Excited about Dance — with some reservations

As a retired school teacher with 30 years in the classroom (who regularly goes back to substitute), I feel I have the experience and insight to make observations regarding the just announced appointment of S. Dallas Dance to the position of Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools. Mr. Dance, at 30 years of age, will be the youngest superintend to ever lead our school system.

It is evident, through this choice, that the Board of Education is seeking a person with ambition, focus and drive who will lead the schools in a new and innovative direction. I applaud this decision with a small amount of reservation.

No one can question the academic qualifications of Mr. Dance. A bachelor's degree earned in 2001, a master's of education in 2002 and a doctorate in educational leadership in 2007 are evidence of impressive academic achievement and a strongly focused individual.

Also, examining the timeline of his educational career (a public school teacher from 2001 to 2003, a principal from 2005 to 2007, an assistant superintendent from 2005 to 2007, an executive director from 2009 to 2010 and a chief middle schools officer from 2010 to present) reveals a person who possesses great drive and ambition.

What, then are my reservations? This same career timeline leads me to wonder if Mr. Dance has had adequate experience to effectively lead a complex school system such as Baltimore County. Mr. Dance was a school teacher for only 2 years. He would not even qualify for tenure in as a teacher in the state of Maryland. Further, such a short teaching career would indicate that he lacks experience in teaching at the various educational levels (elementary, middle and high school) and areas (general education, special education, the arts, etc.).

He was a principal for just two years at age 23 to 25. As superintendent, he will be leading numerous school principals and assistant principals with many years more experience than he possesses, individuals who know and understand the processes of managing and overseeing day-to-day school routines far better than he does.

Again, he was an assistant superintendent for just two years. He will be overseeing a cadre of administrative staff in the central office who possess far more experience than he does. I am unable to make any observations regarding Mr. Dance's other appointments, as these are titles/positions that I have never heard of prior to his appointment.

I wish Mr. Dance success as the new superintendent. I can only hope that he is qualified and perceptive enough to face the challenges that are forthcoming.

Eric A. DeVille, Sparks

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