First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - For Lumberton High School Principal Greg Killingsworth, the fourth time was the charm.
After being a runner-up for Principal of the Year for three consecutive years - 2003, 2004 and 2005 - Killingsworth shed his bridesmaid gown on Monday.
The former runner-up wasted little time in commending this year's runner-up, Craig Lowry, principal at Fairgrove Middle School.
“This very easily could've have been you standing up here,” Killingsworth said during the awards luncheon at the Quality Inn and Suites. “You are respected immensely and you deserve this just as well.”
Killingsworth then asked 11 principals who previously worked with him as an assistant principal at Lumberton High to stand. They were Elvera Locklear; Joyce Canady; Cazzie McLamb; Gary Patrick; Kent Lovett; Jonathan Blue; Antonio Wilkins; Melissa Flowers; Penny Britt; Karen Floyd; and Richard Dixon.
“They are the reason I'm up here,” he said. “I have been blessed with a lot of good people. You can't hide ugly but they do make you look good. To be honored by the caliber of people in this room is truly an honor. I'm very, very proud. This is not about me. This is a reflection of the staff and students and what they have achieved.”
Principal Penny Gibson, a member of the committee that selected Killingsworth, shrugged off the suggestion that Killingsworth was in line to win this year.
“You would think that it would have played a part, but it clearly didn't,” Gibson said after the luncheon. “He did an outstanding job on his portfolio and the answers he gave. Both candidates did well. It was a very close race.”
Killingsworth won $500 for school supplies and an educational trip to India. Lowry received $300 for supplies.
“He has brought many, many improvements to the school,” Gibson said of Killingsworth. “He has instituted many cutting-edge programs. His enthusiasm, pride and excitement is shown when he speaks of his school.”
Killingsworth oversees the largest high school in the county, with a staff of 155 and a student body of 2,200. He became Lumberton High's principal in 1999 after serving as assistant principal and athletic director at Terry Sanford High.
During his 32 years in education, Killingsworth has been assistant principal at Cliffdale Elementary and taught at Hoke High and Lewis Chapel Junior High.
The 6-foot, 5-inch Columbia, S.C., native excelled on the basketball court at Seventy First High School. His moves landed him a full scholarship to play basketball at Wingate Junior College. He later played on the team at Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College.
He was a head coach in various sports before coming to Lumberton.
“Coaching has helped me as far as leadership,” he said. “As principals we don't always get the best team, but we try to make the best of what we got.”
Killingsworth, who is 54, earned a master's degree at Fayetteville State University. He has lived in Cumberland County since 1962. He brags that he can make it to school in 24 minutes from his home in Hope Mills. He and his wife, Linda, have four children, Kelly, Kevin, Kasey and Brittany.
During his eight years at Lumberton High, he said he has been offered higher paying jobs in Charlotte/Mecklenburg and Bladen County school systems. But his love for his students, staff and the community has kept him here.
“Why would I want to leave something that is working and something I believe in?” he said. “I don't want to leave because I'm not through with where I want us to be at Lumberton High School. I'm proud to say I work for the Public Schools of Robeson County. This is a special place.”