Kevin M. Maxwell, the new School Superintendebt Prince George’s County public schools, has been named Maryland “Superintendent of the Year” for his previous work in Anne Arundel County. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Prince George’s County School Superintendent Kevin Maxwell was named Maryland’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year for his work in narrowing the achievement gap and forging partnerships with the community while at the helm in Anne Arundel County.

Maxwell, who became the schools chief of Maryland’s second-largest school system three months ago, received the award Thursday night from the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland.

“This is one of the highest honors I have received during my 35-year career in education,” Maxwell said. “When you are selected by your peers for such recognition, it is both a thrilling and humbling experience. I extend my sincerest thanks to my colleagues for their nomination.”

Carl Roberts, the association’s executive director, said superintendents from across the state were impressed by Maxwell’s leadership, dedication to academic achievement and community engagement.

“Dr. Maxwell is an extremely effective leader,” Roberts said. “He’s engaged. He talks with his constituents. He problem-solves. He has taken on the gap . . . and he has had positive results in closing that gap.”

Maxwell served as Anne Arundel’s school superintendent for seven years, leaving in July to take the top job in Prince George’s. County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who won approval from state lawmakers this year to change the school governance structure, hired Maxwell to turn around the school system, one of the worst-performing in the state.

Maxwell started his career in 1978 in Prince George’s, serving as a teacher, principal and administrator. He then worked in Montgomery County from 2000 to 2006 as a principal and community superintendent.

The award comes as Maxwell begins to tackle how to improve a system that continues to lag behind many others in the region while facing a dwindling enrollment and a growing number of students from low-income families.

Although the school system has made some modest academic improvements in recent years, the county received some sobering news this week: Its graduation rate dropped by 3.3 percentage points over two years to 72.9 percent for the class of 2012. Statewide, the graduation rate increased.

Christian Rhodes, Baker’s education adviser, said part of the reason Maxwell was chosen as superintendent is because of his record.

“He’s well deserving,” Rhodes said. “And we anticipate great success in Prince George’s County.”

As Maryland’s superintendent of the year, Maxwell will represent the state in the National Superintendent of the Year program, which takes place in February at the National Conference on Education in Nashville.