Ben Thigpen

Smart Agriculture Cluster Lead

Dr. Ben Thigpen grew up in Duplin County, NC. After graduating with a BA in English from UNC-Wilmington, he worked with Duplin County Schools as a high school English teacher and coach until 2000, when he was selected as a North Carolina Principal Fellow and entered school administration. Afterward, Dr. Thigpen served as the principal of Chinquapin Elementary, a K-8 elementary school and an honor school of excellence with above 90% proficiency two years in a row. He was later the high school principal at East Duplin High School, improving East Duplin’s Performance Composite to the 70th percentile of all high schools in North Carolina and demonstrating High Growth. Dr. Thigpen completed his MSA in 2002 and Ed.D. in 2011 at NC State. He later served as a central office director and an assistant superintendent before becoming the Jones County Public Schools Superintendent. While Superintendent, he was honored nationally as an Education Week Leader to Learn From in February 2022. He has presented at several conferences about the work he and this team in Jones County did with strategic planning, implementing The Leader In Me, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution. This work continues in Jones County. Dr. Thigpen retired in January of 2024 after thirty-five years of service in public education.