Building relationships

Published 8:13 pm Friday, May 6, 2011

Bertie County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins (seated) goes over records with BCPS Personnel Administrator Fannie Williams. Dr. Harris-Rollins is new to the position, named last month to lead the school district after serving as an Assistant Superintendent in Hertford County. Staff Photo by Thadd White

WINDSOR – Ready to go.

The new superintendent of Bertie County Schools says that’s exactly how she feels.

“I’m ready to dive in and not tip-toe around the edges,” said Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins.

Dr. Harris-Rollins was sworn in as Bertie County Schools Superintendent on April 21 and immediately began working to acclimate herself to the district.

She said coming in during the Easter holiday made the adjustment different than if school had been in session.

“It’s was a unique time with Spring break,” she said. “It made an easier transition because it gave me time to unpack and settle in, but I’m ready to get out and meet the staff and students.”

Dr. Harris-Rollins said she was happy to be joining an already strong school district.

“I’m here to join strong leadership that already exists and partner with them,” Dr. Harris-Rollins said. “I’m looking forward to joining with them and navigating these waters together.

“The district has already experienced growth in test scores, but I want to help us reach a higher level,” she said.

She said her reason for wanting to join Bertie County Schools was two-fold.

“First, I am a native of eastern North Carolina,” she said. “I’ve had many jobs that were west of here and I wanted to come back to eastern North Carolina. This is home and I think it is a special place.”

Secondly, Dr. Harris-Rollins said Bertie County had a reputation as a school district that needed improvement.

“I have always been a champion of the underdog,” she stressed. “We have bright, articulate children who can be anything they want and can be successful here. I want to be part of helping them achieve their goals.”

Dr. Harris-Rollins said she would meet with every principal in the district and all members of the school board individually as she begins her service with Bertie County.

“I want to sit with the principals and learn about them and what they’re about,” she said. “I already know basically what they do as a principal, but I want to learn about them personally. The key is relationships.”

Dr. Harris-Rollins said she had already had the opportunity to meet with school board member Alton Parker and that she would have similar conversations with each board member.

“Mr. Parker and I had a very good conversation,” she said. “We talked about working together. I admire and respect the fact that I believe Mr. Parker has a heart for students and children. That’s our common point.”

As she begins working with the school board, Dr. Harris-Rollins said there were five conversations she expected to have with the board. The first is a situation diagnosis in which they will clarify how each sees the current situation of Bertie County Schools.

In the second conversation, they will talk about mutual expectations.

The third discussion will be a style conversation in which the superintendent and board will decide how to interact and communicate on an on-going basis.

Next will be a conversation about resources where they will decide what is needed and what can be accessed to support success.

Finally, Dr. Harris-Rollins said she expects to discuss personal development with the board as they decide together about professional growth and improvement.

(This is the first of a series. Coming next: Dr. Harris-Rollins’ list of tentative goals.)