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Former Winston-Salem/Forsyth superintendent has died. Zane Eargle oversaw restructuring of schools in the 1980s.
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Former Winston-Salem/Forsyth superintendent has died. Zane Eargle oversaw restructuring of schools in the 1980s.

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Zane Eargle, who was the superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools during a major reorganization in the 1980s, died on Oct. 12 at the age of 86.

Pfeiffer University announced his death on its website. Eargle left the local school district to become the president of what was then Pfeiffer College in 1988. He held that job until 1998.

Known for an unassuming, low-key style of leadership, Eargle came to the school district in 1982 when it was in the throes of reorganizing its schools. At that time, schools were structured to serve five different grade levels — K-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12. In 1985, the school system moved to its current structure with elementary schools serving K-5, middle schools 6-8 and high schools 9-12.

The process involved closing seven schools, reassigning half of the administrators and one-third of teachers, according to a 1988 article in the Winston-Salem Journal.

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“There really wasn’t any honeymoon here,” he told the Journal. “We had a very tight timeline. We had a year and a half to totally revamp the school system.”

Garlene Grogan, the chairwoman of the school board during Eargle’s tenure, said he was skilled at building relationships, whether it was with individual school board members, county commissioners, students, teacher or parents.

“He worked hard for everyone to come together, cooperate and move forward as much as we could with whatever we were working on. He was definitely a peacemaker,” she said. “He worked hard to hear everyone, and that’s a monumental task.”

His successor, Larry Coble, got to know Eargle through education circles.

“He was a person very committed to educating all students and had a wonderful personality, just a kind, caring person,” Coble recalled. “He did not have a large ego or have to be in the limelight.”




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