Su­per­in­ten­dent fi­nal­ists spend ‘Day in the District’

Dorchester Star - - FRONT PAGE - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­

— Each of the three fi­nal­ist can­di­dates for the po­si­tion of Su­per­in­ten­dent of Dorch­ester County Pub­lic Schools spent a day tour­ing the county and meet­ing with sev­eral dif­fer­ent stake­holder groups as part of the in­ter­view process.

Vaughn Evans toured on Tues­day, May 9, Dr. Michael Collins on Wed­nes­day, May 10, and Dr. Diana Mitchell on Thurs­day, May 11. They each met with stu­dents, Cen­tral Of­fice per­son­nel, prin­ci­pals, the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, me­dia, and others.

Evans is a 34 year ed­u­ca­tion vet­eran and a Dorch­ester County na­tive. He was a North Dorch­ester High School class of 1978 grad­u­ate. He earned his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ele­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion and a mas­ter’s de­gree in ad­min­is­tra­tion/su­per­vi­sion from Bowie State Univer­sity, and has be­gun work on a doc­tor­ate in ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship from the same univer­sity.

Sec­ond youngest of nine chil­dren, Evans said that hav­ing a big fam­ily, and six of his older sib­lings work­ing in ed­u­ca­tion, was part of what steered him to­ward be­com­ing a teacher.

“In col­lege, my English pro­fes­sor said, ‘Why don’t you do some­thing that you re­ally feel good about, and that you feel com­fort­able do­ing?’ I thought about what she said. I re­ally en­joyed be­ing around kids, be­ing from a big fam­ily, there were al­ways kids around,” he said. “I loved play­ing school. I had broth­ers and sis­ters that were school­teach­ers.”

He spent 15 years in the class­room, teach­ing at the ele­men­tary and mid­dle school lev­els. Since work­ing in Dorch­ester County, he has served as prin­ci­pal at the ele­men­tary, mid­dle, and high school lev­els.

Ac­cord­ing to DCPS, Evans is widely known as a prin­ci­pal who can turn chal­leng­ing schools around by in­clud­ing all stake­hold­ers with re­la­tion­ship build­ing, pro­vid­ing ef­fec­tive dis­ci­pline, and in­struc­tional lead­er­ship.

“34 years, and it gets bet­ter ev­ery year,” Evans said. “There’s not a day that I can re­mem­ber com­ing home and say­ing, ‘This is not for me.’ I love it. I look for­ward to go­ing to school ev­ery day, mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, hav­ing an im­pact on kids, and mak­ing it a pleas­ant place to so­cial­ize, grow, and de­velop.”

As an ad­min­is­tra­tor, Evans en­joys hav­ing the abil­ity to help not only stu­dents, but also teach­ers, and the op­por­tu­nity to share his knowl­edge with others.

If se­lected as the new su­per­in­ten­dent, he said that hav­ing been a prin­ci­pal in the county will be ben­e­fi­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Hav­ing been a prin­ci­pal at all three lev­els, I think that’s go­ing to say a lot and mean a lot to the ad­min­is­tra­tors in the county. They re­al­ize that I have been in their shoes,” he said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Evans said his ex­pe­ri­ence within Dorch­ester County means a lesser learn­ing curve be­cause he al­ready pos­sesses knowl­edge of the school sys­tem and the com­mu­nity.

A few of the high­est pri­or­ity con­cerns that Evans iden­ti­fied in­cluded the tran­si­tion from as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent struc­ture to di­rec­tor­ships, man­age­ment of tech­nol­ogy in schools, men­tal health and drug abuse, and en­sur­ing all schools have proper re­sources.

The sec­ond can­di­date tour was Dr. Michael Collins, also a Dorch­ester County na­tive and prin­ci­pal of Mace’s Lane Mid­dle School since 2015.

He earned his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ele­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion from Salisbury Univer­sity in 2001, his mas­ter’s de­gree in school ad­min­is­tra­tion from SU in 2003, and his doc­toral de­gree in ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship from Wilm­ing­ton Univer­sity in 2011.

Collins be­gan his teach­ing ca­reer as a sub­sti­tute with DCPS in 1999. Post-grad­u­a­tion, he be­gan teach­ing in Caro­line County, and from there moved on to a po­si­tion as an ele­men­tary school ad­min­is­tra­tor for eight years in Wi­comico County Pub­lic Schools, five of those years serv­ing as a prin­ci­pal.

