Carter headed to central office

Jordan, Wood to Rockingham Middle, Smith to Mineral Springs

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — Following a 16-minute executive session on Friday morning towards the end of a public meeting, the Richmond County Board of Education filled a key position at the central office. The move created a domino effect that impacts three other county schools. The changes take effect when students return from Christmas break on Jan.5.

Julian Carter

Julian Carter

Julian Carter, Rockingham Middle School principal, has been selected by Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent, to become the executive director of human resources at the school system’s administrative offices.  The Ellerbe native and 1989 Richmond Senior High School graduate is in his fifth year as principal. His first job as principal was at Fairview Heights Elementary School in Hamlet.

“It’s a big, big moment for me in my life,” said Carter, 44, of a position that will focus on, among other things, recruitment and retention. “It’s something I’ve worked for for 20 years. It’s a great opportunity. It’s bittersweet because I love Rockingham Middle School. You cut me, and I bleed orange and black.”

Carter spoke of teacher recruitment being a tough job — but a worthwhile one.

“This is a part of it that I really love,” Carter said. “Last year at Rockingham, we had pretty big turnover. I ended up recruiting 12 teachers. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life, but it’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done in my love.”

Carter emphasized that principals at individual schools will have the final say in hiring decisions.

Dr. Wendy Jordan, today the principal at Mineral Springs Elementary School, will take over for Carter at Rockingham Middle School. Jordan graduated Richmond Senior High School in 1988. In 2013, she was recognized as North Carolina Region 4 Principal of the Year.

Dr. Wendy Jordan

Dr. Wendy Jordan

Kate Smith, an assistant principal at Rockingham Middle School who previously worked in that same capacity at Mineral Springs Elementary, will return to the Ellerbe elementary school to take over for Jordan.

Steve Wood, an assistant principal at Richmond Senior High School, will fill Smith’s position at Rockingham Middle School. His new assignment does not create a new vacancy, Goodman said, because the school was staffed slightly above the organization’s plan. Wood was recently named Assistant Principal of the Year at an August gathering of teachers and and administrators.

With Jordan taking over for Carter, “I feel like that will be just a real smooth transition,” Goodman said. “I knew I had to put a sure thing in Rockingham.”

Goodman said Carter was recognized for doing a “great job” at Rockingham Middle, and that’s why she wanted him on her executive team.

“This is a big deal,” Goodman said. “It’s an exciting time of them and us.”

Jordan agreed with Goodman’s assessment. She hasn’t spent much time in a middle school since her own days at junior high, but she welcomes whatever comes next.

“It is absolutely going to be a new challenge,” Jordan said. “I’m excited about being at a middle school. I like middle school kids. I really like the personality mine has (at home) now. I like the idea of being surrounded by lots of them.”

Jordan recognizes that she is stepping into a school with a rich history.

Kate Smith

Kate Smith

“It’s a pure legacy,” she said. “I’m just excited to be a part of it. I really appreciate Dr. Goodman having enough confidence in me to do this job. I’m really excited about working with these children that I have watched since they were playing 4-year-old soccer. I think it’s going to be pretty cool.”

One of the key differences in middle school is the team concept, Jordan said. That’s not something she experiences each day at the elementary school level.

“I’ll just do the best work I can do each and every day,” she said.

As for Smith, the 33-year-old South Carolina native said she’s ready to take the next, natural step in her career. Smith applied for the position nearly a month ago — and interviewed for the job about two weeks ago — but was not aware it was to be at the Ellerbe school, where served as assistant principal. She spent her first five years in teaching at Rockingham Junior High School.

After working for Jordan and Carter, she knows that “I have big shoes to fill.”

Kevin Spradlin | Steve Wood, of Richmond Senior High School, was named Richmond County Schools Assistant Principal of the Year. He’s pictured with Dennis Quick, executive director of auxiliary services.

Kevin Spradlin |
Steve Wood, of Richmond Senior High School, was named Richmond County Schools Assistant Principal of the Year. He’s pictured with Dennis Quick, executive director of auxiliary services.

“I was very excited there was even the opportunity, whether I got it or not,” said the Appalachian State graduate. “Obviously it wasn’t posted to be a Mineral Springs principalship. Lucky for me, it was Mineral Springs.”

Like Jordan, Smith indicated a change in colors soon. She’ll likely take one last look around.

“I’m gonna miss this place,” Smith said. “I will take with me everything I have learned about the leadership of Julian Carter (and) working with all of the support staff here. Wen I taught, I taught here. I love the middle school kids. I love everything about that age. However, I absolutely love Mineral Springs, too.”

The moves fill an administrative position vacant since June 26, when the board appointed Goodman as interim superintendent to replace the retiring Dr. George Norris. The board removed Goodman’s interim tag on Aug. 5.

Goodman said she recognized the possibility of bringing someone from the outside into the school system but, in this case, it simply didn’t make sense.

“My personal belief is, when we have quality people inside that are the right fit and well qualified for the position, I like to hire within when we can,” Goodman said. “I want people here to think they can advance within our organization.”

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