Sunday, December 08, 2013 7:20 PM
Photo by Kayla Faria. Kevin Maxwell speaks during a press conference where he was announced as the new CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools on Friday at Northwestern High School, where he was once principal.
Published on: Tuesday, July 02, 2013
By Kayla Faria
More than 80 people filled the Northwestern High School foyer to hear what they already knew: A son is coming home.
Kevin Maxwell is the new CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, County Executive Rushern Baker officially announced Friday afternoon. Baker released the news last Thursday on his Facebook page.
“Welcome home,” Board of Education Chair Dr. Segun Eubanks said.
Photo by Kayla Faria. County Executive Rushern Baker announces Kevin Maxwell as CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools on Friday. “He is truly one of our shining sons in Prince George’s County,” Baker said.
“Welcome back (to) one of our best that was taken from us,” Baker said of the longtime Prince George’s County resident. “We’re taking him back!”
Maxwell student-taught at High Point High School, worked as a vice principal at Central High School and served as principal at Buck Lodge Middle School and then Northwestern High School before taking another principal job in Montgomery County where he was soon promoted to the community superintendent position.
He was appointed to superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools in 2006 after an estimated six year stint in Montgomery County.
Despite the career trajectory, Maxwell has continued living in Prince George’s County.
“I never left here because it’s my home,” he said.
A product of Prince George’s County schools, Maxwell graduated from Kent Junior High School, Bladensburg High School and the University of Maryland, College Park. His son Kris and daughter Hannah graduated from Bowie High School.
“This is a homecoming for him,” Baker said of the “teacher’s principal” and “innovator.”
“He is truly one of our shining sons in Prince George’s County,” Baker added. “He gets it.”
For Buck Lodge principal James Richardson, this connection is important because it “shows something” about Maxwell’s capacity to understand the “dynamics” and “challenges” in the county’s schools.
“There’s a vested interest in the community, not someone that’s just coming into town to build their resume,” Richardson said. “I’m excited about that.”
Maxwell has spent 22 years as a teacher, principal and administrator in the county’s school system, according to Prince George’s County government website.
About 25 percent of the county’s residents said a “connection to Prince George’s County” should be valued most in the candidate search, according to a survey conducted during the June 10 conference call hosted by CEO Search Committee Chair Charlene Dukes. It ranked higher than “test scores indicating student performance” and “longevity in last job.”
Maxwell emphasized a revolving door of school leaders’ stops here.
“I look forward to spending the rest of my life here at home,” he said.
“I’m here for the long haul,” Maxwell said in an interview. “I certainly expect to have a formal contract renewed in four years, and I expect to be here for a good while.”
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown called Maxwell the “No. 1 draft choice,” a “marquee player” and “the right choice at the right time” to lead the school system.
But reforming the nation’s 20th largest school system will take a team effort, elected officials said.
“We can’t just load it on one person’s shoulders and say ‘make it happen,’” state Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters said.
Maxwell reiterated the sentiment.
“I absolutely can’t do this by myself. I need every one of you,” he said.
The new CEO is facing a school system that ranks among the state’s worst in student achievement.
“I’m a very competitive person, and I’m happy to compete with every other education entity in this district, in this state,” Maxwell said. “I don’t like to lose.”
“The achievement has got to improve,” he said. “There’s plenty of room for growth.”
While Maxwell said the challenges are “not insurmountable,” he warned that the transition from the Maryland School Assessment to the Maryland Common Core Curriculum Frameworks might result in a “dip in test scores across the state” as teaching curriculums are adjusted.
The curriculum is not the only change in the county’s schools. Maxwell is only the most recent addition to the county’s public schools’ representatives.
Former University of the District of Columbia Vice President Dr. Beverly Anderson, of Fort Washington; Widmeyer Communications Executive Vice President Dr. Daniel Kaufman, of Bowie, and Parent-Teacher Association member Curtis Valentine, of Fort Washington, were appointed to the county’s Board of Education on June 18.
The superintendent position became restructured as Chief Executive Officer after the education reform legislation HB1107 went into effect June 1.
Maxwell will be the county’s first education CEO, but he won’t be far removed from the schools he represents.
The former Principal of the Year and Fulbright Scholar committed Friday to visiting every school in the county during his first term as CEO.
When asked if his standards or expectations were too high, Maxwell didn’t hesitate.
“I would rather set the bar high and fall short (than) undersell what the opportunities are,” he said.