Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. was named North Carolina’s 2024 superintendent of the year during a ceremony in Greensboro last week.

Connelly was recognized Nov. 14 as the 2024 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year at an event at the Koury Center in Greensboro, according to a news release from Cumberland County Schools.

Connelly, who represented the Sandhills region, was chosen from a group of eight regional nominees for the award, presented by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, in collaboration with the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association and the North Carolina School Boards Association and sponsored by Scholastic Education. The award recognizes exceptional leadership in K-12 public schools.

“In Cumberland County Schools, we’ve embarked on a transformative journey, driven by the firm conviction that every child deserves a world-class education, regardless of their background or ZIP code,” Dr. Connelly said in his acceptance speech. “Confronting deep-rooted inequities, we have transformed numerous schools from low-performing to thriving learning environments. The ‘Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan’ has been our guiding light, focusing on producing successful students, recruiting and retaining premier professionals, providing an exceptional learning environment, and collaborating with committed community partners.”

Connelly will represent the state in February during the national competition for the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year Award at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in San Diego.

Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, left, poses Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, with his 2024 A. Craig Phillips NC Superintendent of the Year plaque alongside Jack Hoke, the executive director of the NC School Superintendents Association.


Among the school district’s accomplishments under Connelly’s leadership:

• Implementation of the PASE Framework: Developed the PASE (Performance, Accountability, Support, and Empowerment) School Framework, increasing accountability and categorizing schools into tiers based on performance, thereby guiding targeted support and intervention.

• Central Office reorganization: Coordinated across departments to realign services, including curriculum support, data and accountability, and budget and finance, aligning them with the strategic goals and the PASE system. Led a district-wide reorganization to improve student outcomes, involving Central Services leaders as crucial transformation agents.

• Strategic initiatives and support systems: Launched initiatives such as the Opportunity Culture Strategic Staffing model in 12 schools and a district-wide tutoring network, supporting 25% of students with the highest needs.

• Engaging families in education: Established the Cumberland Family Academy and the Family Ambassador Volunteer Program, fostering strong school-to-home partnerships and enhancing family engagement in the educational process.

• School improvements: As a result of these efforts, the 2022-2023 academic year saw improvements in 98% of schools, with gains in growth index scores. This transformation led to many schools exceeding growth expectations.

• Advocacy for equitable education funding: In collaboration with the Cumberland County Board of Education, championed equitable funding at state and federal levels. Successfully secured crucial resources, including a $5 million Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Cumberland’s Marvin Connelly is Superintendent of the Year

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