GREENVILLE, N.C. — Dawn Hester has been named Pitt County Schools Director of Exceptional Children, Superintendent Ethan Lenker announced Friday.

Hester, who guided the department as its interim director since May 1, will officially assume EC’s top leadership position Jan. 1, 2023.

She will continue to oversee an EC program that is committed to providing specially designed instruction with fidelity and evidenced-based practices to students with disabilities that have individualized education plans (IEP) enrolled in Pitt County Schools in the least restrictive educational environment possible. In addition, the department offers support and related services such as audiology, assistive technology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sensory information and school psychology.

“Our district is fortunate to have Mrs. Hester leading our exceptional children’s program,” PCS Assistant Superintendent of Educational Programs and Services Steve Lassiter said. “Over the past six months, Mrs. Hester has worked diligently to move our program forward. Her experience and strategic thinking is what our district needs to ensure support for our teachers and high outcomes for students with exceptionalities.”

Before her appointment as interim director, Hester served as assistant director of the exceptional children’s department beginning in 2020. From 2017 to 2020, she was coordinator of special programs/administrator of the Alpha Center – an alternative learning program within the system’s EC division.

Hester initially joined PCS as a special education teacher in 1997 and spent 16 years in the classroom. In addition to leading, developing and implementing IEP parent conference meetings and ensuring compliance with state and federal guidelines, she designed and provided current curriculum for students with cross-categorical disabilities among her many duties in that position.

She was appointed as K-12 instruction coach in the Exceptional Children’s Department in 2013 and spent two years in that role before transitioning to a K-8 program specialist, where she worked with 22 specific buildings across the PCS footprint. Hester monitored the district’s special education compliance per state specific indicators and findings, working with 22 separate buildings within the system to develop sustainable conformity.

“I have passionately served students, staff, families and our community for the last 25 years and am truly honored to be selected as director of the exceptional children’s department,” Hester said. “In addition to looking forward to continuing to lead and supporting our district and school teams, I’m committed to ensure that every student has the opportunity to engage in the highest quality of learning.”

Hester earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from East Carolina University before following with a master’s in administration, also from ECU, with accreditation as a curriculum instructional specialist and exceptional children program administrator.

Additionally, Hester is New Directors Leadership Institute Certified, a member of the NCDPI Textbook Commission and authored an article published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, along with engagement in over 20 comprehensive training sessions.