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Deborah Hoffman Named OCS Principal of the Year

Deborah Hoffman is congratulated by staff and students

Deborah Hoffman, of Jacksonville Commons Elementary School, has been named the 2019-2020 OCS Wells Fargo Principal of the Year by Onslow County Schools.  

When Hoffman walked into the JCE multipurpose room the morning of October 9, she was greeted by cheering staff, students and district administrators, who had organized a surprise announcement and celebration for the occasion. Hoffman was treated to kind words from her staff and Dr. CJ Korenek, OCS chief of human resources, two songs from the JCE chorus, and a parade around the school, where she received countless hugs from her students.  

Mrs. Hoffman has been an administrator in Onslow County for nine years and has spent the last four as principal of JCE, where her staff say she has created an all-new culture for the school.  

Donna Chadwick, assistant principal at JCE, said that Mrs. Hoffman has encouraged her staff to grow as educators and pushes students to achieve success through the AVID program. Part of Mrs. Hoffman’s support for students, Chadwick said, includes building relationships with families and providing resources for the large percentage of JCE students who experience poverty.  

“Mrs. Hoffman keeps a pantry that is well-stocked with non-perishable foods as well as clothing for students in need,” Chadwick said. “Teachers are expected to develop relationships with not only the students, but their families.” 

Students hug Deborah Hoffman to congratulate her on being named Principal of the Year

This support for families and a clear vision for how to improve student performance came together perfectly following Hurricane Florence, according to JCE 3rd grade teacher Katrina Thompson.  

“As a testament to her inspiring leadership,” Thompson said, “last year we had over 100 students who were homeless due to Hurricane Florence – more than 1/6 of our student population. We missed six weeks of school and still managed to meet expected growth for the year, even with a devastating hurricane.” 

Deborah Hoffman poses with OCS Executive staff, Board members and district leadership

In his nomination letter, Executive Director of Elementary Education Dr. Mark Bulris said that Mrs. Hoffman has worked to build a high-performing and family-like culture within her school.  

“The importance of community and family atmosphere is regularly on display by Mrs. Hoffman, whether it is in baking treats for the staff, organizing recognition events, or celebrating staff successes.” 

A committee comprised of a community member, district instructional staff members, last year’s principal of the year and last year’s teacher of the year interviewed and observed finalists before making a selection. 

Next, Mrs. Hoffman will go on to compete at the regional level.