During the late 1960s and early 1970s, educational organizations in North Carolina and the nation were undergoing dramatic changes. For decades in North Carolina, the division of Superintendents and the Division of Principals had been significant and strongly contributing components of the North Carolina Education Association (NCEA), which became the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) in 1970 with its merger with the North Carolina Teachers Association (NCTA). Also, at the national level, the principals’ groups (NASSP and NAESP) and superintendents’ organization (AASA) had for decades been member groups of the National Education Association (NEA).

With NEA’s removal of AASA from its ranks in the late 1960s and with the changing directions of NEA’s philosophy, including its declared union status and insistence on a unified dues structure with state and local affiliates, superintendents, principals and other central office administrators began to sense a strong need for the creation of a new administrators’ organization that could better represent the needs and interests of their constituencies. Although in North Carolina the Division of Superintendents and the Division of Principals were still functioning under the NCAE umbrella in the mid-1970s, the relationships were often awkward and sometimes strained.

Responding to this unrest and anxiety, twenty-nine (29) of the state’s most influential central office administrators (mostly local superintendents) attended an all-day meeting in Moore County on January 30, 1976 to explore the possibility of creating a new organization to serve school administrators in North Carolina. Those attending this meeting were:

Luther Adams, Halifax County; L. C. Adcock, Granville County; Young Allen, Robeson County; Raz Autry, Hoke County; Phil Beamon, Camden County; Kenneth Brinson, Lee County; Lawson Brown, Davidson County; Jim Everidge, Davie County; Ossie Fields, Wilson County; Alton Gray, Harnett County; John Jones, Montgomery County; R. E. Lee, Moore County; Jasper Lewis, Washington City; Jim Martin, Stanly County; Wade Mobley, Rowan County; Duane Moore, Kinston City; Robert Nelson, Alamance County; Kenneth Newbold, Scotland County; Bill Niven, Lexington City; C. E. Powers, Moore County; Jay Robinson, Cabarrus County; Walter Rogers, Person County; Joe Talley, Roanoke Rapids City; Eddie West, High Point City; George Williams, Orange County; I. A. Wortman, Jr., Harnett County; Toby Webb, Albemarle City; Frank Yeager, Durham County; and Charles Yelverton, Duplin County.

From this group’s discussion and work came the formation of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) which was designed to be an umbrella organization whose membership would be open to all administrative and supervisory personnel at the school, school system and state levels, as well as to university professors of education administration. Its purposes, objectives and goals were patterned after the national administrators’ organizations, and were spelled out in the first constitution which was ratified at NCASA’s organizational meeting in Greensboro on June 22, 1976.

Robert Lee, Superintendent of Moore County, was duly elected as NCASA’s first president, and the new organization officially became operational on July 1, 1976, with annual membership dues of $20. Membership during the first year reached 787 and represented personnel from all leadership categories. Edison Powers of Moore County volunteered to serve as Executive Secretary during the first year.

The first several months saw NCASA experience the usual birthing and growing pains. Beginning with its second year, 1977-78, dues were increased to $30, and Alvin Hooks, Professor at Appalachian State University, was selected to guide the Association as its first Executive Director. This arrangement continued for one year on a part-time basis while NCASA was learning to sit alone, crawl, and finally stand on its own two feet and was then ready to take those all-important first steps. Membership in the second year reached 1,037, and the Association was walking well, trotting and galloping a little, and even beginning to participate in some marathon races with even the best of them.

It was now time for a bold new step. In July 1978, the Association was ready to come center stage in educational leadership, and to make a stronger presence in North Carolina. To establish this, Ray Sarbaugh was employed as NCASA’s first full-time Executive Director. Ray had recently retired as Associate Superintendent of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and his employment proved, through time, to be an act of great wisdom for NCASA. The Association now had established permanent physical presence in Raleigh. The North Carolina School Boards Association through its Executive Director, Raleigh Dingman, offered space in its office at 333 S. Salisbury Street. Later, this same shared office arrangement continued in the new Local Government Commission Building on S. Saunders Street. After three years of sharing offices, in 1981 NCASA moved into its own office suite at 333 Wade Avenue where it remained until 1999. In 1999, the offices of the Association moved to 214 New Bern Place in downtown Raleigh where it continues to be housed. Working with Ray in the early years was the first Administrative Secretary, Kathy Jones. Total membership at the end of the 1978-79 year was 1,046. This grew to 1,236 by June of 1980. A significant development came in 1979 when the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) designated NCASA as its officially chartered arm in North Carolina, creating a strong collegial relationship with AASA that continues to this day.

