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CMS Supt. Earnest Winston: Hire is unusual, but not unprecedented
New education chief gets acclimated to job
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2019 10:26 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston took over the district’s top job on Aug. 2.

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Earnest Winston is taking a crash course in leading Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Winston, who had been the district’s chief community relations and engagement officer since 2017, replaced Clayton Wilcox as superintendent in July on an interim basis, then permanently on Aug. 2 when Wilcox’s resignation became official. With preparations for a new school year coinciding with a sudden shift in responsibility, Winston said his days “have certainly been a learning opportunity for me.”

A former newspaper journalist who joined the district in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High School, Winston joined CMS’s communications department in 2006 and was chief of staff from 2011-2017. He has a three-year contract that pays $280,000 annually.

Before sitting for media interviews Tuesday, Winston spent part of the morning with 400 first-time teachers, he said to extol “the value of teachers and the value of the profession, because, I think, there’s no more honorable profession than teaching, and I wanted to make sure they feel value as educators because a lot of times we don’t take the time to say thank you.”

“I believe, firmly, there is more than one pathway to becoming a superintendent,” he said. “I believe the board was looking for someone with experience, someone who cares about this school system and the 148,000 students that we are tasked with educating every day. I think the board wanted stability, they wanted someone who’s been in the shoes of a teacher.”

Winston acknowledges his background is a non-traditional path to superintendent compared to most candidates, who usually have advanced degrees and move up from the administrative ranks, but there are exceptions. Maurice Green, an attorney by training, led Guilford County Schools for eight years before resigning in 2016 to lead the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Districts across the nation have hired leaders from the military and business ranks.

“If you looked back, and you wouldn’t have to look far, at the career of one of the most successful superintendents in recent North Carolina history, you’d have to look no further than Mo Green,” Winston said. “He was here in CMS for awhile as our general counsel and after that he was our deputy superintendent. He would acknowledge he never spent time in the classroom as a teacher or in the schoolhouse as a principal, so I think that proves you can be successful without that traditional pathway.”

Winston, who has two daughters in CMS schools, said the district will continue to implement the 2024 plan for achievement and equity, but there’s room for discussions on improving initiatives.

“The proof is in the pudding,” he said. “At the end of the day, what matters is are we getting results for students. We intend to make a significant dent. We intend to reduce and narrow that achievement gap and we’re about all kids.”


I wish Mr. Winston much success and I am hoping the community will rally around him for the good of our youth which should be our top priority.
Posted on August 16, 2019

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