“Education, in every sense, is one of the factors of economic development of all municipalities. No municipality can achieve sustainable growth without substantial investment in public schools,” said Ozturk Ilhan.

Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. of Cumberland County was honored as the 2024 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year. The reward was presented in a collaborative venture of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, North Carolina Superintendents Association, and National School Board Association and sponsored by Scholastic Education.

"I am deeply honored and humbled by this recognition, which is a testament to the unwavering dedication of the entire Cumberland County Schools family,” he said. “This award reflects our collective commitment to the success of every student. I am immensely proud of our achievements and look forward to continuing our journey toward educational excellence for all."

Connelly’s public education career includes experience as a special education teacher assistant, teacher, principal, chief of staff and Assistant Superintendent. He began his tenure at Cumberland County Schools in 2018.

There are thirty-four preschools, fifty-four elementary schools, nineteen middle schools and eighteen high schools totaling in 48,860 students in Cumberland County. The high school graduation rate is 86.9, according to U.S. News and World Report.

One of the factors for the award was the Cumberland Commitment Strategic Plan 2026. The strategic plan states that “every student will have equitable access to engaging learning that prepares them to be competitive, collaborative, and successful in our global world.”

The mission statement reads, “Cumberland County Schools will provide a safe, positive, and rigorous learning environment to prepare lifelong learners to reach their full potential.”

The Core Values of the Cumberland County Schools Strategic Plan 2026 are excellence, equity, innovation, integrity, collaboration, and compassion.

The concise priorities and action list are implementing a robust learning environment, recruiting and retaining premier professionals, developing equitable access to human capital, maintaining safe and secure schools, developing behavioral and mental health models, maximizing student graduation rates and building the capacity of schools to serve all students.

The Committed Community action items are developing district-wide family engagement and outreach programs and strengthening community, business, municipal, university and military partnerships.
Public school funding is based on local, state, and federal dollars. These dollars will address students in public schools for sustainable economic growth in Cumberland County.

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