By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke High Principal Dr. Adell Baldwin plans to leave the job to take a position with Scotland County public schools.
The principal announced his departure last Wednesday during a school staff meeting held over Zoom. Superintendent Dr. Debra Dowless confirmed Baldwin notified the district of his resignation. He will start his new job May 12, according to the Scotland school district.
In a statement, Baldwin thanked the Hoke Board of Education and Dowless for allowing him the opportunity to serve as principal.
“I am honored to have served the staff and students of Hoke County. Also, a special thank you to the county commissioners for supporting (Hoke County High School) HCHS,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin graduated from Hoke County High School in the Class of 1987. During his more than 20 years in education he has served the school system in multiple roles, including as director of Career and Technical Education, dropout prevention coordinator and vice principal. He was hired as the chief administrator for Hoke High in 2018.
Baldwin previously taught students in Scotland County. He also worked as a school principal in Bladen County. He holds multiple degrees including a bachelor’s in Physical Education and a master’s in School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke; and an education specialist degree and doctorate from Wingate University.
Baldwin’s new job in Scotland County will see him serve as the district’s chief operations officer. The Scotland County Board of Education approved the selection during a meeting March 8, according to the district.
Many of Hoke High’s staff members were saddened by the announcement, teacher Shelly Wilburn said. She described Baldwin’s years as principal as “the best morale I’ve ever seen for our school,” even through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Adell as a leader, he’s like a coach. He builds you up, he makes you want to be a better person and do a better job,” she said. “He’s constantly building us up and wanting us to do a better job, to be the best we can be.”
A Change.org petition started by James Hardin sought support from the community in trying to keep Baldwin as principal. In just a few days the petition gathered 1,035 signatures, with many commenting that they didn’t want the principal to leave.
“Dr. Baldwin has been an inspirational role to Hoke County High School. His leadership has changed staff, student, and community morale. His presence has created a positive union between staff and students,” the petition creator wrote. “He defines our motto that ‘relationships matter.’ He is the whole package when it comes to leadership qualities. If you agree with the above statement, please sign this petition in the hopes of being effective in reaching the Board of Education. Together our voices can be heard!”
The petition was addressed to the Hoke County Board of Education and the school superintendent. Many of the people who signed it left comments praising Baldwin’s leadership as Hoke High principal.
“Dr. Baldwin is one of the most caring and professional principals that I have ever worked for in my 23 years of education. I feel that he truly cares about Hoke County as a whole – community, students and teachers. I am saddened that he may be leaving because he is an amazingly caring individual,” Ruth Herbert wrote.
“Dr. Baldwin has been in my life since I was small child. He has always been an exceptional educator and has always had the children’s interest at heart,” Angelica McDonald commented. “He is an asset to Hoke County and it needs to be acknowledged.”
Baldwin acknowledged the many messages of support he’s received over the last few days, and thanked citizens who want him to stay in Hoke. He chose to take the job in Scotland County in order to advance his career, he said.
“Thank you to all the citizens of Hoke County that have sent messages requesting me to remain in Hoke County. I will forever be a BUCK (Class of 87). However, I have made a choice to advance my career by accepting the position of Chief Operations Officer with Scotland County Schools,” he said in a statement. “I am excited for the opportunity to grow as a professional and continue to serve the Hoke County community as a full-time resident.”
Scotland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Takeda LeGrand said the district is “thrilled” to have Baldwin join them.
“I am thrilled that someone with Dr. Baldwin’s experience and passion for teaching and learning is joining our Scotland County Schools’ family,” she said in a statement.
Dowless said the Hoke County Board of Education will work to select a new principal for the high school. The school has an associate principal and several assistant principals on staff.
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