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2021-22 DCS Staff of the Year

2021-22 Duplin County Schools Staff of the Year


At the September 7, 2021 Duplin County Board of Education meeting, the Duplin County Education Foundation recognized the 2021-22 Duplin County Schools Staff of the Year. President Kelly Kornegay and Morgan Swinson presented the honorees with a plaque and monetary award. Mrs. Kornegay stated, “We would like to extend our gratitude to the Board of Education, all principals, all assistant principals, teachers and support staff that you continue to serve our students and our families despite the challenges you face. Congratulations to our winners and all of our school level representatives.”

Mr. Scott Ballard, principal of East Duplin High School, was selected as the 2021-22 Principal of the Year. Mr. Ballard has served as the leader of his alma mater since 2008. Prior to this, he served as an assistant principal for five years at East Duplin and James Kenan and taught math at Charity Middle School and James Kenan for nine years. His wife Debbie Ballard teaches at Beulaville Elementary School and they have two children, Gavin, who is in the 9th grade at East Duplin, and Ashton, who is doing her student teaching at Chinquapin Elementary. In the little spare time in the life of a high school principal, Mr. Ballard enjoys working on home projects with his family. 

Mr. Ballard shared, "It's always an honor to be recognized for the efforts that you put into your work.  The truth is, I could never accomplish anything without the guidance and support of my administrative team and the many, many teacher-leaders that we have at our school."

Mr. Ballard will go on to compete in the Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Program at the regional level through a rigorous portfolio and interview process. Eight regional finalists will then be selected to vie for the state honor.

Mr. Jeremy Perkins, assistant principal at Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary School, was selected as the 2021-22 Assistant Principal of the Year. Mr. Perkins is a product of our school system as well. He attended Rose-Hill Magnolia, Charity Middle School, and Wallace-Rose Hill. Upon graduation from Methodist University, he returned home to teach Physical Education at WRH and RHM for 8 years before entering the administrative ranks. This is his sixth year in leadership; his fifth at Rose Hill-Magnolia. Outside of school, Mr. Perkins enjoys anything that involves his mini-me, 4 year-old son Jack.

When asked about this recognition, Perkins said, “This is an amazing honor. However, I would not be in the position to receive this award without my family, past and present colleagues, and a wonderful school community.”

Rose Hill-Magnolia principal, Robbin Cooper states, “Mr. Perkins is an outstanding assistant principal who actively collaborates with school and community members. He is consistent, reliable, honest, trustworthy, and loves Rose Hill-Magnolia and the community. I am excited to see just how he SOARS toward greatness. I am grateful to have him in EAGLE land.”  

Mrs. Brittany Knowles, National Board Certified English teacher at Wallace-Rose Hill High School, was selected as the 2021-22 Teacher of the Year. Another product of our school system, Mrs. Knowles credits her own teachers as the inspiration for choosing what she describes as much more than a profession, but a calling. She taught at Chinquapin Elementary for 7 years and a short stint at WRH before moving into district and administrative roles in Human Resources, Chinquapin Elementary and Wallace Elementary. After four years, she missed the classroom and working directly with students where she feels she has the most impact. Mrs. Knowles states, “Teachers are able to experience the influence we have with a student on a daily basis. I pride myself on truly getting to know each and every one of my students. Building relationships is key to being an effective teacher and planning authentic learning activities that accommodate their unique, individualized learning styles and needs. The expectations I have for my students are high, but they are achievable. I am my students’ biggest cheerleader and their success equals my success!”

Mr. Tim Jenkins, principal at Wallace Rose-Hill, describes Mrs. Knowles as “a hard-working self-starter who invariably understands what motivates kids…resourceful, creative, solution-oriented…eager, always willing to learn/discover new things and strives to make her best better.”

Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Knowles and her husband David are raising a future bulldog, their son Fin who is currently 4 years old.  From spending time at the beach to traveling to new places, Mrs. Knowles finds joy in experiencing life through the lens of a young child.  She is very family-oriented and credits her family for always supporting her and motivating her to dream big

Mrs. Knowles will now participate in the Regional Teacher of the Year process, where the winner will be announced in January and the State Teacher of the Year to be announced in April.

Mrs. Breeana Kennedy, School Counselor at East Duplin High School, was selected as the 2021-22 Support Staff of the Year. Another Panther serving at her alma mater, Mrs. Kennedy has been at the school since 2015. As an elementary student teacher, Mrs. Kennedy quickly became burdened by what she described as “the glaring needs of students that had absolutely nothing to do with learning. I knew if I had a hard time ignoring these needs and focusing on teaching, surely the students found it difficult to ignore these needs and focus on learning. I believe it was divine motivation to further my education so that I could be in a role solely intended for student support.” Before going home to East Duplin, Mrs. Kennedy supported younger students at Rose Hill Magnolia and Wallace Elementary. While the needs at various levels may be different, the goals are the same – filling gaps, being a consistent presence, encouraging and advocating for all students.

Mrs. Kennedy’s passion for people in need is not contained within the school building. From fundraising for causes close to her heart to gathering and delivering donations for various reasons and organizations to the hands-on dirty work of cleaning out houses after Hurricane Florence, she and her family (husband Steven, 8 year-old daughter Braylei and 4 year-old son Brandt) are living out what she teaches students about good citizenship and helping others.

Her principal, Mr. Scott Ballard calls this district level recognition, “an honor unparalleled in our profession.” He also states that “Mrs. Kennedy is well known as one who is characterized by her friendly, likable personality. She is one adult that young people feel they can trust. She handles student problems with confidence and sensitivity and communicates equally well with parents and fellow staff members.”

Congratulations to these fine educators and thank you for all you do for the students of our district! 

Click here for photos. 


2021-22 Teachers of the Year for each school are:

BES – Ashie Stanley

BFG – Chelsey Smith

CES – Ann Albertson

DECHS – Dwight Holland

DCS Center of Opportunity – Kristen Diehl

EDHS – Emily Sandlin

JKHS – Laura Fonvielle

KES – Margaret Coman

NDE – Becky Kerns

NDJS – Carlos Sosa

RHM – Tim Mateer

WALE – Vickie Wade

WARE – Nicole Williams

WRH – Brittany Knowles


2021-22 Support Staff of the Year are:

School Nurse – Sue Ellen Cottle

School Social Worker – Kiandra Bowden

School Counselor – Breeana Kennedy

School Digital Learning and Media Coordinator – Marlene Kilpatrick