They’ve been a constant backdrop in Rob Adams’ life, the campuses of the Redding School District.

As a child, Adams learned at the district’s Manzanita Elementary and Sequoia Middle schools. Then he circled back to both — this time to start his teaching career in a room next-door to his own third-grade teacher at Manzanita and, later, to serve as Sequoia’s assistant principal alongside the same basketball coach who led the team there when he was a student.

“It was kind of a proud moment and a surreal moment as well, just to work with people that you saw as mentors when you were a child, and those people were still helping kids all those years later,” said Adams, 53.

Eventually, the backdrop became the district office, where Adams currently serves as assistant superintendent. Board members say his 26 years working in the district made Adams the easy pick to take over as superintendent once current Superintendent Rick Fauss retires at the end of the year.

“He’s done every position imaginable,” said Kim Pickering, board president for the district. “He almost grew up in the district.”

But Pickering said it’s not just Adams’ tenure that sets him apart — so much so that the board unanimously decided to promote him rather than spend time and money recruiting other candidates.

“He’s really concerned about the people; he’s really a people-person, and he’s not just an administrator who sits in an office,” she said “He wants to be out with people.”

Indeed, Adams said working for the district is “the best job in the world,” in part because he frequently gets to interact with employees at every level and sees how much they all care about the students.

“There isn’t anybody at any level in the district that doesn’t care deeply about what they do and try to do the right thing for kids,” he said. “I love coming to work every day because of the people and kids.”

That love for people — and children in particular — is what got Adams to go back to school for an education career after a stint in restaurants.

He was working in his church’s Sunday school when Adams said he realized that was the type of job for him.

“I believe in public education,” he said, calling it “a difference-maker for our society.”

Adams will take over for Fauss on July 1. Things are running smoothly in the district, Adams said, so his new job won’t mean implementing new initiatives so much as making sure current ones stick around.

One of those is to “connect with our kids wherever they’re at,” Adams said.

“That’s, I think, probably one of my biggest passions, is trying to make everything available to every student, no matter what their life situation,” he said. “That’s kind of what I always think about, is how do I help equity happen within our district so that all kids can get what they need, not just all kids getting the same thing?”

That includes fostering personal relationships with children and, once that’s done, tailoring their education to their personalities.

“It’s really looking at each student and what their capabilities are, and really getting to know them,” Pickering said. “So until you have an attachment with them and have a relationship with them, then they don’t really have an interest in learning what you have to say.”

Especially in the digital age — where any question a child may have is just search engine away — it’s also important to teach kids about self-identity and the other things that Google can’t find, Adams said.

“In this global society, they can get information. But it’s really about, how do they use it?” he said. “That’s something we’re really trying to work on here is, how do we help kids find out who they are?”

A Redding native, Adams still lives in the city with his wife of 32 years. He has three children and three grandchildren, and serves on the Reach Higher Shasta board. He is also a regional representative for a committee of the Association of California School Administrators.

Record Searchlight – Story by Alayna Shulman