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Catawba County Schools Announces Dynamic Additions to Directors Team


NEWTON, February 23,  2021 -- Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dr. Matt Stover announced the addition of four new directors for child nutrition, transportation, personnel development, and marketing and communications. The school board confirmed these positions on Monday night. 

“We are thrilled that these four talented professionals will be sharing their passion and experience with our district and community,” explains Dr. Stover. “It's wonderful to be able to promote our own team members as well as to bring in new faces and ideas for the district." 

Below are the details of each new position: 

Director of Child Nutrition - Caren Berrier

Caren Berrier

Caren Berrier is coming to CCS from Gaston County to take on the role of Director of Child Nutrition beginning March 16. She is replacing Valda Robinson, who is retiring after 24 years in education.

“Mrs. Robinson has done a wonderful job over the last nine years with CCS,” Stover notes. “She will be missed, especially with her care and compassion for our students, staff, and families in CCS. During this pandemic, she and her staff stood at the face of COVID-19 and continued to deliver meals to our community, putting aside their personal health to ensure others remained healthy!”

Berrier began her career as a cafeteria manager with Union County Schools in 2007, where she learned the importance of building relationships with teachers and principals. She spent the last 12.5 years with Gaston County Schools, where she most recently served as their Assistant Director of School Nutrition, ensuring that their 54 schools and central kitchen operated smoothly. 

“We believe her past experiences in Child Nutrition in Gaston County will meet the needs of a district this size,” Stover says. “She will make another great team member in CCS.”

“I am thrilled to join such a strong community-based school district,” Berrier notes. “I have heard only wonderful things from current and previous employees, students, and parents. I look forward to cooking with love and seeing what magic we can create in the kitchen.” 

She and her husband have two school-age boys, Austin and Owen, which helps the emphasis she places on assuring that all students and staff enjoy their dining experiences. 

Director of Transportation - Ashley Martin

Ashley Martin

Beginning March 1, Ashley Martin will be the new Director of Transportation, replacing Ivan Albritton, who is retiring after 22 years with CCS.

“Mr. Allbritton has been a great transportation director for CCS.  We will miss his relationships with our bus garage, bus drivers, and school personnel.  He always found a way to keep students safe at bus stops and on the bus,” Stover says. 

In her new role, Martin will be responsible for managing the district’s transportation system and supporting school and activity buses at all CCS sites.

As Stover notes: “Ms. Martin’s experience with the Department of Transportation and her commercial driving license training will certainly help her have a smooth transition into our transportation department. She is passionate about providing safe and orderly buses in Catawba County.” 

Martin graduated from Appalachian State University in 2005 with a B.S. in Industrial Technology and a Minor in Business. After beginning her career with the Department of Transportation: Division of Motor Vehicles in 2012, she came to CCS and served as the Driver Education Program Specialist and School Bus Trainer, where she taught and trained new and existing school bus drivers. 

“My previous years of experience will allow me to take on my new role with Catawba County School to fortify and grow the Transportation Department while providing our students with safe and reliable school bus transportation,” Martin says.

Director of Personnel Development - Fred Whalen

Fred Whalen

Fred Whalen is the new Director of Personnel Development, replacing Rae Thompson, who was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. Mr. Whalen will begin his new role on June 1.

“Mr. Whalen is filling big shoes with the promotion of Mrs. Rae Thompson to our Assistant Superintendent, but we feel he will take the work and vision of Mrs. Thompson to the next level,” Stover notes. “Mr. Whalen has been an incredible principal at Challenger High School, assistant principal, teacher, and coach for CCS. His exceptional work ethic and outstanding communication and technology skills will help our district hire and retain the best and brightest educators for our students.”

Whalen’s responsibilities include teacher retention and recruitment, professional development, and providing support for all new teachers. Whalen has worked at CCS for 18 years as a teacher and coach and then an administrator.

As Whalen notes:  “My entire family is connected to Catawba County Schools, so I see firsthand what an extraordinary place it is for both our employees and students. I want to help share that message with everyone across the state and try to do my part to make it an even better place to work and attend school.” 

Whalen’s family is deeply ingrained in CCS. His wife, Hollis Whalen, is an English teacher and program coordinator for the Lenoir-Rhyne Scholars Academy; and their children attend Challenger High and  Arndt Middle. Together they enjoy their 2 German Shepherds, traveling and experiencing new food and cultures.

Director of Marketing & Communications - Stephanie Wilson

Stephanie Wilson

Stephanie Wilson is taking on the newly created role of Director of Marketing & Communications beginning March 1. Wilson will be responsible for CCS’ overall communications strategy, including all internal and external communications, media relations, and marketing programs that support the district’s mission and goals while building community. 

Wilson comes to this position with 20 years of experience in marketing and communications. She began her sales and marketing career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. She then established a local boutique marketing agency 14 years ago that works with local, national, and international small-to-medium sized businesses - including the district. 

As Stover notes: “Mrs. WiIson has been working for our system for the last few years in a part-time contract role.  Her work in the past few years has given this district a new light to our community.  She is very well-spoken and has exceptional social media and marketing skills that we have needed to demonstrate to our public the incredible work happening each day in our schools with all our staff and students. We look forward to her expertise, passion, and joy in this now full-time position in CCS.”

“Being able to help connect the community with all of the tremendous things that Catawba County Schools is doing to educate the next generation is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done… and to get to do it on a permanent basis? I’m ecstatic!” Wilson says. Wilson is invested in the success of CCS as she and her husband have two daughters in the district - one quickly approaching high school and the other flourishing in the elementary Spanish Immersion program.