When Carroll County Public Schools started accepting applications for superintendent, Cynthia McCabe recognized a unique opportunity. If she applied and was selected for the job, she could continue her 22-year run working in the school system, this time in the top role.
McCabe, 50, was unanimously chosen May 19 by the Carroll County Board of Education as the school system’s first female superintendent of schools. Her four-year contract begins July 1, at a salary of $235,000.
McCabe said one of her first priorities for the system of about 25,054 students will be “to get back to teaching and learning.”
“I think because of the pandemic and other distractions, it’s taken our eye off of what we are here to do as an academic institution; which is to provide engaging and effective teaching and high levels of student learning,” she said. “And secondly, my focus is students’ mental health, because if students are not mentally healthy, then they can’t be challenged to participate in the teaching and learning that is going on in schools.”
In November, Superintendent Steve Lockard announced he would not seek a second four-year term. His contract ends June 30. Lockard’s salary as Carroll’s superintendent was $231,066.
In early December the school board approved a $26,000 contract with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to conduct a superintendent search. The initial applicant field was vetted by MABE then evaluated by the school board and narrowed to five candidates for first-round interviews. The field then shrank to three candidates for second-round interviews, from which McCabe was chosen, according to school board president Ken Kiler.
McCabe currently works as CCPS chief of schools. In that role she supports principals and directors of elementary, middle and high schools and also supervises student services and technology services departments. Lockard promoted her to that position in 2019.
A Baltimore County native, McCabe earned a bachelor of science in elementary education from Towson University in 1994 and a masters in education in policy, planning and administration from the University of Maryland College Park, in 1999.
She is enrolled in Walden University’s doctor of education program and is in the process of completing her dissertation. McCabe lives in Hereford in Baltimore County with her husband of 30 years, James.
McCabe began her career in Howard County Public Schools, as a fifth-grade teacher at Clemens Crossing School in 1994. She also worked as a gifted and talented resource specialist and a professional development school coordinator in that county.
In 2001, McCabe moved to Carroll County Public Schools when she was hired as assistant principal at Piney Ridge Elementary; two years later she became the school’s principal. In 2007 she was promoted to supervisor of elementary schools and four years later became the director of elementary schools in Carroll County.
McCabe believes her familiarity with the school system made her an ideal candidate for the superintendent job.
“We’ve been working as a central office to observe what’s going on in the schools by supporting our teachers, counselors and principals and we will continue to do that through the professional development of our school-based staff,” she said.
Karl Streaker, CCPS director of student services, said he is confident that the school system will be “well served” under McCabe’s leadership. Streaker started working with McCabe nearly 20 years ago when she was principal at Piney Ridge Elementary.
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“I am pleased with the Board of Education’s decision to hire Mrs. McCabe. Due to her experience in CCPS as a principal, curriculum supervisor, school director, and chief of schools, she has extensive knowledge of CCPS and continues to demonstrate her commitment to the success of our students,” Streaker said. “I value her collaboration, solution-oriented approach and decision-making ability.
Steve Wernick, CCPS director of elementary schools, called McCabe a “people person” and “visionary” who understands the needs of the school system.
“It is an honor and delight to have [her] as the next superintendent. I have worked in multiple roles with Mrs. McCabe as my direct supervisor for the past nine years,” Wernick said. “She is a true inspirational instructional leader, both goal-oriented and student-centered. I attribute her talented leadership and success to her hands-on personality and her rising through the administrative ranks in our school system.”
Teresa McCulloh, president of the Carroll County Education Association, called McCabe a “great fit” as the school system’s next superintendent.
“Our educators, students and entire school district would benefit from the skill set she brings to the position,” McCulloh said.
Lockard said he was pleased with the Board of Education’s decision to hire McCabe.
“She knows CCPS very well and has many years of experience in the system … coming in, she already knows the community, the schools, the challenges and that transition time is lessened as opposed to someone coming in from the outside,” he said. “I see her doing a great job leading the system.”