Collins al­ways knew he wanted to work with kids, and as he be­gan tak­ing col­lege cour­ses, he said it be­came clear ed­u­ca­tion was the right ca­reer for him.

“I’m a lo­cal, but I also feel like I bring an out­siders view to Dorch­ester County,” said Collins. “What I mean by that is I’ve been around to other coun­ties, I’ve vis­ited other schools across the coun­try, and I feel like we can do more in Dorch­ester County to keep up with the kids.

“We need to do a bet­ter job of meet­ing their needs, meet­ing them where they are, teach­ing the 21st cen­tury skills that they’re re­quired to have. Our kids are smart, and they are re­ally good at prob­lem solv­ing. They’re re­ally good with tech­nol­ogy, and we need to chal­lenge them more in ways that they can learn bet­ter.”

Collins be­lieves the Dorch­ester Ca­reer and Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter is un­der­uti­lized, and would like for mid­dle school stu­dents to have the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved at DCTC on some level.

“DCTC pro­vides a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties for kids who want to go down a dif­fer­ent ca­reer path,” Collins said. “As long as kids have a plan for af­ter high school, have a ca­reer in mind, that’s what we want. I think we can do a lot more at DCTC to reach a younger crowd and ex­pand the pro­grams there.”

As a build­ing-level prin­ci­pal, Collins said he brings a street view of the school sys­tem as op­posed to a bird’s eye view from the Cen­tral Of­fice.

“I’m used to ac­tu­ally liv­ing and breath­ing it ev­ery sin­gle day,” he said. “Be­ing at the build­ing-level gives me a per­spec­tive and out­look that you just can’t sit down and tell some­one from the Cen­tral Of­fice or an out­sider. You have to live it to un­der­stand what the cul­ture is like, what Dorch­ester County is like.”

The fi­nal can­di­date to tour the county was Dr. Diana Mitchell from Colorado Springs, Colo. She is the as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy with Har­ri­son School District 2.

Mitchell has 23 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, 19 of which were with the Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic School sys­tem, where she served as a high school teacher, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal, ele­men­tary and mid­dle school prin­ci­pal, and re­gional in­struc­tional spe­cial­ist sup­port­ing K-12 schools.

She earned her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion from St. Au­gus­tine’s

Univer­sity, a mas­ter’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion from Iowa State Univer­sity, and a doc­tor­ate de­gree in ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship with a mi­nor in tech­nol­ogy from Bowie State Univer­sity.

“Many of the ladies in my fam­ily were ed­u­ca­tors and they in­spired me,” said Mitchell. “My high school mar­ket­ing teacher was my big­gest cheer­leader in de­ter­min­ing whether I was go­ing to go into ed­u­ca­tion.”

Though not from Dorch­ester County, Mitchell lived and worked in Mary­land for 19 years, and said she con­sid­ers the state her home.

“I’ve had the op­por­tu­nity to work out­side of Mary­land, out­side of Dorch­ester County, so I have fresh eyes to put on a lot of new ini­tia­tives,” she said.

Mitchell said she is pre­pared to work with the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion on their main goals, which are work­force, tech­nol­ogy, and class size. She also ex­pects the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new up­per man­age­ment struc­ture in the 2018-2019 year to re­quire pri­or­ity plan­ning from the su­per­in­ten­dent.

“I am bring­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence im­ple­ment­ing the first one-to-one stu­dent de­vice ini­tia­tive in Colorado,” she said. We did that four years ago. I bring my ex­pe­ri­ence as an 11 year cen­tral of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tor, and a 23 year vet­eran ed­u­ca­tor.”

The re­tire­ment of cur­rent Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Henry V. Wag­ner will be ef­fec­tive Satur­day, July 1, a de­ci­sion he an­nounced Dec. 15, 2016.

He first was ap­pointed to the po­si­tion in July 2010, and had served as as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for in­struc­tion in Dorch­ester County prior to be­com­ing su­per­in­ten­dent of schools.

The school board has set a goal of se­lect­ing the new su­per­in­ten­dent by Thurs­day, June 1, with the po­si­tion to of­fi­cially be­gin Satur­day, July 1.

To con­duct the search for Wag­ner’s re­place­ment, the school board sought the help of the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Boards of Ed­u­ca­tion. The open­ing was ad­ver­tised widely in March, and two rounds of in­ter­views were held to nar­row the can­di­dates down to a fi­nal three.




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