This is the second in a series of reflections upon my years as Superintendent. This blog highlights my second 4-year term, which began in July 2015.
In July 2015, Frederick County Public Schools had a new strategic plan with 5 aspirational goals. Staff were excited to have this clear vision for the system, and work began to align school-improvement efforts with the systemic goals and priorities.
We were also building relationships with our new County Executive and County Council members. It was exciting to have their commitment to funding our new pay scale and to receive funding above Maintenance of Effort! Our capital budget needs were also a high priority for our local leaders, and we completed the renovation of Frederick High School and opened two new elementary schools—Butterfly Ridge and Sugarloaf. The growth in our county continued throughout my second term and will likely continue throughout Term 3.
During my second term, FCPS was also busy trying to get technology into our schools to support the requirement for online assessments in our state testing program. Training to support staff in using blended learning began and ultimately led to the Vanguard program for teacher leaders committed to transforming instruction!
Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and returned many accountability decisions to the state. Fortunately, FCPS staff and Board members were well represented in the Maryland State Department of Education’s sponsored ESSA stakeholder groups. As the new accountability system was developed, FCPS worked proactively to prepare our staff and community for the state’s new Star Rating System. It was especially delightful to celebrate all of our schools receiving ratings of 3 stars and above!
One of my proudest accomplishments in my second term was seeing the vision for LYNX (Linking Youth to New eXperiences) become a reality. LYNX at Frederick High School is transforming high school for our 21st Century learners. The support of our business and community leaders has been exceptional, and I look forward to seeing the first cohort of LYNX students at graduation in 2021.
As my second term was coming to an end, the Maryland legislature took the first step in implementing the Kirwan Commission recommendations by passing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. These policy and funding recommendations will be pivotal in our work for the next 4 years and beyond!
In addition to the importance of implementing these new state mandates, there are still many key things to do during my third term: addressing students’ social emotional learning needs, improving our environmental practices across the system and, most importantly, eliminating the achievement gap! The FCPS team is ready for the challenge, and I am thrilled to serve with them for 4 more years.