Martirano hired to run West Virginia Schools

Dr. Sal Raspa, the long-time school board president and Dr. Mike Martirano are ending the grip of the Italians on the St. Mary’s School system. Raspa decided not to seek reelection and Martirano is heading for the hills of West Virginia. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo


Proving that being able to wake up the tender and delicate minds of the indigenous population of St. Mary’s County’s youth is indeed possible and raise academic levels has been noticed far and wide.  As a result of this achievement, the county’s longest-serving superintendent of schools, Dr. Michael Martirano, has been selected to become the State Superintendent in West Virginia.

LEONARDTOWN, MD The Board of Education of St. Mary’s County announces that Dr. Michael J. Martirano, Superintendent of Schools, has accepted an offer to serve as the State Superintendent of Schools for the State of West Virginia, and will be departing from his position as Superintendent of the St. Mary’s County Public Schools effective this fall. Dr. Martirano has served as Superintendent of Schools for St. Mary’s County since July 2005, which makes him the longest serving superintendent in St. Mary’s County since 1978, and the longest current serving superintendent in the State of Maryland. During his tenure, Dr. Martirano has led the following academic achievements:

  • An all-time high in the 2013 Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate of 91.5 percent
  • Increases to the average score on the SAT for St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) students to 1548 – well above the national and state average – all while increasing participation
  • Increases in the number of SMCPS public high school students taking challenging Advanced Placement classes – with 1653 exams taken in 2013 and two-thirds of all students scoring a three or better
  • SMCPS Class of 2013 offered more than $34 million in scholarships

These successes came from a systematic approach to encourage excellence, raise expectations, support innovation, and efficiently allocate available resources.  Dr. Martirano has successfully led the school system through a period of noteworthy national, state and local transitions and initiatives in public education, and challenges to educational funding during recessionary times:

  • Implemented 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; the Academy of Global and International Studies; and the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Created alternative pathways to high school success, including the Fairlead Academy I and II programs, all geared toward keeping students engaged in their education and supported through their four years of high school to decrease the dropout rate
  • Implemented and accelerated the state-mandated full-day kindergarten at all elementary schools and coupled this with the Judy Center and Head Start to offer a comprehensive pre-K program
  • Led system-wide efforts to integrate instructional technologies and supports to enhance instruction (such as interactive tablets, whiteboards and wireless technologies) and provide alternative learning opportunities for students to recover and advance learning (such as the APEX learning program)
  • Increased focus on keeping young people in school and preventing dropping out. Attendance at the elementary and middle schools consistently exceed 94 percent and the high schools exceed 93 percent. Out of school suspensions have been reduced by 40 percent since 2005 for all students and 30 percent for African American students.
  • Aligned the local curriculum and assessment with state standards and the new common core, providing a rigorous and relevant instructional program for all our students – with a focus on data-driven decision making
  • Established high quality induction programs, mentorships, and professional development to meet Maryland’s “highly qualified teacher” requirements and address teacher retention and shortage trends to include an emphasis on minority hiring, resulting in an all-time high of 96.3 percent of classes taught by highly qualified teachers, 54 of whom are Nationally Board Certified
  • Enhanced communication within the organization, as well as with parents and community partners through an automated phone system, redesign of the website, development of a local educational TV channel, and the streaming of commencement exercises in 2014
  • Managed resources as SMCPS total student enrollment has grown by 5 percent since 2005 and become markedly more economically challenged, with the overall percentage of elementary students receiving Free and Reduced Meals rising significantly reaching over 33 percent in 2013

Dr. Martirano has also led a robust capital improvements program whose highlights include the following:

  • Built the first new elementary school since 1981 which 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. Additionally, construction of Capt. Walter Francis Duke Elementary is underway, and scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.
  • Secured $20M to support the renovation of Spring Ridge Middle School following a fire that destroyed 9 classrooms in 2013
  • Increased focus on safety and security with all schools being equipped with security vestibules, computerized sign in for guests, volunteer registration, safe driving, internet safety, electronic door locks, and anti-bullying initiatives
  • Established a complete and total Green Schools approach with every school moving towards Green School Certification

As an award-winning superintendent, Dr. Martirano was named Maryland’s 2009 Superintendent of the Year by the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM).  In 2011, Dr. Martirano was selected as the Jack Epstein Awardee by the Maryland Multicultural Coalition/Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education. And most recently, in 2012, he 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.  “I am truly honored and humbled to have served as the Superintendent of Schools for the past nine years,” said Dr. Martirano.   “The collective and transformational work that has occurred in our school system since 2005 is impressive and represents the focused efforts of a great team of teachers, staff, administrators, parents, community partnerships and elected officials. To lead is to serve and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to work with our employees to serve all children in St. Mary’s County Public Schools.  We are a high performing school system.  Over the last nine years, we have implemented numerous customized programs to meet the academic needs of all of our students, and to keep our students and staff safe. St. Mary’s County has been a very special place. It has been a true privilege and honor to serve in the role of Superintendent of Schools for St. Mary’s County.”

Dr. Salvatore L. Raspa, Chairman of the Board of Education of St. Mary’s County said, “Dr. Martirano is an exemplary, transformational and visionary leader whose innovative approach has contributed so much to our county and state.  His desire to provide cutting edge opportunities for students to succeed is most commendable.  We have been fortunate to have Dr. Martirano as superintendent of schools in St. Mary’s County and we are saddened by his announcement, however, are happy for him in his new endeavor as the West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools.

When reached for comments, Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, said “Dr. Martirano has been a leader among our local superintendents in Maryland.  He served St. Mary’s County students and our state well.  I have appreciated working in partnership with Dr. Martirano and look forward to seeing him succeed in his new role.”

Mr. Steve Guthrie, President of PSSAM stated, “Dr. Martirano is a well-respected and admired among Maryland superintendents and we are sorry to see him leave our association.  West Virginia is getting an energetic and knowledgeable educator who always put what is best for students first. We wish him well in his new position.”

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