Garner: Opinion

Editorial: Welcome to the corner office

We welcome Ross Renfrow to the superintendency of the Johnston County schools. It is a incredibly important role that he will fill beginning in March.

Those who know Renfrow well say he is a even-keeled leader who will make decisions with an eye toward what is best for students and teachers. That’s not always an easy thing to do, but his track record at Corinth Holders High School, in particular leads us to believe he can continue to encourage as he leads and directs the second largest school system in the Triangle region.

Renfrow will face any number of challenges during his tenure as Johnston County’s top educator, some that are readily apparent right now, others that may surprise everyone when they crop up. His experience within the Johnston County school system will help him understand the county’s current school-based challenges and engage those people who are best suited to solve those problems.

He will have to deal with dwindling financial support from the state to hire good teachers. He will have to search for ways to limit the brain drain among the current faculty who can often cross the county line and experience an instant pay increase. He will have to address the county’s ongoing need for additional space as Johnston County continues to grow and more students fill existing schools. He will have to address increased demands for better student performance and teacher accountability. And he will have to find ways to help the Johnston County schools keep up with the advantages and challenges posed by technology.

What we also hope for Renfrow is that he will be his own leader. As a long-time veteran of the Johnston County school system, it’s fairly easy to maintain the status quo and fail to look for real and tangible ways to improve the school system. There are a multitude of opportunities to increase public involvement in the school system, from inviting local businesses to partner with schools to inviting parents and, yes, the media, to the schools to see what’s happening in our classrooms today.

By all accounts, Renfrow is a smart man and, his responsibility to the school board notwithstanding, this is an opportunity for him to put his own major handprint on a school system that will impact the county for decades to come.

We welcome him to the corner office. We look forward to seeing how he will take the Johnston County school system to a higher plane. We know it can be done. And, truly, it must be done. Too much is riding on the outcome of Renfrow’s superintendency not to squeeze every advantage from the opportunity that has come his way.