ALBEMARLE — A new Stanly County Schools superintendent, Dr. Jarrod Dennis, has been chosen and started work on Monday, Nov. 2, the district announced. Monday was also the day that a weeks’-long hiatus from face-to-face instruction will expire and students will return to their hybrid learning schedules. After outbreaks affecting staff and students, the district decided to halt the in-person portion of the plan in order to prevent further spread.
“My family and I look forward to moving to Stanly County and giving back to a community that has given me so much throughout my life,” Dennis said in an SCS statement announcing his being chosen as the new superintendent.
Dennis is a native of Stanly County, growing up in Oakboro and attending West Stanly High School. After graduating, he attended University of Lynchburg for his undergraduate degree, N.C. State University for a Master of School Administration degree, East Carolina University for an education specialist degree and Liberty University for a doctorate in educational leadership.
Dennis has since spent 20 years in the education field, starting as a teacher at Forest Hills High School in Union County and then moving to administrative roles for Orange County, Durham County and Person County. His final position in Person County was as deputy superintendent. In addition to his time in education, Dennis served in the N.C. Army National Guard, including overseas in Iraq from 2005 to 2006.
After the departure of SCS’s last superintendent, Dr. Jeff James, the county board of education began a search for a replacement. There were 22 applicants for the role, of which nine received interviews and three became finalists.
According to the district’s press release, “The final interviews included a presentation from each candidate as well as several rounds of questions.” Dennis was then selected from the three finalists after this process.
“I am honored to have been chosen by the Board of Education to be the next leader of Stanly County Schools,” Dennis said in the announcement.
While Dennis begins work on Nov. 2, Vicki Calvert, who has been serving as interim superintendent since James left, will continue in this role until Dennis is fully transitioned.
Nov. 2 is also an important day for SCS for another reason — the district will be returning to the hybrid instruction schedule which includes both face-to-face and remote instruction. This schedule had been put on hold and only remote instruction was available since Sept. 25, after outbreaks and the death of a teacher.
“The Stanly County Health Department supports the decision to return to face-to-face instruction based on the decline in the percentage of positive cases reported to Stanly County Schools,” read SCS’s statement on the return.
Elementary students will have face-to-face instruction Monday through Thursday, with remote learning on Fridays. Fifth graders will continue to be at area middle schools to allow greater social distancing.
Middle and high school students will rotate between A and B groups, with Group A attending face-to-face Mondays and Tuesdays, Group B attending face-to-face Wednesdays and Thursdays and both groups being remote on Fridays.
With this return to in-person instruction, the district was clear they have extra training for staff and more health personnel on hand in case of further issues.
“SCS is acquiring additional nurses to assist with COVID related processes and operations. Our nurses will work each individual case by case addressing the needs of our district with guidance from Stanly County Health Department,” the statement said. “Unpredictable circumstances and challenges will be part of our ongoing preparations for working toward a continuity of learning in an educational environment that is safe for all students and staff.”