Dr. Joshua P. Starr replaced Dr. Jerry Weast as superintendent of schools July 1 and plans on starting off the new school year by familiarizing himself with the community.
According to the MCPS website, as the head of a school system with over 147,000 students, Starr wants to ensure his success by staying connected with students, parents, teachers and faculty.
“I am not rushing to make any radical changes to MCPS,” Starr said. “I am taking my time to really learn the school system and to understand fully what parents, students, staff and community members want to see continue in MCPS and what they want to see get better.”
Starr introduced himself to the community by visiting different schools throughout the county. Even though this is annual standard procedure, in the past, not every school was visited by the superintendent himself. Some schools were visited by another senior level administrator.
“My goal is to visit all 200 schools in the county by the end of my first year here,” Starr said. “I enjoy meeting students, teachers, staff and administrators at every school, and I am very proud [of] the quality of teaching and learning I have seen in classrooms.”
Starr visited 33 schools in the first three weeks of the school year, including CHS.
“I was impressed because Dr. Starr visited CHS the second day of school,” Principal Joan Benz said. “He toured our building, stopped in classrooms to see teachers and talked to students.”
According to the MCPS website, Starr is holding several “Listen and Learn” events, which will enable Starr to get feedback from the community so that he may implement any necessary changes in a timely fashion.
“The goal of these “Listen and Learn” events is to get a deeper understanding of what people really like about the school system and how they think we can do better,” Starr said. “All of the feedback I get at these events will help me shape my priorities for MCPS.”
Starr will also host town hall meetings Oct. 12 and Nov. 9 that will be streamed live on the MCPS website. During the meetings, he will answer questions posted on Twitter and take questions from the live audience.
Despite these efforts, some students do not even know his name, let alone that he is the new superintendent.
“Maybe he could make a video for MCPS students to watch,” freshman Griffin Horn said. “If he made a video about himself and some of his goals, students would know more about him and possibly feel more comfortable with him being the new superintendent.”
At a time when some people believe changes needs to occur, a new superintendent could help advance transformations to the system.
“I am looking forward to building on past successes to make MCPS an even higher-performing school system,” Starr said. “We’ve already figured out how to get our system to the Moon, now we’ve got to go to Mars.”