Gates remembers walking past (Adreian) Payne’s classroom one morning and seeing a group of students watching television while others were engaged in casual conversation.
“There was no teaching taking place,” said Gates, a math teacher at the time. “No learning.”
Gates didn’t know Payne personally, but he recognized him from the basketball court. When Gates was promoted to principal that summer, he contacted Payne and told him that if he wanted to compete at the Division I level he’d have to take normal classes, as the credits he was receiving in his special ed courses wouldn’t transfer to Division I schools.
“He was either going to work to be able to take advantage of his gifts,” Gates said, “or he was going to be the tallest janitor we had.”