Office of Superintendent Dr. Jerry L. Oates


    With over 23 years in education, Dr. Jerry L. Oates has served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and senior educational executive.  His teaching career began in Duplin County at James Kenan High School where he taught social studies.


    After returning to Wilmington, NC, he served as a social studies teacher at John T. Hoggard High School.  Dr. Oates began his administrative career as an assistant principal at New Hanover High School.  At the time, at age 26, he was the youngest administrator in the district.  He has served as principal of Lakeside High School, the former alternative school in Wilmington, North Carolina.  He went on to become the founding principal of the Mary S. Mosley Performance Learning Center and the principal of Williston Middle School.


    A proven leader, he was recognized as the 2015-2016 New Hanover County Schools’ Principal of the Year while serving at Williston, and in 2015 Dr. Oates joined Brunswick County Schools in a senior leadership position in as Executive Director of Human Resources.  In October of 2017, he was named the Associate Superintendent of Brunswick County Schools. 


    A native of Faison, North Carolina, Dr. Oates earned both his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and attended Fayetteville State University where he earned his Doctorate in educational leadership.  He is a proud husband and father of three children.

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  • The Superintendent's Report: 21st Century Learning

    Posted by Daniel Seamans on 10/24/2019 12:00:00 PM

    Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools


    Superintendent's Report


              John Gardner, a noted scholar, public servant and leader once noted in his book, No Easy Victories, “ I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back on education as it is practiced in most schools today and we would wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive—in the end it is the love of learning, curiosity, self-discipline, the capacity to think clearly that will define the key to a good education.” His comments are so true and appropriate for today’s society.


              If one thinks just about the area of technology and its impact on society it is apparent that it was not part of the strategic thinking of schools twenty or ten years ago. In the past fifteen years, just in the area of technology we have seen great strides made that have affected our daily lives. Holography, fiber optics, flash drives, satellite to roof top communications, have all changed the way we gather and process information. Tablets and the ubiquitous cell phone have become handheld computers that enable us to talk, read our email, send and receive text messages, remind us of our daily schedules, provide us music and directions to unknown locations among a plethora of other things. This is an impressive list of innovations, and not only have they impacted our personal lives, they have impacted our schools. Yet, for the most part, the classrooms across our nation are just as they were in the 1950s—replete with desks in a row with a teacher in front of the classroom with a textbook as the primary form of learning.


              It is an interesting paradox to live in such a technologically driven society but have a primitive expectation of learning in schools across our society. I am proud to say that in our school system, we have worked hard to ensure that our students continue to stay abreast of technological advances and use these advances to enhance their learning. Our students come to us typically as digital or technological “natives”. Our students have always lived in a world where cell phones, tablets, and Google searches existed. Therefore, when they come to school their learning should not be slowed down by the lack of technological resources they are accustomed to using at home. To this end, our Instructional Technology Department led by Acacia Dixon and our Technology Services Department, led by Debra Bair have worked together to provide every student with devices to be used in conjunction with teacher-prepared lessons so that they have a 21st Century learning experience. Through careful planning, purchasing, and allocation, we will reach our goal of one device for every BCS student during the 2019-2020 school year.  As we move forward our focus will be on maximizing these devices to prepare our students for career, college, and beyond.


              So what should a school system do to bring societal advances that dictate new skills that students must master and render obsolete those things of the past. First of all, the school system should begin by asking the following questions:


    1. What will be the resource issues in five to ten years?
    2. How will these resources be allocated?
    3. How will the county, state, and federal resources be distributed?
    4. What will people need to know in the future?
    5. How will learning be different in the future?
    6. What will the technology of the future be like?
    7. What other unknown forces will impact our lives?
    8. What do our current customers think about our schools?


    Answers to these and other questions, will enable decision makers to better plans for the future.   The Brunswick County Board of Education, being very much aware of the need to bring the school system in line with emerging and future learning needs of the children and youth of the county, and the reality of today’s world of work demands, have begun the process of strategically planning for the future educational direction of the system which will enable us to address these and other questions so essential for future resource allocations.


              In June, 2019 a five year strategic plan was adopted by the Board of Education to meet this and other society challenges impacting the school district.  Future columns will focus on other facets of the strategic plan.



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  • The Superintendent's Report: Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

    Posted by Daniel Seamans on 10/10/2019 12:30:00 PM

    Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools


    Superintendent's Report logo


    Many things make Brunswick County a great place to reside. Whether you enjoy the beautiful coastline and beaches, the professionally manicured golf courses, the serene countryside or the ever increasing planned communities, Brunswick County has something for everyone. However, what ultimately makes Brunswick County a wonderful place to live is its citizens.


    As evidenced during Hurricane Dorian, the people of this county genuinely are about each other. During the hurricane, I had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most selfless people I have ever met. We worked collaboratively to ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens of Brunswick County. We worked as a team to determine the needs of our county. We worked as a team to determine the best time to close our schools and open shelters. We worked as a team to determine what supplies were required in different areas of the county. We participated in conference calls with leaders of each municipality to assess needs and provide support. While many of the people in the room carry distinguished titles, egos were left elsewhere. Overcoming yet another hurricane became our purpose.


