Jeanie Groh: A bittersweet goodbye

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 3, 2015

Today is a bittersweet day for me. After more than a year and a half of covering education in Rowan County, it’s time for me to say goodbye.

When I came to the Post, I didn’t have much direction in my career. I just knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to tell people’s stories.

The education beat seemed to be an appropriate one for me — I was only six months removed from being a student myself. I also figured I’d spend a lot of time covering kindergarten through 12th grade, which was a perfect fit for the girl who loves children.

Once I started, reality set in. Education isn’t just about cute kindergarteners on the first day of school and middle school science fairs. I had to navigate the world of school boards, state and federal mandates, budgets, superintendents, central offices, charter schools and other foreign topics.

As I waded through the unfamiliar and sometimes murky waters of education, I began to see the beauty that is there as well. There are a lot of good things going on in Rowan County schools — from the private schools to public school districts to local colleges.

I watched Rowan-Salisbury roll out a new strategic plan with a strong focus on literacy and back that up with its new literacy framework and one-to-one digital conversion. I’ve watched Kannapolis City Schools teachers and administrators get their students excited about learning and growing. Rowan County’s private schools are growing — both in size and in quality — all the time.

I saw Catawba College make great gains in its environmental friendliness by adding solar panels across campus, and watched as Livingstone launched its unique culinary arts program. During my time here, Hood Theological Seminary has named a new president, and Rowan-Cabarrus has launched a new manufacturing training program that prepares people for jobs that are already in the local area.

Over the past year and a half, I have written countless stories about outstanding students, dedicated teachers and passionate administrators. There’s never a shortage of amazing things going on in the world of education.

Before long, I realized I had stumbled upon my passion — education. I saw how it makes a difference in the lives of individuals, their families and in the communities they live in, and I decided that was something I want to be a part of. My career now has direction, and it’s opened up exciting opportunities.

In an effort to continue pursuing my passion for education, I have accepted a position as a staff writer for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s University Relations department. In other words, I’m going to what the journalism world calls the “dark side” — public relations.

I’m excited about this new opportunity. There will be new adventures and the new stories to tell. But as I said, it’s a bittersweet moment. There are still a lot of stories to tell here in Rowan County, and there will always be stories.

I’m thankful for all I’ve learned here at the Post and for those who have constantly extended grace to me as they’ve helped me become a better writer and reporter. I’m thankful for those of you who have allowed me to tell your stories — both the good and the bad. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn about the education field and about the things that influence so many in our community, as well as the opportunity to find my passion.

Keep an eye on the great things going on in Rowan County’s educational institutions — I promise you won’t be disappointed.