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AEOP honors head and heart with annual awards

A district administrator who put his head to work to make Lenoir County Public Schools a leader in digital learning and technology and an executive assistant who puts her heart into celebrating and supporting fellow employees have won the top two annual awards presented by LCPS chapter of the N.C. Association of Educational Office Professionals.

Man posed with trophy flanked by two women.Charles White, LCPS’s director of media and technology, was named AEOP Administrator of the Year for 2024-2025 and Esther Hines, an officer of the AEOP chapter since 2016, is the 2024-2025 AEOP Professional of the Year.

The awards were presented at a luncheon held May 2 at Kinston Country Club that drew about 80 AEOP members and guests, including former state AEOP presidents and current employees Mary Jones and Sharron James-Bizzell, Superintendent Brent Williams, district administrators, school principals and, from the Lenoir County Board of Education, chair Bruce Hill, vice-chair W.D. Anderson and member Merwyn Smith.

White, who joined LCPS in 1999, was praised in letters supporting his nomination for his dedication, innovation and leadership, as well as his “deep understanding” of the connection between technology and student success.

“Mr. White is more than a ‘techy.’ He’s an instructional leader who keeps the best interest of our students in the forefront of all his decisions,” Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II wrote.

White was instrumental in the district’s digital learning initiative that, nine years ago, put iPads in the hands of all K-12 students and equipped teachers and classrooms with an array of Apple technology. Since then, he has overseen the regular “refresh” of that digital equipment to ensure students and teachers have the most up-to-date devices.

“Because of his efforts, LCPS has been recognized at the state, regional, national and international levels,” Harvey wrote.

In November, 12 LCPS schools were recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for innovations in digital learning, an honor that, at the time, had gone to fewer than 900 schools worldwide.

White started with the district as a data manager at Bynum Elementary School and moved into various computer-related positions of increasing responsibility until becoming technology coordinator for the district in 2006. Twelve years later, he became leader of the technology department.

He was named Regional Technology Director of the Year by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction in 2023.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in secondary English education and a Masters in School Administration degree, both from East Carolina University. He is a member of the North Carolina Library Media Association and is the organizing force behind LCPS’s annual Battle of the Books for elementary schools.

Three women pose, with woman in center holding a trophy.Hines, who is executive assistant to the assistant superintendent, has a long history with LCPS and a long record of service to its AEOP chapter.

She started with LCPS at North Lenoir High School in 2005 and held classroom and front office positions with four other schools before moving into her current role at Central Services in 2016. With the AEOP chapter, she has served two terms as president, two terms as treasurer and two terms as secretary. She is the chapter’s out-going president.

Noted for her communication and problem-solving skills, Hines was praised in letters supporting her nomination as a passionate advocate for students. “She defines ‘support’ – to be actively interested in and concerned for the success of all,” Harvey wrote.

In addition to her executive assistant duties, Hine is the Central Services office manager, the point of contact for the Lenoir County Department of Social Services for students in foster care, the contact person for all student services needs and the liaison with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for matters related to homeless students. Because of her expertise in matters related to homelessness, she has made presentations at state and national conferences on homelessness.

Hines holds an associate degree from Wayne Community College and a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Liberty University. She earned her Professional Associate certification from AEOP in 2022.

She is associate minister at her church, God’s House of Prayer, and is known for her smile, positive attitude and her humble demeanor, according to Pastor William H. Williams Jr.

“As an administrator all these years, I learned to depend on my staff,” Superintendent Brent Williams at the awards luncheon. “They are your trusted advisors. They are the people you depend on every day.”

Also at the luncheon, the chapter presented scholarship awards to graduating seniors Gabrielle Smith of Kinston High School, Ivy Taylor of South Lenoir High School and Chase Sutton of North Lenoir High School. Gabrielle is heading to North Carolina Central University in the fall; Ivy, to East Carolina University; and Chase, to N.C. State University.

Sworn in as chapter AEOP officers for 2024-2025 by Superintendent Williams were Lori Bryan, president; Ashley Heath, vice president; Ivey Price, secretary; and Sandra Jones, treasurer.

Like the national and state organizations of AEOP, the local chapter strives to provide professional growth through leadership, education, achievement, recognition and networking opportunities for educational office professionals.

Photo captions (from top):

Charles White, director of media and technology, accepts the Administrator of the Year award from Ivey Price, left, and Beth Loftin of the LCPS chapter of the Association of Educational Office Professionals at the chapter’s annual awards luncheon May 2.

Esther Hines, center, executive assistant to the district assistant superintendent, was honored as AEOP Professional of the Year by the LCPS chapter of the Association of Educational Office Professionals. Presenting the award were Ivey Price, left, and Beth Loftin of the LCPS chapter.