Early Monday morning, Principal Edward Holmes watched as lines of students, guided by smiling teachers, walked through the halls of Hargrove Elementary School. A little after 8 a.m., a bell rang — the first of many that will chime during the year.
“We’re looking forward to a great school year,” Holmes said. “The school has done well, academically. We’re looking to push everyone to be even better. My goal is for our school to be number one in the district. Then we’re going to shoot for among the best in the state.”
More than 1,543,527 students in North Carolina began school for the 2016-17 academic year. Sampson County Schools makes up more than 8,600 of the total.
“The kids, they all have been just great,” Holmes said about being embraced with smiling faces of students attending Hargrove for the first time.
He’s new too. Holmes’ previous stop was the Learning Center at Charles E. Perry, where he served as its director.
“It’s a different world, but I’m loving it so far,” Holmes said about the transition.
Holmes feels great about the new year, especially after hosting an open house for parents and students. He’s also ready to work with teachers and staff members as well.
“I’m just trying to stay out of the way so they can do their job,” Holmes said. “They’re wonderful.”
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, said the district was ready to welcome back students.
“We are excited to see what the new year holds and we look forward to working with our community to make this our best year ever,” Bracy said. “I can’t wait to get into classrooms to see excellent teaching and learning taking place.”
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction officials were prepared for a new school year as well. State Superintendent June Atkinson stated that North Carolina’s public schools are working harder and smarter to ensure that all students are making progress toward a goal. She said that the goal is to produce graduates prepared to meet the challenges of citizenship, post-secondary education and careers.
“Educators in the state’s public schools continue to integrate technology, for themselves and their students, as an essential tool for effective teaching and learning,” Atkinson said. “Yet even as schools discover new approaches to engaging students, educators know that the true power of education rests on a timeless foundation of high expectations and caring support to reach them.”
In a video message, Gov. Pat McCrory talked about several improvements such as raising average teacher pay to $50,000, increasing textbook funding and efforts to connect every classrooms to high speed Wi-Fi by 2018.
“Together we have accomplished a lot for education in our state,” McCrory said. “But we know there is a lot more to do. So as you begin a new school year, I look forward to continuing to work with teachers, parents, administrators and students to build on our success.”
McCrory also thanked teachers for helping what he called the best state in the nation.
“Best wishes to everyone on a new school year and may God bless you and the great state of North Carolina,” McCrory said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.