Com­mu­nity cel­e­brates Dr. Wag­ner

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­

EAST NEW MAR­KET — The packed East New Mar­ket Fire Hall was full of laugh­ter and tears as the com­mu­nity cel­e­brated the ca­reer of Dorch­ester County Public Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Henry V. Wag­ner on Fri­day, June 2.

Dr. Wag­ner an­nounced his de­ci­sion to re­tire in De­cem­ber 2016, to be ef­fec­tive July 1. The Dorch­ester County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, as­sisted by the Mary­land As­so­ci­a­tion of Boards of Ed­u­ca­tion (MABE), con­ducted a na­tion­wide search for Dr. Wag­ner’s suc­ces­sor, and ap­pointed Dr. Diana Mitchell to the po­si­tion.

Many kind words were spo­ken of Dr. Wag­ner from col­leagues, friends, and fam­ily. It was clear that he has pos­i­tively im­pacted so many lives through­out his ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion.

“Henry has com­pleted a re­mark­able tour of duty as a teacher and ad­min­is­tra­tor,” said Mary­land State Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon. “His lead­er­ship here in Dorch­ester County, as you all know, has en­abled this school sys­tem to make in­cred­i­ble progress in the past ten years, with more stu­dents grad­u­at­ing ca­reer and col­lege ready than ever be­fore.”

Dorch­ester County Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ricky Travers spoke to his per­sonal and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships with Dr. Wag­ner, and praised him es­pe­cially for the enor­mous feat of se­cur­ing a new North Dorch­ester High School.

“His heart and ac­tions have al­ways been in the best in­ter­est of our chil­dren. His hon­esty is sec­ond-to-none,” said Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Glenn Bram­ble. “He has set the ground­work for our school sys­tem’s con­tin­ual im­prove­ment. We will con­tinue that trend. We have noth­ing but grat­i­tude to have served with this man.”

Re­marks were also shared by Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore and Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37BTal­bot, both of whom have worked closely with Dr. Wag­ner on leg­isla­tive mat­ters dur­ing his ten­ure as su­per­in­ten­dent. He was pre­sented with ci­ta­tions from the Mar yland Se­nate, House of Del­e­gates and Gov. Larry Hogan for his life­time of ser­vice in ed­u­ca­tion.

Philip Bock, a physics teacher at James M. Ben­nett High School in Wi­comico County, shared a few sto­ries about his time work­ing with Dr. Wag­ner be­fore he came to Dorch­ester County.

Dr. Wag­ner’s wife, Jan Wag­ner, shared that what makes him such a great hus­band and leader is his au­then­tic­ity and abil­ity to bal­ance the many as­pects of his life that de­mand equal at­ten­tion, such as be­ing a hus­band, fa­ther, and grand­fa­ther.

Heart­warm­ing re­marks were shared by Dr. Wag­ner’s daugh­ter, Amy Wag­ner, on be­half of her­self, her sis­ter Car­rie, and their brother Steve.

“You all know Henry as an ed­u­ca­tor ex­traor­di­naire, an amaz­ing su­per­in­ten­dent, and Stephen Covey en­thu­si­ast of the high­est or­der,” Amy said. “We are here to tell you about Henry the fa­ther, re­ally, the best dad and Poppy a fam­ily could have.

“Thoughts and feel­ings about Dad per­me­ate every stage, every as­pect of our lives and that’s be­cause he has al­ways been there. We are so for­tu­nate to have such an in­volved, car­ing and lov­ing fa­ther. His af­fec­tion was al­ways free-flow­ing, his pride ex­u­ber­ant and so af­firm­ing. We learned so much from him, both by his teach­ing and by his ex­am­ple.”

She spoke of the many sac­ri­fices her fa­ther made over the years to care for her and her sib­lings, and how he pro­vided for them as the sole bread­win­ner in the fam­ily.

“Ever-lov­ing, af­fec­tion­ate, and loyal, Dad is still the guy on cri­sis speed dial for all of us,” Amy said. “There is no bet­ter per­son to turn to for com­fort, ad­vice, or re­as­sur­ance. Dad al­ways, al­ways makes it bet­ter.”

