HPS Announces New Principal for Hickory High

HPS Announces New Principal for Hickory High
Posted on 06/27/2016

During the June 27 meeting of the HPS Board of Education, Katherine Cater was announced as the new principal of Hickory High.

A nationally certified educational leader with close to 20 years of instructional and administrative experience, Cater most recently served as principal and director of academics for Cristo Rey Jesuit Preparatory School in Houston, Texas.  Cristo Rey Jesuit offers a unique, innovative and private, secondary educational program that solely targets teens who otherwise would not be able to afford a private education.

While leading the Houston-based high school, Cater implemented the Advanced Placement program, guided the school to achieving national recognition as one of the “Top 100 most challenging private high schools in America” as published in the Washington Post; and she developed the College and Career Readiness credential program.

In addition, Cater directed the athletic program’s growth from a single sports team to ten teams. She also led the school to achieve the first full accreditation status.

Prior to leading Cristo Rey Jesuit in Texas, Cater was the founding principal of Wilkes Early College High School in  NC. In 2009, Cater led the successful opening of the innovative high school with the completion of staff hiring, confirmed enrollment and all materials ordered within a two-week timeframe under the constraint of state budget delays.

The early college high school achieved the highest EOC composite test scores with 94 percent proficiency and was recognized with the highest high school attendance rate in the system. The school also reported no drop outs.

In collaboration with the Golden Leaf Foundation, Cater implemented a 1:1 laptop program, using her strengths in developing community partnerships with multiple benefactors.

In 2006-2009, Cater served as the Assistant Principal for East Wilkes High School, where she supervised campus integration of on-site interior construction, an 11 million dollar project. She monitored instructional practices in the classroom to provide appropriate interventions through positive coaching, helping lead the school to “high growth status.”   Cater also managed the transportation services and supervised all athletic events.

Prior to administrative leadership roles, Cater served as a classroom teacher, leading as chair for the school improvement team for three years.

With a Masters of School Administration from Appalachian State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Salem College, Cater also advanced her education with formal studies at Oxford University (England) and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; in addition to executive leadership training from Bain and Company.

“It is a great honor and privilege to be asked to serve as the principal of Hickory High School!” said Cater. “I am very impressed with the leadership at Hickory Public Schools and the warm welcome I have already received from everyone I have met in the community. I could not be happier to soon be calling Hickory my home!

“I most look forward to meeting the students, parents, faculty and staff at Hickory High School,” said Cater. “I have enjoyed working with innovative school models such as early colleges and a very successful work-study model. Returning to the comprehensive high school with my experience in both public and private schools is really exciting. As I get to know the needs of the school, I will seek meaningful opportunities for the local community to engage in the Hickory High experience.” 

“We are delighted to welcome Ms. Cater to our school family,” said Dr. Robbie Adell, HPS superintendent. “She brings a comprehensive history of significant leadership balancing the equation of academic rigor with a caring environment. This is an exciting time for Hickory Public Schools, and in particular, for the employees and students of Hickory High.”

As a native of Texas, Cater actually considers North Carolina to be her home. “Although I was raised in Houston as a fifth generation Texan, I chose to enjoy living in Alleghany and Surry Counties for 18 years,” said Cater. “I worked for Wilkes County Schools for 13 years, opened Wilkes Early College High School, and then I left to care for my aging parents in my hometown of Houston. I recently returned to North Carolina to be closer to my grown children and their families (Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Charleston SC)—and I look forward to my move to Hickory.”

During her spare time, Cater enjoys modest hiking excursions in the mountains, skeet shooting and playing bridge. She also enjoys travel with family and friends.

Cater’s new role as the principal of Hickory High becomes effective July 1, 2016.


(Post/photo by Beverly Snowden, HPS director of communications)

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