Hundreds of Prince George's County parents, teachers, community leaders and elected officials stood in a receiving line Wednesday night at Crossland High School to shake hands with the district’s new chief executive officer, offer him congratulations and assistance in his new job, and, in some cases, make a complaint about the school system.
It was the first “meet and greet” with Kevin Maxwell, the Anne Arundel County School Superintendent, who was selected last month by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) to run the school system. Maxwell starts in Prince George’s on Aug. 1.
Maxwell said it was “so rewarding to see so many people who worked with me, live in my community.”
He said some parents told him that they were thinking about pulling their children from the public school system, but wanted to see what changes will be made.
“We’re going to add programs that are attractive and important to our business community,” he said.
Maxwell, a longtime county resident, began his career in Prince George’s but left after he got a principal’s job in Montgomery County. He later became a community superintendent there before taking the job as Anne Arundel’s schools chief.
Baker, who was given the power under a new state law to select the new schools head, said he was looking for someone who would be committed to the county “as if he lived here their entire life.”
“That’s why we went and stole ours back,” Baker said. “We’re sending a message: You may come and take our teachers, you may come and take our principals. We’re getting them back.”
Maxwell, who taught at Crossland High School before later becoming the principal at Northwestern High School, received a warm welcome, with many people saying how happy and impressed they were with his selection.
“It seems like he has the skills and tools to be successful,” said Kennard Jones Sr., the president of the PTA at Thurgood Marshall Middle School.
Deminea Johnson, who has two children in the public schools, said Maxwell appeared eager to work in Prince George’s again.
Johnson said she asked him to make sure school buses arrive on time next year.
“How can you expect testing to go up or achievement to go up, if they are not getting there or they are getting there late,” she said.
Johnson said Maxwell gave her a “feeling of comfort” when he said he was aware of the problems with the transportation system and planned to rectify them.
Shelita Campbell, a teacher at Oxon Hill Middle School, said Maxwell’s selection gave her a “sense of relief” because he is familiar with the county. He lives in the county, was raised in Prince George’s and taught in the public school system.
He is not “someone coming in with a blind eye, with a cookie-cutter idea about urban schools,” Campbell said.