GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Dr. Ethan Lenker, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools, was named the Northeast Regional Education Services Alliance (NERESA) Superintendent-of-the-Year for 2021-2022. The annual honor marks Dr. Lenker's third during his leadership tenure at PCS and fourth overall in the state of North Carolina.
He was unanimously selected by fellow superintendents from 17 school districts in the region and is now one of eight honorees who will be a candidate for State Superintendent-of-the-Year accolades in November.
Since his appointment as Superintendent at Pitt County Schools in 2013, Dr. Lenker has implemented many programs and initiatives with a particular focus on personalizing the educational experience for every child. Highlighting the district's new programs under his leadership are:
- The creation of a model Advanced Teaching Roles program ...
- The initiation of two Early College High Schools - one at Pitt Community College and one at East Carolina (which produced its first graduating class in 2022) ...
- The development of numerous STEM labs throughout the district’s schools, including two North Carolina STEM Schools of Distinction ...
- The placement of the AVID program in 20 schools ...
- The development of the Pitt County Virtual Academy ...
- The creation of three language immersion programs, a technical academy and seven thematic schools.
As a point to his belief that every student should be able to find a pathway that presents him or her the best possible chance for success, Pitt County Schools achieved a graduation rate of 86.7% for the 2021 academic year. Additionally, PCS has been the recipient of numerous federal grants and several schools have received state and national awards through his efforts.
"It is always an extra special honor to be nominated by your peers," Dr. Lenker said. "Recognition like this is truly about teamwork. I have always been blessed to have a Board that has always pushed to create additional opportunities for students, but has also held us accountable.
"This is a true reflection of the quality of principals, teachers and the entire support staff that keeps Pitt County Schools moving forward. Lastly, the trust and value I have in our senior leadership team is second to none."
In regards to the NERESA, Dr. Lenker has served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Superintendents’ Council, as well as serving on a variety of committees. He was instrumental in developing a Classified Employee Salary Study for the NERESA to address inequities in pay structures throughout the northeast region and has been a key figure in the cultivation and growth of the NERESA Fall Leadership Conference by securing keynote speakers and conference sponsors.
Perhaps more importantly, Dr. Lenker provides a wealth of experience and sage counsel to new district leaders in the northeast, a region that has seen much turnover within the superintendent ranks - particularly in the past 2-3 years.
"These accolades, along with his longevity as a successful superintendent, demonstrate the impact Dr. Lenker has throughout the northeast as well as the state and are a testament to his commitment to education and student success both within Pitt County as well as across North Carolina," said Dr. Chris Mansfield, Executive Director of the Northeast Regional Education Service Alliance. "He is well known throughout Pitt County as a good listener and communicator. He spends much time in schools and classrooms monitoring the impact of the district’s work on students and staff, while also remaining in touch with the community and understanding the needs of a fast-growing and quickly-changing population."
Prior to his tenure with Pitt County Schools, Dr. Lenker served as superintendent in Sampson and Jones Counties. With 17 years of experience in this role, he is one of the longest serving superintendents in North Carolina which provides a unique perspective on the challenges and rewards of the job.
In addition to his 2022 honor, Dr. Lenker has also been recognized with the following awards:
- 2012 North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) Southeast Superintendent of the Year
- 2017 North Carolina School Superintendents Association Dr. Brad Sneeden Leadership Award
- 2017 Central Carolina Regional Education Services Alliance (CCRESA) Superintendent of the Year
- 2018 Northeast Regional Education Services Alliance (NERESA) Superintendent of the Year