Latest to depart
After many years with Sampson County Schools, Dr. Linda Jewell Carr is saying farewell to become the superintendent of Washington County’s educational system.
The decision was made after a business session meeting held Tuesday night by the Board of Education for Washington County Schools (WCS) in North Carolina. Carr is currently serving as the assistant superintendent of instructional services and will fill a void left by Yanisha Mann, who left Washington County Schools in April.
“I am extremely enthusiastic to be named the new superintendent of Washington County Schools and look forward to meeting each and every student, teacher, administrator, and families of our school system,” Carr said Wednesday. “I feel the Washington County School Board is dedicated to student achievement and share this vision of achieving excellence. I look forward to leading the Washington County Schools and support the vision and mission ‘to educate students and enable them to realize their full potential — providing experiences that prepare students to be college and career ready.’”
The WCS board reviewed 21 applicants from a diverse field of professionals.
“Although many qualified candidates applied, the board felt that Dr. Carr’s experience, leadership, and absolute commitment to all students would best serve WCS students, staff, and the community,” district officials stated in a news release. “The board is confident that Dr. Carr will lead the school system to even higher achievement.”
As the new superintendent of the school, Carr expressed how she’s eager to help raise student achievement and increase graduation rates, while getting to know the community and staff in the area. Her educational motto is “we are learning to read and reading to learn.”
“I believe a strong foundation in reading will ensure there are infinite opportunities for our students’ success,” Carr said.
Carr started her career at Clinton High School as a theater arts and dance instructor, before accepting an assistant principal position with Wayne County Schools. In 2005, she became the first principal of Sampson Early College High School (SECHS), where she stayed until 2011. Through a joint effort between Clinton City Schools, Sampson County Schools and Sampson Community College, one of Carr’s jobs was writing grants for funding at SECHS. It was one of the first nine early college schools in the state.
After her time at the high school, Carr became the principal of Union Elementary School, where a lot of emphasis was placed on literacy achievements. She was named the 2014-2015 Principal of the Year for Sampson Schools. In 2017, Carr was promoted as the director of federal program, before she became the assistant superintendent of instructional services in 2018.
Her work with Sampson County Schools also includes involvement with the Focusing on Rural Challenges in Education (FORCE) program through the Panasonic Foundation and East Carolina University (ECU). The purpose is to improve equity and to focus on excellence in student achievements. Carr served as an elementary representative for the multi-county consortium including Sampson, Duplin, Jones and Pender counties.
Carr is a member of the North Carolina Association of Administrators, the N.C. Association of Compensatory Educators, the National Association of Federal Program Administrators and the N.C. Association of Educational Office Professionals. In addition to earning Sampson’s Principal of the Year Award, Carr also earned the Clinton High School Making a Difference Award in 2001. Union Elementary was also awarded the Lighthouse Award, from the North Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
The upcoming departure is the third executive administrator who resigned from the district since May. Former Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy and Chief Finance Officer Stephen Britt left to continue their careers in the same positions for Johnson County Public Schools.
Dr. Stewart Hobbs Jr. was selected by the Sampson Board of Education to serve as the interim superintendent and Cyndi Mesimer was promoted as interim finance officer. After the announcement, district officials praised Carr for her contributions to education in Sampson County.
“While we are sad to see Dr. Carr leave for Washington County Schools, we appreciate the hard work and dedication she has put forth in Sampson County,” said Daryll Warren, vice chair of the school board. “Her new role is a direct reflection of her leadership and her willingness to work for the students, faculty and staff of Sampson County Schools. She will be missed, but we wish her the best of luck with her new position.”
Chair Kim Schmidlin added that Carr has been a tremendous asset to the district.
“She has exemplified outstanding leadership and dedication during her tenure in our school system from her previous positions as a principal and director of federal programs to her current role as assistant superintendent. While Dr. Carr will be missed in Sampson County Schools, her passion for education will make her an outstanding superintendent for Washington County Schools.”
Carr earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts education K-12 from Lees-McRae College and a master’s in education in drama from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She later attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a doctorate in educational leadership. Carr is married to Ed Carr, and together they have two children. Their son, James, a recent graduate of SECHS, is attending ECU in the fall. Jewell, their daughter, will be in the eighth grade at the beginning of the school year.
“My family and I love the (Albemarle Sound),” she said referring to the estuary on the North Carolina coast. “I come with a family that loves to fish.
“I believe that my focus on data and instruction along with a desire to be a part of the community made me a good fit for Washington and Washington a good fit for me,” she continued. “I wholeheartedly believe that with dedication and hard work there are no limits for our staff and students. Sampson County Schools has proven that drive and success and I would like to see it expanded across the state. We must work to prepare our students for a productive future whether that leads our graduates toward the world of work, military, or college.”
While being away from Sampson County, Carr said she’s going to miss the community and most of all being away from her husband for seven days a week.
-Story courtesy The Sampson Independent