NEWARK — The list of candidates to replace departing Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes was pared to four this week, including two familiar faces and a pair of outsiders.
The superintendent search began late last year after Andes announced his retirement in October. Andes’ term will end officially in June after 16 years as the head of the state’s most highly decorated school system. The superintendent search, facilitated by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), is entering its final stages and this week the list of potential candidates was pared to four.
Among the four finalists are current Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. John Gaddis and current Stephen Decatur Principal Lou Taylor, who was appointed earlier this year to replace the retiring Assistant Superintendent for Administration Ed Barber. Also on the short list is Dr. Michael Sander, a school superintendent in Ohio, and Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Wilson, a school superintendent in Colorado.
The superintendent search continues an upheaval at the top of the Worcester County Public Schools system. Two years ago, long-time Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Richard Walker retired and was replaced by Gaddis. In October, Andes announced he was retiring and earlier this year, Assistant Superintendent of Administration Ed Barber announced he was retiring.
Gaddis replaced Walker and Taylor was appointed to replace Barber when his term is complete. Now, both Gaddis and Taylor are candidates for Andes’ position. If either is appointed to the superintendent’s job, another void will be created in the school system top-tier leadership.
With the four candidates advancing as finalists, the search process will now move into day-long interview sessions with each. The stakeholders invited to participate in the interview sessions represent a cross-section of the county including elected officials, central office staff, principals, students, support staff, business leaders, teachers, parents and community leaders.
“Invited volunteers representing a variety of stakeholder groups will have the opportunity during pre-scheduled days to ask questions of each of the finalists, as well as to provide the Board of Education with feedback on their experiences with the candidates,” said Board President Bob Rothermel. “We value stakeholder participation. Our school system is comprised of community schools and it makes sense to seek community input.”
Gaddis has served Worcester County Public Schools for 23 years including his recent two-year stint as Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. Prior to that, Gaddis served as a school principal for 10 years after serving as an assistant principal, coordinator of technology and an elementary school teacher. He was born and raised in Pocomoke, graduating from Pocomoke High in 1985. He earned a Bachelors in Elementary Education and later a Masters in Education from Salisbury University. In 2005, Gaddis earned a Doctor of Education with a concentration in innovation and leadership from Wilmington University.
Sander has been an educator for 28 years, serving as superintendent for the last 10 years in school districts in Kentucky and Ohio. For the last three years, Sander has served as superintendent of the Clinton-Massie Local School District in Clarksville, Ohio near Cincinnati. He has also held positions as a school principal for seven years and served as an assistant principal and a mathematics and computer programming teacher.
Taylor has served Worcester County Public Schools for 28 years including the last 17 years as principal at Stephen Decatur High School. Under his watch, Decatur earned Worcester County’s first Maryland Blue Ribbon School Award. He is also a former Maryland Principal of the Year recipient. Taylor served for four years as an assistant principal at Decatur and held the same position at Berlin Middle School. He was born and raised in Berlin and graduated from Decatur in 1978. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters degree from Salisbury University.
Wilson has been a superintendent of schools for a total of 18 years in three states including Wyoming, Oregon and Colorado. For the last seven years, he has served as the superintendent of the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado. He also served as the principal of a Blue Ribbon school and was a teacher at the middle and high school levels. Wilson grew up in Silver Spring, Md. and earned a Bachelors degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from Idaho State University. He also holds a Doctorate from the University of Wyoming.
After stakeholders have the opportunity to meet with each new candidate in late April and early May, they will provide feedback to the Board of Education. The School Board is expected to announce the new superintendent on or about May 15 and the new superintendent will start his term on July 1.