Board makes four appointments to CMS executive team

At its April 6 meeting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education made four appointments to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools executive team, effective July 1. The appointments will support incoming Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, whose contract begins July 1.  The Board also appointed a new principal for Lake Wylie Elementary.

Earnest Winston was appointed chief community relations and engagement/ombudsman officer. His team will be responsible for all district community and parent engagement efforts, board services support and the district's cultural proficiency efforts. Winston has served as chief of staff since 2012. After two years in the classroom, he worked in central office administration as an executive director/communications liaison for the chief operating officer and interim superintendent from 2008-2012. He also was an interim communications director and external communications supervisor from 2006-2008. He joined CMS in 2004 as an English teacher at Vance High after serving as a newspaper reporter in Cincinnati and Charlotte. Winston holds a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. His annual salary will be $175,000.

Laura Lockard Francisco was appointed chief of staff. Francisco will join CMS from Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) in Maryland where she has served as executive director of human resources since 2013. Prior to joining WCPS, she served as vice president/strategist for The Singer Group, Inc. from 1996-2013 and in numerous program manager, marketing assistant and editorial roles from 1990-1996. Francisco holds a bachelor's degree in political science and modern foreign languages from the University of Richmond. Her annual salary will be $175,000.

Kathy Elling will serve as chief school performance officer. She has worked as superintendent for the south learning community since 2016. She served as executive director for the central elementary and southwest zones from 2011-2016. She also spent nine years as principal of two CMS schools after serving four years as an assistant principal. Elling joined CMS in 1990 as a student services specialist. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in school psychology from the State University of New York at Oswego as well as a principal certification from University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her annual salary will be $160,000. Current School Performance Officer Dawn Robinson will retire June 30.

Avery Mitchell will become learning community superintendent. She joined the CMS human resources department in 2012, serving as chief human resources officer since 2014 and executive director of employee support services from 2012-2014. Mitchell also served as executive director for the central secondary zone from 2011-2012, a middle school principal from 2005-2011, an assistant principal from 1999-2005 and a middle grades math teacher from 1992-1999. She holds a bachelor's degree in secondary mathematics education from North Carolina State University and a master's degree in education administration and supervision from Winthrop University. Her annual salary will be $164,800. The specific schools her position will support have not yet been determined.

Jigna Patel, currently assistant principal at Lake Wylie Elementary, was named principal of the school, effective June 19. She has been the school's assistant principal since 2012 after serving as dean from 2011-2012. Prior to that, Patel was a principal intern from 2009-2011 and a fourth-grade teacher from 2006-2011, both at Pineville Elementary. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in school administration from Wingate University