County school board hires new superintendent
Lauren Williams Staff Writer
The Sampson County Board of Education named Dr. Eric C. Bracy as its new superintendent during a special-called meeting Thursday morning.
Following a short closed door meeting, board members returned to open session and vice chairwoman Faye Gay made a motion to hire Bracy as the system’s new school chief. The motion was seconded by Mary Brown and carried with a unanimous vote.
“One of the responsibilities of a school board is to hire a superintendent,” said school board chairman Telfair Simpson, noting that some say choosing a superintendent is the most important decision a school board can make. “I wouldn’t disagree with that.”
Simpson explained that the school board had been working diligently since September to find the system’s next school chief, describing the experience of wading through many applications and conducting numerous interviews as “not a quick or easy process” but one that he felt had led the school board to the right person for the job.
“We feel like he’s a quality person,” Simpson said after the meeting.
The new superintendent, who signed his contract Thursday morning, comes to Sampson County Schools from Northampton County Schools in Jackson where he was superintendent for the past five and a half years. He began his career in education as a fourth grade teacher, later becoming an assistant principal and then a principal of elementary and middle schools.
Bracy holds a Doctorate in Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, a Master’s degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Virgina State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from North Carolina Central University.
Present at Thursday’s meeting and accompanied by his wife of 14 years, Janelle, a Pre-K teacher, and their three daughters, Bracy addressed those in attendance, calling being chosen for the county’s superintendent position “an honor and a privilege” and thanking the school board for its trust and confidence in him.
“We are excited that, as of today, (we will) be a part of the Sampson County Schools family,” he said on behalf of himself and his family, adding that he had been excited about the opportunity since the day of his interview with the school board.
“I’ve been very blessed in my life, both personally and professionally,” Bracy continued, mentioning some of his previous jobs in education “but the highlight of my career is today,” adding that the only thing that could make the experience “dearer and sweeter” would be if his late mother could have been present to enjoy the moment with him and his family.
In looking forward to taking the helm of Sampson County Schools, Bracy stressed that he is “ready to work and ready to work collaboratively” to “take the schools from where they are to where we want them to be.”
Promising to “hit the ground running,” he noted that he was looking forward to getting to know and working with all those in the county school system to “make sure this district is about all students” and to provide all those students with a “first class, world class” education that will get them to graduation and prepare them for college and beyond.
“I’m not coming here looking for a job,” he shared, noting that he had told the school board the same thing throughout the application and interview process, “but for an opportunity to serve.”
Bracy will officially begin work Feb.1, 2014, earning $135,000 annually. Until then, interim superintendent Mike Warren will continue to lead the system as he has done since August following the departure of previous superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker who left the post after five years to lead Pitt County Schools.
During Thursday’s special-called meeting, school board member G.H. Wilson made a motion to extend Warren’s contract through Jan. 31 and then keep him on as a consultant from Feb. 1 through Feb. 14 to help make the transfer of leadership as smooth as possible. Glenn Tart seconded the motion which carried with a unanimous vote.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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