New Hanover County Schools





New Hanover County Schools is saddened to learn of the recent passing of Jessica Embry, Orchestra Director at Eugene Ashley High School. Ms. Embry passed away Sunday night in Kure Beach after trying to save the lives of two children. According to the Kure Beach Police Department, Embry saw the kids struggling in the water, so she went in after them. Along with rescue crews and other bystanders, she was able to pull the kids from the water. While the children were able to exit the ocean safely, Ms. Embry could not. Authorities say the rip currents were very strong, and she died shortly after the rescue.


“There are no words I can offer to express how profound this loss is for our school and community,” said Ashley High Principal Patrick McCarty. “I struggle to speak about this incident to others because of the type of person Jessica Embry was personally and professionally. Ms. Embry worked at our school for nearly nine years as an Orchestra Teacher. Ms. Embry was also a deeply committed advocate for Ashley High School. In addition to her passion in the classroom, she loved the arts and played a significant part in our community.


In fact, Ms. Embry began a group called, “United Sound”, that paired special needs students with those in her orchestra class. Through that partnership, the students were able to get hands-on experience with instruments and learn how to play music. The group even played the national anthem during the county’s last Special Olympics event. Ms. Embry’s impact was profound and she will be greatly missed by all.”


“Jessica Embry was a sister, a daughter, a missionary, incredible orchestra teacher, and a mentor both in our Wilmington Community and in the NHCS Arts family to her colleagues and her students,” said NHCS Lead Arts Director, Jacki Booth. “She approached every day as a challenge to be a better person and to help more people in the process. She will be greatly missed.”


“My sincerest condolences go out to Ms. Embry's family, friends, and colleagues,” said NHCS Superintendent, Dr. Charles Foust. “She was a wonderful educator who had given years of service to NHCS. We greatly appreciate all she did for the music program at Ashley High School and the guidance she provided for so many students over the past decade. The impact she has left behind will last a lifetime.”


Embry has been employed by New Hanover County Schools since 2010. Before coming to Ashley, she worked at Myrtle Grove Middle. 


Grief counseling teams are currently at Ashley High and are providing services for both students and staff. They will remain at the school for as long as needed.