August 23, 2010
Jerry D. Weast, one of the nation’s longest-serving large school district superintendents, informed the Montgomery County Board of Education that he intends to retire at the end of his current contract, on June 30, 2011.
“This is a very bittersweet day for Montgomery County Public Schools,” said Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill. “Over the past 11 years, Dr. Weast has provided this district with unwavering leadership, vision and passion. Working collaboratively with the board, the community and our employees, he has guided us through one of the most comprehensive and successful school reform efforts in the nation, the results of which will have a positive impact for generations of children and adults.”
In a memo to the Board of Education, Dr. Weast said he is confident that the culture of high expectations that has been the foundation of MCPS’ reform efforts will continue on after he retires.
“I believe our successful processes are ingrained and our reforms are deeply rooted so that success can continue for years to come,” Dr. Weast wrote. “The success our students have achieved over the last 11 years is a testament to the leadership of the Board, the amazing dedication, talent and professionalism of our staff, the unyielding support of our parents and the hard work of our students who, each time we raised the bar, always met or exceeded our expectations.”
Dr. Weast has been a superintendent for 35 years at school districts in Kansas, Montana, North Carolina and Maryland. He joined MCPS in July 1999, and had his contract renewed by the Montgomery County Board of Education in 2003 and 2007. In 2003, he was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year and was one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Weast is one of only a few superintendents nationwide to win Superintendent of the Year in two states, having also received the honor in North Carolina in 1998.
During his 11 years at MCPS, Dr. Weast has overseen a comprehensive, district-wide school reform strategy, guided by the district’s strategic plan: Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence. The district has also mapped out the pathway to college and career preparation with The 7 Keys to College Readiness. The 7 Keys provide parents with a series of benchmarks—from kindergarten through 12th grade—that indicate a student is on the path to being ready for post-secondary education and the workplace.
Guided by these and other strategic efforts, MCPS students have continued to perform at the highest levels, even as Montgomery County has undergone dramatic demographic shifts.
“We have the results to show what happens when you transform the mindset and culture of an organization and give it clear direction,” Dr. Weast wrote to the Board. Among the most recent highlights:
- MCPS has the highest graduation rate of any large district in the nation, according Education Week;
- The class of 2010 had the highest SAT score in the history of the district and earned more than $234 million in college scholarships, an all-time record;
- MCPS students took 28,575 Advanced Placement exams in 2009, a new record, and 72 percent of those exams received a “college-ready” score. African American and Hispanic graduates at MCPS greatly exceeded the national participation and success rates on AP exams.
- More than 90 percent of MCPS kindergartners have met or exceeded reading targets each of the past three years, essentially closing the achievement gap by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status at this grade level.
In April, MCPS was named one of five finalists for the $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education, which honors large school districts that have raised student performance and significantly narrowed racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. The winner of the Broad Prize—and $1 million in college scholarships—will be named in October.
Dr. Weast is the second-longest serving Superintendent in MCPS history. Only Edwin W. Broome, who served for 36 years (1917-1953) had a longer tenure.
In his letter to the board, Dr. Weast thanked President O’Neill, the leadership of MCPS’ employee associations and others. He offered special thanks to the employees of MCPS, who embraced and executed the vision of a world-class education for all students
“Throughout this journey, all of our employees have given more to this system than I could have ever asked. They have risen to every challenge I have presented,” Dr. Weast wrote. “They have changed the lives of thousands of students for the better and in the process made the future brighter for this county.”
- Dr. Weast's Letter to the Board of Education
- Dr. Weast Discusses His Announcement