CHARLOTTE – Earnest Winston spent his first day of the 2019-20 school year greeting bus drivers, visiting classrooms and answering questions from the local media.
Winston has worked at CMS for 15 years, but this was his first time experiencing a first day as superintendent.
“We talk in education a lot about what fills your bucket,” he said. “What fills my bucket the most is interacting with students.”
He visited a half-dozen schools, including the new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Academy, Joseph W. Grier Academy, Mallard Creek High, Vance High and Metro School. During his visits, he saw some relationship-building between staff and students, but he was most impressed to see children engaged and learning.
Winston said the first day didn’t come without challenges, however.
A faulty fire alarm caused an evacuation at Parkside Elementary School, while the student information system ran slower than normal at many schools due to recent upgrades.
A motorcycle ran into the back of a school bus that morning on Albemarle Road. The bus driver and three students on board were OK, he said.
Winston was hesitant to give the first day a letter grade during a 5 p.m. press conference, noting that buses were still on the road dropping off students. He anticipated students would arrive back by 6 p.m.
Winston urged parents to be patient as drivers get acclimated to the routes.
The district is still trying to fill vacancies for teachers and bus drivers, but Winston noted CMS had a teacher in every classroom. He reported 73 teacher vacancies and 39 bus driver vacancies.
“While today went very smoothly, we want to make sure tomorrow goes even better,” Winston said. “That’s our goal – continuous improvement. We want to make sure every school is focused on teaching and learning and that quality instruction is happening at every school.”