Hargrove Elementary principal Jennifer Daughtry has been named the North Carolina Association of Educational Office Professionals (NCAEOP) 2012 Administrator of the Year.
“I was just shocked,” Daughtry said Monday afternoon. “I felt like I just won the Grammy. It really is a great honor.”
Daughtry, who has been in education for the past 26 years, was selected for the honor from 14 other regions throughout North Carolina. She was just one of 14 regional honorees up for the award at the recent North Carolina Association of Educational Office Professionals banquet held in Greensboro.
“I am delighted to be named North Carolina’s Administrator of the Year for NCAEOP,” Daughtry acknowledged. “I can say that I was truly surprised when they announced my name. As I began to work with Sampson County Schools, my dream became to become a principal (school administrator,) and this is a dream come true.”
The educator said her colleagues were very excited for her.
“Everyone was really excited,” she explained. “The staff here at Hargrove was just ecstatic. They even threw me a surprise party, which was really special.”
Daughtry has devoted her life to educating herself and the children of the school systems for which she has tirelessly worked during her 26-year career. As a youngster, she frequently played secretary and school and later her ambition was to be an executive.
Born on Sept. 9, 1965, in Sampson County, Daughtry is the second oldest of three children. Her parents were factory workers and her mother also worked part-time as the assistant manager at a convenience store.
She attended elementary, middle, and high school in the Hobbton District and continued her education at Hardbarger Business College in Raleigh. During the summers of 1983 through 1985, while attending Hardbarger, she worked as a custodian and as a secretary for the migrant summer school at Hobbton Elementary School.
She said felt the need to return to the community she loved after graduating, with honors, from Hardbarger Business College with an associate degree in business. She was then employed full-time by Sampson County Schools and she enjoyed her career as a teacher assistant, bus driver, secretary, bookkeeper, administrative assistant, and coordinator at Hobbton Elementary from 1985 to 2001.
It was at this point in her career when she became active in the Sampson County AEOP and served on various local committees, was vice president in 1995, and president in 1996. She was also a member of NCAEOP from 1993 to 2001, served on various district committees, and served as District 13 secretary from 2000 to 2001. Because of her involvement in furthering her education while working full-time, she was unable to continue her membership in NCAEOP.
Daughtry said she has never forgot the importance of the association, the things she learned, and the friends she made during her membership. In 2009, she joined NCAEOP as an associate member and still encourages her office personnel to join.
Working with students and teachers at Hobbton Elementary and her own desire to further her education inspired Daughtry to return to college to seek her bachelor’s degree in education at Fayetteville State University. Upon graduating, she began her teaching career with Harnett County Schools as the computer facilitator at Overhills Middle School. She taught technology classes for grades six through eight and provided staff development for teachers in technology. In 2002, she then returned to Hobbton High School where she worked in career development and special population.
Daughtry eventually enrolled in graduate school to seek her master’s degree in school administration from Campbell University during which time she was employed as an assistant principal at Overhills Middle School in 2003; and in 2004, she became the staff development coordinator and teacher recruiter at the Sampson County Schools central office.
Her love of being among students and the intrigue of working with other school-based educators led her to return to the school arena as assistant principal at Hobbton High in 2005; and in 2008 she became the principal of Hargrove Elementary School where she continues to enjoy what she calls her “dream job.”
“One thing I challenge students to do is have a dream and work hard to make it come true,” she said. “I believe all students have talents and can make a difference, whether they go to college or work a public job. We are all servants and it is my job to help serve the students in Sampson County. Education is taught at every realm, whether it is from a classified or certified person. We make a difference.”
Daughtry said she loves working with children in her church, helping others, reading, and traveling.
She believes the key to her success is “respect, having respect for herself and for others.
“I am not one to talk about myself, but getting this award is truly an honor for me,” she said. “It has never been just about me, things can only work if you are working with your staff as a team. That is very important.”