NEWARK — After almost 40 years in education and four years in Worcester County, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson says he’s ready to do something else.
Prior to the Worcester County Board of Education budget meeting on Tuesday morning, Wilson announced that he will not seek re-appointment at the end of his four year term, which expires June 30.
“My family and I have evaluated our plans for the next four years and beyond,” said Wilson. “I’m not able to commit to serving as the superintendent for the next four years as required by Maryland law.”
Wilson, who was hired in 2012, replacing former superintendent Dr. Jon Andes, says his future is not completely certain, but hints that he’s leaning more toward retirement than a career change.
“When I looked at all the things that I want to do in life, I looked at those four years and realized that it was beyond the commitment that I was willing to make,” said Wilson. “We have grandchildren in Colorado who touch my heart deeply and my daughter is in Wisconsin, so our family is spread out across the country.”
Wilson has been a superintendent for 22 years in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, England and here in Maryland. He also spent 13 years as a teacher and three as a principal.
His decision wasn’t a surprise to the Board of Education, but it was notable that new Board of Education President Johnathan Cook took a massive deep breath before reading his prepared public “thank you” to Wilson for his efforts over the past four years.
“During his tenure, Dr. Wilson has positioned our schools with a strategic direction for the future,” said Cook. “With his digital initiative, Worcester County public schools will continue to foster innovative education and leadership.”
Fellow board member Bob Rothermel echoed Cook’s praise for Wilson’s work, noting that the superintendent came into town at a difficult time in the education world: a curriculum change.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for this man, his credentials and his integrity,” said Rothermel. “He came in with a high achieving school system, and he kept it as a high achieving school system.”
Rothermel pointed out Wilson’s efforts in helping the county through the transition to the controversial Common Core curriculum.
“Children should be taught how to think and not what to think and I think that’s emblematic of what Dr. Wilson tried to do here,” he said. “Those were tough times, but we’ve seen that our students have risen to those new standards.”
Cook explained the board’s unanimous decision to keep Wilson on for another year via a contract extension to levy enough time for the board to find a suitable replacement.
He will finish this school year as superintendent and will serve the entirety of the 2017 school year until his contract expires on June 30th, 2017.
“I think the board will go through a very deliberative process to select the next four-year superintendent,” said Wilson, “and I think selecting a superintendent is one of the most important things that a board does.”
Wilson says he’s looking forward to the next year and a half of work in order to, as he puts it, “continue the work on all of the initiatives. There’s much to be done, and our work never stops.”
Carrie Sterrs, Worcester County Public Schools Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs, called Wilson’s announcement bittersweet.
“On a personal level, I’m very happy for Dr. Wilson. He’s had a wonderful career and I know he is very far from his grandchildren and his kids”, said Sterrs, “but on a professional level, I’m very sad. I’ve really enjoyed working with Dr. Wilson and I’ve learned so much from him.”
Wilson currently makes a little more than $172,000 in his current position, but it is unknown at this time whether his salary will be altered for his one-year contract extension.
Cook says the board of education will be putting together a search committee for Wilson’s eventual replacement in the coming weeks.
“As a University of Maryland alum, this job has given me the opportunity to come full circle in my career”, said Wilson, “I’m grateful to have been provided the opportunity to lead the highest performing school system in the state of Maryland, and it was an honor to work with the student of Worcester County these past four years.