MOUNT AIRY-Ashe County native Dr. Kim Morrison was recently selected by the Mount Airy Board of Education to lead the district’s schools.
Morrison formerly served as the district’s chief academic and innovation officer but was announced earlier this week as the district’s new superintendent. Morrison is a 1987 graduate of Ashe Central High School.
The school board had a lengthy closed session planned to discuss personnel — common at every meeting, but especially so at the end of the school year — but the board took a break to return to open session Tuesday night.
After holding a closed session last week to discuss candidates, the board this week voted unanimously in favor of Morrison to replace Dr. Greg Little, who moved to South Carolina.
According to the district, Morrison was selected from a pool of 24 possible choices.
Dr. Don Martin, a retired superintendent for Winston-Salem/Forsyth schools, was selected as interim superintendent two months ago. Martin said once Kim is sworn in to her new position, he would stay on as an advisor for a week to help the new boss transition into her role.
Little announced his departure in January, but stayed on through April, giving the board three months to prepare.
During that time, five members of the school board accompanied Morrison to a National School Board Association conference in Boston.
Wendy Carriker, who chairs the city school board, said one thing she took away from the conference is what a great network of educators that Dr. Morrison has developed.
Carriker said she already was aware that Morrison knew her stuff as academic and innovation officer, but it was nice to see this other side of her mingling with her peers during the conference.
Morrison, a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University in Music Education. In 2005, she went on to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to earn her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
Morrison’s career in education began in 1993 when she first joined Mount Airy City Schools as band director. She spent 12 years teaching in the city district.
Her years in public education have included being on the Fine Arts Staff at Surry Community College, the Cannon Music Camp Faculty at Appalachian State University and eight years working in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS).
During her time in Winston-Salem, she was a lead teacher, program manager for magnet schools, and director for magnet schools, federal programs and strategic planning where she brought in more than $20 million dollars to the district through grants.
In the past three years since she returned to MACS, Morrison has worked to support the STEAM programming, problem-based learning, Balanced Literacy, Professional Learning Communities, as well as support language programs at Tharrington Primary and Mount Airy High School.
Her work has led her to develop unique, innovative partnerships such as Richard Childress Racing, Center for International Understanding, Mathematics and Science Partnership Grants, NC State, The University of Texas at Dallas, Wake Forest University, O2 Energies, After-School Quality Partnership Grants, as well as local partnerships and private grant fundraisers.
Morrison serves as a leader not only in her field but in her community where she served seven years on the Shepherd’s House board of directors and is currently the Youth Services Chair and member of Surry Sunrise Rotary Club.
Before the board went back into closed session, Morrison said, “I am humbled and honored to be named. I am very thankful to the board for showing confidence in my leadership.”
She said a strength of the district is that everyone — from school leaders to staff to the community — have worked together with a common goal of making the school system better. And she plans to continue those working partnerships, including picking the brains of the board members.
“Our success is built on maintaining high expectations for every child and diagnosing and addressing the challenges that students face,” she said. “It is my job as a leader to empower every educator so we can better serve students. And the only way to do that is to listen carefully to all stakeholders, seek expert advice, and develop a plan for success. I pledge to the community that I will continue the Mount Airy tradition of excellence by leading, innovating, and serving.”
“The board received 24 very qualified applications during our superintendents’ search,” said Carriker. “Dr. Morrison stood far above all of the candidates, and we are very excited to be able to promote one of our own staff members into the office of the superintendent.
“We know her vision, experience and energy will guide us into the future as we excel to be one of the best school districts in the nation. The fact that she is already part of our community and Mount Airy Schools family strengthens her commitment to our students and our school system.”
Morrison will be officially sworn into the position at the next regular school board meeting, set for June 21, 6:30 p.m. at Jones Intermediate School.
Reach Jeff Linville at 336-415-4692.