Johnston County teachers, staff kick off new school year with celebration

Johnston County teachers and staff kicked off the new school year with a celebration (Beairshelle Edme/CBS North Carolina)

ZEBULON, N.C. (WNCN) -Wednesday, for the first time in nearly a decade, Johnston County teachers and staff kicked off the new school year with a celebration.

The 2017-2018 school year convocation ceremony was a chance for educators to learn about a new vision for the future and a benefit coming their way.

An estimated 5,000 people were expected to pack into the Carolina Mudcats’ seats at Five County Stadium to hear about JOCO 2020, which includes a renewed focus on both students and teachers.

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“I think as a society we may have our priorities out of order,” explained Dr. Ross Renfrow, the Johnston County superintendent. “Our policemen, our firefighters, and our teachers — they should be our highest-paid people because of the service that they provide to us all each and every day.”

At the convocation, Renfrow and the county’s board of education announced a one percent increase to the supplement given to staff from the county.

The superintendent told CBS North Carolina’s Beairshelle Edmé that, “We all live paycheck-to-paycheck so if it’s a part of the light bill we help to pay, a chance to send somebody to college and buy textbooks, whatever they use it for, it can make a difference in their lives.”

Wednesday also kicked off phase two of the JOCO 2020 Vision. The plan focuses on quality education with personalized learning and content literacy.

The second phase deals with professional development of educators.

Renfrow believes parents in the district should expect only the best for each student.

“As a parent, and I’ve had two graduate from the public school system and a 7th grader, I want everybody to be treated the same,” he said. “As my grandmother used to say, ‘I have to feed you all out the same spoon,’ so I want to make sure John Ross (my son) gets treated the way everybody else is — not better, not worse.”

In two weeks, Renfrow and his team of thousands will get to work on this vision by starting first in the classroom and educating the next generation.

According to district officials and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 35,272 students are projected to attend school in Johnston County.

For many, their first day in the classroom will be August 28.

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