The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday April 2nd

Area School Official Nabs Regional Prize

With a clear vision for improving student achievement, Superintendent Neil Pedersen has garnered national recognition for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Now it is his turn to be recognized.

Pedersen has been named the Regional Superintendent of the Year by the Central Carolina Regional Education Service Alliance, which consists of superintendents from Wake, Durham and 12 surrounding counties.

The N.C. Association of School Administrators will review nominees over the next month and name one as N.C. Superintendent of the Year, who will compete for National Superintendent of the Year in Orlando, Fla., in February 2001.

"I am happy to represent the other superintendents in our region who are all very competent and committed to their schools," Pedersen said. "I think the nomination is an honor for our school district because, in a large part, it is a recognition of the level of achievement of our students."

Pedersen has worked as a superintendent for the past 14 years, nine of which have been spent in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.

He said working with the school system for several years has allowed him to develop programs that focus on improving the overall quality of the schools and student academic achievement.

"I think a superintendent has to provide a clear vision and a strong direction for the school district as a whole," he said. "After that, what's most important is to attract and retain highly competent people who are able to carry out their responsibilities in an exemplary fashion."

Lawrence Walker, executive director of regional superintendents, said Pedersen's work to increase the achievement of minority students, among other district accomplishments, made him an excellent choice for the nomination.

Pedersen said his work with minority students has been a driving force throughout his administration.

"(The administration) formed the Blue Ribbon Task Force in 1992 for African-American achievement," he said. "Many people would point to that effort as the dominant focus of the administration.

"Another is the construction of new schools," Pedersen said. "We have built and opened four new schools and will open another one next year, and that comes after 20 years of not building schools."

But Pedersen's role as a leader extends beyond the system, Walker said. Pedersen is also involved in helping other superintendents in the region.

"He's done an outstanding job," Walker said. "He has served on numerous committees and has always been able to provide (the superintendents) with a leadership position."

Kim Hoke, spokeswoman for the school system, said the nomination is largely a reflection of the esteem other superintendents have for Pedersen.

While Pedersen said he is happy to be nominated for N.C. Superintendent of the Year, he said the nomination is an honor for the school district because it is a recognition of student achievement.

"What gives me pleasure is seeing our students being more successful than they have been," Pedersen said. "I feel honored to serve this community as its superintendent. I believe that it is one of the outstanding school districts in the country, and I am happy to be a part of that."

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