Tracy Kimmer had a brush with death at 17 years old that has had a lasting effect on him through the years.
While it didn’t change his outlook immediately as a rambunctious teenager he now looks back at it as an inspiration of the type of principal and leader he wants to be in his position at Yadkin Early College.
Kimmer said that he was on his way home from football practice his senior of high school when he was struck in the driver side at the intersection of Longtown Road and Center Road. The driver side of his car was completely crushed, yet Kimmer found himself sitting outside of the car with only severe bruising.
“How I got out of that car I have no idea,” Kimmer said. “It was a miracle that I survived and didn’t really get hurt.”
Kimmer said that while it didn’t occur to him what a miracle it was as a teenager he has since looked back at it as a second chance and an eye opener that life is precious.; an attitude he carries with him in his role as principal at the early college.
Kimmer was born and raised in the Boonville community by his parents who were also Yadkin County natives. Both of his parents were dropouts who left school to take a job.
“At that time if you had the opportunity for a job then that’s what you did,” Kimmer said.
Although they sacrificed their own education for the betterment of their children, Kimmer said his parents always instilled a value for learning in his and his two sisters. He was raised on a farm and was expected to work like most children his age but his parents always taught him that education would provide a path to a better life.
“They always encouraged my sisters and me to get an education,” Kimmer said. “They raised us to believe that education makes the difference in life and that it can be the springboard to better things.”
While he wasn’t a bad student, Kimmer said that he wasn’t as focused as he could have been in his formative years. He preferred chasing girls, playing sports and being as fashionable as possible to cracking open the books and focusing on his studies; something his parents took note of when it was time for him to venture into higher education.
“Luckily my mom and dad didn’t send me to the universities that I was accepted to in the beginning,” Kimmer said. “I went to Surry Community College for two years, and that allowed me to get some of the youth out of me.”
After getting a start at Surry Community, Kimmer moved on to get a degree in physical education at Appalachian State University. He made it his goal to become a head coach after graduation since his dream of becoming a professional football player never came to fruition.
He landed a teaching and coaching job at Fall Creek Elementary right out of college. He served as the baseball and basketball coach and teacher for seven years taking in tips and advices from mentors David Brown and Donnie Livengood.
“Seeing Mr. Brown and everything he had done inspired me to go back to school and get my master’s degree in school administration,” Kimmer said.
His new degree opened new doors and Kimmer moved on to Boonville Elementary School to serve as the assistant principal. He said it was a strange experience to return to a school where you once attended and take a position as a leader to teachers who taught you growing up.
He spent seven years as assistant principal before another opportunity presented itself. There was talk of the creation of an early college and it would need a principal who could take this new idea and mold it into what the county needed. Kimmer decided he wanted that role.
When I saw this position come available I went out and investigated every early college that I could find in the state,” Kimmer said. “I went to the early college in Surry, and I called a couple of others tried to find out what worked and what didn’t. I put together a game plan and when I went into the interview I was basically recruiting the interviewers for the early college.”
Since he was awarded the job Kimmer has been working side by side with his students and staff to make the school successful and give everyone at the early college the experience they need.
“I saw an idea here to be able to transform schools from things that I saw as a student that were wrong but also saw as an educator that were wrong,” Kimmer said. “The idea here is that yes, I am the principal and there are certain things that only I can decide or can say but I want every kid and staff member to understand that they are as much a part of this school as I am. What they have to say I am going to listen to and make the best decision possible for all of them.”
While he is passionate about his school, his first love is his family. He’s married to Natalie, who he met while he was student teaching with her mother at Yadkinville Elementary School. The couple has a 12 year old son and twin boys that are seven.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the family I have and the things they each have going on,” Kimmer said. “They are very supportive of what I do here too.”
Kimmer said that he will never understand why God decided to spare his life the day of the car wreck, but now that he is an educator he has used the experience to change the way he looks at his life, his family and his work.
“I really try to take every day now and understand that it’s a blessing and that I am lucky to have this job and my family and be upright,” Kimmer said. “That experience gave me a greater purpose than just showing up like this is just a job. This is beyond a paycheck. It’s about serving these young people and their parents who trust me with their children.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.