— December 2016
Dr. James Merrill, Superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, was named North Carolina’s Superintendent of the Year on Thursday, November 17.
In his application, Merrill stressed the importance of the district’s Strategic Plan, a document designed by the community in 2014. The Strategic Plan calls for the district to annually graduate at least 95 percent of its students ready for productive citizenship as well as higher education or a career.
“This is a well-deserved honor, and our school board is thrilled to see the work of Dr. Merrill and our community recognized,” said school board Chair Tom Benton. “Dr. Merrill has brought the kind of stability and focus to this district that our community demands and deserves.”
Merrill is the only North Carolina superintendent to win the state award twice. He was named North Carolina Superintendent of the Year in 2005 when he oversaw the Alamance-Burlington School System. He also won the same award in Virginia in 2013 as the top administrator of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
Merrill was named the ninth Superintendent of the Wake County Public School System in the summer of 2013. He oversees the nation’s 16th-largest district, which enrolls about 160,000 students in 177 schools.
He began his career in the 1970s as a teacher and coach in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. He had worked in Wake County for 16 years before leaving to become superintendent of Alamance-Burlington in 2000.
Since arriving in Wake, Merrill has worked closely with county commissioners to significantly improve funding for teachers and children.