The Association through its history has been blessed with a cadre of very strong, dedicated and capable presidents representing all geographical areas of the state, all membership constituencies, and reflecting NCASA’s cultural, ethnic, and gender considerations. Listed here are the persons who have served the Association as President:

  • 1976-77   Robert E. Lee, Moore County School
  • 1977-78   Joe Fries, Cabarrus County Schools 
  • 1978-79   Doris Lewis, Harnett County Schools
  • 1979-80   Gladys Britt, Department of Public Instruction
  • 1980-81   Frank Yeager, Durham County Schools
  • 1981-82   Larry Sides, Charlotte/Mecklenburg Schools
  • 1982-83   Jean Haislip, Goldsboro City Schools
  • 1983-84   Roger Jackson, Ashe County Schools
  • 1984-85   Betty West, Davie County Schools
  • 1985-86   Harold Gillis, Hoke County Schools
  • 1986-87   Cleveland Hammonds, Durham City Schools 
  • 1987-88   Mac Forde, Scotland County Schools
  • 1988-89   Nancy Nuckols, Davidson County Schools
  • 1989-90   Jim Causby, Polk County Schools
  • 1990-91   Trudy Blake, Robeson County Schools
  • 1991-92   John Dunn, Edenton/Chowan County Schools
  • 1992-93   Shirley Johnson, Durham City Schools
  • 1993-94   Jim Simeon, Lexington City Schools
  • 1994-95   John Guard, Edenton/Chowan County Schools 
  • 1995-96   Sherron Crawford, McDowell County Schools
  • 1996-97   Mal Brown, Buncombe County Schools
  • 1997-98   David Bryant, Edgecombe County Schools
  • 1998-99   Wendell Hall, Hertford County Schools
  • 1999-00   Ricky Lopes, Cumberland County Schools
  • 2000-01   Harold Winkler, Cabarrus County Schools
  • 2001-02   Joseph Richardson, Richmond County Schools
  • 2002-03   Ann Denlinger, Durham Public Schools
  • 2003-04   Kerry Crutchfield, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
  • 2004-05   Rick Stout, Pamlico County Schools
  • 2005-06   Carl Harris, Durham Public Schools
  • 2006-07   Brenda Jones, Durham Public Schools
  • 2007-08   Jeff McDaris, Transylvania County Schools
  • 2008-09   Evan Myers, Davidson County Schools
  • 2009-10   Larry Price, Wilson County Schools
  • 2010-11   Melisa Jessup, Stokes County Schools
  • 2011-12   Dan Brigman, Macon County Schools
  • 2012-13   Steve Ellis, Wilson County Schools
  • 2013-14   Scott Denton, Durham Public Schools
  • 2014-15   Rodney Shotwell, Rockingham County Public Schools
  • 2015-16   Jennifer Dean, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • 2016-17   Jeff Hollamon, Onslow County Public Schools

After 1980, membership continued to grow to 1,550 in 1981 and by 1984-85 had reached 2,015. In 1980, NCASA was requested to take over the administration of the Superintendents Benefit Fund Charitable Trust which it managed until the Trust was dissolved in 1998. Also, the organization of Retired Superintendents continues to function through NCASA. During the first four years of its existence (1976-80), the Association made no distinction in membership groups or classification. Sentiment was growing to re-establish some of the subgroups as had existed prior to the formation of NCASA.

In response to these voices, the constitution was amended in 1980 to provide for the creation of three commissions as the major components of NCASA. These were the Superintendents’ Commission, the Supervisors’ Commission, and the Principals’ Commission. Each commission had its own officers and constitution, and they each first reported on their operations to the full membership at the annual meeting in Pinehurst, NC in December 1980. Thus, for the first time each member was now a member of one the commissions as well as a member of the parent association, NCASA. This arrangement was discontinued in 1989 when principals and assistant principals voted to leave NCASA and the Association became temporarily an organization of central office administrators only.

The period of the early and mid-1980’s was one of solid service and stability. Membership remained about constant at around 2,000 during these years with strong representation from all three commissions. With the withdrawal of the principals’ group in 1989, membership fell to about 800, the lowest level since 1977. Nonetheless, during the decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Association established and maintained a strong presence in downtown Raleigh, and became a significant player with individuals, organizations, and groups who made decisions that impacted the public schools. The Association, through its history, has had close ties with four state superintendents: Craig Phillips, Bob Etheridge, Mike Ward and June Atkinson, as well as State School Board Chairmen Dallas Herring, David Bruton, Howard Hayworth, Dick Spangler, Jay Robinson, Phil Kirk and Howard Lee. During its history, NCASA has developed a strong liaison with the leadership of the General Assembly as well as with Governors Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt, Jim Martin and Mike Easley.

One of the milestones of NCASA’s service programs to its membership began in July 1987, with the implementation of Project LEAD, an in-service and staff development program on a statewide basis funded to NCASA through a substantial grant from the U.S. Office of Education. This three-year project was part of a national initiative and provided timely staff development programs for hundreds of North Carolina’s local school administrators. The project was directed by Ossie Fields, assisted by Joyce Myers, and was coordinated through the eight regional centers of the Department of Public Instruction, which served as the delivery system. The program offerings made extensive use of professors from the University System as instructors and presenters.

