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Dr. Zullinger is leading the way

Change is not always easy.

Sometimes it takes upheaval and distress before true change can begin.

Such was the case with Bertie County Schools. There has been true change in the district, but it didn’t come easy.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Zullinger made some tough decisions. He decided to totally reinvent Bertie High School. Changing a high school is a difficult challenge for any superintendent, but providing alternatives to Bertie High School was particularly fraught with pitfalls because of the community’s love for the school.

Dr. Zullinger was careful and made sure that each step was calculated and correct. When he came, the STEM School (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) was a project that had begun. He took full ownership of it and made sure to put the right person in place (G. Fisher Mitchell) to lead the school and help make it grow.

He then partnered with Shaw University and North Carolina State University to make other options available to the high school students in Bertie County.

Then the superintendent pushed for a true freshman academy to be located on the campus of the former Southwestern Middle School.

The closing of Bertie Academy to allow alternative settings to be available for more students and in a larger variety also took intestinal fortitude, but it is already obvious it was a good decision.

All of these were tough choices and all of them were the right ones. Fortunately, the Bertie County Board of Education has backed their superintendent and the path he has chosen.

The data presented by the superintendent Monday night shows those decisions are already starting to reap benefits. When the right person is in place and leading in the right direction, true change will come.

In the past 10 years, there has been enough lip-service change coming to schools. It is good to see true change that benefits students be the order of the day.

Congratulations to Dr. Zullinger, the Bertie County Board of Education and the school district staff.