David C. Drown - who has become identified with the laborious task of redistricting for the Howard County public school system - has accepted a new role as director of pupil transportation. He replaces Glenn Johnson, who retires at the end of the month.
Drown will be responsible for a transportation system that includes 400 contracted buses that carry about 37,000 students each school day. His biggest challenge, he said, will be to attract and maintain qualified contractors and school bus drivers.
"The shortage of bus drivers is a nationwide problem," Drown said.
Drown, who earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1975 and a master's degree from the University of Maryland, University College in 1988, has been with the system since 1980. As director of school planning, he has, since 2001, overseen redistricting driven by the county's continued growth.
"What I will miss is the fact that it is very challenging, important work," Drown said. "I will not miss the grind and the pressure of the decision-making process."
Drown will juggle transportation and school planning until his replacement is hired. He then will help his replacement adjust to the new position.
School officials couldn't resist poking fun at their colleague as his new position was announced Thursday at the Board of Education meeting.
"I don't know if we should let him out of redistricting," said board member Courtney Watson. "Who are we going to get to replace him?"
Raymond Brown, chief operating officer, quickly responded: "Not me!"
Retired Howard County school administrator Tony Yount will run for the Board of Education this fall.
Yount, who lives in Columbia, was named Howard County Educator of the Year in 1991. He retired as principal of Clemens Crossing Elementary School in 2001 and previously had worked as an administrator at Waterloo, Thunder Hill, Longfellow and Forest Ridge elementary schools and at Dunloggin Middle School.
He now is a crossing guard with the Howard County Police Department and has spent the past year coaching junior varsity soccer at Oakland Mills High School.
"I think this is a good time to give back to the community that has been so kind to myself and my family," said Yount, who added, "I want to be there for the teachers who work every day in the schools, the support staff and the children. In order for Howard County to maintain its excellence, it needs to find ways to reward teachers and staff at the local level."
Yount, 63, says he is in favor of salary increases and professional development for system employees.
"To continue to attract quality teachers, you have to pay them what they are worth," Yount said. "Education is the most important gift anybody can give."
He also emphasizes his long career with the school system.
"As an administrator in this county for 25 years, I have more experience than any other candidate," Yount said.
Teacher in Japan
Paul A. Sabota, a biology and environmental science teacher at Mount Hebron High School, recently completed a three-week trip to Tokyo and Nagaoka as part of the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.
Sabota, who has taught for eight years, was one of 200 educators who visited the country in October. There were 2,500 applicants for the fellowship, which promotes greater intercultural understanding between the U.S. and Japan.
Sabota said he has always been fascinated by Japanese culture. He has studied a form of martial arts - called Okinawa karate - for 18 years.
"This was a great way to see the country," he said.
After stopping in Tokyo for cultural training, Sabota visited Nagaoka, about two hours northwest of Tokyo. In Nagaoka, Sabota stayed with a host family, visited several schools and toured a sake factory.
Sabota is bringing what he learned during the trip to the classroom through a lesson on the use of "green and earth-friendly" technology programs in the United States and Japan.
"A lot of people live in Japan, and they have to conserve space," he said. "It's a very clean environment. Their recycling program is tremendous."
Sabota said his students have been interested in his trip.
"They want to know everything I've done and what I've seen," he said.
Sabota looks forward to going back to Japan. He said he hopes to return in 2007 on an environmental teacher exchange program that also is sponsored through the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund. The fund, based in Tokyo, was launched in 1997 by the Japanese government to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Fulbright Program.
"It's a great educational program for teachers," Sabota said.
Principal on leave
Wilde Lake High School Principal Restia Whitaker recently announced that he would take a leave of absence to attend to a family emergency. It is unknown how long Whitaker will remain on leave.
Assistant Principal Nelda Sims will serve as acting principal in Whitaker's absence.
In addition, Adam Eldridge, a social studies teacher, and Dwight Evans, a mathematics teacher, will join the school's administrative team.
In a newsletter to the Wilde Lake community Whitaker, who has been principal since 2003, wrote that he would be in contact with the school administration and attend school events.
Whitaker could not be reached for comment, and others at the school declined to comment on the matter.