    The best quality of the people in Brunswick County is that it doesn’t take a natural event to have to prompt collaboration. I have found that this is the “Brunswick County Way”. We care for each other and demonstrate it by putting the needs of others above our own. Each person gathered at the Emergency Operations Center during this and previous storms, all have families and property they are concerned about. Despite these fears, they bravely rescue and transport citizens with special needs, field continuous calls, patrol our highways to assist stranded motorists, and make sure our utility systems are in working order. I would like to personally thank the following Brunswick County and NC agencies that continue to be true partners with Brunswick County Schools: Health and Human Services, Sheriff’s Office, Environmental Health, EMS, Social Services, Utilities services, Fire and Rescue, Marine Patrol, and NC State Highway Patrol. Their work behind the scenes not only during major times of distress--but every day--is what makes this county one of the best places to live and work!


    As your superintendent, I have the privilege of leading a school system of 12,500 students in 19 (soon to be 20!) schools. I truly enjoy this experience.Yet, this position is simply one of service to not only the students of Brunswick County, but to all of its citizens. Each of the leaders I had the opportunity to work with demonstrated the true essence of servant leadership. We should be proud of the service they provide to all of us. I am truly proud to call Brunswick County home!


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  • The Superintendent's Report: The Importance of Character

    Posted by Daniel Seamans on 9/27/2019 10:00:00 AM


    Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools 


     The Superintendent's Report

    One skill that is needed for success in school and life is character.  It is the one, non-monetary/non-material gift that a parent/guardian can give a child. It is not a gift they will grow bored with and toss into a pile.  It provides a foundation for their success.  Good character and integrity are prevention tools for self-discipline and controlling anger.


    Being a good, conscientious citizen is so important for the type of world we live in today.  And, with all the turmoil and violence in today's world, it is even more important that parents/guardians go the extra mile to help their child develop the characteristics for good citizenship at home and at school.


    To teach your child to be respectful and courteous to others, it begins with you. You can begin by modeling for your child by being consistent in saying to your child “please” and “thank you”.   The use of these three simple words will go a long way in helping your child to use these words when in conversation with others.


    Another behavior that parents can demonstrate to teach their child to be respectful and courteous to others is to not interrupt. When you interrupt someone in the middle of a sentence or change the television channel without asking, then a child learns that it is okay to interrupt. If you can teach your child not to interrupt others, you will have given them a gift of developing the habit of being respectful of others that will last a lifetime.


    Developing responsibility is another major element in building good character and citizenship. You can also model this important habit in a variety of ways. One is to give your child chores to do at home. These chores might be daily or weekly. Make sure they are reasonable and age appropriate. When they demonstrate initiative over and beyond those chores by doing others that were not assigned, reward them with positive praise. This will reinforce your child’s initiative and help them learn that being responsible brings intrinsic rewards.


    Another important way is to teach your child responsibility is to offer him or her choices. Talk about the pros and cons of each choice. In time, he or she will learn to make wise choices on a consistent basis.


    Lastly, when you make a mistake admit it. This will teach your child that it is okay to make an honest mistake and that one should admit it when they do. This teaches them to be responsible for their actions and to be honest about them with themselves and others.


    Respect and courtesy, responsibility and self-discipline are learned behaviors. They are learned from adults. Parents are a child’s first teacher. Regardless of how old your child is, he or she will learn these characteristics by observing you and other adults.


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  • The Superintendent's Report: I Fired Ben Doing

    Posted by Daniel Seamans on 9/9/2019 9:00:00 AM

    Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools


    I Fired Ben Doing bracelet





    It has been said that we are creatures of habit. Typically, we go through the same routine to get ready for work, take the same route, and oftentimes, we do the same things everyday. There is really nothing wrong with that. It’s comfortable, easy, and familiar.  However, when we think about what we do each day as it relates to our students, we have to be able to think “out of the box”. However, we never really think about why we are in that box in the first place.


    In our recently held administrators’ retreat, I challenged our principals, assistant principals, directors, supervisors and senior leadership to strive for continuous improvement. As mentioned earlier, thinking out of the box has been a buzzword for some time, but it is my belief that we have been “confined to the box” because we continually do what we have been doing. In an attempt to have others join this belief, I introduced “Ben Doing” as an employee that we should rid ourselves of. Ben Doing is comfortable, easy to get along with and always there when you need him. We also call for him when we are making decisions. I am sure at some point when making a decision you have asked, “What have we been (Ben) doing ”?


    It is so easy to look for Ben Doing instead of looking for ways to be creative or innovative. I will be the first to admit that I have relied on Ben for a while. However, I have decided as a leader that while what we have been doing may not necessarily be bad, it can be better. There is always room for improvement. That is what the #IFiredBenDoing movement is about. It is not just for us a school system, but it is for anyone who wants to depart from our comfort zones. I have decided to fire Ben Doing because our students deserve the best creative and innovative educational experience we can offer.


    I now challenge you, the wonderful citizens of Brunswick County, to Fire Ben Doing!


