Editor’s note: Second in a series this month celebrating Black History by honoring difference-makers in the community.
NEWTON GROVE — As the current Principal of the Year for Sampson County Schools, Jennifer Daughtry is not going to rest on her accolades.
She’s enjoys seeing students and Hobbton High School (HHS) excel and preparing them for the future. For Daughtry, it’s important to be an example for everyone at the school. “Leading by Example” is one her mottos.
Daughtry made history as leader in many ways. She was the first African-American woman at Hargove Elementary School and was the first at HHS. Before her leadership roles, she was also the first to be an administrative assistant at Hobbton Elementary School.
“I feel that it made a difference in a lot of lives,” she said about becoming an inspiration. “I’m very excited about it. I’m glad that God gave me this opportunity to be the first in those roles.”
During her days as a high school student, the HHS graduate was involved in Future Business Leaders of America, played softball and was on the the cheerleading team. Next, Daughtry earned a business degree from Hardbarger Business College and later returned to Sampson County to become an administrative assistant at Hobbton Elementary School.
“I saw the role that a principal played and the importance that it had on a child’s life,” she said. “It was my dream to become a principal and it came true.”
She returned to college classrooms and earned another degree from Fayetteville State University in business administration, before obtaining a master’s in school administration from Campbell University. Before she became principal of Hobbton High, she was the assistant principal at the school in Newton Grove. She also served as the assistant principal at Overhills Middle School in Harnett County and Sampson Union Elementary School.
“Being a principal is an awarding job,” she said. “Each day is a new day and you never know what’s going to happen. You can set an agenda for what you’re going to do that day, but it may never take place.”
One project on the agenda is a track project for the school. Supporters are currently raising funds. Daughtry and the school is proud of the men’s and women’s teams earning conference championships during the school year, although they don’t have a practice facility on campus.
“I would love for Hobbton High School to receive a track,” she said. “We’ve worked so hard for that to take place. Our students have a dream to have a track and we do not have it yet. But they still strive to be the very best.”
Daughtry’s compassion for students resulted in many awards and accolades. In 2017, the Sampson County Branch of NAACP presented a certificate of appreciation to Daughtry, during the general membership meeting for the organization. She was previously honored as the Principal of the Year at Hargrove Elementary School and as the State Administrator of the Year for the North Carolina Association of Educational Office Professionals. Daughtry was also recognized by several community organizations for her work at the school.
In addition to leading HHS in the future, Daughtry said she would like to become an advocate for public education.
“I know what we endure every day here in the building as a classroom teacher and a principal,” she said. “I feel like more emphasis should be placed on public education and I would like to be a voice to improve public education at some point.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.