A Dream Fulfilled

The Emily Francis Story


With unparalleled commitment and passion for teaching CCS students, meet one of our superstar ESL teachers who is doing everything in her power to transform students’ lives. Emily Francis, an ESL teacher at Concord High School, says successfully achieving her dream did not come easy, but it was worth each and every one of the 12 years of perseverance that took her from high school dropout to University of North Carolina, Charlotte graduate.

For Emily, she says it’s about changing someone else’s life with her potential and making a difference. She explains, “It’s being able to hear a student say, I’m doing this because of you Miss Francis. I can write in English because you taught me. I can read this because you taught me. I am not dropping out of school because you taught me to believe in myself.”

Watch Emily’s Video Interview


See and hear the passion and commitment she has for her students.

To read more about what the educational industry thinks about Emily Francis, CLICK HERE >

From Our Superintendent

Resilience. Resolve. Reflection.

Chris Lowder, Ed.D. | Cabarrus County Schools Superintendent

As I reflect on what has unquestionably been a consequential, and dare I say, unprecedented year in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t help but think of the resilience of our students and families, and the resolve of our educators, administrators and staff.

Even our most unusual years in education couldn’t have predicted how swiftly the dynamics would change in a single school year. 

As much as we’ve taught and studied history as educators and students, we likely never dreamed we would be a part of the story. Yet, years from now, the actions we’ve taken, and the resiliency we’ve shown as a school community and beyond, will light the way for future generations to manage through challenges with resolve. 

In spite of the most obvious disappointments for the Class of 2020, we still have much to celebrate and be proud of – students and staff excelling academically and professionally, recognitions at state and national levels and continuing our district tradition of community involvement. 

And although no publication can capture all that occurred during a single school year – especially this one – this summary gives us a look back at the year and pays tribute to the inimitable spirit, the tenacious grit and the steadfast determination of our students, families, staff and community. In the face of remarkable challenges, we met them face on and tackled them together as ONE.

Re-imagining Teaching with Resolve

For those who answered the calling to teach, the energy they get from interacting with their students in the classroom is the fuel that drives them. During this school year, they’ve had to reimagine how to connect with their students and parents. They’ve had to be even more creative and flexible in accommodating different learning styles. They quickly pivoted to effectively make an impact through a computer screen, mastering remote teaching with little to no experience, all while adjusting their teaching strategies each and every day. Their commitment, along with the adjustments they, their students and families have had to make to adapt to a new normal, has been nothing less than exceptional at heart and outstanding in practice. 

The creativity and ingenuity that were quickly executed have been extraordinary and unbelievably rewarding to see. The only word bigger than thank you for their dedication is gratitude.

“Students are going to rise to the expectations that are set for them.”

– Emily Wagoner, 2020-2021 Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year, R. Brown McAllister STEM Elementary

3Rs + 3Ws = A Year Like No Other.

We had to add 3Ws (Wear. Wait. Wash.) to the 3Rs – An equation we proved we could handle as ONE!

“As a result of this, I’ve come to realize I’m a lot more resilient and flexible than I would have ever given myself credit for… and I’ve also realized that my students are resilient, and they can overcome a lot as well.” 

– Michelle Furr, Exceptional Children teacher, Hickory Ridge Middle School

The first sign that life as we knew was about to change was when school field trips and professional development trips were cancelled on March 12, 2020.

A few days later, on March 14th, education as we knew it was flipped on its head with Governor Roy Cooper’s directive to close all North Carolina public schools for two weeks in response to the increased number of coronavirus cases appearing in North Carolina. Stay-at-Home orders for Cabarrus County and surrounding communities soon followed. Not deterred, but rather, determined, the district moved swiftly to begin providing meals and devices like Chromebooks to students, while simultaneously training and supporting teachers with effective strategies for remote teaching. It’s an understatement to say pivoting was on all cylinders! The dogged determination of everyone was our shining beacon of hope during the ever-changing and uncertain times of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We took the #MillionMaskChallenge
Career and Technical Education (CTE) students in the Academy of Engineering & Automation at Jay M. Robinson and Mount Pleasant High Schools partnered with CTE students from Kannapolis City Schools to put their 3-D printing skills to work in support of community healthcare workers and first responders. They produced 2,000 ear protectors for Atrium Health Cabarrus staff to help their masks fit more comfortably and produced and printed masks, face shields and components, and other assistive devices for those serving on the front lines.

School Nutrition Program (SNP)
Our School Nutrition Program didn’t skip a beat. They continued to provide breakfast and lunch to students throughout our community each weekday, ultimately serving more than 450,000 meals since March 17, 2020. There were 17 school meal sites and 10 different routes within the community providing breakfast and lunch pick up for students.

COVID-19 Response Timeline

March 12
Travel restrictions

March 16
School closure

March 26
Area stay-at-home order

March 30
Teachers are trained on remote teaching

April 24
School closure extended for school year


Class of 2020 Rounds Their Final Turn at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Tracks as the most unique graduation in CCS history.

Although it wasn’t the way Cabarrus County Schools seniors imagined their 2020 graduation ceremony would be, it was certainly memorable! With representation from 10 schools and nearly 2,500 graduates and equal number of vehicles, the Class of 2020 drove right into their graduation venue, the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Their 360-degree reflection of their K-12 careers and unprecedented school year couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate place as the checkered flag signaled the end of their CCS race and the beginning of a new journey. 

