CECIL COUNTY — One year after a principal shuffle that saw more than a third of the county’s schools get new leaders, Cecil County Public Schools has announced just two principal changes for next school year.
Both of those principal changes will occur at the middle school level with longtime Bohemia Manor Middle School Principal Ann Little taking over Cherry Hill Middle School and Katherine Derby, formerly the instructional coordinator for elementary mathematics and gifted and talented education, taking Little’s spot at BMMS.
Joseph Harbert, who served as acting principal at CHMS this past year after former principal Al Volpe resigned in August, will move back to his previous position as instructional coordinator for physical education, health education and interscholastic athletics. Matt Roberts, who held that instructional coordinator position on an interim basis last year, has been named an assistant principal at North East High School.
Little will move onto CHMS after six years and said that while changing schools is “bittersweet,” she believes BMMS can benefit from a fresh perspective.
“I live in the Bo Manor district and my kids graduated from here. I was super excited to have my first placement (as a principal) down here. But on the other hand, there comes a time when you need to grow professionally,” she said. “To benefit (BMMS) the best, I think it needs a new set of eyes.”
Little said she’s proud of the strong sense of community she built at BMMS and the strong ties she created with students and staff members. The level of instruction has also greatly increased at the school since she started, Little added.
She hopes to take everything she’s learned from her time as principal there and apply it at CHMS, a school she’s already familiar with. Prior to becoming principal at BMMS, Little was an assistant principal at CHMS and said she still knows about half the school’s staff.
“I’m excited about starting a new chapter of my career and I plan on being there a long time,” Little said.
Derby will also see some familiar faces when she takes the helm of BMMS. When she started her career with CCPS 21 years ago, her first job was as a teacher at Cecilton Elementary School, one of BMMS’ feeder schools. Derby has also visited many different schools across the county, including BMMS, as part of her role as an instructional coordinator
“I’m really excited about going back to that area. Great families, great kids, it’s going to be a great experience,” she said.
Derby said she’s excited to work with parents and school staff to make sure every kid at BMMS is ready to move down the hall to Bohemia Manor High School.
“No matter what career path they want, whether it’s going into higher education or a technical field, it’s important that our kids are prepared to do that,” she said. “So middle school is really a vital time for kids to figure out, what do I want to do and what path do I want to take.”
Beyond the two principal moves, CCPS also made seven changes at the assistant principal level, shuffling some people around and also making a few promotions. Included among those was the promotion of Melissa Fazzino from language arts instructional coach to assistant principal at Calvert Elementary School. Fazzino’s husband, Jim, was elected to the school board in November. He abstained from voting on his wife’s promotion at the June 12 Board of Education meeting.
Also taking on assistant principal roles for the first time are Ashlee Groce at Chesapeake City Elementary School, Katie Ryan at North East Elementary School and Robert Enfield at Rising Sun High School.
This year’s education leadership changes come one year after two retirements at the central office, the retirement of an elementary school principal and the reopening of Perryville Elementary School led to 10 schools getting new principals this past school year.
CCPS Superintendent D’Ette Devine told the Whig last year that the process of making the assignments takes months and includes getting input from the senior leadership team, though she makes the final decision.
When determining assignments, Devine said she considers several factors, including personality, subject matter experience, diversity and gender as well as length of time at a particular school. She likes to build leadership teams at each school that have spent some time together and said she typically doesn’t like to move a principal who has been at a school for less than five years.
Devine also doesn’t like to reassign an assistant principal with less than three years on the job, but said it is important to move assistant principals so they can see the leadership styles of different principals. This year, Anthony Evans, who was previously an assistant principal at Elkton High School moved to Bohemia Manor High School while Kimberly Williams who was previously at Rising Sun High School moved to Elkton High.
CCPS also has a history of promoting from within and this year no one from outside the system was hired to fill an education leadership vacancy.