thyroid

Archived Story

Principal realized she couldn’t leave S.P. Morton

Published 2:38pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

FRANKLIN—After word got out about her resignation in mid-July, Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins found out just how valued she is at S.P. Morton Elementary School in Franklin. On Tuesday, the principal sat down with The Tidewater News to talk about her relationship with the school she loves.

Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins
Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins

Rollins said she would not share her reasons for the resignation, except to say that no one demanded or even remotely suggested she leave. The principal said she gave the matter a lot of thought and prayer before informing the staff and also submitting a letter to Franklin Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle on July 16.

“I believed it was the right decision at the time,” Rollins said, adding she already signed her contract at the end of June. The retired Bertie County, N.C., superintendent had started her position last summer.

A few days later, though, the principal rescinded her resignation.

One factor for her staying was the realization there would not be a smooth transition for the staff if she left at month’s end. As a leader, Rollins said, she couldn’t do that to the school personnel.

Staff, parents and community leaders asked her to reconsider and return, she said. Further, there was “a large volume of emails and texts” asking Rollins not to leave. Belle said she was quite pleased about the reversal.

“S.P. Morton is a good school. I’ve grown in a short time to love it,” Rollins said. ‘You just have to be there.”

She also knows the importance of the students starting their day off on the right track. For example, when school’s in session, Rollins is in the lobby each day to greet the children. They’ll line up just to talk to the principal.

“It’s important to them. They just want to tell you something, or touch you or hug you,” said Rollins.

Further, she’s aware that parents want to know when their child is at school, he or she will be safe, looked after and come home fine, if not better.

Recommitted to S.P. Morton, the principal has a lot to which she can look forward.

“This year, as last, the focus will be on academics,” Rollins said, adding she wants to “preserve the integrity of instruction,” which means getting the students to school on time and staying the whole day.

“We have too many tardy students and when they check in at the office, that causes congestion. We also have too many students checked out early out of school, which causes more congestion,” she said.

To help manage this, a receptionist/secretary was hired, and will be stationed in the lobby.

“I had a long list of requests and they, the school board, were gracious to me,” Rollins said about this and other hires.

New this year will be a dean of students, Terrance Saxby, formerly of Hertford County, N.C. One of his roles will be handling discipline.

“S.P. Morton doesn’t have significant disciplinary concerns, but there are a lot of small things,” Rollins said. “The focus is on instruction, and you can get bogged down with disciplinary matters.”

A full-time in-house math specialist has been hired in addition to a second reading specialist. Further, two special education teachers have signed on, so now there’s one for each grade level, K through fifth grade.

A native of Pitt County, N.C., she’s the only person in her family to have gone into the education field. Rollins is the daughter of Emma Harris of Farmville, N.C., and the late James Harris. She has a sister, Jennifer, who is older.

When Rollins came to S.P. Morton in 2012, she already had retired after 30-plus years in education in North Carolina. In addition to having taught special education and art for 13 years, Rollins has served as an assistant principal, principal, Title I director, as well as assistant superintendent and superintendent in small school districts.

  • 1reader

    I am glad she chose to stay. It’s nice to know our principal has faith in our students, even when it seems our community seems to have written them off.

    Suggest Removal

  • simplifyingit

    Mr Geary, at my age being in your late 30s is young and inexperienced.
    Also as you told me how much you “have been in charge of” in those “yankee” states a warmth came over me. I am sure now that you are a know it all yankee. This is the South where yanks aren’t welcome and we certainly don’t want them telling us how ‘backward & wrong” we are.

    the meaning of “calling someone out”is not referring to saying Rollins is a failure but that you are trying to “call me out” by begging me to reveal my identity.

    Speak your small narrow mind all you want…..from the northern states where you belong. You have your opinion and i have mine. A right we all have. Another is to speak our minds on any issue we’d like. I spoke mine and you decided to take issue with me personally and tell me my opinion is wrong and irrelevant because i use a screen name instead of my given? To me thats a real narrow mindedness and poor stance to take. My identity is my business, but know this, i am more informed than you want to believe and i know your credentials. Trailways, Greyhound and Amtrak all still go north….want a free 1-way ticket?

    Suggest Removal

    • sgeary

      I was born and raised in the South, 8 years of formal education in the South. Narrow minded yes I can be, but then as a born again believer in Jesus Chirst, people would call me that anyway. My mother always taught me to listen to what others say about you and own the things that are true good or bad and let the rest roll like water off a ducks back. I can be narrow minded, yes, I come off as a know it all, absolutely. I can own that. What I can let roll is the rest. We can always disagree about our opinions but what we can’t disagree about are the facts. The fact is that I have always tried to use the gifts God has given me to make a difference. I try to not be a part of the problem but a part of the solution. Have I always been sucessful? Absolutely not. I may will fail a million times but I will never give up. I will never let slanderous comments or hateful words ever deter me from the mission I have to use the talents I have been given to make this world a better place. Even Jesus was rejected in his hometown. So know me in whatever way you choose to, say whatever you want to say, be whoever you want to be. Know that I will pray you can take your anger and apparent disgust for me and use it in a positive way. I will take a raincheck on that train or bus pass because I am right where God wants me and until he says move I can’t. But if and when he does it’s good to know I can count on your support to get me where he wants me next!

