19 candidates vie for Hoke County Schools superintendent job

By Catharin Shepard • Editor • By the time applications closed last week, 19 candidates had submitted their paperwork showing their interest in becoming Hoke County Schools’ next superintendent.

The applications came from people in nine different states, including North Carolina, the district announced this week. The North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), which is assisting in the search, is processing the applications and will release them to the Hoke County Board of Education for review.

“The board looks forward to reviewing the applications and moving into the interview stage of the superintendent search process in the next few weeks,” a statement from the district said.

The district also released the full results from a survey sent out to community members and Hoke County Schools staff members, which gathered information about what qualities people most want to see in the next superintendent.

A total of 231 members of the community, including 190 who live in the Hoke County Schools attendance area, responded to the survey. Among Hoke County Schools staff, 509 people responded to the survey with 209 teachers, 78 school-level support staff, 24 school-level administrators among those who answered the questions.

The surveys also collected open-ended comments, which were included in the documents provided to the school board and made public record. Some of the comments were redacted before the documents were provided to media.

Some of the comments from the community surveys:

“Would like to have a superintendent who is available and has a boots on the ground mentality. Not just shaking hands and kissing babies for picture opportunities.”

“Parents need to feel like they have someone to speak with when there is an issue.”

“Our children will no longer be attending Hoke County Public schools after this school year as

[redacted], and these are by far the worst schools my children have ever attended. Definitely not at fault of the underpaid and under supported teachers! There’s a reason the district cannot retain quality personnel, and as someone who doesn’t work in education that answer should be obvious. As a parent of a child with exceptional needs the special education in this county is horrendous.”

“I would like to see someone who truly care about the students, their education and where they are educated at. Someone who can make a plan to develop a plan to update all these old schools that are ancient. My daughter is in elementary school, it’ll be a shame if she walks the same high school halls that her grandparents did.”

“The superintendent needs to have experience teaching in the elementary schools. They need to understand how different grading, gaps, and growth is in those schools compared to middle school and high school. It isn’t just about scores in elementary school.”

“I feel it is extremely important to hire a superintendent with experience in education outside of Hoke County. We need a leader who does not currently have ties and connections to Hoke County, and who can come in with an unbiased view. They need to be able to analyze the needs of our schools and our students, and make difficult and even unpopular decisions as long as they are in the best interest of our students. They should not be influenced by individuals who are part of the school system or community merely because of who they know or are related to. We need a superintendent with a fresh and unbiased approach to leading our district.”

“Be firm on stopping the bullies and make sure all district staff are communicating with each other and parents. These two items are extremely important”

“Must be willing to implement Diversity Equity and Inclusion. Have a vison for hoke county schools. And willing to except change and think outside the box (grow with the ever changing technology world.)”

“Our new superintendent needs to be someone who is not a current Hoke County Schools or anyone who has worked within the district. HCS has suffered the same stale ideas for years and our students deserve new and fresh ideas to be brought in from outside.”

“Someone who doesn’t and won’t forget what it’s like to be in the classroom. Someone who is honest and fair! Someone who doesn’t play favorites! Someone who will pray for this school system and community!”

“I would want to see someone from outside the Hoke County School system be considered for the position. Any indication or implication of nepotism or cronyism would reflect poorly on the ethics and integrity of the Board and the Individual selected. Hoke Vounty needs experienced administrators from more urban school systems to appropriately and effectively address and manage growth related issues. Additionally, someone with experience in a school system where reading comprehension has improved AND parent engagement has increased is vitally important to HCS. Parents need to be more engaged in the middle and high schools. The achievement gap needs to be addressed at all levels in HCS.”

“We need a Superintendent who will communicate with parents. If I call the board of education and leave a message for the Superintendent to return my phone call, I expect a phone call back.”

Some of the comments from the staff survey responses:

“Someone that has a vision and treats all schools with the same importance and not show favoritism to one over the other. It is also important to have a heart for the employees and see where people are coming from when it comes to decisions being made. Some decisions should not be made without first learning all of the information and not to have preconceived notions without having the full picture.”

“We need someone who puts teachers first.”

“It’s important the board gives all applicants a fair chance. We need a leader, not a political piece. [Redacted] I pray the search is genuine. We need someone who will be available and let teachers, admin, and other directors do their jobs and offer expertise. We have experience and knowledge not being utilized. We need someone who is [redacted]. We need someone who can do the work, and not take credit for others. Someone who will not play favorites. We need someone new and fresh to Hoke County, or someone who will come in and be for the children. Not friends. Please, please, please – help us.”

“Experience at the secondary level is very important to the success of the middle/high school.”

“The ability to close the achievement gap among students as well building relationships among employees and understand that this has to start with our leader exemplifying these qualities.”

“I would like to see someone who is willing to listen to the teachers and allow them to have input on curriculum and instruction. Someone who has experience in all levels of teaching (elementary, middle and high school)”

“A superintendent with little or no ties or connections to Hoke County would be ideal.”

“The new superintendent should show all teachers that they are important and that they are appreciated. They should all see that all teachers deserve a raise because we teachers are under paid.”

“The new superintendent needs to have worked in a school during COVID and after. Either as a principal or some type of leadership position. Times have changed drastically during and after COVID for classroom teachers and students. If you have not actually experienced this with those in the trenches you do not understand what being in the classroom is like. Being in a classroom 5 years ago is nothing like being in the classroom today. We also should have a leadership that is in the classroom.”

“We need someone who understands the demands on teachers and support staff. We need someone who will advocate for better resources, community partnerships, and pay for staff. We need someone who understands all aspects of education, and will work with us, support us, and appreciate us for doing all that we do for our students, parents, and community.”

The documents are posted below for those interested in reading all of the comments from the surveys. Hoke-County-Community-Results_Redacted


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