For National Superintendent of the Year winner Betty Morgan, who pilots the helm of Maryland’s Washington County School District, technology is integral to a school system’s efficiency.
Morgan’s district, whose 22,000 students come from areas ranging from urban cities to rural Appalachian communities, is considered an example of excellence for other districts to follow.
Forty-one percent of the district’s school-age population qualifies for the federal lunch program. Yet Morgan—who is in her ninth year as superintendent of Washington County—has been able to increase the district’s graduation rate and reduce its dropout rate through the development of a student-focused strategic plan.
Under her direction, test scores have steadily increased each year, particularly for minority and poverty groups, and the school system has achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in all schools and in all areas. In recent years, the district started one of the state’s few International Baccalaureate programs and spread magnet programs to all school levels.
In interviews with eSchool News, Morgan credited her district’s use of software from Florida-based Performance Matters for helping school leaders track student progress toward academic goals. She also talked about the key factors in being a successful superintendent, one of which is empowering people to work toward a common vision for helping students.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for the incredible work that teachers and support staff and administrators have done in Washington County—and I include the business community and parents [as well], because all of those support networks have helped us do our good work,” she said.
“Good superintendents are folks who understand people, who have emotional intelligence, who can put people in the right jobs so they can be maximized,” she continued. “Good superintendents also are able to bring people together. I think that’s a very key factor, because there’s a strength in numbers … when you can bring people together to all put their minds and their efforts toward a problem, or to create a program.”
According to Morgan, a large part of the district’s success can be credited to the implementation of a district-wide data management system in January 2004.