WTOP Ask the Superintendent
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Dr. Michael J. Martirano is the superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools, a high performing prekindergarten through 12th grade school system located in beautiful Southern Maryland, where he oversees the operation of 26 schools (including the county’s first public charter school) and the instruction of 17,454 students. Dr. Martirano was appointed superintendent of schools by the Board of Education of St. Mary’s County on June 8, 2005, by unanimous decision. With a focus on improving academic success and building positive relationships, Dr. Martirano brought a renewed energy to St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS). Immediately, his motto, “Work Hard and Be Nice,” proliferated throughout St. Mary’s County. He was reappointed for a new four year term by unanimous decision on February 11, 2009, effective July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2013. On February 13, 2013, the Board reappointed him to a third four-year term as Superintendent of Schools effective July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2017.
Since his appointment, Dr. Martirano reorganized the school system with an emphasis on service to schools. He takes every opportunity to fully engage in school-based continuous improvement discussions on what works best for students, and is guided by one focus -- creating a total community committed to learning and safety for all children in St. Mary’s County. Dr. Martirano has established a vision plan entitled "Charting a Course to Excellence" that highlights 15 priorities to improve student achievement. These 15 points focus on improving student achievement for ALL students with a passion and focus on educating the whole student. Dr. Martirano’s 15 point plan, combined with his clear alignment of school system goals, has enabled SMCPS to focus on targeted improvements and interventions for individual students and student groups. His guiding reflective continuous improvement questions continually ask all stakeholders to analyze the data and data driven decisions by examining where have we been, where are we, and where are we going.
Dr. Martirano’s energetic and enthusiastic vision for the school system also inspired the creation of a new, streamlined mission statement: “Know the learner and the learning, expecting excellence in both. Accept no excuses, educating ALL with rigor, relevance, respect and positive relationships.” His vision has also led to the implementation of Educational Pathways, including the establishment of STEM Academies at all three levels that provide a rigorous curriculum focused on mathematics and science with an infusion of technology and engineering; an Academy of Finance; and alternative pathways to high school success, including the Tech Connect program and the Fairlead Academy which is a 9th grade school geared toward preventing high school dropouts. Additionally, programs have been added to the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center to meet the needs of all students. He fully believes that any world class school system must offer choice of educational programs for all students needs to be met. Additionally, the first new elementary school to be built since 1981 opened its doors on August 26, 2009. Evergreen Elementary School was noted as a Gold L.E.E.D. (Leadership Energy Environmental Design) standard school. Also, increased focus was placed on safety and security with all schools being equipped with security vestibules, computerized sign in for guests, volunteer registration, safe driving, internet safety and anti-bullying initiatives.
A key priority under Dr. Martirano’s leadership is enhanced communication within the organization, as well as with parents and community partners. This improvement came via the school system’s enhanced use of its automated phone system, the redesign of the SMCPS website, development of a local educational TV channel, and the implementation of more forums for parents and the community to communicate directly with the superintendent. Additionally, a Home Access Center was implemented to increase communication with teachers and parents. Dr. Martirano strongly believes that family and community partnerships serve as an anchor to the school system and are crucial to the betterment of student learning and to ensuring a safe environment for students and staff. These two components are vital to his objective to “Create a total community committed to learning and safety for ALL children in St. Mary’s County.”
Dr. Martirano has been an educator for 29 years and has amassed a wide range of educational and administrative experiences. Prior to his appointment as superintendent, he served three years as director of school administration with Howard County Public Schools. In this capacity, he was responsible for supervising and managing the operation of 39 schools, and was responsible for evaluating the performance of each principal. Previously, he served as the principal of Laurel High School, part of the Prince George’s County Public School system. During Dr. Martirano’s career, he has also served as an elementary school principal, successfully opening two new schools in two different school systems (Prince George’s County and Montgomery County). He has been a middle school vice principal and has worked in central office as an area teacher specialist and a director for a consortium of high schools. For several years, he taught science and math at the middle school level. Prior to teaching, he worked in higher education at the University of Maryland in the Division of Student Affairs with the Department of Resident Life.
Dr. Martirano is known as an award winning superintendent. As a risk-taker and innovator, he has won many awards. In 2012, Dr. Martirano was named a Top 50 Innovator in America in the 2012 Converge Yearbook and was also honored with the 2012 John F. Sobola Memorial Award for Service to the Community by the Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad. In 2011, Dr. Martirano was selected as the Jack Epstein Awardee by the Maryland Multicultural Coalition/Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (MMC/NAME). In 2010, he was named Innovator of the Year by The Daily Record, selected as the Awardee for Individual Excellence by the Maryland Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), selected as the Maryland Society for Educational Technology Outstanding Leader in Education Award, and was selected as a member of The Century Club. Additionally, he was selected as a 2009 Lowe’s Top Terp in Education by the University of Maryland. He was named Maryland’s 2009 Superintendent of the Year by the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland (PSSAM) at the PSSAM conference retreat dinner held October 23, 2008, and was a recipient of the 2008 Top Terp in Education Award. Prior to this, Dr. Martirano was selected as the 2007 Superintendent of the Year by the American Cancer Society Maryland Region, and selected as the 2007 Outstanding State Leader for Gifted Education. He was named a 2006-2007 Outstanding Leader by the University of Maryland's College of Education and is a member of the Leadership Maryland Graduating Class of 2007 which selected Dr. Martirano to deliver their commencement address. In 2006, he was named the Educational Administrator of the Year by the Maryland Association of Educational Office Professionals (MAEOP). These awards followed his 1998 selection as Outstanding Educator for Prince George’s County Public Schools and his 1993 selection as Outstanding Science Teacher for the State of Maryland. He is a member of Phi Delta Kappa Educational Society, the University of Maryland Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, and is a member of a number of community and civic organizations.
Dr. Martirano is a state and national leader on many cutting edge educational issues and Race to the Top reform topics. He is a member of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Longitudinal Data Systems Governing Board, the Task Force to Study High School Dropout Rates of Persons in the Criminal Justice System, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) State Leadership Team for the Development of Next Generation Science Standards, MSDE Race to the Top (RTTT) State Leadership Team, and Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance and Apex Learning Program. He has also served on the Governor’s Task Force on Educational Issues Affecting Military Children, Governor’s Task Force on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Team. He currently serves as the President-Elect of the Public School Superintendent’s Association of Maryland (PSSAM) and he was the President of the Washington Area Superintendent’s Study Council for two years.
Dr. Martirano holds a Doctorate of Education degree in school management and instructional leadership from Nova Southeastern University, two Masters of Education degrees and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland. He has had several articles published in national educational journals and is a noted presenter on various educational topics. He has served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University as a Faculty Associate Instructor in their education department. He is certified as a secondary principal, a supervisor, and superintendent in the State of Maryland. Dr. Martirano is the grandson of an Italian immigrant who sought employment in America as a coal miner in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland. Dr. Martirano is a native of Frostburg, Maryland, where he attended public schools and graduated from Beall High School in Allegany County, Maryland. He was President of the Student Council Association and he was the recipient of the Senator J. Glenn Beall, Sr. Leadership Award and the All-Around Boy Award. Dr. Martirano resides in St. Mary’s County with his wife Silvana and has three children; one is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the law school at the University of Baltimore, one is enrolled at Salisbury University, and one is enrolled in the St. Mary’s County Public School system.
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