Ocracoke School bids farewell to long-time leader, welcomes new principal

Published 8:05 am Monday, January 29, 2024

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Hyde County Schools honored Leslie Cole on her 28 years and six months of service at the January 2, 2024 Hyde County Board of Education meeting.

“Ocracoke School is bidding a fond farewell to its long-serving principal, Leslie Cole, as she announces her well-deserved retirement after years of dedicated service,” stated a news release from Hyde County Schools.

Cole has been an integral part of the Ocracoke School community since 1995. “During her tenure, she has been pivotal in fostering a positive learning environment, implementing educational programs that ensure student success, and establishing strong relationships with students, staff, and parents,” stated the release. “Under her leadership, Ocracoke School has consistently achieved academic excellence and provided a nurturing space for students to thrive.”

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A fun, community-based farewell to Cole is set for January 30, 2024 at 2 p.m. in the gym. All are welcome to attend the send-off pep rally.

“As the school bids farewell to one exceptional leader, Ocracoke School eagerly welcomes another. Jeanette (Jeanie) Owens, a familiar face to Ocracoke, brings a wealth of knowledge and a passion for student success to the role,” stated the release.

Originally from Abingdon, Va., Owens earned a BA in history and German from Radford University and a master’s in education in curriculum and instruction from Virginia Tech. She received her graduate certificate in school leadership from Appalachian State University in 2019, earned her National Board certification in 2021, and will complete her EdS in educational leadership from East Carolina University by summer 2024. Owens was named the Richard A. Schwartz Honored Educator Scholar for 2020-21 by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and was honored to be the 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Northeast Region Teacher of the Year.

Owens has taught at Ocracoke School since 2015, teaching both 4th and 5th grades and serving as dean of students and assistant principal. Over her 25-year career, she has taught in a variety of classroom settings both public and private, including at the university, high school, middle school and elementary levels.

“Jeanie values and respects the Ocracoke community and is excited to continue the traditions of academic excellence, community engagement, and student-centered learning that are at the heart of Ocracoke School,” the release continued.

When not at school, Owens loves running on the beach, traveling with her children, and snuggling with her new grandson. Upon acceptance of the position, she stated, “I have always said that Ocracoke students are in my soul. They are my why. I am so honored and excited that I have the opportunity to continue serving the students, families, teachers, and community as the next principal. I know I have really big shoes to fill. Leslie has been our guiding light through so many happy and stormy times. I promise to keep that light shining for her and for our outstanding school!”

The community is invited to meet Owens at a welcome reception on January 29, 2024 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the commons at Ocracoke School.

“Hyde County Schools expresses gratitude to Leslie Cole for her years of service and looks forward to a bright future under the guidance of Jeanie Owens,” stated the release.