Superintendent finalists spend ‘Day in the District’
— 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.
DR. MICHAEL COLLINS
DR. DIANA MITCHELL
VAUGHN D. EVANS, SR.