Jerry Weast Named Maryland State Supt. of the Year

October 31, 2003
The Public School Superintendents' Association of Maryland, an organization of 24 superintendents representing all of the state's public school systems, chose Dr. Jerry D. Weast last night [Thursday, October 30] as the state's superintendent of the year and will nominate him for the national award sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators.

Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia B. O'Neill nominated Dr. Weast for the state honor, citing his work in raising standards for student performance and leading a comprehensive series of significant reform initiatives designed to improve the quality of teaching and learning in every public school throughout Montgomery County.

“I greatly appreciate the support I have received in Montgomery County, and all of my efforts have depended on the teamwork of a great many people,” said Dr. Weast after receiving the award. “The great strength of Montgomery County is the depth of collaboration among caring and committed individuals whose only aim is to improve the education of children.”

Indeed, the nomination received support from top elected officials in Montgomery County -- County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, County Council President Michael Subin, State Senate Delegation Chair Ida Ruben, and State House Delegation Chair Charles Barkley who signed a rare joint letter of endorsement.

“Dr. Weast's contributions to public education not only benefit Montgomery County and the state of Maryland, but also serve as an example for educational leadership for our nation,” they said in the joint letter. They cited his management of the school system and collaboration with other community and business organizations as among his strengths in handling the “enormous public responsibilities inherent in the stewardship of a great educational institution.”

Dr. Weast is among few superintendents to have won the state superintendent of the year award in two different states, having previously won in North Carolina. He has been a superintendent in eight school districts in five states since 1976.

Joining the nomination was Charles E.M. Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, which recently appointed Dr. Weast as one of only two superintendents to serve as trustee of this national organization of business and education leaders dedicated to policy research on major economic and social issues.

“On a national basis, Dr. Weast has contributed significantly to our understanding of the unique conditions of early childhood education, professional development, and diagnostic assessment at the classroom level,” Kolb said.

The comprehensive reform efforts led by Dr. Weast in Montgomery County since his appointment in 1999 encompass far-reaching changes designed to increase academic opportunity and raise achievement for every student, especially among students impacted by poverty, English as a second language, and disabilities. His success led to his reappointment in 2003.

“Dr. Weast has been able to secure unparalleled funding for the district's strategic plan over the past four years in an environment marked by competing interests for limited financial resources,” said Mrs. O'Neill in nominating the superintendent. “This is a testament to his unique ability to forge coalitions and maintain a strategic focus.”

Among the keys to the reform initiatives in Montgomery County is the effort to provide a quality teacher in every classroom and a quality principal in every school—along with a rigorous curriculum and high expectations for student success. The initiatives have resulted in higher-level coursework in middle and high school and rapid acquisition of reading and mathematics skills in elementary school. Specific initiatives include improved early childhood education, expanded full-day kindergarten, comprehensive professional development programs for teachers and principals, strengthened accountability for students and staff, and expanded parent and community involvement.

Continued gains in student academic performance have been achieved with an unprecedented level of improved funding for individual school programs, systemwide initiatives, and partnerships with businesses, colleges, and federal agencies. The central goal is to continue to strengthen the instructional program and create more opportunities for student success throughout Montgomery County’s 191 public schools.

Dr. Weast has remained active in professional development programs with Harvard University over the past decade and was recently named to lead the school system’s participation in Harvard’s new Public Education Leadership Project with the Graduate School of Education and Business School. He is a special member of the graduate faculty for the University of Maryland’s College of Education and an advisory board member for the Universities at Shady Grove, a part of the University System of Maryland.

His efforts to share insights about the success of Montgomery County’s reforms, particularly in early childhood education, led to a major policy forum last spring at the National Press Club. Presentations scheduled later this year at the annual conferences of the National School Boards Association and the American Association of School Administrators will focus on “Ensuring a Strong Start for ‘No Child Left Behind’ – A Montgomery County Success Story.”

Among his other many local activities, Dr. Weast is a founding member of the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education, as well as a member of the Montgomery County Economic Advisory Council, and a member of the board of directors of both the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and the Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area.

For more information on Dr. Weast, see the link below.

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