The selection of Barbara Canavan to be the interim superintendent of Harford County Public Schools was a very good choice.
In some ways, it's perhaps a brilliant choice. Time, as it always does, will say for sure, but it certainly seems that Canavan is exactly the right person to lead Harford County Public Schools for the coming year, if not beyond.
Canavan, who has worked in the county's public schools for 40 years, potentially could not only take good care of the public school system, but be more than just a caretaker. At age 63, she could serve as interim for the next 12 months and then sign on for another four years, if that's what she wants.
That kind of long-range thinking might be putting the cart a bit too far out in front of the horse, but we don't think so.
Harford County Executive David R. Craig, who worked at Southampton Middle School with her, issued a statement that said he "was delighted to hear that the Board of Education of Harford County wisely chose a long-time teacher and administrator with Harford County Public Schools to serve as the interim superintendent of schools. I have the utmost respect for Barbara Canavan and had the honor and pleasure to work with her for 12 years during my career as an educator with Harford County Public Schools."
Though she has been in the Harford County school system for four decades, much of them in leadership roles, our contact with her has been limited. The contact we did have with her was notable.
Some years back, pre-9/11 and homeland security fears, there was a controversy brewing when the school system was considering banning backpacks from its high schools.
There was a hue and cry that included talk of how the world as we knew it would end, and other equally hysterical claims, if the high schoolers could no longer have their backpacks. Canavan, who was the principal at Southampton Middle School, the county's most populous middle school and not involved in the controversy, said all the fuss was a bit much. With a straight to the point, common sense comment, she pointed out that backpacks were not allowed in middle schools and all of those high schoolers and their families who said the students couldn't live without them seemed to be forgetting they had survived three years of middle school without them.
Her clarity on that one issue was memorable, leaving the lasting impression that if only more school leaders would think so clearly and be as quick to invoke common sense as Canavan did on that one fleeting subject, Harford County Public Schools would be better for everyone.
She showed more of that Harry Truman plain talking in her comments about being chosen interim superintendent.
"I'm thrilled, I'm humbled, I'm excited and I really look forward to working with everyone," she said.
That just about covers it and covers it very well, which is how we expect she will do as superintendent, interim or otherwise.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun