Seeing the future

Published 5:15 pm Monday, July 23, 2018

RALEIGH – Despite operating on a shoestring budget in a rural county, Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter has always sought out innovative ways to strengthen local education since becoming the Superintendent of Northampton Public Schools in 2014.

Apparently, someone was watching as Smith-Woofter began to implement programs and strategies that are now being felt in the realm of overall student achievement within Northampton Schools.

The North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) has announced the selection of Dr. Smith-Woofter as the recipient of the Dr. Brad Sneeden Leadership Award. The award is presented in honor and recognition of a superintendent who has demonstrated a strong commitment to life-long learning, unwavering integrity in leadership, and transformation of vision into action.

This annual award is presented to a graduate of the North Carolina School Superintendents’

Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter receives the Dr. Brad Sneeden Leadership Award from Jack Hoke, Executive Director of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association.

Association’s Next Generation Superintendent Development Program (NGSDP), a program which is designed to empower transformational education leaders for North Carolina’s public schools. Dr. Smith-Woofter was selected by fellow superintendents and thought partners in the NGSDP.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be selected by my peers for such a prestigious award. I have always been a lifelong learner, and as an educator it is a fundamental principle for future success.,” said Dr. Smith-Woofter.

In winning this prestigious award, Dr. Smith-Woofter will receive a check in the amount of $1,000 for personal/ professional development of her choice.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Sneeden who was serving as Carteret County Schools’ Superintendent at the time of his death in October, 2008 at the age of 56. Among the innovative efforts he brought to this district was the establishment of the Marine Science Academy, later renamed as a memorial to him, which exposes students to hands-on marine science activities.

Previously, Dr. Sneeden served as the Associate Vice-President for Leadership Development and Director of the Principals’ Executive Program, the Deputy State Superintendent for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and State Board of Education, an adjunct professor with the Department of Educational Leadership and Director of the Office of School Services at East Carolina University, and as the Craven County Schools’ Superintendent. Dr. Sneeden led with innovation and vision in preparing administrators for visionary leadership while never wavering from ethics of the highest order.

In selecting the award winner, superintendents were asked to consider the following criteria:

Demonstrates vision and the ability to translate vision into specific goals. The recipient should be a person whose leadership has resulted in his or her district developing and/or implementing innovative programs and projects to benefit students.

Demonstrates a strong commitment to life-long learning, focusing on the continuous improvement of his or her leadership skills

Demonstrate evidence of setting and achieving high standards of ethical conduct within his or her organization.

Commenting on Dr. Smith-Woofter, NCSSA Executive Director Jack Hoke said, “Dr. Smith-Woofter exemplifies the traits that guided Dr. Brad Sneeden’s career in educational leadership. Dr. Smith-Woofter has demonstrated a vision for the Northampton County Schools, as an educational innovator and a strong commitment to continuous improvement and the highest standards of ethical conduct. She is a very deserving recipient of this award.”

During her tenure as the Superintendent of the Northampton County Schools system, student performance has improved for the 2017 accountability year as five out of seven schools improved their performance grades from the previous year(s). Six out of seven schools made positive growth gains. Four years ago, all public schools in the county were low performing.

Dr. Smith-Woofter has successfully started the Northampton County Early College program with Halifax Community College.

Her past awards include: 2012 Principals Excellence and Achievement Award, Halifax Community College Women of Distinction, 2010 Outstanding Service and Educational Excellence upon receiving Doctorate, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, 2012 Wells Fargo District Principal of the Year for Weldon City Schools, 2008 Girl Scouts USA 20 Year Volunteer Award, 2006 Certificate of Appreciation to our Honorary Reservist Award, 916th Air Refueling Wing Air Force Reserve, 2005 and 2006 Roanoke Valley Principal of the Year – Roanoke Rapids High School, and 2004 Roanoke Valley Principal of the Year- Chaloner Middle School.

A native of Gaston, Dr. 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.

Her 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 in June of 2014.