Northampton Public Schools Appoints New Superintendent

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New Superintendent Jaime Cole

By Stefanie Jackson – The new superintendent of Northampton County Public Schools will be Jaime Cole, who has served as associate superintendent for the last year.

“I am pleased to be selected and to also work as a team with all the school leaders, the board members, the community, the parents,” Cole said upon signing her contract during a special school board meeting June 9.

Vice Chair Liz Jones had made the motion to hire Cole, which passed in a 3-1 vote, with school board member William Oakley opposed due to his disagreement with the terms of the superintendent’s contract.

Cole’s term will begin July 1, and she will replace Superintendent Eddie Lawrence, who is retiring after eight years in the position and more than 40 years in education.

She has expressed a desire to seek more community involvement in Northampton’s public schools and is prepared to take the necessary steps to allow community members, such as retired teachers and others, to volunteer in the schools.

Cole also believes in teamwork and identifying employees’ abilities and placing them where they can provide the most benefit.

She described an experience she had as an administrator in which a teacher who had struggled for years with middle school students was transferred to her school. Cole was basically told to force the teacher into retirement. 

But instead Cole assigned the teacher a first grade class, and the teacher excelled.

“You have to use people’s strength and place them where they’re going to be successful,” Cole said.

She grew up in a military family who moved all around the country for her father’s work. Before moving to the Eastern Shore, Cole spent 21 years in Arizona, where she received all her previous professional experience in education.

She has been in the roles of teacher, special education teacher, assistant principal, principal, instructional coach, and superintendent, a position she held for five years.

All of Cole’s previous experience as an educator was in northern Arizona on Native American reservations.

Cole did not apply for her current position of Northampton schools associate superintendent but was recruited by human resources director Melinda Phillips while Cole was working on her dissertation on high school dropout rates for Native American and Hispanic students. Cole will soon receive her doctorate degree.

Her previous experience prepared her to work with diverse student populations as found in Northampton County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Northampton’s population was approximately 56% White, 32% Black, and 9% Hispanic as of 2020. A small percentage of residents were multiracial, Asian, or American Indian.

Cole’s year as Northampton schools’ associate superintendent was the school year in which many students returned to the classroom with learning losses due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning, which was ineffective for some learners.

To address those learning losses, Cole has largely spent the last year overhauling the school division’s curriculum map and pacing guides “so everyone’s on the same page.”

“I feel like that’s a huge accomplishment this year,” Cole said. 

Next year, as superintendent, she plans to work on parent engagement and “keeping the focus on the kids,” not on politics.

Her aim is to identify the positive aspects of the community and determine how they can benefit students.

“This community has everything. You have so many … people wanting to help. … You don’t find that in a lot of communities, Cole said.

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