      Suggest Removal

      • DBenton

        sgeary – Really? This is your reason for being here? Really? And Gail Wade actually hired you???

        You suggest that others here should be willing to sign their name to their comments, but I haven’t seen you do the same. This would seem to me to represent a double standard.

        Are you even playing the game with a full deck?

        David Benton

        Suggest Removal

  • JustWondering

    I am sure she gave her decision thought and prayer and I hope she is praying for this place. You might didn’t see her at Moms and Muffins because she was in the office with your “good kid.” Ha. And the school didn’t have and doesn’t have a luau – that’s another school in the district, so get your facts straight on that one too. It’s a wonder Franklin can ever keep anyone good because of the mess they have to put up with from parents, some staff and the leadership. All the people who have absolutely NO idea what goes on in the course of a day are commenting. I for one (and I know there are lots more) am grateful to Dr. Harris-Rollins for coming to Franklin and for staying at SP Morton. Those of us who work at the school know that we are WAY better off. I am glad the former principal was speaking to you because he didn’t speak to all of the staff and he certainly did not make us feel valued, important, respected, and professional as Dr. Harris-Rollins does. Yes, we have our issues and our scores need to improve. She is helping us improve in EVERY way not just scores but in time they will improve too!

    Suggest Removal

  • junker223

    Ok, first off, I wouldn’t put blame on the SPM teachers, so far my kids have had excellent teachers, with one exception. They try as hard as the city and state allows. The curriculum they have to follow is large, much larger than I was a kid. Also, the teachers are given worksheets that they aren’t able to alter to better fit their students needs, its too general. Not to mention the new methods someone in the educational system has put into place for math and such and kids are expected to do and when they are doing homework I have a hard time helping them because everything is “A New Way” that I have to learn it first, figure it out and then try to help them with homework. I’m sure that lots of kids do not get proper discipline and help from home.

    Second, I am frequently in and out of the school at different times and I do not see either new principles in the hallways. Not even passing out muffins at moms and muffins and I did not see them on orientation/registration day last August 2012 before school began. I only remember 2 or 3 times seeing them all year and if I did pass them those couple times, I don’t get a friendly ‘hello’ and a smile like Mr Spengemen and Miss Francis gave me very often. I have seen Mr Spengemen and Miss Francis in Walmart a couple times and they still knew me and said ‘hello’. My husband doesn’t even know what the new principles look like because we hardly see them and don’t get greeted the same.

    I do not receive school info as often and info given seems to leave me with more questions. I DID NOT RECEIVE ANY INFO REGUARDING THE END OF THE YEAR LUAU! NEVER KNEW THEY WERE HAVING THE LUAU UNTIL MY KIDS CAME HOME FROM SCHOOL THE “DAY OF” THE LUAU! THEY WERE UPSET ABOUT NOT ABLE TO ATTEND AND NONE OF US KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING!!\

    Lastly, she says she doesn’t have problems, just little ones, Well, maybe it’s just me, but I would think that bullies and kids stealing supplies from the classrooms and stealing personal items right from the teachers desks sounds like more than just a little problem. My kids are good, smart, well behaved(not perfect kids, but are regular good kids) and really want to learn but are often distracted by noise, bullies and kids bothering them for my kids supplies that do not always get returned. Supplies that I buy the list and do not ever see any of the many pencils I bought for the rest of the year.

    PS No lockers?! They have to take everything from class to class to lunch to everywhere all day….they are only in grade school, not college.

    Sorry its long, but I really have been wanting to say that for a long time…

    Suggest Removal

  • simplifyingit

    sgeary….you are a young OVERCONFIDENT man who needs to sit back and learn more about life before you “conquer the world.” Being a know it all and trying to “call people out” online is part of that immaturity.

    Here is my exact words again; “just more gov’t waste…hire incompotent educators and then when they fail throw more money at the problem….thanks FCPS! i bet if you’d let her leave and looked “in-house” there was someone quite capable of “handling” all the “issues” at SP without having to hire 5 more people when our economy is already in the dumps.”
    As you see..nowhere did i call you or the other 4 new people incompetent, i called Mrs. Rollins that and stated she needed people like you to “prop” her up. So in a way it was a compliment.

