Adams done balancing . . . for now

Published 10:29 pm Saturday, August 22, 2009

For 34 years, Dorothy Adams balanced two careers.

On business days, she was a full-time teacher at Southside High School. On a few of those nights and most of the weekends, she manned a post at the McDonald’s on Highland Avenue.

“It could be said I’m a workaholic,” said Adams. “I love it. I’ve met many people.”

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She graduated from the Escambia Training School and earned her bachelor’s degree at Stillman College in 1971.

After college, she jumped into her teaching career, but decided to continue her education three years later. She wanted to earn her master’s degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. More important, she wanted to earn it without any assistance.

“I wanted to do it without family support,” said Adams. “My family supported my first step, and that was to obtain the B.A. degree. From that, I wanted to really do something on my own.”

She joined McDonald’s in October 1974 as a customer service representative, and spent the next four years balancing her careers during the school year. She used her summers to attend graduate school.

After earning her degree, then-store manager Bill Taylor said he figured she would want to pursue other interests. Instead, she stayed on, and was promoted to a management position in 1984. It was the second promotion offered to her, but the first she accepted.

“I couldn’t see at that time that I wanted to match up careers,” Adams said of her first offer. “One career has always been supportive of the other. It allowed me to make many contacts. I also was able to help a lot of young people.”

Adams said most of her time went to education during the week, and most of her hours at McDonald’s were completed on the weekends. She loves the work at McDonald’s but makes it clear that teaching took priority.

“McDonald’s was always loyal to me as an employee when it came to my first career,” Adams said. “They would always work with me with my schedule. They were always willing.”

More than 34 years, they were willing, and Adams has become an institution of the Selma branch. The business has swapped hands six times since she began, and she was retained each time.

After retiring from Southside High School at the end of the 2008-09 school year, she now has more time to dedicate to her “other“ career. Of course, between McDonald’s and Southside — the only school she taught in a career that spanned more than 35 years — her name and face are well known.

“It was like, I guess I became a household name for that school,” said Adams. “I can’t go anywhere. When I get there, there is always somebody who will know me. It’s truly awesome.”