Dr. Stewart Hobbs is a competitive man.
Ever since he graduated high school he knew that he wanted to go on to become a high school teacher and coach, but his competitive nature would eventually drive him away from his lifelong passion.
Hobbs was born and raised in Clinton in the eastern part of the state. He graduated from Clinton High School in 1979 and decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree at UNC-Wilmington.
“I had always said I was going to go to UNC-Chapel Hill, but I went there to visit and it was just too big,” Hobbs said. “I don’t like big; that’s not me. I wanted a place where I could go and I would know everybody and professors would know me and I wouldn’t be a number. It was a great experience and a great school.”
Hobbs earned his degree in health and physical education. He stuck around Wilmington and took a position with teaching and coaching at a local private school for a year before he returned home to Clinton.
He ventured back to his alma mater in 1984 and started teaching and coaching.
Hobbs enjoyed a successful coaching career from the start. His baseball team won the state championship his first year as coach and as the head coach of the football team he got the opportunity to change.
“When I was coaching in Clinton I had two kids that played football for me. One was the best athlete I had ever seen. He was about six foot four and he was 220 pounds and he was a great athlete. The other kid was only five foot eight or nine and he was meaner than a snake but a great athlete,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs said that the boys were phenomenal on the ball field but couldn’t use that discipline at home or in the classroom, so he refused to allow them on the football team.
“I was real strict, and I expected them to maintain good grades, keep good attendance and act like young men year round,” Hobbs said. “They just weren’t doing it. I told them they would not play ball for me anymore. The big, athletic kid never showed back up and ended up dropping out of school and killed two people. He’s on death row in Raleigh right now.”
Something about his coach’s words affected the other player, however. He was determined to earn his way back on to the football team, and he was willing to do whatever it took to do it.
“I told him I didn’t think he would do it, but he promised, so I gave him my expectations,” Hobbs said. “It was like boot camp all summer, and he did everything I asked of him.”
Hobbs said the player went on to graduate Clinton High and attend and play ball at Howard University and is now a successful attorney for the federal government in Washington, D.C.
“He’ll call me every so often and check in with me and he always thanks me for what I did for him,” Hobbs said. “He’ll tell you that the way he was going he would have ended up like the other kid.”
Hobbs began his administrative career as an assistant principal in Fayetteville and earned his master’s degree in administration from Fayetteville State University.
He eventually moved into the central office as director of secondary education and county athletic director in Sampson County, N.C.
When he moved into administration he had to give up his coaching, which was both a positive and negative for Hobbs. While he desperately missed working with athletes on a daily basis, his competitive nature had made it less of an enjoyable pastime and more of a burden.
“I was getting burnt out on coaching because I was so competitive,” Hobbs said. “I wanted to win every ball game, and when I lost a ball game you didn’t want to be around me, and I didn’t want to be around anybody. It was getting to the point where it wasn’t fun. I wanted to win, and I took it personally when I lost.”
He decided to move into administration in order to have an impact on a larger group of children.
“I decided I was going to go where I could really make more of a difference and have more of an impact on more kids’ lives,” Hobbs said. “I decided to be a principal, and I had no ambition whatsoever to be a superintendent. But then I started thinking: ‘Why not?’ I realized I could impact thousands of kids’ lives at that level, so that’s what I did.”
Hobbs has since worked as superintendent for Sampson County for five and a half years, Stokes County for three and a half years and now in Yadkin County since July 2011.
“This is my third superintendent job, and it’s by far the best superintendent job I’ve ever had,” Hobbs said. “This is a great county, a great board of education, and we have good county commissioners. We have issues and we have problems just like anywhere, but this is the eighth school system I have worked in. And it’s by far the best and the safest.”
Hobbs says that while his job as superintendent is rewarding and he’s very happy in Yadkin County, there is also a down side. In his position he is faced with making difficult calls on deciding whether to close or delay schools during inclement weather, and decisions like those always leave someone in the community angry with him.
“One of the hardest things about being a superintendent is there are not a lot of things that we do that somebody’s not upset over,” Hobbs said. “One thing I always tell folks is that I know I am going to get criticized for my decisions, but I am always going to err on the side of safety.
“If I cancel school or I delay school and nothing happens, so be it. Because the thing that I always keep in my mind is I can make up time and I can make up a day, but I can’t make up a child’s life,” Hobbs continued.
Hobbs still stays close to athletics by serving as president of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
“I’ve been on that board for six years now,” Hobbs said. “That’s something I really enjoy because of my athletic background. It’s a way I can stay connected to high school athletics.”
When he’s not devoting his life to Yadkin County students, Hobbs says that he can most likely be found on the golf course. He’s an avid golfer and also enjoys taking trips to the beach.
His number one hobby is spending quality time with his grandchildren. He’s the proud grandfather of a 7 year old and 5 year old, and Hobbs says they are the center of his world.
“It’s all about constantly doing stuff with them,” Hobbs said. “I don’t want to miss anything that they do. My goal in life from here on out is to spoil those two grandkids.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.