My Turn: Teacher survey rocks the boat at Ashley High School - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

My Turn: Teacher survey rocks the boat at Ashley High School

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The bi-annual teacher survey showed some problems with the rank and file at Ashley High School. The bi-annual teacher survey showed some problems with the rank and file at Ashley High School.

The funny thing about asking for opinions is that many times the people needing to get the feedback aren't ready to hear the responses.

Some leaders in New Hanover County Schools are getting the message though now that things aren't going so smoothly at one of their local high schools. The bi-annual teacher survey showed some problems with the rank and file at Ashley High School.

And we're hearing from a lot of teachers and parents upset with the administration.

The principal there is following up by asking teachers to fill out another survey to get at the heart of the matter. If I were a teacher there, I'd be insulted by that. Anonymity is key and you can't get honest feedback if the principal is the one administering the survey.

If New Hanover County Schools really wants to get at the heart of the matter, they need to get an outside firm without a dog in this fight to interview a good sampling of the survey participants and then they'll get meaningful answers.

It's not too late. This latest survey shows something needs to happen quickly. Or Ashley High School could be on a path that will be hard to turn around.

That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at


Emailed comments from viewers:

I recently met with the principal of Ashley High School to discuss my numerous concerns regarding the direction the school seems to be heading in.  As a parent, I find the teacher evaluations very disturbing.  I have been in contact with the board and the Superintendent's office.  There seems to be concern amongst both those entities as well.  I only hope that something can be done sooner rather than later.  I have a son going into his senior year at Ashley and have major reservations regarding his senior year.  I also have a daughter who will be heading to high school in one year.  I am looking at other options for her and will send her elsewhere if things do not change at Ashley.  After meeting with Mr. Norvell, my impression is that he is questioning the validity of the teacher's feelings regarding their work environment.  My concern is, how can this principal fix a problem he is denying exists?  This is a toxic environment.  Sending out a second evaluation is just another bullying tactic as far as I am concerned.  Great teachers have been forced out or have left.  The school is in desperate need of AP teachers and one great one has just been transferred to teach elementary school PE.  My son is in dire need of AP classes.  Ashley has nothing to offer.  One of the reasons Mr. Norvell gave me for the lack of AP classes, is lack of teachers to teach them.  Why then does he transfer a proven teacher who can fill that empty space to another school?  And shame on the district for allowing a man, who is more than qualified to teach AP Psychology, to teach PE in elementary school.  What a waste of a great resource!  Mr. Norvell states he is doing what is best for the students.  How is transferring good teachers, there is more than one, to teach  classes well below their expertise good for students?  It is not good for my National Honor Society, scholar athlete son.  Mr. Norvell is protecting himself.  He is getting rid of or forcing out those who question him, those who have the guts to stand up to him.  Those teacher evaluations say it all.  I hope the district and powers that be see this.  Ashley High School was a great school and I hope that with new leadership, it can be turned around.

Thank you for your interest and concerns regarding the school and for your coverage of this issue.


Thanks bringing the Ashley story to light on My Turn.  I and so many parents and students have been involved with this whole situation at Ashley this year.  We have come to the conclusion that this situation is mainly the fault of the Superintendent and the Deputy Superintendent, along with Human Resources.  They all recommended Jackson Norvell to be the new principal at Ashley High School. Then the School Board approved their recommendation without thinking it through.  He was an assistant principal at New Hanover High for a short period, and he worked under a corrupt principal that was removed from his position there, so obviously, he did not have a good mentor.  

The main question we have is "Why in the world they recommend a person with no experience to be a principal at a 4A high school"?   And, they send Ashley's principal to New Hanover High!

Now in a one year period, he ruined the girls varsity basketball season by not supporting them in their troubles, fired the boys varsity basketball coach - then chose recommend non renewal of his teaching contract (who was an incredible AP Psych teacher), then got the best honors geometry math teacher transferred to Williston Middle School after being at Ashley for a decade.

The boy's former varsity basketball coach won his appeal hearing when the board voted unanimously to overturn Norvell, and HR's recommendation of non renewal.

He will now be a PE teacher at Snipes Elementary!

Oh well, at least he still has a job.

Ashley has lost two tough, hard nosed teachers that motivated the students, and made them do their work.  98% of the students loved these men by the end of the school year.  

Does it really seem like Jackson Norvell has the students in mind?

Does it really seem like the Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and Human Resources have the students in mind?

The good news is, after speaking with many of the board members, it seems that they are seeing through so much of this corrupt haze, and are starting to make more educated decisions.

The next few board meetings will be very interesting. Ashley parents and students will be at these meetings to voice more concerns.

We welcome the support the media has given us to bring this to the public, but we need more help.

The media has only heard a fraction of what has been going on.  I know so many teachers there and have heard their stories.  I've spent many sleepless nights pondering what to do.

We've got really good teachers in the county, now we've got to get really good leaders.

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