Jim Suber called him and they began discussing the principal position of NHS.
“We talked about the fact that I have been here five years, I know the kids in this building, I know the community, I know the staff. I helped in the hiring of the staff over the course of five years. I was extremely interested in the possibility of becoming the next principal here,” Cannon said. “Everything worked out, being the time and the situation, late in the summer obviously. Again, having a great understanding of the things that have happened in this building over the last five years has without a doubt helped. It’s been a seamless transition, one I am excited about.”
The early years
Cannon was born in Chester, where he would grow up and graduate from Chester High School. Cannon has an identical twin brother.
“My mom had a child before us that she lost, and the story is there was a local guy in the community who did not realize she lost a baby and was asking about it. She got upset, and told him the story about losing the baby and the guy looked at her and, without missing a beat, said ‘Do not worry. The Lord knows what He is doing, has a plan, and the next time you get pregnant, you will have two,’” Cannon said. “The next time my mom got pregnant, it was with me and my brother.”
And it’s true for the Cannons that what happens to one, happens to the other.
They attended Newberry College and both played football. Cannon’s brother is also an educator and currently teaches physical education at Chester Middle School. He is the head football coach there as well as the head golf coach at Chester High School.
While attending Newberry College, Kyle Cannon became interested in both leadership and education. He was the president of Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society) and his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon.
“That kind of gave me a taste of leading a group of people, my peers,” he said.
Cannon chose to major in history at Newberry College and his intention was to go into the field of law. Then he had the opportunity to become a tutor in history after being recommended by one of his professors.
“That is kind of what started it. I started tutoring at Newberry College my junior and senior year. While I did that, I got involved in some coaching back home in Chester. My brother and I coached youth soccer. I thought about a coaching opportunity that would open up with teaching,” Cannon said. “I went the full route toward education, and I do not regret it for one minute.”
Cannon added a minor in education to his history major and after graduating in December 2003, was offered a position at Whitmire Community School.
“My first job was as a long-term substitute at Whitmire Community School, believe it or not, teaching seventh grade math and science,” he said. “Coach Suber called me over the course of that Christmas break. Because I did student teaching at Whitmire, obviously I was familiar with the school. Even with my student teaching experience, I helped out with coaching a little bit.”
Suber told him the class had had multiple substitutes over the first half of the year, and that the students needed structure and proper management.
“It prepared me more than any teaching experience could have,” he said.
After his time as a long-term substitute, Cannon taught social studies, adding he taught just about every subject under the social studies umbrella at the middle and high school level.
The start of his teaching career also brought about the start of two wrestling programs in Newberry County — one at Mid-Carolina High School and one at Whitmire High School.
“I am very passionate about wrestling. I was a multi-sport athlete in high school. I loved them all, but if there was a sport that I had just a huge burning passion for, it was wrestling,” Cannon said. “My goal obviously, getting into teaching, was to coach and to have the impact my coach had on me. So that was one of the reasons why I wanted to start the wrestling program at Whitmire. Once we got that started, it was a great process.”
That also led Cannon to begin teaching at Mid-Carolina High School. He said while it was tough leaving Whitmire, it was great going to work at Mid-Carolina and building another program.
While working at Whitmire and Mid-Carolina, Cannon began working with administrators and that gave him the desire to become an administrator himself.
“Getting into education, I never would have thought I would have been in administration. I always kind of saw myself as a teacher and a coach. However, when I was at Whitmire, working with Coach (Joey) Haney, Coach Suber, they kind of put the bug in my ear a little bit,” Cannon said. “I did not really think much of it then, going to Mid-Carolina High School, working with Dr. (Lynn) Cary. Again that is when I really started to think about administration. Having the opportunity to work with some great leaders in this district is what spurred me to really give administration the consideration, and obviously the push to pursue this in my career.”
As principal at Newberry High, Cannon is ready to work with the staff and the students. He said Suber asked him what the strengths at Newberry High School are. He was quick to answer: the staff and the students.
Cannon is married to Kristina Cannon, a teacher at Mid-Carolina High School, and they have identical twin boys, Jackson and Coleman.
“We are so blessed to have Jackson and Coleman in our lives. While one child can be a handful, two is obviously, but it’s been unbelievable. We are lucky and blessed by God. Not a day goes by we do not thank Him for them,” Kyle Cannon said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.