- Johnston County School District
JCPS Employee of the Year is dedicated to keeping schools safe
Chase Ferrell is humble. So humble, in fact, that when asked how he felt about being named Johnston County Public Schools Auxiliary and Administrative Services Employee of the Year he said, “There are a ton of great people that we work with that could have easily been named.”
Ferrell was nominated by colleague Ben Barbour who stated, “I’ve never met someone that is as involved and passionate about his job as he is.”
Barbour also said that he had personally witnessed the relationship that Ferrell has built with the Johnston County emergency services department, police departments, and the sheriff’s office.
He believes that Johnston County is a better place because of the work that Ferrell does. “He truly puts children and staff safety as his number one priority, always has a positive attitude, and can find the good in a bad situation,” Barbour said.
A native of Harnett County, Ferrell grew up in Dunn and attended Triton High School. He said he learned a lot from his mom and dad, and small town values.
His father sold insurance and his mother was a jack of all trades, working in education at one point, and also becoming a hairstylist. “She is by far the smartest of us all!” Ferrell exclaimed. She made sure that he and his younger sister got their college degrees.
Ferrell attended North Carolina State University majoring in mass communications. While in college, he worked as a youth counselor and youth director for the local YMCA. That’s where his passion for working with children began to develop.
That passion also came from his days on sports teams and having great mentors in his life. Ferrell said it would have been easy to veer off of the right path, but he credits those coaches and mentors who helped guide him along the way and keep him on the straight and narrow. “I wanted to provide what was provided to me,” he said about coaching.
After graduation from NC State, he worked in the mass communications field, hoping to be the next Tom Suitor, a local television sportscaster. He did that for a while and ultimately decided it wasn’t for him.
Ferrell went back to school at NC Central University, got a teaching certification, and began teaching and coaching in Durham Public Schools. He coached middle school boys soccer and assisted with middle school boys basketball.
He decided to continue his journey in education, went back to NC Central University, and earned a Master of School Administration. Ferrell was an assistant principal and principal before he came to his current role as Auxiliary Services and Safety Officer.
Part of Ferrell’s role is to oversee Transportation Services and School Nutrition Services. Once again, he is humble and gives the credit for his success to the director’s of those departments.
“I provide them support and a little oversight here and there, but they run it and make great things happen,” he said, “They handle business and that allows me to focus on what my passion is.”
Although his role has morphed over the last few years with the changes in the schools, Ferrell’s relentless pursuit of safety has not waivered.
“My passion as an administrator and what I do now is to create a safe environment for kids so they can have a place where teachers can teach and learners can learn.”
His proudest achievement is the relationship he has forged with local emergency services and local law enforcement. “There are a lot of people involved in the same common goal,” said Ferrell. “It makes me smile.”
He speaks highly of the people in those roles and their ultimate professionalism. Ferrell also said that when they get together, everyone steps up their game and he knows they are going to accomplish something that makes a difference.
Those men and women, like Ferrell, have a passion for keeping people safe. They deal in life and death situations daily, and are always available day or night for Ferrell to ask questions. “We’ve bonded,” he remarked. “We’re all in this together!”
Ferrell’s infectious positivity comes from the people he works with. “It’s all about the people,” he said. Working with people who all have the same, common goal is what makes him tick.
As an administrator, Ferrell would typically have an office to himself. Instead, he chose to have a “space” with a group of people in transportation services. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Number one is that he doesn’t sit still. Ferrell feels he is at his best when he is out and about in the schools providing guidance and assistance.
Secondly, he sees himself as one of everyone else. “I’m just a spoke in the wheel,” Ferrell said. He didn’t feel he needed to take up space for someone who truly needed an office. He is fine being mobile.
His proudest accomplishment is the work that’s been done with emergency services and local law enforcement, and how tight they have become. “We have a consistent goal,” he said. “Those relationships are very important. I’m just glad to be part of what we’ve got going on here. My moments aren’t what matters. It’s about our moments and the moments students have every day. I get my joy from ensuring that students have those moments.”
When Ferrell isn’t making sure JCPS students and staff are safe, you might find him at the pool with his daughter or on the disc golf course with his son. The two have recently taken up the sport together. “It’s so addictive,” he said.
He also likes to go out to eat with his wife. “If I’m with those guys outside of work, that’s where I want to commit my time.”
His vision for the future is one where JCPS students and staff can grow and be free to express themselves in an environment where they aren’t looking over their shoulders.
“Hopefully, we have measures and protocols in place that allow them to be kids and not have to group up too quickly,” he commented.
For Ferrell, being able to play a small role in that is very rewarding, but it isn’t about the reward but being a part of the process.
“I just want to keep them safe,” he said. “I want them to have the chance to be those things they are supposed to be and give them a chance to be a part of schools and thrive.“
It’s no wonder that Ferrell was nominated for the Employee of the Year award. He is definitely an important part of the JCPS wheel, and is a spoke that helps keep the wheel turning with a smile on his face every day.