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Phipps Named NC Superintendent of the Year

Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps was named the 2023 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, a prestigious award presented annually by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA), the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA).

"It's overwhelming and a real honor for me to represent the superintendents in North Carolina with the work that they do and to call them all my peers," said Phipps. "Gratitude is not a strong enough word. I look forward to serving them and representing them."

Phipps joined the Caldwell County Schools as superintendent in July 2018 and his 29-year career has been entirely in education, serving positions as a school psychologist, non-profit director of research and development, university professor, assistant principal, principal, executive director and superintendent.

Jack Hoke, NCSSA Executive Director, praised Phipps for the leadership that has earned him the top honor for local superintendents in NC.

"Dr. Don Phipps is a leader among leaders,” Hoke said. “His focus on addressing the critical needs of students and families in his community and his efforts to be a strong voice for his colleagues in state and federal education policy work all make him an exemplary district leader who is very worthy of the Superintendent of the Year honor."

Since becoming Superintendent of Caldwell County Schools, Dr. Phipps has made it his mission to establish robust resources to support student safety and well-being and to foster positive relationships between the school district and families.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Dr. Phipps directed Caldwell County Schools to deploy school buses, equipped with Wi-Fi, to help students and families with limited internet access. When students began returning to school, Dr. Phipps and his team continued their focus on student support and launched a partnership with three community mental health providers to offer school-based mental health services for the 2022-23 school year.

"This work is critical, in my opinion," said Phipps. "This work has significantly and positively impacted the gap that existed where our student's mental health needs were identified and not being met."

Phipps also worked with ministers in his community to create a Ministerial Alliance, a program that has helped to spread valuable information about critical issues such as free school lunch. In addition, Caldwell County Schools engages the local community by offering needs-based services like college application and scholarship nights, Boot Camps for Grandparents seeking computer skills, and even an AgExpo focused on agricultural-related careers targeted at students.

"We must respond to needs in our community, but we only know what those needs are if we are part of the community," said Phipps. "We must be seen as trustworthy and genuine in our work.”

As the 2023 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Phipps will receive $5,000, and he will compete at the national level for Superintendent of the Year at the American Association of School Administrator’s National Conference on Education in San Antonio, TX, February 16-18, 2023.

The 2023 North Carolina Regional Superintendents of the Year were also recognized at the Nov.15 ceremony:

·        Region 1 | Northeast | Dr. Ethan Lenker, Pitt County Schools

·        Region 2 | Southeast | Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Brunswick County Schools

·        Region 3 | Central | Ms. Catty Q. Moore, Wake County Schools

·        Region 4 | Sandhills | Dr. Aaron Fleming, Harnett County Schools

·        Region 5 | Piedmont/Triad | Dr. Todd Martin, Yadkin County Schools

·        Region 6 | Southwest | Dr. Jeff Booker, Gaston County Schools

·        Region 7 | Northwest | Dr. Don Phipps, Caldwell County Schools

·        Region 8 | Western | Ms. Angela Knight, Graham County Schools