New day dawnsPublished 7:55am Thursday, July 3, 2014
JACKSON – Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter rolled up her sleeves and went to work here Tuesday.
The new Superintendent of Northampton County Public Schools received the oath of office during a brief ceremony in the main courtroom of the historic County Courthouse as family, friends, and educational colleagues witnessed the occasion.
“Thank you so much for coming out and sharing in this day,” said Smith-Woofter after accepting the oath from Laquitta Green-Cooper, Northampton County Clerk of Court. “I am honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to attend Northampton County Schools, to have graduated from Northampton County (High School West), and to now serve NorthamptonCounty again.
“As your Superintendent I look forward to learning with you, growing with you and making sure that we are shaping our students for life,” she continued.
Smith-Woofter, a native of Gaston, was the choice of the Northampton Board of Education as the system’s new Superintendent. Her initial contract is good from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018.
She credited those with whom she has worked with throughout her career for preparing her for this day.
“Thank you to the many educators I’ve worked with in the past, and getting ready to work with in the future; we are all in this together,” Smith-Woofter remarked. “I’ve been blessed to receive guidance from many mentors along the way.”
One of those mentors was in the audience, former Northampton Schools Superintendent Dr. Eric C. Bracy who announced in late December that he had accepted the job as Superintendent of Sampson County Public Schools.
“He provided me with sound advice over the years,” Smith-Woofter said of Bracy. “I will definitely have his phone number on my speed dial just in case I’m ever in need of his advice again.”
She gave praise to two women who she said were, “the rocks of my family” – her mother, Rebecca Smith, and her mother-in-law, Betty Woofter.
“They, along with my husband, Steve, my daughter, Bryonna, and my son, Stephen, have been there to hold my hand when I needed it; offer words of advice when I needed it; and to counsel me when needed,” Smith-Woofter said. “Now I’m asking my extended family, Northampton County Public Schools, to support me in the same way. I am looking forward to serving our school system. The Lord has prepared me for this day.”
Later, Smith-Woofter told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that she will hit the ground running.
“There’s not a lot of time between now and Aug. 25 (when students arrive for the first day of the 2014-15 school year),” she said. “There’s a lot of ground for me to cover, but as I’ve stated since day one of taking this job, I feel like I’ve prepared for this particular job my whole life and I’m up to the challenge.”
Prior to the oath of office, Woofter’s sister, Erica Smith-Ingram – a member of the Northampton County Board of Education – offered words of encouragement through prayer for her sibling.
“We ask you to give her the guidance, anointing and power to lead and advance the cause of education, to serve your people, and to do the very best job that she can,” Smith-Ingram said. “God, through you she can do all things.”
Those assembled moved from the main courtroom to an adjacent building to enjoy refreshments prior to Smith-Woofter making a short trip down Church Street to the Northampton County Central Services building where her office is located.
Smith-Woofter has experience from the classroom to the principal’s office. She initially taught math at Northampton County High School-West before leaving to accept an administrative job just across the river in Roanoke Rapids.
From that point, the Virginia State and East Carolina University graduate began a career climb, first as assistant principal (1996) and then principal (1998-2005) at Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids. Her next stop was a two-year stint (2005-07) as principal at Roanoke Rapids High School. She then moved to the Roanoke Rapids City Schools Central Office, in charge of Student Services and Accountability.
Smith-Woofter’s next step came as the founding principal at the newly opened Roanoke Valley Early College High School, a part of Weldon City Schools. In October of 2012, she moved to the Weldon City Schools Central Office, charged with heading up Curriculum and Accountability. From there she was promoted to Chief Academic Officer, a position she was holding until being named as the new leader of Northampton Schools.
Smith-Woofter will be at the table for her official meeting of the Northampton County Board of Education on Monday, July 7. There, newly elected Board of Education member Lucy Edwards will raise her hand and accept the oath of that office. Edwards will be joined at the 6:30 p.m. ceremony at the Northampton County Central Services office (701 North Church Street, Jackson) by incumbent School Board members Rhonda Taylor and Kelvin M. Edwards, who each earned another four-year term during the most recent election cycle held in May.