Bertie welcomes new Superintendent

Published 10:36 am Monday, December 18, 2017

WINDSOR –After a near four month vacancy of no full-time leader at the top, the Bertie County Board of Education announced Wednesday they have selected Dr. Catherine Edmonds as the next Superintendent of Bertie County Schools (BCS).

Edmonds will officially take office February 1, 2018. She will succeed temporary superintendent Dr. Del Burns, who had served in the interim since Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill resigned Aug. 29 and left for a similar post in Pender County.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the Board of Education and other education stakeholders in Bertie County,” Edmonds said in a statement. “I hope to build on the great things already being done in the Bertie County Schools, to continue to create opportunities for all students in the school district, and to ensure student success for all. The motto of the Bertie County Schools is ‘Together We Can’, and I am committed to working together with everyone to do the very best we can for our students.”

Dr. Catherine Edmonds addresses the audience on Wednesday after being named as the new Superintendent of Bertie County Schools. | Staff Photo by Gene Motley

Edmonds was introduced at a special called meeting of the school board on Wednesday. She was selected from among 22 applicants according to school board members.

“Although many qualified candidates applied, the board felt that Dr. Edmond’s leadership skills, varied experience, and dedication to students would best serve the BCS students, staff, and community for years to come,” said school board chairman Bobby Occena. “The board is confident that Dr. Edmonds will lead the district to even higher achievement.”

Edmonds has enjoyed a successful quarter-century career in public education in North Carolina. She has been director of Educational Leadership and Development and State Director of the NC Principal Fellows Program through the University of North Carolina General Administration in Chapel Hill.

Prior to that role, Edmonds worked for a year with NC State University’s Northeast Leadership Academy, where she taught, supported, and mentored principals across the state, and she spent seven years at the state Department of Public Instruction, helping turn around schools in Halifax County. She has also been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal in the public schools of her native Granville County; and as an area superintendent.

“I’m so familiar with working and living in rural eastern North Carolina,” Edmonds said. “I look forward to being here for quite some time.”

Edmonds holds a bachelor’s degree in math education from North Carolina A&T State University and both a master’s and doctorate from NC State. Her parents still live in Oxford (Granville County) where she grew up.

As a native of a rural county, Edmonds says she hopes to help bridge the socioeconomic divide that has separated rural and more urban education.

Edmonds expressed awareness of the Bertie County School district’s financial situation, having been cited by NCDPI with material weaknesses and significant deficiencies. Since those revelations, the school system, which consists of nine schools and had been in financial decline for the past three years, replaced its superintendent and finance officer, hired a new auditor, and reduced staff by more than six percent to help save money. It has also implemented a spending and hiring freeze and begun collecting unrecognized revenue, including four years of sales tax refunds.

The State Board of Education approved the five-year financial recovery in June to reduce the general fund deficit and has since complemented the district in getting on track financially. Edmonds says she’s aware of that.

“I’m aware of some of the challenges, and I’m looking forward to some of those challenges as well as the opportunities,” she said. “I think there are far more opportunities than there are challenges and I’m looking forward to addressing those as well.”

Edmonds says she greatly looks forward to the opportunity to lead the Bertie County Schools and very much wants to become part of the community.

Edmonds’ contract, a three-year deal, calls for an annual salary of $134,000 and the use of a vehicle owned by Bertie County Schools.