On a Roll and Riding High on the Excellence Express
It has been a little over a year since Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin stepped into her role as superintendent of Thomasville City Schools. And if her bright smile and sense of calm are any indication, she’s found a home right here in the heart of Bulldog Country and is dead set on continuing her pursuit of greatness for both students and her staff.
“I was sharing with someone just the other day about what an incredible year it has been and the supportive nature of this community,” said Pitre-Martin. “We are very fortunate to have a school system that is heavily supported by our City Council, our Mayor, the citizens of Thomasville, the Finch Foundation and more. You don’t find a lot of city school districts that have as much support from the community as we do. We feel honored to have that support each and every day to help us continue to do our work.”
According to Pitre-Martin, the last 12 months have been about looking forward and back at some of the past systems TCS had in place, examining what worked well — and what did not — and brainstorming ways to make them better.
“I found outstanding staff working here when I arrived,” she said. “I tried to bring some of the processes and procedures I have witnessed in the past that have worked really well in other districts that I have been in or at the state level and share some of those with staff to see if we could do some things in a way that could move the district forward.”
On the Right Track
Pitre-Martin feels there has been positive growth within the school system since she arrived; however, real confirmation will not come until North Carolina Board of Education unveils its accountability report at a board meeting to be held this month.
“We will do a formal announcement of what those results look like as far as graduation rate, end-of-grade and end-of-course tests,” Pitre-Martin said. “But we know just based on looking at the initial set of data we have seen some growth in some areas.”
With her extensive background in teaching and “boots on the ground” experience working as an assistant superintendent in Philadelphia's challenging inner-city school system, Pitre-Martin said her entire career has been built on focusing on the positive first — including Thomasville with its continued financial struggles and lagging economy.
“Our facilities are top notch,” she said. “If anyone were to walk into our schools, they would never know that many of our children come from homes of extreme poverty because we try to keep our facilities well maintained so that when students walk into a building it is clean, safe and organized. The aesthetic is beautiful and bright. There’s fresh paint on the walls and the floors are polished. They don't see graffiti or trash on or around any of our buildings. They feel good from the onset and that makes tremendous difference in the way children and staff respond to their environment.”
Full Steam Ahead
In addition to bragging on her impressive staff and curb appeal of the district’s schools, Pitre-Martin is most proud of the TCS student body as a whole — no matter their age or grade.
“When I walk into any of our schools, I see kids smiling and having fun learning. They are polite and courteous,” she said. “With all these positive things in place, our school system is in a good place for forward movement and continued growth. Because we have all the key parts in place such excellent facilities, and dedicated staff and incredibly smart students, in addition to managing our finances beautifully throughout the years, the next step is to really dig into content and provide our teachers with the support they need to be able to teach that at the highest level.”