Rowan-Salisbury School System hires student services director
By Sarah Campbell
Officials with the Rowan-Salisbury School System have chosen to forgo hiring a new director of elementary education, opting instead to restructure duties within the central office and reinstate the director of student services position.
Alesia Burnette, the current director of school improvement and Title I, will add director of elementary education to her title. The position has been vacant since Dr. Sarah Hensley retired in June.
Carol Ann Houpe, the current LINKs project coordinator, will become the director of student services as of Oct. 1.
“We are very thankful that the Board of Education approved the director of student services position to be filled at a time when student service needs are increasing,” said assistance superintendent Nathan Currie, who will act as Houpe’s supervisor. “Houpe’s wealth of public health knowledge, connections to service agencies and her experiences as LINKS Coordinator will be beneficial in continuing the level of services needed for our students.”
Houpe has been with the school system since the inception of the LINKS program in 2008 through a federal grant.
Prior to that, she was the executive director of the Adolescent and Family Enrichment Council for 10 years.
She has also worked as a health educator and acting allied health director at the Rowan County Health Department and adolescent pregnancy prevention coordinator at the Family life Council in Greensboro.
Houpe, who has a bachelor’s degree in public health education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will supervise school nurses, elementary counselors and homebound instructors.
She will also oversee the dental health program, district-wide compliance with the Office of Civil Rights, alternative education programs as well as bullying, harassment and wellness policies.
Houpe will be responsible for developing transitional plans for group home students, seeking grant opportunities, supervising the McKinny-Vento Homeless Assistance Program, maintaining up-to-date medication training protocols and providing assistance for student transfers and enrollment.
“Student services really focuses on helping students to overcome any barrier in their way of being successful educationally,” she said.
Houpe said her previous experience will be an asset as she begins her new job.
“I have a lot of connections with community agencies and a lot of other health and human services agencies,” she said. “A lot of what we do in student services is help connect students with those agencies, so those contacts are going to be very beneficial.”
Funding for the LINKS program is set to expire at the end of this year, but Houpe said she feels there is still work to be done.
“The reason I wanted this position is because we have accomplished so much in the past four years that I’ve been with the district and I didn’t want that to end,” she said. “I really believe in what the school system is doing, I know we are making a difference.”
Houpe said more students are staying in school thanks to interventions provided by the LINKS program.
“We’ve done so much and I want to see that progress continue,” she said.
Houpe said she’ll spend the first month in her new role talking to staff and students.
“I want to see what our needs are and see what gaps in services we might have,” she said. “The programs we provide are already great I just want to see how we can really focus and make them even better.
“I’m really excited and I’m ready for the challenge of this position, I’m ready to stretch myself and stretch student services to be even better.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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