Coming Home

Published 8:23 am Monday, May 12, 2014

Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter greets veteran Northampton County Board of Education member Donald Johnson after she was named on Wednesday by the board as the school district’s new Superintendent. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter greets veteran Northampton County Board of Education member Donald Johnson after she was named on Wednesday by the board as the school district’s new Superintendent. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

JACKSON – The new Superintendent of Northampton County Public Schools will not need a roadmap of the area when she reports for duty on July 1.

Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter already knows the backroads of the county. The Gaston native is a 1986 graduate of Northampton County High School-West and taught math there for five years before leaving to accept an administrative job just across the river in Roanoke Rapids.

Smith-Woofter was the unanimous choice of the Northampton Board of Education during their special called meeting late Wednesday afternoon in Jackson. Emerging from a 19-minute closed session to discuss personnel, board member Clinton Williams made the motion to accept and approve the new Superintendent’s contract; seconded by Donald Johnson. With the exception of Erica Smith-Ingram (the sister of the new Superintendent who abstained from voting), all board members were in favor of the motion.

Northampton School Board School Board Chairperson Marjorie Edwards stated the contract is good from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018.

“Thank-you for having confidence in me and I look forward to working with each and every one of you; I already know over 75 percent of those in this room,” said the new Superintendent after being invited by Edwards to share remarks.

“You know my work ethics are above board and I’m willing to work with you, for you, each and every day in any way that I can so that we can move Northampton County Schools forward in the positive direction that we’re going,” Smith-Woofter continued.

Recalling her time spent as a student in the county school system, Smith-Woofter said she would have never imagined becoming a superintendent.

“I’ve come full circle,” she remarked. “I’m so happy to be back home.”

Her mother, Rebecca Smith of Gaston, proudly sat on the front row of the School Board’s meeting room as she watched and listened to her daughter.

“I’m so glad that my mother is here, and my dad is looking down from heaven,” Smith-Woofter said.

She also introduced her husband, Steve Woofter, an 8th grade Algebra teacher at Russell Middle School in Lawrenceville, VA where the family now resides, and her daughter, 12-year-old Bryonna (currently at 7th grader at Russell Middle). A son, 19-year-old Stephen, just completed his freshman year at Hampden-SydneyCollege where he is a member of the men’s basketball team.

“When you are committed and have passion for educating young people, it’s all consuming,” Smith-Woofter remarked. “I would not have been able to work towards and gain my various college degrees without the support of my family. And now you, Northampton County Schools, are a part of my family. We may have been military brats growing up and I may have worked outside of this county, but Northampton is home; we are rooted and grounded here.”

Smith-Woofter prepared herself to take this next step up the educational administration ladder by serving in a number of academic leadership capacities. The Virginia State and East Carolina University graduate began that 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.

“This is my first job as a superintendent,” she told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in an interview on Wednesday. “I’ve learned a lot from the former superintendents I’ve worked under, to include Jane Burke, Dr. John Parker, Dennis Sawyer and Dr. Bracy. They all entrusted me with a great deal of responsibility. I have juggled responsibilities that most school districts have spread out between two to three people. I’ve worn a lot of hats. I feel I’m well prepared and well trained to lead a school district. I understand the big picture, but I also understand how the pieces of the puzzle are put together to make that one picture.”

Smith-Woofter added that she felt the transition will be smooth.

“I already know a lot of people here in Northampton County, those working hard each and every day to educate our children and prepare them to enter college or the workforce upon graduation,” she noted.

When asked if there was any added pressure on her to perform well due to the fact that she was a Northampton native, Smith-Woofter didn’t hesitate in her answer.

“No,” she stated. “I’m accustomed to pressure.”

Smith-Woofter replaces Dr. Eric C. Bracy who announced in late December that he had accepted the job as Superintendent of Sampson County Public Schools. Bracy served Northampton County for five and one-half years.

In the interim, Northampton County Schools has employed the services of Dr. John Parker, a Woodland native, to handle the Superintendent duties.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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