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Board of Ed Names Jack Smith as Choice for new MCPS Superintendent

At a special meeting held on Thursday, Feb. 4, the Montgomery County Board of Education named their selection as the new superintendent of schools for Montgomery County Public Schools — Dr. Jack R. Smith. He is currently the interim state superintendent of Maryland schools and former superintendent of schools in Calvert County Public Schools in Prince Frederick, Md.

The Board of Education met at the Carver Educational Services Center and unanimously approved the conditional appointment of Dr. Jack R. Smith.

“I am excited and nervous, humbled and very much looking forward to this opportunity and effort to work on behalf of children,” said Smith as he addressed the media after the Board approved his conditional hiring. “I have had the rare opportunity to work, since I was 22-years-old, on behalf of children and adolescents.”

The Board and search consultants Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, reviewed applications and credentials of more than 70 candidates who applied or were recruited from all over the United States and conducted interviews with candidates with diverse backgrounds and experience, serving mid-sized to large districts.

“We have selected Dr. Smith after interviewing 11 candidates from eight different states, including six candidates of color, three females, eight males, seven superintendents, and four representing other roles,” said Board of Education President Michael Durso. “We are excited about today’s action, however; it is a prelude to a series of public meetings to be scheduled for the community to meet Dr. Smith prior to his assuming the position of Superintendent of Schools in July 2016.” The meetings will allow parent, business, education, civic and community leaders and the community at large to meet with Smith.

“My immediate goal is to get to know the community,” said Smith, “and I don’t mean for months or years, but right now in the coming weeks,” Smith said he did not want to enter this new post and begin taking everything apart. “I think you look, you talk, and you listen, but you also look for short term successes. I will spend a lot of time speaking with the staff because they know what those successes might be. It is my job, as we build a collaborative shared-vision about that to work with the staff and implement and operationalize those changes. I think it is premature to say I will do this or that.”

“One of my responsibilities, in collaboration with this Board of Education, is to work on behalf of every single child, to make sure that every single student has equitable opportunities, and the chance fulfill their dreams and goals as they walk off the stage with that diploma, no matter their circumstance or their economic level,” said Smith. “I am a true believer that public education can make a profound difference in the life of a child, no matter what his or her circumstance.”

“I will not wait months or years to start talking about what needs to happen on behalf of children and students,” he said. “I will work very closely with the staff, the Board, the leaders of the community, and the citizen of the community to think about what is needed on behalf of every student in the system.”

Smith said that one of his concerns right off the bat was the “significant range and distribution of graduation rates across 25 high schools,” He said that the 78 percent to 98 percent graduation rate range was something that MCPS can start talking about right away.

“Graduation has to happen for every student. Beyond graduation, we want really good opportunities for them to reach the highest levels of rigor in whatever they are interested in. If students can get to the ninth grade with a strong foundational learning in reading, writing, mathematics, and the other disciplines then they can walk through the high school experience really digging deeply into whether they want to be a plumber, a British literature professor, a mathematician, an engineer, or join the family business, run their own business, or manage the local grocery store. We have to give them choices.”