River Road Middle School Principal Adrian Fonville earned the maximum state bonus for principals last month after his school was recognized for being among the top 5 percent of schools statewide in academic growth on state testing.

Fonville, who is in his third year as principal at River Road Middle, has led the school to exceed its expected growth target on state testing results in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. He came to the school in July 2017 as it was beginning the “restart” transformation model designed to change its history as a persistently low-performing school.

The state paid Fonville a $15,000 bonus — the highest monetary award for principals who lead schools to academic growth — and he also was recently recognized as Principal of the Year for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools.

ECPPS Superintendent Catherine Edmonds announced Fonville’s bonus at last week’s Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education meeting.

Edmonds said she’s familiar with what is necessary to turn around a low-performing school and recognizes how difficult a task it is. She noted that Fonville had not only led a dramatic turnaround at River Road but also did the same thing at an elementary school in New Bern before coming to Elizabeth City.

“Whatever you are doing we need to figure it out,” Edmonds said to Fonville, who was presented with a a plaque from the school board. Other schools need to replicate good things that are happening at River Road, she said.

The state measures students’ academic growth based on their performance on end-of-grade and end-of-course tests. A statement on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction website indicates educator effectiveness is measured by students’ academic growth rather than proficiency.

“Student growth is the amount of academic progress that students make over the course of a grade or class,” according to the DPI statement. “Students enter grades and course at different places; some have struggled while some have excelled. Regardless of how they enter a grade or course, students can make progress over the course of the school year.”

Fonville thanked the board for the recognition and both board members and Edmonds for their support. He said he doesn’t do what he does in order to get recognition; he does it, he said, because it’s his job and because he wants River Road Middle to be the best it can be.

In a brief interview after receiving the plaque Fonville reiterated that he is motivated by a desire to get the best possible out of students and will continue to do everything he can to strengthen student achievement at the school.

In addition to Fonville, two other ECPPS principals earned bonuses based on students’ academic growth. The principals at Central Elementary School and Elizabeth City Pasquotank Early College both earned $1,000 bonuses.

Currituck County Schools Superintendent Mark Stefanik said the district has three principals that qualified for bonuses based on academic growth. He said he planned to announce their names at the Currituck school board’s December board meeting.

In Perquimans County two principals earned the state bonus. Laura Moreland and Tracy Gregory both qualified for the $1,000 bonus as their schools were in the top 50 percent in student academic growth.