Walker Enters Retirement With Board’s Appreciation

– After 26 years of service to Worcester County schools, Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Dick Walker is retiring.

“I’m not happy to leave
Worcester County [schools] … I’m not counting the days and I’m not counting the
hours. In fact, I’m dreading them a little bit,” Walker said during a
retirement presentation.

Walker went to work with
the Worcester County school system in 1983, starting as supervisor for instruction.

The Assistant
Superintendent for Instruction must make sure every student learns and
achieves, said Walker’s boss, Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes.

“Every year since I’ve
known him, he’s maintained that target,” said Andes.

Worcester County schools
are number one in math and number three in reading in the state of Maryland
because of Walker, Andes said.

“I leave with confidence
that all those things are going to continue … We have the best instructional
staff here. I’d put them up against anybody in the state,” said Walker.

“I know we will all miss
him,” Andes said.

“All I can say is a very
heartfelt thank you,” said Walker.

In an interview, Walker
talked about his career.

“Our biggest challenge
has been eliminating the achievement gap,” Walker said.

Establishing after
school and summer programs, many of them grant funded, was a major tactic used
to combat the gap between African American and white student achievement, he
said. Achievement gaps also exist between poor children and more well off
students, special education students and mainstream students, and English as a
Second Language students and English speaking students.

“We now have after
school and summer academies at each of our schools,” Walker said. “These
programs have been very successful in narrowing and in some cases, completely
eliminating achievement gaps.”

do not last forever, Walker warned.

“My hope is that these programs will continue to be
funded … some students need more support to have their individual needs met,
and our academies offer that extra support.  We simply cannot leave any
child behind, and there is still more work that must be done to assure that
every child is successful in Worcester County,” he said.

said his biggest achievement was in helping teachers.

“Recognizing what
teachers need in order to be successful and then advocating for them – whether
they need updated materials of instruction, technology, or additional
professional development,” Walker said.  “When you help teachers be
successful, you are helping children be successful.”

future will pose challenges to the school system.

“I continue to be
concerned about unfunded mandates at the state and federal levels,” Walker

In particular, Walker is
concerned about the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant program. 

“As a top performing
school system, we will be at the bottom of the receiving end, in terms of RTTT
grant funding. Yet, if the state is going to adopt core standards, where will
funding for the new books come from?  Where will funding for teacher
preparation come from?” Walker asked.

John Gaddis, principal of Berlin Intermediate School, will take over those
concerns and Walker’s other duties as the new assistant superintendent for