    I Fired Ben Doing bracelet

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  • The Superintendent's Report: "Take My Child by The Hand"

    Posted by Daniel Seamans on 8/23/2019

    Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools


    Soon the first day of school will begin. For those entering kindergarten, it is typically a traumatic time of anticipation, anxiety, apprehension for both the child and his or her parents. This week I wish to share a poem with readers that underscores what many feel on this special day. Although the authorship of the poem has been debated, it has been attributed to President Abraham Lincoln.


    “Take My Child by The Hand”

    My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. It is an adventure that might take him across continents. All adventures that probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live this life will require faith, love and courage.


    So dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know, teaching him – but gently, if you can. Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend. He will have to know that all men are not just, that all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero, that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader.


    Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win.


    Teach him to be gentle with people, tough with tough people. Steer him away from envy if you can and teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Teach him if you can – how to laugh when he is sad, teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success. Teach him to scoff at cynics.  


    Teach him if you can the wonders of books, but also give time to ponder the extreme mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.


    Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to everyone, but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.


    Teach him to sell his talents and brains to the highest bidder but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patient to be brave. Teach him to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind, in God.

    This is the order, teacher but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy and he is my son.


              This message sets forth high standards for not only kindergarten teachers but all of us in the Brunswick County Schools who have the privilege of serving each family and citizen. Be assured that each day of this school year, as a team—teachers, administrators and board members, we will diligently strive to make sure every child becomes a well-educated, employable and socially responsible citizen.


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  • The Superintendent's Report: Unsung Heroes and Heroines

    Posted by Daniel Seamans on 8/15/2019

    Dr. Jerry L. Oates, Superintendent of Schools


    For most citizens, teachers and principals are the face of the school system. They are ones most people see at school. Yet, there is a strong and committed workforce behind the scenes that make everything come together. They are what I call the unsung heroes and heroines of the support team at each school.


              You might be interested to know that there are 704 of them in Brunswick County! They include the following teams, each of whom are critical to the successful operation of school each day:

    • Custodial Team
    • Maintenance Team
    • Office Support Team of Administrative Assistants, Treasurers, Receptionists and Data Managers
    • Teacher Assistant Teams
    • Child Nutrition Team
    • Transportation Teams
    • Central Services Team

    Each of these teams is essential to school and the school system’s daily activities and are the backbone of making sure that our teachers and principals might effectively teach and administer the school. Think about the importance of each of these teams.


    Custodial teams ensure that clean, safe classrooms and buildings are available each day for students so that teachers might have an environment conducive to optimal learning. These team members begin work early and stay late daily to make a positive difference in the appearance of each classroom and the physical appearance of the school.


    Maintenance teams function literally 24-7 to take care of preventive maintenance and emergencies that occur both day and night. This team deals with a variety of mechanical and operational issues that few are aware. These include working on weekends when heat goes out in the winter to repairing a leak that might have occurred due to a plumbing issue.


    The transportation team is at work long before the day begins for many citizens. Bus drivers are up before dawn preparing buses for the route run before picking up students. Transportation workers deliver gas to buses, repair engines, replace dead batteries and conduct annual inspections to maintain the safe delivery of your students to and from school daily.


    The office support team maintains a positive demeanor in the face of a myriad of duties and responsibilities heaped on them by others. From answering the phone in a positive manner, to greeting visitors with a smile, to dealing with paperwork and reports that must be submitted in a timely manner to meet regulatory compliance requirements. These include, but are not limited to: attendance reporting and monitoring, data input on a variety of technological devices, preparing payroll, ensuring proper internal control to mitigate audit exceptions and similar duties, each one critical to the efficient and effective operation of the school system.


    Teacher Assistants extend the time for teachers to engage students in meaningful classroom activities. The perform a wide range of duties from securing materials needed for a particular learning experience, to monitoring children in the hallway, working with students who need extra help on a learning activity and helping students who are handicapped or disabled. In addition, many of our teacher assistants serve as bus drivers! All of these functions and more provide critical assistance to our teachers in their quest to make a positive difference in each child’s life.


              The Child Nutrition Team, as you are well aware, provides healthy meals for students. This team also begins work early each day to ensure that breakfast is available to all. Their task continues until mid- afternoon. Meals must meet certain nutrition guidelines and presented in an attractive manner in order that food not be wasted. What you might not know is that it is the largest “restaurant” operation in our county and serves two meals each day school is in session.


              Lastly, the Central Services Team, like those described above, go the extra mile 24-7 to provide infrastructure support essential for the cost efficient and effective operation of the school system. Through coordination of all district activities this team, like others, is a tireless work horse for all school district employees. Each team member diligently strives to serve others with integrity and seriousness of purpose. From finance, instructional technology, human resources, curriculum and instruction to athletics, arts, special education and student support, it takes all of us to ensure that each child is provided the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.


              The unsung heroes and heroines described in these teams truly make it possible for your child’s teachers to operate with minimum interruptions so as to maximize the learning process. I know you join me in thanking them for all they do for each of us behind the scenes on a daily basis.


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  • Jerry Oates

    Jerry L. Oates, Ed.D.

    Superintendent of Brunswick County Schools

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