Superintendent Journeys 200 Miles To Welcome Students At 46 Schools

North Johnston Middle School administrators welcome special guests on the first day of school. From left are JCPS Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow, Johnston County Board of Education members Teresa Grant and Todd Sutton, Principal Brian Johnson, Assistant Principal Amanda Surratt, and Assistant Principal Intern Marisa White.

Johnston County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow, along with Johnston County Board of Education members Todd Sutton and Teresa Grant, celebrated the start of the school year by visiting every school in the district on their first day.

“I hope to see excitement and feel the joy that’s in the atmosphere of being back to school,” said Renfrow. “I hope to see smiles on faces, students engaged, and teachers up leading the way, all of the great things that happen on the first day of school.”

Nearly 35,000 students returned to one of Johnston County’s 46 public schools on Monday. 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.

“This is an ambitious journey visiting all the schools in one day. You start early and finish late,” said Renfrow. “It’s important for people to see their leaders and know that they care about what they’re doing each and every day.”

Renfrow, Sutton, and Grant started the journey at 5:50 a.m. with a visit to North Johnston High, then strategically made their way throughout the county. The 11-hour trip concluded at Johnston Community College where the three visited the Johnston County Career & Technical Leadership Academy, Johnston County Early College, and Johnston County Middle College High.

“I hope that everyone has a great year and does the best that they can do,” said Grant.

“I want to wish everyone a successful year,” said Sutton. “Be safe this year, have fun, and learn something new.”

As the first day of school is a day filled with emotion for many, Corinth Holders High Principal Robert Daniels said he shared the same excitement as students, parents, and teachers in part because this is his first year serving as principal.

“Today is the beginning of what we want to be a great year,” said Daniels. “I want the kids to learn and also enjoy the experience. If we can do that, I think we’ll accomplish a lot.”

Daniels said that the visit by district leaders put several of his teachers at ease on their first day.

“This is a new thing to a lot of our teachers, especially the ones who are from other counties,” said Daniels. “They’ve never seen the support like we have in Johnston County.”

During their visits Renfrow, Grant, and Sutton met with community members, students, parents, teachers, and administrators.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to have Dr. Renfrow and the Board of Education here with us today. It means so much that they are here to see our dream and vision realized on the first day of Cooper Academy,” said Jocell Flores, principal at Cooper Academy. “We truly appreciate their leadership and their ability to entertain our innovative ideas.”

Flores and Daniels, like all principals in the district, had the opportunity to meet with Renfrow, Sutton, and Grant and share with them the day’s progress.

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow (right-center) greets Cooper Academy Principal Jocell Flores (left-center) on the first day of school. Standing with them (from left) are Johnston County Board of Education members Teresa Grant and Todd Sutton.

“It means a lot to have the support of the superintendent on our first day,” said Daniels. “Dr. Renfrow is special, and for him to take the time out of his busy day and come here means a lot to us. We feel like we’re important to him.”

Students across the county shared in the excitement of returning to school.

“I’m ready to have another good school year,” said Tayvon Evans, fifth grade student at Cooper Academy. “I’m ready to meet my goals, do great work, and try to make it to the Student of the Year.”

As a former teacher and principal, Renfrow said he knows the importance of making the first day of school visit.

“As the lead learner for the district people need to see you in the trenches,” said Renfrow. “Being out and about and in the midst of the great things that happen, that’s why we seek to do this each and every year.”