The Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM) named Calvert County Public Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Curry, the 2020 Maryland Superintendent of the Year on Thursday, October 31, 2019, at the annual Maryland Negotiating Service Awards Banquet held in Ocean City. A committee of his peers selected Dr. Curry, and he will now go on to represent Maryland in the 2020 National Superintendent of the Year program.
“I am honored to be chosen to represent the hard-working superintendents of Maryland’s public schools, whose only mission is to find ways for all of our students to become everything they can be,” said Curry.” “Calvert County is the hidden gem of southern Maryland, with hard-working teachers, principals and support staff who manage to get outstanding effort, and, therefore, outstanding accomplishments from their students. We are also fortunate to have a community where the Board of Education and the Board of County Commissioners communicate regularly to support each other to sustain Calvert County as a place where people move so their children can go to school there.”
Dr. Karen Couch, President of PSSAM stated, “Maryland is a very diverse state, and, when Dr. Curry arrived in 2014, he jumped right in and got to work collaborating with all of the 24 local school systems. He volunteered to be PSSAM’s Legislative Chair and made his way through our Executive Board to lead our organization as President in 2019. He is a consensus builder, and we know he will represent Maryland exceptionally at the national level.”
Calvert County has been a high achieving district for many years, but achievement gaps still exist. Dr. Curry has introduced many innovative programs to help lessen these gaps, including the Learning Focused Framework. This is a framework that focuses on aligning curriculum and instruction through purposeful and intentional planning and practices to reach all learners. Dr. Curry also brought Calvert Basics, a franchise of Boston Basics, to the county. Calvert Basics recognizes that 80% of brain growth happens in the first three years of life, and this program takes the bold step to reach out to families before children enter school. The Calvert Basics Campaign works through a broad partnership of community institutions and aims to teach and promote evidence-based parenting and caretaking skills such as reading, counting, singing, managing stress, and exploring through play.
To advance learning through technology, Dr. Curry worked with staff to develop the Future Ready Plan. The plan provides a vision, goals, and objectives to move the system toward a true integration of technology into daily instruction.
Local Board of Education President Dawn Balinski said this of Dr. Curry’s new initiatives: “During Dr. Curry’s tenure as Superintendent, he has implemented an impressive number of new initiatives that will move our school system forward: 1-to-1 technology in the classroom, a new Strategic Plan that targets equity and school culture as well as student outcomes, additional positions for six social workers and a supervisor of school psychologists to address growing mental health needs, incorporation of social emotional learning into curriculum, systemwide changes to improve building safety, and the launch of Calvert Basics for children aged 0-3 who will enter our system in the near future. We are appreciative of his depth of experience and his willingness to give freely of himself to our school system and within the community.”
Under Dr. Curry’s leadership, promoting equity has been a major priority. In 2016, he hired a Supervisor of Equity and School Improvement, and they created a five-year Equity Plan, which is among the first of its kind in the state. This plan outlines the goals, objectives, strategies, measures of success, and associated costs of promoting and instituting equity across the system. Another challenge to equity is the use of biased language. To address this, Dr. Curry initiated the use of “Speak Up in School,” a guide published by Teaching Tolerance that is designed to give educators and students the skills and confidence to speak up against biased or hateful language.
Teacher recruitment and staff retention plaque many school systems. Upon his arrival in 2014, Dr. Curry recognized that experienced staff were up to four steps behind their peers due to other financial strains in the school district, and he worked with County Commissioners to address that the loss of salary. The county leadership was hesitant to commit to additional funding, but Dr. Curry was a dogged advocate. Eventually, the County Commissioners agreed to a four-year funding formula that would provide annual increases in funding, as well as a yearly multiplier.
William J. Phalen, Vice President of the Board, further praises Dr. Curry’s work, “It is our pleasure to congratulate our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Daniel Curry, as Maryland Superintendent of the Year. He certainly deserves it. There is no doubt the job of superintendent is the most demanding and difficult in any school system. Superintendents must be a master of many occupations, including budget, personnel, construction, communication, public relations, etc. Dr. Curry does a masterful job at all of these and more. I can’t think of anyone you could select that would be a better choice.”
Not only is Dr. Curry a leader in the education of Calvert County students, he has been an active member of the community. Thomas Hutchins, President of the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners, says, “The Board has collectively noted that he has been substantially engaged in various endeavors with large community organizations. One of the most varied is the Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park, which is a major cultural and land preservation effort of a former farm along the Patuxent River . . . . Dan’s community engagement has also reached out in support of the Calvert Hospice program; as a member of a barbershop quartet, he has contributed greatly to the mission of this noble cause.”
Dr. Curry is originally from Fairmont, West Virginia, and served there as superintendent of three counties for 15 years. He then spent another 11 years as Superintendent of Schools for the Lake Forest School District in Felton, Delaware, from 2003-2014 and has been with Calvert County Public Schools since 2014.
Dr. Curry has been a member of many professional and community organizations. His PSSAM roles include service as President, Legislative Chair, Secretary and Past President. He was also Past President of the Delaware Chief School Officers and Legislative Chair and Past Present-elect of the West Virginia Association of School Administration. He was a member of the Governing Board and Executive Board of the American Association of School Administrators.
His community affiliations include serving on the Board of the Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, the Calvert Community Foundation, and the Calvert Family Network. He is the lead singer in a barbershop quartet that sells singing Valentines in to benefit the local hospice organizations. He is a member of the Harriet Elizabeth Brown Commemoration Task Force and a former Charter Member of two new Rotary Clubs and Rotarian of the Year. He is also a former executive Board Member for the Delmarva Blood Bank and United Way of Parkersburg, West Virginia.
He and his wife, Jacque, currently reside in Lusby, Maryland.