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Welcome to Camden: Ferrell gets warm reception

110917Superintendent2

New Camden County Schools Superintendent Joe Ferrell (center) chats with Becky Phelps, a retired principal at Grandy Primary School, and Sissy Adylett (right), a member of the Camden Board of Education during a meet-and-greet event for him at Camden County High School, Thursday. Ferrell began work as Camden superintendent Nov. 1.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CAMDEN — Members of the public welcomed new Camden County Schools Superintendent Joe Ferrell Thursday afternoon at an informal reception at Camden High School.

Ferrell, the former director of secondary education for the Alamance-Burlington Schools, began work as Camden’s new superintendent on Nov. 1. He was selected by the Camden Board of Education from a field of 27 applicants to succeed Melvin Hawkins, who retired as superintendent at the end of March.

Mike Hindenach, president of the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce, said during Thursday’s meet-and-greet event for Ferrell that he is looking forward to finding good ways to partner with the Camden schools. Hindenach said he wants Ferrell to consider the Chamber as a resource for the Camden schools.

In addition, Hindenach said he hopes the school system can be a resource for the Chamber as well. He said the business community and area school districts should have a strong reciprocal relationship.

Reed Adams, a criminologist who teaches at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, attended the event to meet the new superintendent and encourage reliance on research in school decision-making.

“My concern is that he take a look at the empirical research evidence about what is effective in education and implement practices that work based on hard evidence,” Adams said.

Camden High School Principal Billie Berry said he and other principals in the school district appreciate Ferrell’s past experience as both a principal and district administrator.

“We’re excited about the future of the school system,” Berry said.

Berry said that even though Ferrell comes from a different area of the state, Ferrell understands the needs of a small county school system like Camden’s.

Wayne White, a former member of the Camden Board of Education who currently serves as a board member on the Education Foundation, said he was glad to meet the new superintendent and put a face with the name. He said he knew the school board would select the right person for the job.

White said one of the things he wanted to communicate to Ferrell is that Camden residents are very supportive of the schools and that the new superintendent can count on a great deal of community support.

Stephanie Humphreys, Camden’s interim county manager, said Ferrell has a friendly demeanor and seems ready to work together with Camden officials to move the county forward.

“I’m looking forward to a positive working relationship and I think he is, too,” Humphreys said.

Chris Wilson, a member of the Camden Board of Education, said he is a stickler for fairness and is convinced Ferrell will be fair in his dealings with staff, students and the public.

“I think he is going to do a marvelous job,” Wilson said.

Wilson said when Ferrell came in for his first interview he gave him homework, and that when Ferrell returned for a second interview he had good answers for all of Wilson’s questions.

Ferrell seems to be someone who will listen to people both in the school district and the community, Wilson said.

“I think we’ve got somebody that will listen and will deliver,” he said.

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