Words of farewell from outgoing superintendent Jerry Weast and greetings from new superintendent Joshua P. Starr.
When my career in education began in a small Kansas town more than four decades ago, I could not have imagined the journey that would lead me to Montgomery County. Yet, every day over the past 12 years, I have been so very grateful that my path landed me here.
Working together, we have simply built the best school district in the nation and today, on my last day as superintendent, I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to those who have made it happen.
Thank you to the Montgomery County community that has made a quality school system its highest priority. You have invested money, resources and time in making sure that all children—not just your own—receive a world-class education. Even in difficult economic times, education has remained your top priority, and that substantial investment will pay dividends for generations to come.
Thank you to our community and political leaders, including the Board of Education, the County Council, the business community, and so many others. You have given selflessly year after year and your work is an important legacy for our community. Like all families, we have had our disagreements from time to time, but, for the most part, we have remained civil and focused on what matters most—the education of our children. I appreciate the Board of Education's confidence in me 12 years ago when they handed me the keys and asked me to lead this wonderful system. Together, we have built a system upon the premise that all children can learn at high levels. In addition, we are fortunate to have a supportive business community working hand in hand with us. Without a doubt, the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education has helped our system become a more effective and efficient organization.
Thank you to the incredible staff of Montgomery County Public Schools. Whether you are in the classroom or the cafeteria; the front office or the central office; the bus depots or the band rooms, every success we have had has been the direct result of your work.Over the past few years, we have asked you to make sacrifice after sacrifice, and you have done so willingly and continued to deliver outstanding results. As I've said many times, for the past 12 years, I have been the coach of the best team in America. My sincerest thanks also go to our employee associations—MCEA, MCAAP and SEIU Local 500—for their collaborative spirit in good times and bad. And, of course, my heartfelt thanks to my leadership team, most notably Mr. Larry Bowers, our chief operating officer, and Dr. Frieda Lacey, deputy superintendent of schools, who have been with me throughout my time at MCPS and have improved the future of countless students during their combined 70-plus years in this district.
Thank you to all of our parents. Your daily involvement in our school system is what has allowed us to continue to thrive even as our district has faced many changes and many challenges. Your support, your honesty and, yes, even your occasional criticisms have held us accountable and we are better for it. And, of course, thank you to our students. Over the past 12 years, I have had the privilege to sign more than 100,000 diplomas and watch countless students cross the stage at graduation and enter the world excited and prepared for what is to come. You are why we do what we do and, each year, you make me prouder and prouder. Continue to learn, explore and grow—and remember to return home to the community that gave you a great start. We need you here.
Tomorrow, Dr. Joshua Starr takes over as your next superintendent. Being the leader of Montgomery County Public Schools is a demanding, difficult job, as it should be. During the past few months, I have had the opportunity to get to know Josh well. He is the right person to lead this system to the next level of excellence. He will need your ongoing support to continue the work we have started together. I know you will welcome Josh and his family to Montgomery County with open arms, just as you did my family 12 years ago. Together, we have built an amazing system of schools in Montgomery County and together, you will continue to improve upon that success for years to come.
I wish all of you health and happiness in the future and I thank you for all you have done for me and, most importantly, for our children.
Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
To the Staff, Students and Community of Montgomery County Public Schools,
Today, [July 1] I officially begin my tenure as the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). I am excited, honored and humbled to be chosen to lead this exceptional school system and I thank the Board of Education for providing me with this opportunity. There is no question that MCPS has had enormous success and is a national model on numerous fronts. As I have said, it is clearly a district that is doing many things right and so there is no need for radical quick fixes or big changes. But that doesn’t mean that we can stand still and admire past achievements. All successful organizations continually push themselves to reach higher levels on the path to greatness. I believe that MCPS is well-positioned for greater success if we continue to focus on what matters most – ensuring that high quality teaching and learning is happening in each and every classroom, every day. Together, we are going to work to make sure that every child who graduates from MCPS leaves us with a promising future ahead.
I already have met so many dedicated staff members, and I cannot wait to visit with many more of you to hear about your hopes and dreams for our school system. I will be spending the next few months listening, learning and meeting with staff, students, parents, community members, business leaders and many others to find out about not only what’s going right, but about where we have room to grow and improve. I also have established a transition team made up of both internal and external leaders who are helping me learn, as quickly as possible, about the areas that need the most focus to accelerate our progress in closing the achievement gap and raising standards.
Finally, I want to thank Dr. Jerry Weast for his extraordinary service over the last 12 years. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dr. Weast and all that he and the school system have accomplished. It truly is a privilege to follow such a dynamic and extraordinary leader.
I look forward to beginning our dialogue about strengthening this great system and working together to fulfill the promise we have to all students to give them our best so that they can be their best.
POSTED: Friday, July 15, 2011 | 4:37:00 PM