Tears were likely shed by more than a few in the room, in­clud­ing Dr. Wag­ner, af­ter the lov­ing mes­sage from his chil­dren, and kind words from all others.

As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent for Ad­min­is­tra­tion Dwayne Abt, mas­ter of cer­e­monies for the evening, was, how­ever, sure to keep ev­ery­one laugh­ing as well with his rhymes, and a hu­mor­ous farewell video mes­sage from many of the DCPS fac­ulty and staff.

Dr. Wag­ner in­cluded a few anec­dotes about him­self in his re­marks, in­clud­ing the time he was charged with run­ning the fire drill, in his first week as as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at Parkville High School, only to for­get to in­form the fire de­part­ment ahead of the drill. He re­al­ized when three firetrucks showed up.

On a more se­ri­ous note, Dr. Wag­ner thanked those who or­ga­nized the party and ev­ery­one for at­tend­ing.

“Each of you in this room has been a part of a re­mark­able story of kind­ness to both Jan and me go­ing back to 2002, and even be­yond that,” said Dr. Wag­ner. “It was in 2002 that we de­cided to start a new chap­ter on the Shore – a de­ci­sion that was quite a leap of faith since no one knew who we were. But God was look­ing out for us! For me, it was more than a lit­tle scary at age 50 to start over again. But there were op­por­tu­ni­ties to em­brace.”

Dr. Wag­ner ex­pressed his ap­pre­ci­a­tion to those who gave him the op­por­tu­ni­ties over the years to ad­vance from as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal, to prin­ci­pal, to di­rec­tor of sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, to as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent, and fi­nally to Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools for Dorch­ester County.

“Once I landed here (Dorch­ester County) ten years ago, the sin­cer­ity and qual­ity of the in­struc­tional lead­er­ship cadre be­came im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent to me,” Dr. Wag­ner said. “The DIS lead­ers and school prin­ci­pals did their best to bring me upto-speed about Dorch­ester’s unique op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges. They con­tinue to serve with dis­tinc­tion.”

He said it has been a com­fort to know he could de­pend on teach­ers, sup­port staff, fa­cil­i­ties staff, cen­tral of­fice staff, ad­min­is­tra­tors, and all others who work to keep DCPS go­ing.

“Be­yond all of this, I have been par­tic­u­larly blessed to en­joy the gen­eros­ity and guid­ance of all of our busi­ness, com­mu­nity, gov­ern­ment, faith-based, law en­force­ment, and at­tor­ney friends,” said Dr. Wag­ner. “You have rec­og­nized and ad­dressed the spe­cific needs of our chil­dren through our strong work­ing re­la­tion­ships. I tried to list all of you but the chance of miss­ing some­one was just too great. You have been there for the chil­dren of Dorch­ester County and I thank you on their be­half.

“In the larger con­text, our County Coun­cil and Leg­isla­tive Del­e­ga­tion have put the chil­dren first when it mat­tered most, and we have three new schools and con­sis­tent fis­cal sup­port as ev­i­dence of your com­mit­ment.”

Post-re­tire­ment, Dr. Wag­ner in­tends to con­tinue, and per­haps ex­pand, his ad­junct fac­ulty po­si­tion with Wilm­ing­ton Univer­sity, pos­si­bly work on some writ­ing or con­sult­ing, and spend more time with his wife and fam­ily.

“I have to close with one more thank you to a group of peo­ple who, for the most part, are not even here tonight,” said Dr. Wag­ner. “I am speak­ing of the chil­dren and fam­i­lies of this county. They have such heart and such re­silience as they take on the chal­lenges of grow­ing up.”


Dr. Henry Wag­ner with Dorch­ester County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers at his re­tire­ment party. From left, Glen Payne, Dr. Henry Wag­ner, Leotha Hull, Glenn Bram­ble. Board mem­ber Laura Lay­ton was un­able to at­tend.


A golf-themed cake for Dr. Henry Wag­ner’s re­tire­ment party.

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