Success At A Glance

A year of achievement against the odds

Bovard Named Outstanding Student 
Hope Bovard, a Cabarrus Early College of Technology student, was named the 2019 William D. Weston Outstanding Student of the Year by the North Carolina Work-Based Learning Association. Hope completed an internship at the North Carolina Hall of Fame as part of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Work-Based Learning program and was able to secure sponsorships with potential donors and provide Braille assistance, as she is blind. 

Image courtesy of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College 

MPHS Student Elected State Reporter 
Abby Isenhour, a 9th grade student at Mount Pleasant High School, was elected by student members as North Carolina Technology Student Association’s (NCTSA) State Reporter for the 2020-2021 year. 

Odell Primary Student Wins Art Contest
Zainab Mandal, a 1st grader at W.R. Odell Primary School, was selected as a winner in the North Carolina Farm to School Calendar Art Contest.

Student Leaders Honored 
Students who planned and organized the 13th annual King of the Court tournament, which raises awareness and funds for local breast cancer charities, received one of two Breast Care Champions of the Year awards from Atrium Health Cabarrus after raising $15,532. 

Paper Airplane Contest Takes Flight Cabarrus County Schools STEM schools and Embassy Suites hosted the annual Flying Wright with STEM airplane contest.
Receives Hero’s Welcome Patriots STEM Elementary School Student Lexi Cunningham received a hero’s welcome to school thanks to Hometown Heroes, a non-profit organization based in Union County, North Carolina, that supports children who are undergoing cancer treatment and their families.

CMHS Women’s Gold Wins State Championship
Cox Mill High School women’s golf team won the 3A State Championship.

Poindexter Named Student Athlete of the Year
Cox Mill High School’s Wesley Poindexter named the 2019 High School Student Athlete of the Year by the Charlotte Touchdown Club. 

Spelling Bee Champion 
Supriya Akella, an 8th grader at Harris Road Middle School and 2020 Cabarrus County Schools Spelling Bee Champion, went on to place in the Top Five in The Charlotte Observer’s Regional Spelling Bee, completing 19 rounds of competition.

More Highlights…
Mount Pleasant High School’s automotive program received a 2018 F-150 STX truck donation from Hilbish Ford.

Harris Road Middle School renewed its Global-Ready Distinction, and W.M. Irvin Elementary School earned its International Baccalaure (IB) Certification.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation awarded a Champions grant to Cox Mill Elementary School for $32,000. Since 2009, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has awarded nearly $400,000 in Champions Grants to Cabarrus County Schools. 

Cox Mill High School receieved a $73,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Mobile App 

Development Grant Program, and Royal Oaks School of the Arts, W.M. Irvin Elementary School and Wolf Meadow Elementary School received a $76,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program. 

2019-2020 Best of the Best

Teacher of the Year

Emily Wagoner, 3rd grade teacher at R. Brown McAllister Elementary School.
A relatively new teacher, she started her teaching career with CCS in 2014 at Winecoff Elementary School before joining R. Brown McAllister in 2019. This wasn’t her first honor. She’s also been named Hilbish Ford Teacher of the Month, Staff Member of the Month, and a Teacher of the Year school nominee twice before being selected for the highest honor for the district. Topping it off, she was also selected to participate in an administrative leadership cohort for a master’s degree in school administration through the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 

“Wagoner’s focus on excellence and attitude of high standards are contagious to all that are around her. There is no limit to her giving as her eagerness for student success is shown in everything that she does. ” 

– Jessica Blanchard, Principal R. Brown McAllister Elementary School 

2019-2020 CCS Teacher of the Year Finalists 

1. Emily Wagoner, R. Brown McAllister Elementary School
2. D’Aulan McCord, Central Cabarrus High School
3. Rachel Harkey, Mary Frances Wall Center
4. Kate Clardy, Concord Middle School
5. Steven Stevens, Hickory Ridge Middle School 

2019-2020 Best of the Best

Principal of the Year

Jennifer Brinson, Wolf Meadow Elementary School 
Her tenure with CCS began as a teacher at Winecoff Elementary School in 2001. Since then, she’s worn almost all of the hats there are to wear including teacher, lead teacher, instructional specialist, assistant principal of instruction, and principal. Continuing to climb in excellence, she was previously named CCS Assistant Principal of the Year. As the Regional Principal of the Year, she goes on to compete with principals across North Carolina. She is also the recipient of the Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership from Western Carolina University. 

2019-2020 Best of the Best

Assistant Principal of the Year

Richard Money, Concord Middle School 
In order to lead teachers, it helps to have been one. Previously a social studies teacher in another school district and at Cabarrus-Kannapolis Early College, Richard joined CCS in 2012, and just four short years later, became assistant principal at Hickory Ridge Middle School in 2016 before landing his current position in 2019. 

2019-2020 Best of the Best

Beginning Teacher of the Year

Stephanie Henderson, Central Cabarrus High School 
Sponsored by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT), the recipient of the new category of honor is Stephane Henderson, an English teacher at Central Cabarrus High School.

2019-2020 Best of the Best

Teacher Assistant of the Year

Robin Hartsell, Rocky River Elementary School 
She supports the exceptional children’s classroom, coming in every day with a smile ready to greet her students and work with her team to do what is best for each student. She has served as a teacher assistant in Cabarrus County Schools since 1991 and at Rocky River since 1996.