Two former principals of the year in the Lincoln County Schools are now superintendents of NC school systems. Dr. Aaron Allen is now the Supt. of Lincoln County Schools, having served as interim superintendent until being chosen last month. Now Dr. Dana Ayers, who was Lincoln County Schools Principal of the Year in 2017, has been named the new superintendent of Jackson County Schools. When she was named Principal of the Year, she was at Lincolnton Middle School. In 2018, she and husband Phillip made their move to the NC mountains, where she became the chief academic officer for the Asheville City Schools. Phillip, who spent a quarter-century as a phys ed teacher at Battleground and Kiser elementary schools, became the graduation specialist for the Jackson County School of Alternatives.
Dana, whose 21-year career in education began in Lincoln County, decided to pursue a degree at Belmont Abbey College after having worked with an airline. She went back to school and over time added her masters degree from Western Carolina University and her doctorate from UNC-Charlotte. She taught at Battleground School for six years, then moved to Lincolnton Middle School as a math & science teacher. There, she became principal, and in 2018 made her move to the mountains.
Dr. Ayers' philosophy of education stems from her desire for students and staff to see their own self-worth and potential. When she graduated from East Lincoln High School, her parents could only afford to send her to community college. She studied for a career as a paralegal.
After she decided to pursue a career in education, she worked at Walmart while attending Belmont Abbey. "They were one of the first four-year colleges in the area to offer an adult degree program in the evenings and on weekends. I worked full-time at the Walmart in Lincolnton as a pharmacy department manager and went to classes at Belmont Abbey on Wednesday and Friday nights and all day Saturdays for three and a half years! I also had my second child in the final year of college, right before I began my student teaching at Catawba Springs Elementary School. I graduated in May 1999, with a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education.”She got her masters degree from WCU in 2008 and her doctorate from UNC-C in 2015.
Her vision for Jackson County Schools is for students to succeed academically and prepare for careers and college. "I look forward to serving Jackson County Schools and am confident they will thrive. My family and I moved here to become a part of this wonderful community. "
When the Ayers family left Lincoln County for the mountains, Phillip said it was like going home. "Western North Carolina has been my home away from home throughout my life," he said, adding that his parents and other relatives are from Buncombe County. "Our home is located in Jackson County, close to Dillsboro." Jackson County Schools is headquarter in Sylva.
Dr. Ayers' initial contract is for four years. "Thank you to Phillip and my children: Josh, Emily and Truman, for being very supportive of my educational journey and my desire to lead in western North Carolina. I am both blessed and humbled to be given tthis opportunity."