Jones County Schools hold annual gala
Jones Senior’s Suddona Murrell was selected as the Teacher of the Year during the Jones County End of Year Gala Wednesday. Standing next to Murrell is, left, Jones County Superintendent Michael Bracy and Assistant Superintendent Otis Smallwood. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
TRENTON — A pair of Jones County administrators were honored Wednesday for their efforts bettering the minds of students.
Comfort Elementary’s Stella Downs was awarded with Principal of the Year honors and Jones Senior’s Suddona Murrell took Teacher of the Year honors during the Jones County School’s End of Year Gala at the high school. There were numerous awards given to administrators in the area, including one for leadership, first year teachers and unsung heroes.
Jones County Superintendent Michael Bracy said the event is one of the highlights of his year.
“We have the ability to honor our retirees while also showcasing the talented staff we have in the area,” Bracy said. “This year was so important because of the storm, and we were able to come together as a team — we lost a couple of schools due to (Hurricane Florence) in Trenton Elementary and Jones Middle, but we never lost our passion for the children.”
Downs is a product of Jones County and said she is proud to represent the area.
“This award means a lot to me coming from there,” Downs said. “I want to Pollocksville Elementary, Jones Junior High and graduated from Jones Senior. I’ve worked for 16 years in the school system as a teacher, assistant principal and now a principal. I’m thankful for the wonderful people who helped me along the way and of course the relationships I’ve made with the students.
“Without them, none of this is possible.”
Murrell is in her third year at Jones Senior, teaching health classes as a registered nurse and said she was amazed to hear her name announced as the winner.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling, especially as a third-year teacher,” Murrell said. “I’m truly humbled and honored to receive this award. I was born and raised here in Jones County — I went to Trenton Elementary, Jones Middle School and graduated from the same school I teach at now.”
Otis Smallwood, the assistant superintendent for Jones County Public Schools, said both candidates were deserving and had the respect of their colleagues.
“Their peers selected the candidates and both have a lot of passion for the area,” Smallwood said. “They were highly recommended and we’re thankful for the work they’ve put into our students and schools.”