Applause filled the room after the announcement was made — Carroll County Public Schools has a new superintendent.
The CCPS Board of Education announced Wednesday that Steven Lockard, formerly of the Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools system, will take over as superintendent of schools, replacing current Superintendent Stephen Guthrie this summer.
Guthrie will step down from that post after two four-year terms on June 30. On July 1, Guthrie will start a new job as superintendent of the Sussex Technical School District, in Sussex County, Delaware. Lockard will be making $212,500 a year, according to his contract. Guthrie leaves the position making $212,460.
Lockard, 47, comes to Carroll after having worked as the deputy superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools. From November 2016 through July 2017, he served as the interim superintendent for the system. Prior to that, he was the deputy superintendent for Frederick County Public Schools, having worked his way up through that school system.
He was born and raised in Carroll County, and graduated from Westminster High School.
For Lockard, going into education was a family affair — his parents were both teachers in Carroll County. Lockard's father, Brian Lockard, was the superintendent of CCPS in the 1990s. Lockard said it's "very special" for him to take on a role that once belonged to his father. And, he said, Carroll County is also special to him.
Carroll gave him his education and his "start in life," he added.
"I'm excited to give back to the community that has given to me and my family," Lockard said.
In his speech Wednesday afternoon, Lockard, who said he was humbled to join the school system, again referenced his families ties to Carroll.
Lockard said it's because of his ties to CCPS that he's always followed and rooted for the school system over the years, adding that it's an honor to come home and work here. He spoke of his family's role in Carroll, getting emotional as he spoke of his late father.
"And certainly my dad, Brian, who spent 33 years here working in the system in various roles, also serving as superintendent," he said, getting choked up. "I only wish he could be here with me today, but I know he is in spirit. He cared deeply about this system, and the community. What he cared most about was the people.
"He always emphasized the importance of relationships, and no one really cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. So I've tried to carry that advice with me over the years, and will be working hard to build positive relationships, connection and mutual respect with all of our stakeholders."
Board of Education President Bob Lord said Lockard comes to Carroll with a lot of experience from different systems. He's never worked for Carroll, so in that sense, he's a bit of an outsider and brings outside perspective, Lord said.
But, he added, he went through CCPS schools, and from that, understands how the system works.
"We're very excited to get him," Lord said
Lord said he feels like those in Carroll will appreciate that he has roots in the county, but comes in with experience from other school systems.
"He can bring a fresh set of eyes — a different perspective of what might work, what might not," Lord said.
While Lockard's parents were both in education and had a love for teaching, Lockard said they never pushed him in that direction.
"I just found myself kind of gravitating toward helping others," he said.
What's great about working in the field of education, he said, is that he can impact others and help students succeed.
"Whether it's teaching or serving at the district level, the role is about supporting and serving others," Lockard said.
Lockard said he knows there are challenges Carroll County schools are facing. In meeting with stakeholder groups during his interview process, he said he came in with an entry plan.
He knows the importance of building mutual trust and positive relationships with those within the school system and those within the community, he said.
"I think that's going to be really critical to the transition into the role," he said
He plans to bring many opportunities for community engagement and outreach, Lockard added.
And while Lockard said he's been following the problems and key issues, he knows it'll be important to talk to the students and teachers and community members to really understand their concerns.
"I want to be long on listening and really seek to understand," he added.
Lockard said he's "totally excited" to get started in the role.
"Every system has its challenges," he said, "but I also recognize that there's a great system in Carroll County Public Schools."