CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston announced Tuesday he has been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy.
Winston confirmed the diagnosis to CMS staff after he said he experienced “a few symptoms” on Monday. He thanked everyone for their prayers and well-wishes, saying the news was a learning experience.
“After a series of tests in the emergency room the diagnosis is Bell’s Palsy, which is paralysis of the facial nerve causing muscular weakness in one side of the face,” Winston wrote. “This condition can be remedied with medication and diet. I certainly feel relief that available remedies will take care of this condition, but today’s experience is a great reminder for us all to take care of ourselves. Listen to your body and take action at the first sign something is off. If you have not done so recently, schedule your physical examination. That exam in some cases could reveal health issues not yet evident, and the extra time can mean all the difference!”
Sources tell WBTV Winston will be resting for a few days this week, but is expected to resume full responsibilities on Monday, Oct. 26.
You can read the entire letter sent to CMS staff below:
"Hello Team CMS,
"I want to start by saying thank you for the prayers, well-wishes and thoughtful texts. Today did not start as I had planned. After beginning to experience a few symptoms yesterday, today as our leadership meeting began the symptoms became more noticeable. I felt fine but the symptoms were enough that I realized I needed to have things checked out.
"After a series of tests in the emergency room the diagnosis is Bell’s Palsy, which is paralysis of the facial nerve causing muscular weakness in one side of the face. This condition can be remedied with medication and diet. I certainly feel relief that available remedies will take care of this condition, but today’s experience is a great reminder for us all to take care of ourselves. Listen to your body and take action at the first sign something is off. If you have not done so recently, schedule your physical examination. That exam in some cases could reveal health issues not yet evident, and the extra time can mean all the difference!
"Please use this experience as a moment to remember yourself, and to coach anyone you know who may be pushing through pain or ignoring something that doesn’t seem quite right.
"Thank you again very much for the prayers, thoughts and positive wishes. I appreciate your concern.
Winston became superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in August 2019 and was contracted for three years. Winston was named Acting Superintendent after it was announced that Dr. Clayton Wilcox would be resigning from the superintendent position, effective August 2, 2019.
“He brings the experiences of a teacher, a parent, a communicator and a chief of staff to the role,” CMS said of Winston.
Recently, Winston joined district leaders across the state in implementing remote learning for students during the coronavirus pandemic.
Winston, who was the district’s chief engagement officer and ombudsman, released a statement soon after the the announcement of him becoming superintendent, saying in part, “As your Acting Superintendent, I am committed to providing stability, to steady leadership and to making sure our work in CMS continues without interruption. I have served our school district for 15 years...as a teacher in the classroom, an administrator, as Chief of Staff and most recently as Chief Community Relations and Engagement Officer. But my most important job in CMS is being a parent. My expectations are the same as yours and together we will keep moving forward to meet those expectations.”
Winston said that under his leadership, the focus of CMS would remain on doing what’s best for the students and to continue moving forward.
Winston joined CMS in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High school. He is also a former journalist.
After two years in the classroom, Winston moved into administration, joining the district’s communications department as an external communications supervisor. In 2008, he became executive coordinator/communications liaison, CMS says, before serving as chief of staff. In 2017, he was named chief community relations and engagement officer.
Winston currently serves on the board of Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, where he is chairperson of the Program Evaluation Committee.
A native of Chicago, Winston holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Winston and his wife have two daughters enrolled in CMS.
“I am humbled and grateful to the Board and the community for the trust placed in me. It is my honor and privilege to serve our community’s students, families, CMS employees and partners,” Winston said when becoming superintendent. "Our shared focus is on what matters most – great teaching and learning for every student in every school.”
CMS says their decision was unanimous and reflective of their faith and believe in Winston.
“We are confident that we are moving forward with the right work and in the right direction,” CMS said. “Right now, our students, their families, our employees and the community must trust that that we are also moving forward from a foundation of steady leadership.”
“Earnest Winston is the right leader to provide trusted, steady executive leadership,” CMS said. “We are thankful for the leadership of Superintendent Winston. We look forward to welcoming students back to school on August 26 and we welcome the support of this community of our students, teachers, principals, schools and staff in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.”