CMS Superintendent Ann Clark retires after being with district f - | WBTV Charlotte

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark retires after being with district for 34 years

Mike Rode/WBTV Mike Rode/WBTV

Friday was the last day for Charlotte's top educator Ann Clark.  Clark has been with the district for 34 years and has been the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for more than two years.

Before Clark left the building, she reflected on her time with the district and verbally offered her support to her successor, Dr. Clayton Wilcox, who will take over July 1. 

"I know what a lonely job the superintendent can be, and so I want him to know that I am out there - someone that is in his corner and ready to support," Clark said. 

Clark started out as a teacher in CMS back in 1983 and moved her way up.

"My first paycheck for the full year was $12,000," Clark said. "Today, a beginning teacher makes $35,000. I would argue we have not made progress there."

Clark says there is a difference between the past and the present in CMS.  She says progress has been made when it comes to having technology and more options available for students, but she says what should not change is having a good principal at each school and an effective teacher in every classroom.

"Great things are going to happen when there are good relationships between people that are in support of the work." Clark said.

The outgoing superintendent says there have been some major accomplishments made along the way. Clark calls completing the controversial student assignment plan major work.  

She also knows there have been mistakes along the way.

"There are times in my career there could have been better communications," Clark said. "Sometimes that was on me. Sometimes it was a circumstance that didn't allow for the amount of time."

Clark also recognizes some areas are taking a longer time to get better, and acknowledges an achievement gap between black and white students under her watch.

"CMS has not done that in 34 years," she said. "We've made huge progress. I certainly wished I had been able to do more - more rapidly eliminate that achievement gap."

Clark says it is going to take more than the school district to finally close that achievement gap.

"Our progress has been better and faster than most urban districts," Clark said. "But our community has to be able to stay with us."

As Clark leaves the district, she shares her proudest moment as superintendent.

"I will certainly take credit for the idea of an early college for teachers," Clark said. "There's not one anywhere in the country. If we are concerned about the teacher pipeline - here is a solution.  Here's a way you can truly grow your own."

The CMS school will open on UNC Charlotte's campus soon and will be a school for CMS students who are interested in teaching.

Clark says she has had offers for jobs, but has not decided what she will do. 

"I haven't jumped on the first train that came through the station," Clark said. "I want to be very measured and make sure whatever I am going to be doing - makes my heart sing like the last 34 years of work made my heart sing."

Clark says she has helped create good memories with the district.  She was there when the district won the Broad Prize, she was principal of the year and has seen her former students become productive citizens in the community.

Clark says she will do some traveling but will remain in Charlotte. We asked Clark whether she ever want to be a superintendent for another school district.

"I don't think I want to be a superintendent anywhere else," Clark said. "I've been a superintendent in the best place to be a superintendent. It would be hard to top leading CMS."

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