news-category: Alumni

Dr. Crystal L. Hill, GWU Alumna, Named Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Interim Superintendent Crystal Hill meets students of Oaklawn Language Academy.
In January 2023, then Interim Superintendent Crystal Hill met with students of Oaklawn Language Academy. On May 19, Hill was named superintendent of CMS. Photo courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Serving as Interim Since January, Hill Hired After Three-Month National Search Process

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Dr. Crystal L. Hill, an alumna of Gardner-Webb University, was named superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools (CMS) on Friday, May 19. She was hired after a three-month national search, during which Hill served as the system’s interim superintendent. She’s the first Black female superintendent in the district’s history.

Hill told the Charlotte Observer that she is grateful for all the other Black women leaders who have gone before her, and she wants to be a role model for students. She also affirmed her excitement at being able to serve CMS in the leadership role. 

Hill has 25 years of experience in education, which includes earning her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from GWU. As superintendent of CMS, she will lead the second largest school district in North Carolina and 17th largest in the country according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Her decisions will impact more than 140,406 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 181 schools.

CMS Interim Superintendent Crystal Hill
CMS Superintendent Dr. Crystal L. Hill

Gardner-Webb’s College of Education Dean Dr. Prince H. Bull congratulated Hill. “We know that Dr. Crystal Hill will be transformative, innovative, and visionary in her new role with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools,” he praised. “In the College of Education at Gardner-Webb University, excellence is our minimum standard. Through our conceptual framework, we prepare our doctoral graduates to be catalysts for positive sustainable change.”

Dr. Bruce Boyles, GWU associate provost for Professional and Graduate Studies, knew Hill when she was starting her administrative career. “Dr. Crystal Hill is an excellent choice to lead the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools,” Boyles affirmed. “We had the opportunity to work together in Mooresville when I was superintendent there and she was a principal. It was obvious early in her career that she would continue to serve in positions of increasing responsibility. I am especially pleased that one of our College of Education doctoral graduates will be leading one of the largest districts in the nation.”

Before being tapped as CMS interim superintendent in January 2023, Hill served as CMS Chief of Staff, working closely with the superintendent, his cabinet and the Board of Education. When the announcement was made, Hill stated that her goal as interim was to carry out the plans for growth and achievement that she helped to develop.

Hill received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C., and began her career as a first-grade teacher in Guilford County (N.C.) Schools. Next, she served various roles, including assistant principal, principal, and executive director of elementary education and federal programs in Mooresville Graded School District; then, as curriculum coordinator in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County (N.C.) Schools. In 2020, she co-chaired the North Carolina State Board of Education Literacy Task Force.

She chose to earn her doctorate at Gardner-Webb for several reasons. “The most appealing factor was the program was heavily focused on the work of the practitioner while being deeply rooted in evidenced-based and research-based practices,” she asserted. “The design of the program allowed for immediate application which allowed me to experience immediate success. GWU also values collaboration and coursework and was intentional in developing relationships with those in my cohort and learning from each other.”

Before coming to CMS in May 2022, Hill was assistant superintendent and chief academic officer for Cabarrus County (N.C.) Schools, where she led the district in achieving the highest level of academic performance in history. She also currently serves on the Leading on Opportunity Council, an entity of the Foundation For The Carolinas, that uses strategy, policy and data to help its partners across Charlotte-Mecklenburg improve economic mobility for all.

Then Interim Superintendent Crystal Hill met with Principal Dr. Kevin Woods, other staff, and students of Randolph Middle School as she toured several CMS schools in January 2023. Photo courtesy of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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