The upper echelon of Maryland education is in the midst of transition.
The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved the appointment of Lillian M. Lowery, Delaware’s secretary of education, to a renewable four-year term as Maryland’s next superintendent of schools.
The next day, interim state superintendent Bernard J. Sadusky was named the new executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, an Annapolis-based organization representing the state’s 16 public community colleges.
Both leaders start their new jobs July 1.
“Dr. Lowery brings great leadership ability... [and] knows how to implement sustainable reform,” said James H. DeGraffenreidt Jr., president of the state board.
Lowery succeeds Nancy S. Grasmick, who retired in 2011. Sadusky has served as interim superintendent since July 1.
DeGraffenreidt said Lowery wasn’t seeking a new job, but the board, after recruiting her as a candidate, found she “exemplifies everything people were looking for,” based on feedback from public forums and online surveys of Marylanders.
In a statement released by the Maryland State Department of Education, Lowery said she was “very excited” to be joining Maryland educators. Maryland has ranked No. 1 four years in a row in Education Week’s public school ratings.
The key to academic success for students, Lowery said, is setting expectations comparable to those of school systems nationwide and globally.
In addressing Lowery, Sadusky and the state board at Tuesday’s meeting, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) outlined — and reiterated — his educational priorities for the state, including principal training, career and technical education, and arts and music programs.
O’Malley also commended the board for its work in securing a $250 million federal Race to the Top grant for Maryland in August 2010. Lowery, appointed to her current post by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) in 2009, oversaw that state’s selection as the first to receive the grant in March 2010.
States use the federal grants to attempt to close achievement gaps among students and aid struggling schools.
Lowery also has served as superintendent in Delaware’s Christina School District, an assistant superintendent in Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools, a high school principal and an English teacher in both middle and high schools.
Sadusky, who ran the Queen Anne’s County school system as superintendent from 1994 to 2007 and worked in the county as an administrator and teacher for about 20 years before being tapped for the top job, will move his office from Baltimore to Annapolis to begin his new job promoting community colleges statewide.
“[Sadusky] brings a lot of strength to the position: his long-standing experience in Maryland as an educator, his specialty work with pre-K to 12 education,” said Guy Altieri, president of Hagerstown Community College and chairman of the Maryland Community College Presidents Council.
The association, which waited until after Lowery’s appointment to announce Sadusky’s hiring, interviewed candidates nationwide for the position, Altieri said. But Sadusky, who will succeed H. Clay Whitlow as director, knows the challenges faced by local superintendents and school boards in Maryland and by leaders at post-secondary institutions.
Altieri said he would like Sadusky to facilitate a stronger alignment between high school and community college curricula as well as encourage more early college opportunities for high school students who are ready for the challenge.