Superintendent Continues 200-Mile First Day Tradition

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow (right) greets McGee’s Crossroads Middle teacher Rachel Leeworthy (middle) and her daughter Izabella.

Johnston County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow celebrated the start of the school year for the third year in a row by visiting all 45 schools in one day.

As the first day of school is a day filled with emotion for many, Clayton Middle Principal Catherine Trudell said it’s comforting to have the support of the superintendent on the first day of school, and it sets the tone that the schools in the district are in good hands.

“It’s pretty incredible. I think it’s one of those unprecedented things for a superintendent, especially for one with a school district this size, to be able to visit all these schools and take the time to show that every single school in that district is important,” said Trudell. “I just can’t imagine working in a different place for a different leader.”.

Dixon Road Elementary Principal Kenneth Bennett said he felt the same way when Dr. Renfrow visited his school today.

Dixon Road Elementary first grade students (from left) Chase Ramirez, Ayden Mullins, Melissa Mendez Gutierrez, and Nathan Ringler, volunteer to answer a few questions during their first day back to school.

“Dr. Renfrow truly leads by example, and for him to take the time out of his schedule to come to every school in Johnston County speaks volumes. It shows support and also creates positive relationships for all of us,” said Bennett.

Nearly 35,000 students returned to the district on Monday, and traveling to each of the schools in the roughly 800 square mile county in one day came with challenges. To help prepare for the trip JCPS Transportation Services mapped out the 203.5 mile journey to make the route as efficient as possible.

Renfrow began the journey at 5:45 a.m. with a visit to Archer Lodge Middle, then strategically made his way throughout the county. The 11-hour trip concluded at Johnston Community College, where he visited Johnston County Career & Technical Leadership Academy and Johnston County Early College Academy. Traveling with Renfrow were Johnston County Board of Education members Teresa Grant, Dr. Peggy Smith, Michael C. Wooten (Chairman).

Dr. Renfrow said that today isn’t about him though. It’s about making sure that everyone is working each day to make sure each child counts and every moment matters.

“The first day of school is such an important day in the life of a family. Parents come up to me often and talk about how they plan all aspects of their lives around the public school experience for their children,” said Renfrow. “For it to be that important and that paramount for them, it’s just as important that we get out and demonstrate how much we support what happens in all 45 schools each and every day.”

Trudell added that seeing so many families on the first day back brought a fresh and exciting energy to her school.

“The first day of school was fantastic. The kids and the parents were excited. It’s was so sweet seeing the families say bye to one another in the car,” said Trudell. “You can tell they have had a wonderful summer, but it’s time for them to get back to the books.”