Newly appointed county School Superintendent C. Berry Carter II shook hands yesterday with more than 250 people, but said he felt good enough to shake 100 more hands.
But that's no surprise, since he's spent much of his adult life preparing for the job -- only to be passed over twice in four years.
Mr. Carter was given a reception at the school board headquarters to formerly introduce him to the public. But after 34 years, moving up the ranks from teacher to superintendent, Mr. Carter is anything but new to the county school system.
"Coming into this room was like coming to see an old friend," said Del. Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park, a former member of the school board.
Mrs. Cadden's sentiments were echoed time and time again during the reception, as politicians, fellow educators and students formed a receiving line to shake the hands of Mr. Carter and his wife, Lou.
The line, which included County Executive Robert R. Neall, Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Parkinson, Del. John Astle, D-Annapolis; Councilmen Dave Boschert, D-Crownsville; and Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis; former board members Nancy Gist and Paul Greksa, and many others, stretched from the dining area into the hallway at times. Neither Mr. Carter nor his wife seemed to notice as they took their time hugging or kissing nearly every person who passed through.
"They couldn't have picked a better person," said Electa Holland, a retired Ferndale Elementary school principal. "He knows this school system inside and out. He has always been lobbying for education."
Mrs. Holland and her husband, Henry, a retired Germantown Elementary Principal, said their sons attended school with Mr. Carter's children and they knew him personally to be "a good man."
Mr. Neall recalled how Mr. Carter was his seventh-grade guidance counselor a few years back. Mr. Carter said he wasn't the only former student to remind him of the past. Several former students came up to Mr. Carter and told him of their time in his English class.
When former Superintendent Larry L. Lorton announced his resignation this past winter, Mr. Carter took over as acting-superintendent.
It was a position he had held at least three times since being named deputy superintendent.
the school board began its search for a new superintendent, the public pleas for Mr. Carter to fill the job as superintendent became louder and louder. Last month, during long and apparently very tense negotiations, the board broke a behind-the-scenes deadlock by unanimously, and publicly, appointing Mr. Carter as superintendent for the next four years.
Facing ever-decreasing funds from state and local levels, Mr. Carter admitted he and the school system faces a tough year. But he remains optimistic about the ability of his staff to operate the schools effectively.
"Our agendas have been pretty much set by someone else," Mr. Carter said.
have national goals set for the year 2000. We've been told to tighten up, do more with less. That begins to wear thin.
"But we have a dedicated staff. Through the last two years, through all the turmoil, the one thing I really felt proud about is none of the anguish got [past us] to the students. And that's not going to change," he added.