A Message from Superintendent Jack R. Smith
Tied Together by a Common Thread
Dear MCPS Community,
It is a pleasure to write to you today as your new superintendent of schools. I am excited and grateful to lead Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), one of the largest, most respected school systems in the nation.
In my previous roles as deputy state superintendent and interim state superintendent of schools with the Maryland State Department of Education, I learned a lot about each of the 24 school systems in Maryland. What stood out for me about Montgomery County was its size, scale, and level of success. Covering more than 500 square miles with an enrollment of more than 157,000 students, MCPS consistently produces excellent student outcomes. This success is due, in large part, to a highly talented staff of educators, administrators, and support professionals who are committed to ensuring student achievement at every grade and level.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of learning about the school system firsthand by traveling on the morning mail routes—known as our pony system. Pony truck drivers Nick Regalia, Stan Jackson, and Gideon Doolin have graciously allowed me to join them as they crisscross the county to make deliveries to our schools and school facilities. To date, I have visited more than 110 of the soon-to-be 204 schools and I expect to see them all by the end of the month. From the schools I have visited, I can tell you that each is distinct and unique, but tied together by a common thread—just like our students.
Each student brings his or her own unique set of experiences and interests to the classroom each day and I believe it is our responsibility as a school system to unite them with a common thread of literacy, writing, and mathematics skills that will give them the opportunity to succeed and options to pursue any path they choose in life.
This thread must reach all of our students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, limited English proficiency, socioeconomic status, or disability. While MCPS is lauded for the achievements of our students, there remains an opportunity gap that leads to disparities in outcomes. I intend to use all of the resources at my disposal to address this challenge head on.
My decades of experience as a teacher, principal, and superintendent have taught me that success as an educator requires a blend of science, art, and heart. The science is applying the research about instructional development and analyzing data to track student performance. The art, like conducting an orchestra, is the ability to inspire students to perform at their best and help those who are falling behind or out of sync. The heart is the relationships that we build from teacher to student, student to teacher, and student to student that allow everyone to feel safe, welcome, and respected in their school community. Together, these three elements will ensure that our students have the opportunity to thrive in our schools.
I am honored to have been entrusted with this great responsibility. Over the next few months, I will be out in the community meeting our parents and staff to learn more about our wonderful school system. I look forward to working with this amazing staff and community in the coming months and years.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
P.S. As I have been meeting with leaders and community members over the last few months, I have been asking them what they would focus on if they were in my position. I would like to hear from you, too. Click here to share your ideas with me.
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