Baltimore County staff attends DES grand opening

From left: Balt. Co Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., Board of Education Chair Kathleen Causey, Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams, Dundalk Elementary Principal Michael Parker, Del. Ric Metzgar, Del. Bob Long, and Board member Rodney McMillion. The new Dundalk Elementary School opened its doors on Sept. 3.

BALTIMORE COUNTY — Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Daryll Williams is settling into his new position, and was in Dundalk last week to cut the ribbon on the new elementary school.

There, he spoke with The Dundalk Eagle about his transition and how the school year is going so far.

Before becoming the superintendent of BCPS, Williams served as an area associate superintendent for K-12 schools in Montgomery County. He spent 25 years in Montgomery County, both as a teacher and an administrator.

Prior to his tenure in Montgomery County, he spent six years as a teacher with District of Columbia Public Schools.

“It’s been a whirlwind of activities,” Williams said. “Being in schools is of the utmost importance for me, but also collecting feedback. Looking at our data, I’m doing these community conversations.

“I’ve visited over 60 schools thus far. I’m trying to get to all 175 in the county, so then I can develop what short-term goals will be, and of course the long-term goals. We also have to devise our strategic plan as a district. We also have to look at academics and making sure we have strong programs for all.”

Williams has made a smooth transition from Montgomery County to Baltimore County, saying that he has felt welcomed. He is still on a learning curve, he said, due to the rich history in Baltimore County.

(Baltimore County is the third-largest school district in Maryland, and the 25th-largest school district in the nation.)

One of Williams’s first ventures as superintendent was seeing the new Dundalk Elementary School. He walked through the doors on the first day of school and toured the new facility.

“I was impressed,” Williams said. “To see this state-of-the-art equipment – classrooms and furniture – and to learn about the history really spoke to why this is such a community school, and we want to keep those traditions in our system about community schools and acknowledging the history, yet moving forward and modernizing, giving opportunities for all students.”

Williams said his vision is for Baltimore County to be a “stellar” school system, to maintain what’s working and to look into areas of improvement. He also is overseeing the school system’s “Kindness Matters” campaign, which is taking place throughout the month of October.

“With feedback from our students and from our staff, we felt that we wanted to do more about anti-bullying, and providing a positive and welcoming environment for all,” Williams said. “It’s just getting the notion out there of how to be kind, what that may look like and what that may sound like.

“Schools are celebrating in their own way. We’re doing conscious discipline where we are teaching ways to defuse disagreement, the way to deal with stress and the way to be more collaborative and supportive. We’re also using restorative justice, so that when we have infractions, we will deal with the infractions but also what is the learning. What did you learn as the person involved in the situation. ‘Be Kind’ is not only for our students, but also how we as adults must work together.”

Williams said there will be a different theme every month. The School Safety and Climate office has a year-long plan, and every month the school system will highlight the work of county schools and the work of students, while ensuring students and staff have a safe place.