Dr. Yvette Smith Mason Selected As 2021 Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award Winner

The North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) and the North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development (NCASLD) have announced the selection of Dr. Yvette Smith Mason, as a recipient of the Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award. This annual award is presented to a graduate of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association Aspiring Superintendent Program, a program which is designed to empower transformational education leaders for North Carolina’s public schools.

Wayne County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Yvette Smith Mason, has been selected as a 2021 Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award Winner for the Aspiring Superintendent Program Cohort V.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Samuel Houston who is President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center.  Dr. Houston served as superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District for ten years where he opened the first year round school in North Carolina.   Dr. Houston has been a champion for strategic planning, student performance and accountability, meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce, skills for the STEM world and building education partnerships. Dr. Houston also served as the first executive director of the University of North Carolina Center for Leadership Development.

Dr. Houston was awarded the Jay Robinson Leadership Award as an Exemplary Educator for his outstanding contributions to statewide public K–12 education.  He also earned the RJR-Nabisco Foundation’s China Breaker Award for implementing educational change. He has been inducted into the Appalachian State University Reich College of Education’s Rhododendron Society and the East Carolina University’s Education Hall of Fame and has received the Distinguished Career Award from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro School of Education.

Jack Hoke, Executive Director of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association said that Dr. Smith Mason exemplifies the traits that have guided Dr. Samuel Houston’s career in educational leadership.

She has a commitment to continuous improvement, high standards of ethical conduct, strategic planning, improving student performance and meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce.

“I am humbled and honored to be a recipient of this award,” states Dr. Smith Mason. “I express a sincere thank you to my husband and family for their support, Dr. Jim Merrill for sponsoring me, Dr. David Lewis for the opportunity to participate in the program, and Wayne County Public Schools with whom I share the award. I gained a depth of leadership skills, reflective strategies, a network of colleagues, and a renewed outlook of the future of education in the program.  I am grateful for your trust and faith in me to be a recipient of the leadership award.”  

Dr. Smith Mason began her education career with Wayne County Public Schools in 1993 as a teacher at Northeast Elementary School. After transitioning to school administration, she continued growing professionally and quickly stood out as a strong and effective administrator. Past professional roles include: Assistant Principal with Wayne County Public Schools; Principal with Durham Public Schools; Education Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; Instructional Support Consultant with the United States Department of Education; Director of Secondary Education-Title I with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for Danville County Public Schools in Danville Virginia. Dr. Smith Mason returned to Wayne County Public Schools in 2015 as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Professional Development. She holds both a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from North Carolina Central University, a master’s degree in school administration from Campbell University, and an educational leadership specialist degree and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and supervision from Wingate University.

“Dr. Smith Mason is a vital member of our district’s administration and Leadership Team,” states Dr. David Lewis, WCPS Interim Superintendent. “She has extensive professional educational and administration experience with a high concentration in curriculum and instruction. Under Dr. Smith Mason’s leadership, her team has streamlined our Human Resources Department’s systems by transitioning to more efficient and user-friendly digital tools that better support our current and prospective employees. The district’s mentor and beginning teacher support programs have also been revamped and improved upon to better prepare our newest teachers for lasting success as classroom leaders.”

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