The appointment of the new Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school superintendent, Angela Pringle, is an occasion for both enthusiasm and optimism. A well-qualified, experienced candidate, Pringle received a unanimous vote from the school board.
Welcome to the community, Dr. Pringle. We hope you’re happy here for a good, long time.
Pringle comes to Winston-Salem from Augusta, Ga., where she’s been the superintendent of the 31,000-student Richmond County School System since 2014. Before that, she held educational posts that included principal, assistant principal and, at the beginning of her educational career, math teacher. She has worked in Georgia, Virginia Beach and Danville, Va.
She was probably just circling until she found an opening in the City of Arts and Innovation.
But she also has more personal ties here: Her daughter graduated from Wake Forest University.
Pringle has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and business management, a master’s degree in secondary school administration and a doctorate in educational leadership. Her husband, Lt. Col. Ronald D. Hairston, is the deputy chief of the Danville Police Department.
Pringle starts on Sept. 3 and will be the first African American to head the local school system in a non-interim capacity.
“I understand the work to be done and I look forward to working on behalf of children in the community relative to our efforts in equity, our inclusiveness,” she said at the meeting to announce her hiring on Wednesday. She also wants to focus on literacy, she said.
These are all the things we needed to hear to know that she understands the challenges ahead of her.
They include challenges that we might not have imagined even 10 years ago. Our students face a swiftly changing world in which a solid education, grounded firmly in literacy and technological savvy, will be necessary for success. Students from lower-income families face an achievement gap from the lack of access to the resources available to their higher-advantaged peers. Many face daily food insecurity and, unfortunately, threats to their physical safety. All the social ills that currently exist in our community, including substance abuse and racism, will be found in our schools.
A particular challenge in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County is the third-grade reading scores that have stubbornly resisted our community’s best efforts to improve. The percentage of students who scored at or above their grade-level proficiency was at 52.7% last year, below the state average of 58.8% — which is far below what we need to see.
We’ve also not quite reached the 90% graduation rate for which we’ve pushed.
Along with these challenges, Pringle will also have to deal with a malfunctioning state legislature that often seems to assume an adversarial role, preferring tax cuts for corporations to investing in education, even while touting a successful economy.
Fortunately, Pringle will also have many local resources on which to draw. They include grants and volunteers from community partners that realize the necessity of a strong education for all students. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Project Impact, the United Way of Forsyth County and Bookmarks are just a few of these. They include a dedicated faculty and staff that want nothing more than to see their students succeed. They include a school board that is aware of and serious about the challenges ahead of them.
And don’t hesitate to call us here at the Journal, Ms. Pringle. We’ll help if we can.