NEWARK — Last month, Dr. Jerry Wilson was selected by the Worcester County Board of Education to take up the position of Superintendent of Schools when Dr. Jon Andes retires this summer after 16 years as superintendent.
The Dispatch got a chance to ask Wilson some questions this week about his past, the unique education atmosphere in Worcester and the future of county schools.
Wilson will be bringing 34 years of experience as an educator to the Eastern Shore, including 18 years as a superintendent in three different states. As of July 1, Wilson will take over Andes’ role as the head of the school system.
(BOLD)Q: Why Worcester County and why our schools?
A: I wanted to serve as Superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools because I am attracted to the high-performing school system and its focus on “students first.” I believe that decisions must begin and end with what is best for students. The school system is a very good fit for my beliefs.
Q: What drew you to the Eastern Shore? Have you ever visited before? If so, what is your impression of the area?
A: My family vacationed on the Eastern Shore for as long as I can remember. My impression of the area is that it is beautiful and scenic, with people who care about their community and schools, and especially about the success of their children.
Q: What are your goals as the new superintendent?
A; My goals are to learn about the school district and its successes; help identify what the district’s strengths are, as well as possible areas of need; and to work with district leadership, parent and community stakeholders, and the Board of Education to identify future goals, as well as to monitor the progress of its current goals.
Q: Your biography mentions that two of your passions are “green” policies and the importance of technology in the classroom.
A: I will learn about the district’s sustainable practices, as well as its use of technology in the classroom, in order to assess how improvements might be made in the future.
Q: Can you ever see schools here becoming “paperless” and switching entirely to digital learning?
A: In terms of becoming paperless, as much as our society has moved toward a paperless environment, I believe our schools will adapt and promote more student work being completed digitally.
Q: Worcester County has consistently been rated one of the top school systems in Maryland. While students and teachers receive the lion’s share of the credit, no small amount of praise has been given to the policies and leadership of your predecessor, Dr. Jon Andes. Do you feel any pressure taking up that torch?
A: I believe Dr. Andes and school system staff have demonstrated clear leadership, improving district schools and student achievement. I welcome this opportunity to continue the tradition of high expectations and excellence.
Q: Funding is a perennial concern for schools in Worcester, more so now than ever. Do you have any strategies for saving money in schools that you’ll be bringing to Maryland?
A: It appears that Worcester County Public Schools has employed many of the same strategies being used in Colorado. We want to continue to affirm that our resources are focused on our students’ education and are providing our students with as many opportunities as we are able.
Q: Besides funding, there are a myriad number of other concerns in schools today. What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges both you and the school system will face in the near future? How do you hope to clear these hurdles?
A: Our schools are going to be challenged to adapt to the rigor and levels of expectations in the Common Core standards. Additionally, using student results to plan for professional development will be essential since educator evaluations will be based upon student performance.
In working to design programs that will build upon strong professional development, the district is able to provide for teachers, who are the most important contributors to student success.
Q: Finally, how do you feel about taking up the position? Are you and your family excited to move into Maryland?
A: I am excited to be given the opportunity to serve as superintendent in Worcester County, an outstanding school district renowned for high levels of performance. My wife, Liz, and I are looking forward to meeting the educational community and learning about the culture of the district and how the educators have achieved such remarkable successes.