Dr. James A. Adams was a life long administrator known for working hard, playing hard, caring deeply about children, and for having a “legendary temper.” This combination of traits helped Dr. Adams make the top 100 school executives by Executive Educator three times. He served as Superintendent to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and Montclair, New Jersey before moving to Lee County, Florida to be the superintendent to 47,000 students in 1990. Adams made it his mission to completely desegregate his school system and provide computer access to every student and employee in his district.
On Feb. 7, 1994, a former teacher in Adams’ district greeted the office secretaries, giving a false name and saying that he needed to speak with the Superintendent. Pushing past the secretaries, the former teacher pulled a gun as Dr. Adams extended his hand to greet the person. Dr. Adams was shot 5 times in the torso and head leaving his two secretaries scared and frightened. The shooter left the building and then took his own life.