Craven County Partners In Education Announces Plans for the PIE Annual Luncheon

Craven Partners In Education Luncheon

Mike McCoy, President of Partners In Education announced that the PIE Annual Luncheon will be held both in-person and virtually. Because of our generous sponsors, PIE can make the Virtual Luncheon a free “lunch in place” event. He asked the community “to join us for the Virtual Luncheon Event to show their support of our public-school educators and administrators through a link on PIE’s social media sites and PIE’s website, on Friday, May 28th at noon. If you cannot join us at that time, the video link will remain available on PIE’s website.”

The In-Person Luncheon Event will be held Thursday, May 27th at noon (doors open at 11:30 a.m.) at the Havelock Tourist & Event Center, $30/per person. The event will be catered by Chef “Smoke” Boyd and his crew at The Flame. The Havelock High Jazz Band, led by band director Jorge Benitez, will be our featured entertainment. Centerpieces will be provided by Mitchell Hardware in coordination with the art department at Tucker Creek Middle School. A limited number of tickets will be available as determined by state Covid restriction capacity, with priority given to PIE Grant recipients.

Mr. McCoy said he is pleased to announce that PIE has partnered with Morgan’s and The Chelsea to offer a “lunch in-place” opportunity for the Virtual Luncheon Event. Craven County Schools employees can order a limited number of lunches from a pre-set menu in advance from Morgan’s and The Chelsea for $11, all-inclusive. Orders must be placed in advance, by Thursday, May 27, 2021, by 5:00 p.m., through an online ordering system from a link on the PIE website for pickup on Friday, May 28.

Christy Hazlett, Assistant Principal at H.J. MacDonald Middle, and Program Chair of the PIE board explains, “This event helps to fund PIE Grants, grants that are awarded to teachers for creative and innovative projects in Craven County Schools classrooms and to fund materials for technology, science, music, and art projects, along with supplies and books for our students. The PIE Annual Luncheon supports and recognizes teachers who won PIE Grants during the 2020-21 school year. We are so pleased that PIE was able to award over $300,000 to Craven County Schools through a variety of grants and programs during the 2020-21 school year.”

Brandy Popp, Chair of the Fund-Raising committee said she is thrilled to announce the keynote speaker, 2021 National Superintendent of the Year Finalist, Dr. Bryan Johnson.  Ms. Popp explained, “The theme is ‘Relate – Achieve – Believe – Who Tells Your Story?’ Relate – Achieve – Believe is Dr. Johnson’s mantra.  John Bircher will be the emcee for the event.”

Dr. Johnson, a native of Nashville and a proud product of public schools, has dedicated his career to public education, serving as a teacher, school administrator, director of secondary schools, chief academic officer, and now as the Superintendent of Schools in Hamilton County Schools, Tennessee. He holds degrees from Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, and Trevecca University, where he earned his doctorate in educational leadership.

During Dr. Johnson’s tenure, Hamilton County Schools have shown historic levels of improvement. In the last three years, the district moved from 130th to 2nd in the state for student academic growth, making Hamilton County Schools the fastest improving school district in Tennessee. Some of the academic improvements include, increasing the number of Reward Schools (the state’s highest distinction) from 5 to 32, increasing scholarship dollars earned from $20 million to more than $100 million, increases in achievement for high school assessed subjects by 7% or more, and an increase of 4.5% in the number of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students scoring proficient on state assessments.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Johnson worked with community leaders and the school board to launch a 10-year commitment to providing high-speed internet to all 28,500 economically disadvantaged students in Hamilton County for free to close the digital divide. Dr. Johnson has received numerous accolades for his leadership, including being named 2021 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year and 2020 EdWeek Leader To Learn From. He was listed as a Superintendent to Watch by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), Outstanding Young Alumnus at Austin Peay, and Humanitarian of the Year for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Southeastern Region.

Mr. McCoy thanked the partners of the PIE Annual Luncheon: AlphaGraphics, BB&T, Bojangles’, B/S/H/ Home Appliances, CarolinaEast Health System, Century 21 Zaytoun-Raines, Coastal Carolina Health Care, Craven Community College, Craven County Schools, Craven County Wood Energy, Edward Jones Investments Financial Advisors: Dan M Roberts IV, Michael Sprague, Michael Bass, Mitch Meminger, Joanna Carr, Charles Benson III, and Kevin Page, First Citizens Bank, Hearne’s Fine Jewelry, International Paper, Marine Federal Credit Union, Mitchell Hardware, Moen, Morgan’s Tavern & Grill, Neuse River Region Association of REALTORS, Inc., Piedmont Natural Gas, Pierce Group Benefits, Rotary Club of New Bern, Smithfield Foods, Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q, Suddenlink, Sumrell Sugg – Attorneys at Law, Sun Journal, Toyota of New Bern, Trent Cadillac Buick GMC, Weyerhaeuser, White & Allen, Williams-Scarborough-Gray, WITN-TV, and WRNS 95.1 & WERO Bob 93.3 and Supporting Sponsors: John Bircher – Davis Hartman Wright, Craven County Independent Insurance Agents, Duke Energy, Fisher Fuel Markets, The Insurance Center, MBF Architects, and McClay Custom Homes.

To learn more about PIE programs, and how to be part of the PIE Annual Luncheon Events, contact Darlene Brown, Executive Director, Craven County Partners In Education, at 514-6321 or visit

By Darlene Brown