The Challenging Path to Success

As goes the school, so goes the community and vice versa

by Dr. Rod Berger

The superintendent of Maryland's Howard County Public School System, Dr. Michael Martirano knows how lucky he is. As the leader of the top-performing school district in Maryland (and one of the top in the nation), he is blessed with good parent involvement and an innovative, dynamic staff. He inherited a big budget shortfall, but in one year, he’s cut the deficit and started the long road to getting his plans and hopes for his students back on track. Even though his current path is challenging and a lot of hard work, he knows what it's like to have a tougher row to hoe.

Dr. Martirano recently was the state superintendent of schools in West Virginia, where he faced the daunting task of recruiting talent to a state that was ranked 47th in the nation in teacher salaries. Those salaries had been frozen for years due to continuing cuts to the state education budget, and with an eroding economic base, there was no hope for relief in the foreseeable future. Remarkably, even with talented education majors fleeing the state for greener pastures and a teacher shortage statewide approaching the thousands, under his tenure, high school graduation rates still rose dramatically.

I sat down with Dr. Martirano to discuss his secrets for success including his thoughts and hopes for the education of students as we prepare them for their lives and future careers.

Interview Highlights from This Episode

  • 2:00 – What role does today’s Superintendent play in the community?
  • 5:20 – Is there a teacher shortage?
  • 9:20 – Effectively messaging the economics of education
  • 12:00 – Running a school district like a business
  • 14:30 – Looking at college and career readiness

About Dr. Michael Martirano

Dr. Michael J. Martirano was named interim superintendent for the Howard County Public School System (Maryland) in May 2017. He considers himself a teacher first and foremost and believes children must be at the center of all decision-making. Guided by the principle that all children can and will learn, he is committed to ensuring equity and giving every child an opportunity to succeed.

Dr. Martirano most recently served as West Virginia state superintendent of schools, during which the state saw notable success in the areas of early childhood literacy, graduation rates and career technical education. He previously served as superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools (Maryland), has been an educator for more than 30 years, and has a wide range of educational and administrative experience through his work as a science teacher, principal and visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Visit Dr. Martirano's website at http://www.hcpss.org/superintendent/ and follow him on Twitter.

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