By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The Hoke County Board of Education has selected Dr. Debra Dowless as the new superintendent of Hoke County Schools.
Dowless has served as an assistant superintendent for the past six years, focusing on the area of elementary curriculum and instruction. She has worked in public education in Hoke County for more than 24 years.
Dowless said she appreciates the opportunity to serve the Hoke school community in the new role.
“I am honored and humbled to have been selected to continue our story, our work, and our service to our community as the next Superintendent of the Hoke County School System,” she said in a statement.
Dowless began her career in Hoke County as an elementary school classroom teacher. Before joining the school system’s executive leadership team in 2014, she served as principal of Rockfish Elementary School for eight years and assistant principal of Hawk Eye Elementary for two years.
Dowless holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in school administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fayetteville State University.
In her role as an assistant superintendent, Dowless was responsible for developing, improving and assessing the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction, school officials said. She has received many honors throughout her career, including Hoke County Math Teacher of the Year, Rockfish Elementary Teacher of the Year and Hoke County Principal of the Year.
Besides her own education and decades of experience in Hoke County, Dowless is also involved in many professional organizations including the Educational Policy Fellowship Program, the Innovation Project and the Sandhills Regional Education Consortium.
The school system announced the decision Monday night, just a few weeks after departing Superintendent Dr. Freddie Williamson was hired to take on the same role for the Public Schools of Robeson County. The board chose to consider local candidates for the position rather than conduct a wider search.
Dowless is the right person for the job thanks in part to her many years of experience with the school system, a statement from the Board of Education said.
“Her experience gives her a deep understanding of the Hoke County School System’s history and organizational culture,” the statement said.
Dowless said she is committed to equity and improving students’ academic achievement.
“We believe in the moral imperative that all students should have access to a high quality education that includes enriching academic programs, rigorous instruction, and 21st century technology. We also believe this can be realized through commitment to innovation, problem solving, alignment of resources and efforts, and above all, decision making in the best interest of students,” she said in the statement.
The school system will install Dowless as superintendent this Friday. She will receive a salary of $130,000, according to public records.