Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, NC
Transitioning from leading the 65,000 student Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada to serving as superintendent of 140,000-student district Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, Heath Morrison is even more dedicated than ever to improving public education and the lives of children every day. As he takes the helm of the second-largest school district in North Carolina, Morrison says, “Your work is never going to be done, but now it’s time to do work that serves more kids.”
Morrison arrived in Washoe County in 2009, and soon established a plan to get “Every Child, by Name and Face, to Graduation.” Among other things, the plan seeks to empower educators with data that helps them determine how to meet individual student needs and focuses on getting funds to the neediest students. Despite a weak economy, the district is seeing results.
Between 2009 and 2011, the district’s graduation rate jumped from 56 percent to 70 percent with increases in every student subgroup. Under Morrison’s leadership, Washoe County also achieved significant test score gains and narrowed the achievement gap in many subject areas.
Engaging Teachers, Parents and Principals
While developing his district-wide plan in Washoe County, Morrison actively engaged teachers, parents, and principals, as well as community business leaders and school volunteers. Morrison involved parents through a new Parent University. “Many of us parents consider [Morrison] the best thing to ever happen to our district,” says Tami Berg, a PTA leader who says she’s been consulted several times by the superintendent about district initiatives.
Middle School Principal Ken Cervantes Jr. adds, “He cuts through the smoke and mirrors and forces conversation back to important data points, such as high school graduation, AYP and the targets in the strategic plan.”
His Own Teachers Made the Difference
Morrison is driven by his personal struggles as a young teenager. He spent much of middle school in remedial classes and frequently misbehaved. “I was on the path to being a dropout,” he admits, “had it not been for two amazing teachers who got me back on track. … I know what it feels like to be marginalized and be told you’re not smart, so you act up.”
2012 National Superintendent of the Year
On February 16, 2012, Morrison was named 2012 National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators. Celebrating its 25th year, the National Superintendent of the Year program highlights the contributions and leadership of public school superintendents.
Began his career as a teacher and principal
Director of School Performance & Community Superintendent, Montgomery County, Maryland
Superintendent, Washoe County School District, Reno, Nevada
Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, N.C.
Serves more than 141,000 students in 159 schools
20th largest school district in the U.S.; second largest in North Carolina
Students represent 160 different countries, cultural & ethnic backgrounds
Employs 18,000 teachers, support staff and administrators