Ronna Gore lights up with excitement and surprise after being named Columbus County Schools Principal of the Year at the awards banquet April 11 at Vineland Station.
Old Dock Elementary School has recovered valiantly from the fire that devastated its campus two years ago. During those years of rebuilding, students have continued to perform at an above-average level on yearly evaluations. Now the school can also celebrate that their principal, Ronna Gore, has been honored as Columbus County Schools’ Principal of the Year.
“I thank all of my family and friends who have supported me along the way,” said Gore. “Our county administrative team is absolutely awesome. Mr. Faulk supports us in any way possible. My colleagues have a great rapport. We all know the others are there for us.”
Gore supervises a staff of 25, including 16 certified teachers. Old Dock’s approximately 300 students range from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The district offers English as a Second Language to a sizable migrant population as well as specialized Academically/Intellectually Gifted instruction for exceptional students.
Now approaching the completion of her 21st year in education, Gore taught at Whiteville Primary, Edgewood Elementary and Williams Township schools. While serving as lead teacher, she provided professional development programs for her fellow teachers. She also took on the job of webmaster at the primary school. Those leadership experiences created an interest in administration.
Although she already had a master’s degree from UNC-Pembroke, Gore returned to class to earn another in school administration and accepted the opportunity to become assistant principal at WTS.
Gore names Dr. Larry Mabe, one of her UNC-P professors, as an important infl uence on her professional development. “He’s a visionary, and I’ve always been able to go to him for help and advice. He always says, ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ I remember that when things are overwhelming.”
Gore had been principal of Old Dock for two and a half years when an early-morning fire ripped through the old structure on N.C. 130 on Jan. 7, 2015. “We were back in class the very next day,” she said. “It took a lot of work and community support, but everybody pulled together and made it happen. We had one common goal – to get back to normal as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We were under construction for two years. Our new building has a broadcasting room,” Gore said. “Our students have taken charge of it.” The children research stories and produce presentations that are watched around the school on interactive video equipment.
“We have a library now,” she reported. “That’s huge for us after losing all our books in the fi re. People donated lots of books, and now we have a place for them. We have internet and a large number of books. We’re working toward a STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) lab. We’d like that to include a hydroponics station where students can grow lettuce and tomatoes.”
Old Dock students exceeded expected growth on English language arts and math tests in 2015 and 2016.
“We are the only elementary school in the county to reach a “B” level on the tests,” Gore said. “The only other county school with a “B” is Columbus College and Career Academy, which is a high school.”
Gore’s daily passion is “to educate children to be successful in 21st-Century society,” and to give them “an unforgettable school experience.”
Gore’s parents are Ronald Godwin and the late Barbara Godwin. She is the daughterin-law of Jackson and Janice Gore. She and her husband Brett have three children: Meagan, 18, Will, 14, and Caroline, 13. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing with her family, water-skiing and gardening.