The No. 2 man with the state’s largest public-school system is now No. 1 with the fifth largest school system. Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. was formally sworn in as superintendent of Cumberland County Schools last week.
Connelly was named to the position by the county school board back in April, succeeding former superintendent Dr. Frank Till, who resigned in June 2017. Associate Superintendent Tim Kinlaw was the system’s caretaker over the last year and plans to retire. Connelly’s salary is $220,000.
Connelly said he was attracted to Cumberland County because of the success and opportunities in the school system, which he said has a good reputation.
“I think the experience I have had is a good match for what Cumberland was looking for in a leader,” he said. Carrie Sutton, chairwoman of the board of education, said the board is honored, proud and grateful to begin a new journey with Connelly.
Connelly was a military intelligence officer in the 82nd Airborne Division and served in the first Gulf War with a unit stationed in Germany. After his service in the Army, Connelly became a teacher’s assistant and then a teacher in special education classes. He then became an assistant principal and principal before becoming an assistant superintendent and chief of staff for Wake County Public Schools.
He holds a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from East Carolina University.
Connelly is a North Carolina native. He has begun a whirlwind tour of all the county’s schools.
“We’ll be ... out in the community, listening to the citizenry, meeting with schools, visiting all schools,” he said.
He’s also taking time to meet members of the staff of the school system. Connelly is talking to everyone about some strategic goals that he would like the school system to work toward over the next five years.
Cumberland County has 87 schools and enrolls about 50,000 students. It’s one-third the size of Wake County schools.
In his Ph.D. dissertation presented to the faculty of the Department of Educational Leadership at East Carolina University in July 2012, Connelly wrote about partnerships among schools and faithbased organizations. He said in part that “as school system leaders seek to expand partnerships with community and faith-based organizations, it is essential that student achievement be the focus of the partnerships.”
He asserted that such partnerships should focus on mentoring as compared to partnerships that focus on tutoring. He concluded that “to be successful, partnerships among schools and faith-based organizations should focus on student academic and behavioral outcomes.”
He echoed those thoughts in his acceptance speech last April, saying, “Together with the students, parents, teachers, system leaders, community partners and the board, we will establish a strategic plan to attain new levels of excellence for all of the students in the Cumberland County Schools.”
PHOTO: Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr.