Friday, September 19, 2014

First Impressions

So, I started this job on July 1 which means I’ve had a good 3 months to visit around and meet with people and listen to their thoughts on Calvert County Public Schools.  I’d like to share with you some of my first impressions in no particular order.

·         This is a nice place to live and raise a family.  It has a rural feel, yet is close to major metropolitan areas.  I like that I don’t have to go far to see the Chesapeake Bay. 

·         There are an amazing number of people who tell me they moved here specifically for the schools -  like the young lady who cut my hair in Lusby when I was just scouting this place out and most recently like the deputy sheriff who stopped me for going too fast on Rt.260.  Yes, they got me. 8-)>

·         Student achievement is very high.  When the MSA results were released this summer, Calvert County Public Schools were on top in most every category.

·         We have a lot of good principals who use that leadership role to keep students in school and to help teachers get the resources they need to do the best job possible.

·         We have a lot of caring teachers who were sincerely conflicted when the union suggested they should make a statement about teacher compensation by skipping out on open houses.

·         Our school buildings, though many have some age on them, are well maintained.   Our maintenance and building services workers take great pride in their work and it shows.

·         I think the county could make a lot of money if it charged politicians a fee for every sign they put up.  I have never seen so many signs up so early for a November election.

·         We have a lot of work (really hard work and difficult decisions) ahead of us, if we are going to get our financial house in order.  Health care costs sky rocketed last year.  Employees would like a raise, but this year’s budget required a significant infusion from our fund balance (at home you would call this your savings account).

I’m really enjoying the role of superintendent in Calvert County Public Schools.  In many ways, though my children are grown, I moved here for the quality of the schools as well.  I love a good challenge and there is no greater one than making the best better.  I have found the school board and staff members and community leaders to be open to moving in that direction.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Blog from the Superintendent

What you'll find here are occasional musings on educational issues. I may respond to a question from staff, students or community members. I may respond to comments left on the blog by a reader. I may write about a hot button issue in the community. Or, I may simply tell a story from my experiences.

For instance, as Director of Instruction, communications was one of my many responsibilities in rural Pocahontas County, West Virginia in the mid-80s. This was challenging. The County had a total of 9000 residents in 1000 square miles. There was one tiny weekly newspaper. TV news came over the mountain from Roanoke, Virginia. We had no local radio until a group of enterprising folks got together and wrote some grants to fund a "public radio".

They built the radio station on land next to our high school. There was one paid staff member and the rest of the work was done by volunteers. A friend of mine, the County Agriculture Extension Agent, did a couple of hours on Wednesday morning as a volunteer DJ. With his assistance, I did a weekly call-in live radio show on education issues. I'd start a topic, he'd ask a few questions, then we'd open up the phone lines which could be quite risky.

One day I mentioned that the athletic boosters were looking for donations to help with the development of a new baseball field. One lady called and requested the DJ play a special song. She is live - on the air. He advised her that he'd play her song if she'd pledge some money to the new ball field. She responded that the chickens had been laying really good of late and she had extra eggs to sell, so sure, she'd give the extra money to the baseball team.

Pioneering live call-in radio in the 80s has now been replaced with blogs.

On a blog, people can read what's been posted any hour of the day or night. On a blog, they can comment at any time as well. On a blog, they can say what they want and remain anonymous.

It is for that reason that I'm going to reserve the right to review comments before I allow them to be seen by all. I assure you that I won't be editing the critics. I'll just be watching for inappropriate language and personal attacks on employees. Those won't see the light of day.

Otherwise, we'll see what happens. Let's get the blog thing started!