NEW BERN, N.C. – More than 500 educators, business leaders, community members and elected officials will fill the New Bern Riverfront Convention and Visitors Center on June 14 for the PIE Annual Luncheon.

This annual event supports and recognizes the educators in Craven County Schools. PIE awarded over $400,000 through various grants and programs during the 2021-22 school year.

Daniel Rhyne, President of Partners In Education, announced the luncheon would host Dr. Curtis Jones, Superintendent of Bibb County Schools. He also served as the 2019 National Superintendent of the Year as the keynote speaker.

Doors open at 11:30 am for seating, with the event beginning at Noon. Tickets are $30 per person. The Flame is catering. John Bircher, an attorney with Davis Hartman Wright, will emcee. This event is open to the public. Tickets are available for purchase from the PIE School Ambassadors or contacting PIE directly at 514-6321. We suggest you purchase your tickets early because this is a sell-out event.  

Mr. Rhyne explains, “The luncheon is an excellent opportunity for our community to show their support of Craven County Schools, our public-school educators, and administrators. The event finances PIE Grants, grants awarded to teachers for creative and innovative projects in Craven County Schools classrooms that fund materials for technology, science, music, art projects, and supplies and books for our students. I’m pleased to announce that PIE awarded over $35,000 in PIE Grants during the 2021-22 school year.”

Brandy Popp, Chair of the Fund-Raising Committee, said she is thrilled to welcome Dr. Jones to Craven County. Ms. Popp explained, “The theme this year is ‘Victory In Progress’. After arriving in Bibb County, Dr. Jones adopted this mantra for his district, and it has become central in the planning of their district’s strategic priorities and shared culture.”

Dr. Jones is an educator with more than 20 years of experience. He began his career in education as a JROTC instructor with the Griffin-Spalding County School System in Griffin, Georgia. He became a high school principal and then advanced to assistant superintendent, then superintendent before going to Bibb County. Before his educational career, Dr. Jones served in the United States Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Jones, a passionate educator, dedicated to developing students as scholars, leaders, and good citizens, joined the Bibb County School District in April 2015. When he joined the district, Dr. Jones set one of his first long-term goals as raising the district’s graduation. As a result, the district has made significant gains in improving its graduation rate, which was 51.3 percent in 2011 and rose to 80.67 percent in 2021. Under his leadership, the Bibb County School District has been cited for its work to advance the district and its students. In December 2018, Dr. Jones was named 2019 Georgia Superintendent of the Year, and he was later named 2019 National Superintendent of the Year by AASA.

Highlights of his tenure include implementing 21st-century technology equitably throughout the district, including one-to-one technology for each student and interactive panels for teachers in all classrooms; implementing The Leader in Me framework districtwide to improve character and discipline; leading the way for overwhelming voter support of two education tax campaigns; implementing the Get Better Faster new teacher induction platform to improve retention and culture; improving the district’s overall reputation within the community and throughout the state; and overseeing the district’s response to COVID-19. With Dr. Jones at the helm, the district has received national attention. Dr. Jones has been interviewed and cited by national media on multiple occasions, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

He is married to Evelyn, a retired elementary school principal. They have three children and are the proud grandparents of two granddaughters and a grandson.

PIE’s Partners for  the Luncheon are AlphaGraphics, BB&T-NowTruist, Bella’s Cafe, Bojangles’, B/S/H/ Home Appliances, CarolinaEast Health System, Century 21 Zaytoun-Raines, Coastal Carolina Health Care, Craven Community College, Craven County Wood Energy, Edward Jones Investments Financial Advisors: Michael Bass, Charles Benson III, Georgiana Bowman Bircher, Joanna Carr, Kevin Page, Dan M Roberts IV, and Michael Sprague,  First Citizens Bank, International Paper, Martin Marietta, Mitchell Hardware, Moen, Morgan’s Tavern & Grill, Neuse River Region Association of REALTORS, Inc., New Bern Now, PPG Paints, Paula’s Italian Restaurant, Piedmont Natural Gas, Pierce Group Benefits, Rotary Club of New Bern, Smithfield Foods, 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: Chatsworth Products, John Bircher – Davis Hartman Wright, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Fisher Fuel Markets.

To learn more about PIE grants and programs, how to be a PIE Partner, and to purchase a ticket, contact Darlene Brown, Executive Director, Craven County Partners In Education, at 514-6321 or visit

Craven County Partners In Education provides grant funding and special programs to classrooms and schools within the Craven County Schools system. It is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation, Tax ID #56-1335975, and donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 919-814-5400. The license is not an endorsement by the State.Since 1989, PIE has been changing the lives of students and families in our community by providing our educators with financial resources that enhance and reward innovative approaches to educational excellence