Following Ray Sarbaugh’s retirement in 1989, the Board of Directors approached Ossie Fields about becoming the next Executive Director. With another year remaining for Project LEAD, Ossie agreed to serve as Interim Director for six months, carrying both roles. In January 1990, Joe Bryson of UNC-Greensboro was employed on a part-time basis while the officers and Board of Directors explored the future of NCASA. The membership and financial situation of the Association were reaching a critical point. Through the leadership of President Jim Causby, the concept of administrative unit membership was initiated in 1990-91. This addressed both critical problems: finance and membership. This breathed new life into the Association, and in the fall of 1990, the search was begun for another full-time Executive Director.

Dudley Flood was employed as the second full-time Executive Director and he began in January 1991, the first such position in a year and a half. After an absence of three years, many principals and assistant principals began to make overtures in 1992 to reopen membership to them. Finally in 1993, the constitution was amended again to enable principals and assistant principals to enjoy full-fledged membership. This proved to be a very positive move, and enabled NCASA to once again return with renewed determination and commitment to fulfill its original purpose of 1976: to serve the entire education leadership team from the school, to the school system to the state level.

Jan Crotts was employed as Executive Director following the retirement of Dudley Flood in March of 1996. Through her leadership, NCASA grew and matured, and the organization moved to 214 New Bern Place in downtown Raleigh in 1999.  By 2001, 100 school districts had joined the Association as unit members and helped bring NCASA's total membership to more than 4,800 individual administrators. By 2003, that number had increased to almost 5,500 school administrators statewide, with 105 of the 117 school districts joining the Association as unit members.

Upon Jan Crotts' retirement in June 2003, the NCASA Board of Directors asked Katherine W. Joyce to serve as Interim Executive Director, while a search was conducted for the organization's new leader.  Katherine, who already was serving as NCASA's Director of Governmental Relations at the time, led the organization for six months and helped relocate NCASA's office to the Longview Center at 118 S. Person Street in downtown Raleigh.

On January 1, 2004, Jim Causby took the helm as NCASA's new Executive Director, and for two years, he focused on building the organization's financial strength and its membership base. He implemented a new Corporate Membership structure. These members provide goods and services to public schools and receive assistance from NCASA in their marketing strategies with local school systems.

Jim Causby also spearheaded an effort to reshape NCASA as a true umbrella organization, under 12 organizations representing different facets of NCASA's membership could come together and work on issues of mutual interest. As part of this unification process, the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals' Association became NCASA's new affiliate organization for school-based administrators and replaced the organization's former Principals' and Assistant Principals' Section, effective July 1, 2005. A new affiliate group, the North Carolina School Superintendents' Association, was organized at the same time.

In December 2005, Jim Causby retired as NCASA's Executive Director to begin leading the North Carolina School Superintendents' Association as its first Executive Director in part-time capacity. Katherine W. Joyce was again named NCASA's Interim Executive Director for a six-month period that concluded June 30, 2006.

On July 1, 2006, Bill McNeal, who retired as Superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, took the helm of the Association as its new Executive Director. During his first year with the organization, the NCASA office relocated to its current location of 333 Fayetteville Street, Suite 1410, in downtown Raleigh. In June 2011, Bill McNeal retired as NCASA's Executive Director.

From July 1, 2011to June 30, 2013 Larry Price, retired Superintendent of Wilson County Schools, served as NCASA's Executive Director.

In summary, NCASA has been fortunate over its 30-plus years history to have had strong elected leadership and to benefit from the wisdom, devotion and hard work of its staff. From the volunteer work of Edison Powers in 1976-77, the following people have led the Association on a day-to-day basis:

  • Alvin Hooks, part-time, ASU | 1977-1978  
  • Ray Sarbaugh | 1978-1989
  • Ossie Fields, six months | 1989-1990
  • Joe Bryson, part-time, UNC-G | 1990
  • Dudley Flood | 1991-1996
  • Jan Crotts | 1996-2003
  • Katherine W. Joyce, interim, six months | 2003
  • Jim Causby | 2004-2006
  • Katherine W. Joyce, interim, six months | 2006
  • Bill McNeal | 2006-2011
  • Larry Price | 2011-2013
  • Katherine W. Joyce | 2013 - present

Furthermore, during the years other members of the NCASA office staff have given tirelessly of their abilities and have provided that all-important link between the Raleigh office and the membership. In addition to Kathy Jones, others whose names many will remember are Edna Renolds, Joyce Myers, Carolyn Bunting, Barbara Walker, Beth Clack, Linda Suggs and graduate interns David Coley and Pat Kinlaw.

NCASA continues to be an organization of strength and speaks often and loudly with a voice of maturity, wisdom and stability that commands respect throughout the state.

Today, NCASA’s financial condition is strong; 112 school districts have joined the organization as unit members, bringing NCASA’s total membership to more than 6,000 school administrators from across the state. The Association’s officers, directors and membership have every reason to look to the future with enthusiasm and optimism. The first three decades are but prologue to a future that should be filled with greatness and growth and service to the cause of public education in North Carolina and to its leaders and decision-makers.

Written by W.O. (Ossie) Fields, Jr. March 2006
Updated by NCASA staff June 2014