    Maybe in your elder years (when you are not still in your 20′s) you will have the wherewithall to reserve hasty replies until you reread ,twice,the comments and then understand them as they are written. didn’t they teach that in college?? Slow down and let the world come to you,you can’t

    Suggest Removal

    • simplifyingit

      sorry…you can’t run/manage Newsoms, the SoCo dumpsites, SoCo schools, FCPS, your home and my life all at once young man.

      your mother told you the world is your oyster…she left out that to consume the oyster you will need years of experience not days in college and two friends to vote for you.

      Suggest Removal

      • sgeary

        I appreciate the young compliment. But you are a poor judgement of age. I have 15 years experience in the education field. I have been out of my twentys for almost a decade. I have worked for the VDOE. I have been in charge of NJ, IL, OH, and WV Reading First grants.I have a variety of experiences. All which have shaped my thoughts and professional knowledge. And then you decide to make it personal with this

        “she left out that to consume the oyster you will need years of experience not days in college and two friends to vote for you.” just shows how little you know about me

        “sorry…you can’t run/manage Newsoms, the SoCo dumpsites, SoCo schools, FCPS, your home and my life all at once young man” I am not trying to run anything, only the good Lord runs things weather you like(believe) it or not, i am just trying to make a difference (be a part of the solution not the problem).

        “As you see..nowhere did i call you or the other 4 new people incompetent, i called Mrs. Rollins that”

        So you calling Dr. Rollins out is not immature? Your words not mine.
        “trying to “call people out” online is part of that immaturity”

        At least when I speak my mind I put my name to it. You think you know me but you are so far off. Would love for you to acutally get to know me the real me not the person you think you know from my comments or living in Newsoms if you do. As for being a know it all…I know a little about a lot of things, I know a lot about reading education, but I know that there is always more to learn.

        I won’t make assumptions on who I think you are but you have peaked my curiousity.

        Suggest Removal

  • braves

    Franklin public schools are a joke!!

    Suggest Removal

  • broman

    Good grief people. It’s ‘incompetent’. I hope Ms. Rollins puts an emphasis on spelling.

    Suggest Removal

  • John VanChocStraw

    BTW, Bertie County Schools is one of the WORST school districts in NC.

    Suggest Removal

    • cscj27980

      John, I used to teach in Bertie County and you’re correct. It was the worse school system with which I was employed!

      Suggest Removal

  • edWB

    Wow! Franklin Public Schools must have found the “Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” To be able to hire all of the additional personnel at one school is amazing. With the layoffs in IOW Schools this year,they would do well to see how Franklin manages to thrive.Since she is now staying and has the additional staff needed, the principal can improve the sate accreditation status from “Accredited with Warning” to fully accredited. Just curious, is the principal a resident of VA or NC ?

    Suggest Removal

  • cscj27980

    So she gave her resignation a lot of thought and prayer, followed through with her decision, then quickly changed her mind because the transition wouldn’t be smooth? Why didn’t she think of that before she resigned?

    Suggest Removal

    • simplifyingit

      It’s obvious wherever she was going fell through.
      But it’s OKAY now because she’s “recommitted” to the students and their academics!

      being tardy and leaving early causes congestion at the office. “To help manage this, a receptionist/secretary was hired, and will be stationed in the lobby.” therefor “shielding” her from the students she’s “recommitted’ to?????

      “I had a long list of requests and they, the school board, were gracious to me,” Rollins said about this and other hires…….So it takes 5 more employees to keep Mrs. Rollins here and happy???? Sure glad Lisa Francis doesn’t manage like that!

      just more gov’t waste…hire incompotent educators and then when they fail throw more money at the problem….thanks FCPS! i bet if you’d let her leave and looked “in-house” there was someone quite capable of “handling” all the “issues” at SP without having to hire 5 more people when our economy is already in the dumps.

      Suggest Removal

      • Kmart3008

        PLEASE!!!!!! I admire her because she has the nerve to stay another year here in Franklin and deal with all the CRAP. Understand that this woman did not gain her creditials by listening to simple comments like yours. Dr. Rollins and Dr. Belle are strong and extremely competent women. What are you bringing to the table to assist FCPS besides negative energy, that is?

        Suggest Removal

      • sgeary

        I am one of those “5 incomptent” teachers they hired and I would love to tell you how competent I am but you would not understand because you only have time to cast aspersions and insults. How about close that “I don’t have anything constructive or nice to say” mouth of yours and become part of the soultion and not an ever present nag of the problem! And you have so much to say put your name to it or will you always hide behind a meaningless pen name. If i write it I will stand by it!

        Suggest Removal

      • DBenton

        sgeary – judging by your poor grammar and even poorer typing skills, I’d agree with your statement that you are “one of those “5 incomptent” teachers they hired.” Are you REALLY a teacher, and did you REALLY type the garbage I see below? If so, then I must ask, where in the world did you get your college degree? I want to make sure my children avoid that school during their own selection process.

        David Benton

        Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks