Donna Hanlin selected to lead Wicomico public schools

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As the audience cheered its approval, Dr. Donna C. Hanlin was formally introduced on Monday night as the county’s new superintendent of schools.

School board members and those attending stood and applauded as a smiling Hanlin took her place behind the podium, on the stage of Bennett High School’s auditorium and called being selected “a tremendous honor.”

She thanked the board for its confidence in her ability to lead, said she is grateful to the school system and acknowledged the difficult decision the board made as its members chose a superintendent from three qualified candidates.

The others were Dr. Cathy J. Townsend, assistant superintendent for administrative services for Wicomico County schools, and Dr. Lorenzo L. Hughes, assistant superintendent for instruction for Dorchester County schools.

Hanlin thanked her mentors, sister and husband, David, saying he has been “a tremendous support.”

“I know he will continue to be supportive,” she said, promising him Wicomico County will welcome him.

Hanlin is formerly school counselor, assistant principal, principal and director of secondary education in Wicomico County. Most recently, she was co-chairwoman and director of assessment and accountability for the Department of Education at Shepherd University.

Tonight, she said she is pleased to be returning to Wicomico County.

“I mostly want to thank the community. Meeting with you last week was the tip of the iceberg in terms of community engagement. I did most of the talking. Now I want to listen to you. I recognize what a tremendous responsibility this is and I take this responsibility very, very seriously,” she said, promising dedication to  the success of all children in county schools.

“Together we will work hard and we will celebrate accomplishments along the way. I thank you again and it’s great to be coming home,” she said to more applause.

Don Fitzgerald, president of the board of education, read a congratulatory text from Wicomico County Council President John Cannon, who was attending the poultry forum at the Civic Center.

On July 1, Hanlin will take over for the retiring current superintendent, Dr. John Fredericksen and begin a four-year term. The advertised annual starting salary is $175,000.

Last week, the three finalists toured schools, had lunch and conversation with students and met with panels composed of support staff, retirees, business leaders, teachers, parents, community leaders, Central Office administrators, principals and media.

Fitzgerald thanked those who participated.

“It’s a special night here. It’s the appointment of a new superintendent for Wicomico County,” he said.

“The process we used, has worked. I think all of you in the audience had a stake in the decision, in one way or another. I know all of us have received e-mails, texts. Some of us are on Facebook. We have listened. I know myself and the other board members have gone into this process with an open mind.

“Everybody sitting up here wants  the best for our students that we can give them,” he said.

“It’s been a long process. We have spent a lot of time together. It wasn’t an easy decision at all,” he said.

Fitzgerald introduced board members, all who were in attendance and led the Pledge of Allegiance before the board, by unanimous vote, appointed Hanlin.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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