A chilly high school gym exploded into shouts, applause and music Monday morning as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools named Maureen Furr, principal of South Mecklenburg High, the district’s principal of the year.
Superintendent Ann Clark said Furr is a leader who has built academic options and a sense of community at a school with about 2,950 students.
Under Furr’s leadership, the neighborhood school on Park Road has added a language magnet that offers French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. She has also created an IDEA Academy where students can get career preparation based on themes of innovation, design, engineering and arts.
“She has continued to embrace innovation and change,” Clark said.
Furr, 62, grew up in New Jersey, where her mother was a middle school principal. She began her career in the Northeast, with a stint in Quebec, before she came south to open South Charlotte Middle School in 1992. She moved to open Jay M. Robinson Middle School in 2002 and has led South Meck since 2006 – practically an eternity in a district that moves dozens of principals most years.
“She’s a force in the best possible way,” said Assistant Principal Chad Kelley. “She has the sharpest educational mind I’ve ever come across.”
“She seems to really care about the students,” said Jalon Clark, a South Meck junior.
Furr said the honor means her faculty and students will get attention along with her.
Her advice to principals?
“Remember who we’re here for,” she said. “We’re here for the students. Other things change ... but if you keep your eye on the prize, the prize being the students, it’s hard to go wrong.”