School Board Fills Academic Officer Post

SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Board of Education announced during its September meeting that Dr. John Quinn has been appointed to fill the recently-created role of Chief Academic Officer (CAO).
“Dr. Quinn brings a strong, professional background to Worcester County,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson at the meeting. “He has served as a teacher, assistant principal, director of secondary science education, executive director of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs and associate superintendent for curriculum.”
Quinn will be stepping into shoes left vacant by Dr. John Gaddis, who served in a similar capacity as the assistant superintendent for instruction. Gaddis left Worcester in June to become interim superintendent for Somerset County. The CAO will have some new duties as well, said Board of Education Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs Barb Witherow.
“The CAO’s scope of work has an even stronger focus on results, with an emphasis on increasing student achievement, reducing achievement gaps, and converting to digital learning environments,” she explained.
The search to fill such a position was a difficult one, according to Wilson.
“Hours were spent interviewing and reviewing credentials,” he said. “In this selection process, we had an outstanding field of candidates.”
But Quinn apparently broke from the pack due to experience, likely helped by a strong background in STEM.
“John’s extensive work involving the implementation of the Common Core and curricula development, the formation of STEM coalitions, initiatives, and pathways; and the environments that promote opportunities for blended, virtual, and online learning, will serve our students and staff extremely well,” said Wilson.
Quinn possesses “invaluable expertise which will help us reach our new trajectory as a world-class system,” Wilson continued, and is expected to fit in well with the strategic direction of Worcester as the school system moves to fully implement the Common Core national curriculum over the next few years.
The developing field of education is something Quinn is familiar with and some of his priorities will be the practical use of technology in the classroom.
“Most students already use a host of digital tools to instantly access information, so asking students to use these devices as research tools at home or in their classrooms isn’t a significant culture change,” said Quinn.  “What is a significant shift is that the ‘flipped classroom’ enables teachers to facilitate a richer, deeper caliber of learning.  At the same time, the use of technology helps students, who might otherwise struggle with a traditional classroom setting, to make strong connections with the material they are learning.  From every angle, the meaningful integration of technology prepares students for success in the 21st century.”
Quinn is also “passionate about STEM, both from an instructional and community standpoint,” which is in keeping with Worcester’s growing emphasis on STEM skills. For many years, engineering and technology jobs have been almost non-existent on the Eastern Shore, something Worcester hopes to address by focusing on the development of those skills in students both during the school year and in special optional STEM summer academies.
“From a community standpoint, STEM is about making connections between the K-12 education system and the business community and higher education,” said Quinn. “In concert with STEM partners, the school system can connect students with the workforce at an early age and throughout their educational experiences.”