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Cumberland school employees begin year with ‘People, Purpose, Passion’

Convocation brings teachers, principals, staffers together for school year kickoff


More than 6,000 employees of Cumberland County Schools gathered at the Crown Arena Tuesday morning for a convocation to kick off the 2022-23 school year, according to a news release. 

Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr., members of the Cumberland County Board of Education and leaders from across the district welcomed teachers and other professionals for a program centered around the theme “Together, We Will Rise: People, Purpose, Passion.”

The convocation began with high school drumlines playing and a performance by Central Services employees. Each district attendance area performed in the “CCS Revue,” a competition that was assessed by a panel of judges, the release said. “Merriel and the South Viewettes” from the South View attendance area won first place. The “D.B.A. Futuristics” from the Douglas Byrd attendance area was second.

Click here for a video recap of the 2023 CCS Convocation.

Connelly then roused the packed arena with encouraging words for the coming year, the release said. 

“We are here today to set the stage and prepare to take flight into one of the greatest years in the history of CCS,” said Connelly. “When we think about people, purpose, passion — it is all about perseverance and understanding that, despite the challenges, we have what it takes to prepare our students to be lifelong learners and reach their maximum potential.”

Board of Education Chairman Greg West expressed pride in the district’s employees.

“As premier professionals, you continue to go above and beyond to help our young people succeed at school and in life,” said West.

Keynote speakers focused on the theme’s focus areas.

The district’s 2022 Principal of the Year, Joy Williams of Luther “Nick” Jeralds Middle School, emphasized “people” by expressing admiration for the professionals who support the success of every student.

Representing “purpose,” the release said, New Century International Elementary School third-grader Braylen Mayfield and Massey Hill Classical High School senior Riley Nazario described how teachers and staff members have supported them. The students received a standing ovation, the release said.

On the theme of “passion,” the district’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, Daniel Smith of Westover High School, invited all employees to consider why they work in education and how they intend to foster that passion in the coming school year, the release said.

To view a photo album of the school district's convocation, click here.

The district also announced the finalists for 2023 annual awards, including principal, teacher, assistant principal, and beginning teacher of the year.

Finalists for Principal of the Year are:

  • Antoine McGill, J.W. Seabrook Elementary. 
  • Erica Fenner-McAdoo, Howard Hall Elementary.
  • Lisa Gillespie, Mary McArthur Elementary.
  • Shanessa Fenner, W.T. Brown Elementary.
  • Tara Bratcher, Loyd Auman Elementary.
  • Gemette McEachern, New Century International Middle.
  • Regina Blanding, Hope Mills Middle.
  • Zoletta Taylor, Douglas Byrd High.
  • Phyllis Jackson, South View High. 

Finalists for Teacher of the Year are:

  • Dana Johnson, Loyd Auman Elementary.
  • Talicia Smith, Douglas Byrd Middle. 
  • Gantice Lee, New Century International Elementary. 
  • Jennifer Bobby, Beaver Dam Elementary .
  • Sherry Dooney, Luther “Nick” Jeralds Middle. 
  • Cristen Frazier, Gray’s Creek Middle.
  • ElWanda McLaurin, Spring Lake Middle. 
  • Patsy Beth Whittington, Hope Mills Middle.
  • Shannon Blue, Ashley Elementary.
  • Shawna Kay Lawes, Ponderosa Elementary.

Finalists for Assistant Principal of the Year are:

  • LaTonya Adams, Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary.
  • Marcus Stewart, Sherwood Park Elementary.
  • Carleen Evans, Vanstory Hills Elementary.
  • Amy McDowell, Cumberland Mills Elementary.
  • Laura Fields, Margaret Willis Elementary.
  • Kanisha Jones-Dunor, Luther “Nick” Jeralds Middle.
  • Travis Stroud, Spring Lake Middle.
  • Kenneth Williams, E.E. Smith High.
  • Janet Blue, Westover High.

Finalists for Beginning Teacher of the Year are:

  • Tonya McGill, Morganton Road Elementary.
  • Madeline Baker, Alma Easom Elementary.
  • Sarah Milroy, Glendale Acres Elementary.
  • Sheretta Armstrong, Benjamin Martin Elementary.
  • Angela Hodge, Stedman Primary.
  • Michael Parker, Gray’s Creek Middle.
  • Tiara May, Douglas Byrd Middle.
  • Maureen Johnson, Max Abbott Middle.
  • James Heyward, South View High.
  • Justin Grandenetti, Jack Britt High.
  • Brandie Ingram, Seventy-First High.

The convocation was organized by Stacey Wilson-Norman, the school system’s academic services and chief academic officer. It was emceed by Lindsay Whitley, associate superintendent of communications and community engagement, and Renarta Moyd, communications manager.

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