Rocky Mount Prep names new principal


James Knight Jr.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Rocky Mount Preparatory School has named a new high school principal to replace one who was let go in May in a controversial decision.

James L. Knight Jr. will take the reins of the secondary school at the charter school beginning after the holiday break, Rocky Mount Prep announced this week in a press release. Knight is a native of Edgecombe County and the son of retired Edgecombe Couty Sheriff James L. Knight Sr. 

“Rocky Mount Prep has successfully concluded the search for a secondary school principal and enthusiastically introduced Mr. James L. Knight, Jr. as the next principal of Rocky Mount Preparatory School. The search committee represented a cross-section of our community including teachers, administrators, parents and scholars. Rocky Mount Prep is incredibly grateful to the committee who invested so much time, effort, reflection and commitment to this process,” Hayley Ward, director of communications and recruiting for Rocky Mount Prep, said in the release.

Knight replaces Maurice Moore, whose contract was not renewed at the end of the last academic year. That decision evoked a storm of continuing protests in the months since.

Knight is already known to many on the Rocky Mount Prep campus. Prior to his appointment as principal of the secondary school, Knight served as the assistant principal at Rocky Mount Prep Elementary. He also serves as the coordinator for the Beginning Teacher Support Program, which serves and supports approximately 40 teachers at the school who have less than three years teaching experience.

Knight is a graduate of Southwest Edgecombe High School. He received an N.C. Teaching Fellows Scholarship to study at N.C. Central University where he earned a bachelor‘s degree in English and certification to teach grades 9-12.

Knight was also a Fidelity Investment scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he received a master’s degree in literature. In addition, he competed for and obtained an N.C. Principal Fellows Scholarship, which allowed him to earn a master’s degree in school administration at East Carolina University in 2015.

As the secondary school principal, Knight hopes to share his strong commitment to education with his students.

"I have a heart for helping rural students understand that they can go out and receive a quality education then come back and improve the area in which they grew up. I look forward to helping the secondary scholars reach their greatest potential,” Knight said in the release.

Knight said he has learned that students will meet any expectation set for them no matter how high or how low and that expectations must always be high so that they can achieve at their greatest potential. He said he also has learned that passion and relationships are prerequisites for reaching and educating student successfully, he said.

“Each student must be made to feel special and as if they are a part of something great that does not work without them.“ Knight said. “Operating in truth and transparency is what is best when trying to achieve success.”

Knight is married to Benita Kinney Knight, who is also a veteran educator and administrator. The two have been married for almost four years and have a son. The couple is expecting a daughter in March.