ELKTON — As Cecil County Public Schools prepares to say goodbye to Superintendent D’Ette Devine later this week and welcomes incoming Superintendent Jeffrey Lawson, a number of other dominos are falling into place under the school system’s leader.
Chief among those moving pieces is Robert “Joe” Buckley, who has been promoted to associate superintendent for administrative services, one of the top two CCPS positions under the superintendent, starting July 1. Replacing Lawson, who currently serves as associate superintendent for education services, is Carolyn Teigland, who is moving back to her former position after two years as associate superintendent for administrative services.
Buckley, who has worked as the school system’s executive director for middle school education for the past seven years, said that although his new role may not afford him the direct classroom connection that he is accustomed to, his priorities remain with the students.
“My hopes are to continue to build upon the foundation we have, to continue to support our employees so they can support the kids,” he said Tuesday.
Buckley has served for 28 years in the Cecil County Public Schools system, having also worked as a science teacher, physical education teacher, basketball coach and assistant principal.
The associate superintendent for administrative services oversees elements of the school system outside of the classroom such as nutrition, transportation, health care, salary and custodial services. In his new role, Buckley hopes to rekindle a workforce that he said is currently shrinking due to retirement.
“We have great people within our system in all roles and abilities,” he said.
Buckley said his experiences at Rising Sun and Perryville middle schools, while each were undergoing renovations, provided insight into how to create a clean and safe environment for students to learn in, and reminded him that educators “can’t lose sight of our students.”
“You can get so caught up and bogged down with the day-to-day of your to-do list,” he said. “What I would encourage people to do is it’s OK to take an hour to visit a school or a classroom. Go out to a building and see the impact of your work.”
Buckley said that although his new position may be a little different than what he is used to, he is looking forward to the change of pace.
“There’s trepidation in that, but there’s also excitement,” he said. “I now have the opportunity to take what I learned from [Devine] and from others and apply it to this new role ... I believe in kids, I really do. I believe in people. I believe in the inherent desire of people to do their best ever day in this system.”
With Buckley’s promotion, Anne Gellrich, currently executive director of high school education, will absorb his responsibilities and serve as executive director of both middle and high school education. For Gellrich, a CCPS graduate who’s worked for the system for more than 30 years including five years as principal of Rising Sun High School before moving to central administration, the addition of middle schoolers is a homecoming of sorts, as she spent time as a middle school teacher early in her career.
Elsewhere in the system, Sean Cannon, currently the executive director for student services, will slide into a new role next month as executive director for staff relations, working with the system’s negotiated bargaining groups. That position, held most recently by Devine about a decade ago, was cut amid the recession. Cannon’s previous responsibilities as student services director will be divided among other leaders, officials said.
Although CCPS has typically announced changes in principalships across the system in late June each year, officials report that those decisions will be delayed with the transition to the new superintendent.