Weast Named One of Four Finalists for National Supt.

January 5, 2004
A blue-ribbon panel of education, business, and government leaders for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has selected Dr. Jerry D. Weast, who has led the Montgomery County Public Schools since 1999, as one of the final four candidates for consideration as the National Superintendent of the Year.

Representing Maryland in an award program that also named superintendents from Connecticut, Nevada, and North Carolina, Dr. Weast's selection recognized “outstanding leadership in the nation's public schools,” including successful management abilities, communication skills, professional development and community involvement, with a focus on regional, national, and international education issues, according to AASA.

“Today's superintendents are expected to be team builders, public education advocates, local politicians, community bridge builders and more while working zealously to achieve universal proficiency for every student,” said AASA Executive Director Paul Houston. “That's why there is no more appropriate time to recognize the inspiring leaders who stand out as school superintendents -- and stand up for public education.”

Dr. Weast, in thanking the Board of Education for its continuing support and confidence, noted that the “award process, while recognizing individuals, actually reflects the success of all of us working as a team” for the improvement of public education in Montgomery County.

“I am very grateful to our teachers, principals, support staff and administrative personnel who are working tirelessly on the priorities we have identified to achieve a quality education for every child,” he said.

The final award will be announced in February at the national AASA conference, and the honors include a $10,000 college scholarship in the winner's name to the awardee's high school alma mater. (Dr. Weast graduated from Moran High School, Kansas, in 1965.)

The other three national finalists are James L. Hager of Washoe County, Nevada; Reginald R. Mayo of New Haven, Connecticut; and William R. McNeal of Wake County, North Carolina.

Maryland Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Weast was chosen in October as the Maryland Superintendent of the Year for 2003 based on his work in leading systemwide initiatives to improve the curriculum, expand instructional assessments, upgrade professional staff development, strengthen accountability and increase resources for schools.

His nomination by the Board of Education and then selection for the state award by the Public School Superintendents' Association of Maryland received support from top elected officials in Montgomery County -- County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, County Council Education Committee Chairman (and then 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 last September.

Joining the nomination was Charles E.M. Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, which 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.

Dr. Weast is among few superintendents to have won a 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.

The comprehensive reform efforts led by Dr. Weast in Montgomery County 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 as superintendent in 2003.

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.

More information about the awards program is available on line at the link below. Biographical information about Dr. Weast is available also at the second link.

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