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UNCP to hold annual School Leadership Conference April 13

MSA School Leadership Conference
Keynote speaker - Jason Griffin, NC Principal of the Year

The state’s Principal of the Year will be the keynote speaker at the annual School Leadership Conference at UNC Pembroke on April 13.

The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the University Center Annex. It is free and open to the public.

The conference is sponsored by UNCP’s Master of School Administration (MSA) program. This year’s theme is Beginning Teachers: The Best is Yet to Come.

Jason Griffin is a 2017 National Distinguished Principal and the current Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. Griffin is well known for moving Hertford Grammar School from a low performing school to a "B" school in two years. 

He is an innovative school leader who understands the importance of collaboration, school culture, and personalizing learning. 

According to the Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina employs approximately 18,000 (K-12) teachers with fewer than four years in the classroom. This fact alone heightens the need for systematic efforts to support and retain beginning teachers.

Several expert educators will present to MSA graduate students, UNCP faculty, and regional educators, and share first-hand suggestions to help new teachers excel in their practices and to commit fully to the honorable profession of teaching.

Jim Butler, principal of Richmond Senior High and is the Sandhills Region 2018 Principal of the Year. He has extensive experience as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal at the elementary, middle school, junior high, and high school levels. He led a struggling school that became a National School to Watch recipient.

Michael Freeman, superintendent of Anson County Schools, is the Sandhills Region 2018 Superintendent of the Year. He has served as a teacher, district Summer School director, assistant principal, principal, executive director: Teaching and Learning, chief academic officer, chief operating officer, and deputy superintendent.

Freeman has implemented numerous innovative programs in his system and is committed to closing achievement gaps for students in Anson County.

Dr. Antonia Beatty is the Human Resources director for Bladen County Schools. She has more than 20 years of experience in Bladen County Schools as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of various programs at the district level.  

Dr. Tanya Head is a dedicated educator of 35 years and is currently an Assistant Superintendent for Bladen County Schools. Through many years of serving as teacher, administrator, district leader and state level work, her experiences are broad, allowing her numerous opportunities to be an informed contributor to educational progress, and a conscientious voice for educators in North Carolina.

Dr. Cynthia Martin, who travels across North Carolina to support all beginning teachers, will also serve as a panelist. Martin serves as the Professional Development Leadership Coordinator for N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Butler, Freeman, Beatty, and Head are UNCP alumni.

For more information, contact Dr. Olivia Oxendine at or Dr. Charles Jenkins at