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Five Questions…with Joshua P. Starr, Superintendent

August 20, 2013

Dr. Joshua Starr

Throughout the year, The Bulletin will feature a five-question interview with someone in MCPS. For the first issue of the year, we interviewed Superintendent Joshua Starr, who is beginning his third year at MCPS. If you have someone who would be a good candidate for “Five Questions,” send an email to The Bulletin.

As you begin your third year as Superintendent, what are your overall thoughts about MCPS?

I continue to be inspired and amazed by the excellence in all parts of MCPS. We have more capacity in MCPS than any other school district I’ve ever seen and we are well-positioned to do the new, innovative work necessary to prepare our students for success in the 21st century. This year’s kindergarten students will graduate in 2026, and we must make sure they have the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in a very different society and economy. That’s going to be really hard work, but I know we have the right people to get it done.

What are you most looking forward to this school year?

I’m really looking forward to seeing how our new Strategic Planning Framework will be used to spur innovation and creativity in our schools and offices. A lot of that work began over the summer, but it will be an important part of what we do this year. I also can’t wait to get into our schools and see how our curriculum, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, is being used in the classroom. We’ve been doing a lot of training around the Common Core and I’m excited to see what that means for teaching and learning.

This will also be an important year in our efforts to increase inter-agency collaboration. We already are doing a lot of great collaborative work through programs like Linkages to Learning, Excel Beyond the Bell, and others. I hope we will see a lot of growth in the area of collaboration and partnership.

What would surprise people about your job?

People always tell me how hard being a superintendent is and how much stress it must be. And it certainly is not an easy job. But I think people would be surprised how much fun it is. Having the opportunity to interact with people—students, staff, parents and community members—and see how they are engaged in education is really energizing and exciting.

What did you read over the summer for work and for pleasure?

I am finishing Michelle Alexander’s excellent book, The New Jim Crow, which explores the impact the criminal justice system is having on society, especially African American communities. While it’s not about teaching and learning, it really clarifies for me the role that education plays in changing society.

I’m also reading the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin, I watched the TV show and was told by a friend I should really read the books. It’s a great read.

You’re a big music fan. What are you listening to now?

I’ve been listening to music with my kids, especially my daughter, who is entering middle school. She’s been introducing me to some of her music, like Taylor Swift. We both like Justin Timberlake (I introduced her to his first album). I’ve also been introducing her to some of my music, such as The Decemberists. This summer, I discovered an online store—Dusty Groove—that has a lot of rare and unique recordings. So I’ve been buying and listening to some of that music.

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