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Harding High School gym named for late principal Eric Ward

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted Nov. 9 to name the gymnasium at Harding University High School the Dr. Eric T. Ward Sr. Athletic Center.

The naming was advocated by parents, students and staff to honor Dr. Ward, who died unexpectedly after a stroke in September. He was 46.

Eric Ward2.jpg"Dr. Ward was an inspiration and a mentor to hundreds, if not thousands, of students in CMS," said Board Vice Chair Thelma Byers-Bailey, who introduced the motion to name the Harding gym. "His energy, his enthusiasm, his desire to better himself and help his community – plus his legendary cheerleading and Ram pride at Harding pep rallies – all these things make naming the gym for him very appropriate. Dr. Ward was a unique and unforgettable educator and this naming will help keep his legacy alive in CMS."

Dr. Ward was a native of Whiteville, N.C. After excelling in track and field in high school, he won an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina Charlotte, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics.

After graduation, Dr. Ward became a math teacher – and a track and field coach – at Independence High, where he coached teams and individual students to championships. He later became an assistant principal at West Mecklenburg High, then principal at Wilson Middle before returning to West Meck as principal. He also was principal of the Technology, Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing School at Olympic. In 2015, he became principal of Harding University High School.

Dr. Ward continued his own education while furthering that of others. He earned a master's degree in secondary school administration and a specialist degree from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. and a doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University in Wingate, N.C. He was an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

"Dr. Ward was the embodiment that education is the path to success in life," said Superintendent Earnest Winston. "He never stopped learning, and he never stopped teaching others. He was a huge asset to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. I am glad that his name will be on the gym at Harding, where he did some of his greatest work as an educator and a leader."

In other action, the Board announced the opening of the election period for the 2022 student advisor. Students in grades 10 and 11 are eligible to run for the position. The student advisor is a non-voting member of the Board who attends meetings. The student advisor is expected to offer insight and the student viewpoint to Board members, as well as help CMS students understand Board actions and policy.

"I am sorry to see my term coming to an end," said Breana Fowler, the current student advisor. "I have learned so much this year in Board meetings, and in talking with individual Board members. This is a great opportunity to learn about governance in education and issues the Board must decide."

Interested students can find more information, and access to the application form, here. The application period runs from Nov. 9 to Nov. 23. Five finalists will be announced Dec. 1, candidate interviews will be conducted via Zoom on Dec. 8, and the election period is Dec. 13-16. The new student advisor begins the one-year term on Jan. 1, 2022.

In other business, the Board chose a new political redistricting map (see information here) and voted on boundaries for two new relief schools. One school will provide relief to Olympic High School; the other will provide relief to Bain, Lebanon and Piney Grove elementary schools.

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Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
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