New schools chief sees challenge Demands on students in global economy, tight budgets cited

June 14, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

William H. Hyde sensed an air of excitement when he became the assistant superintendent of administration for Carroll County schools in 1987. The system was entering a period of dramatic change, and Hyde wanted to be a part of it.

He has not been disappointed. The student population has grown from 19,866 to 26,000. Five schools have been built to keep pace with growth, and six more are set to open by 2003. Carroll County students have made steady gains in standardized tests and rank among the top-scoring students statewide.

Hyde, 56, who was named the county's superintendent of schools last week, is still excited about public education in Carroll. He will take over the $110,000-a-year position July 1.

"We're poised on the edge of a new millennium," Hyde said. "These are difficult times, and we've got pressures in fiscal matters, facilities needs and keeping up with the way the world has changed to prepare students for a global marketplace."

Those who have worked with Hyde and the school board members who selected him to succeed Superintendent Brian Lockard say that his work habits, ability to make tough decisions and his love of challenges will serve him well.

"He is very I guess the word is strong, in that when he feels there's a certain way to do something, he is basically committed to that," said Peter B. McDowell, who retired last year as director of secondary schools. "In the position he's in, he could be buffeted by county government, our own board, the teachers association, the legislature or a group of parents. There are so many groups you have to be responsible to, and if you aren't [strong-willed], you can't be effective.

"I think he will bear that pressure well, because he's tough in that respect," McDowell said.

Although Hyde has spent most of his 35-year career in education as an administrator -- supervising finance, transportation, building and personnel departments -- colleagues say his priority has always been to create a classroom environment to inspire students to become lifelong learners.

"From day one, he realized that the reason the administrative division is there is as support for kids to learn," said Lockard, who will retire June 30 after four years as superintendent.

Hyde credits a high school English teacher with showing him the value of education and instilling in him a sense of intellectual curiosity.

"She did an incredible job of taking a young thuglike person and helping me appreciate that 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' was a delightful thing to read," he said.

Received scholarship

Hyde grew up in the economically depressed community of Frostburg and decided to go to the local college because of its tuition-waiver program. In return for teaching for two years after graduation, he received a four-year scholarship to what is now Frostburg State University.

During his college years, Hyde played on the football team and studied history and education.

After getting his bachelor's degree in 1963, he taught history and coached at Charles Carroll Junior High in Prince George's County for three years.

"I remember how much joy you could experience from working with young people and trying to figure out how you could reach these kids and hook them and get them to move beyond their comfort zone," Hyde said.

He returned to Frostburg to get a master's degree in counseling, and in 1966 went to work with the state Department of Education as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for developmentally disabled children and adults.

Hyde said his decision to become a counselor was partly a result of growing up in an environment where he saw people who didn't receive the services they needed.

"The incidence of disability tends to increase when you have a bigger concentration of poor people," Hyde said.

Administrative role

After working for a year as a counselor, Hyde began his climb up the managerial ladder in the vocational rehabilitation division. He supervised programs that prepared the disabled to live and work independently, and in 1977 became director of administrative support services for the division.

Ten years later, he made a career move to Westminster -- where he and his wife, Pat, were raising three children -- to go to work in Carroll schools.

Colleagues say Hyde has aggressively pursued better and more cost-effective ways to run county schools. He was instrumental in the formation of a task force of county and school officials that is working to save money by combining functions in the areas of health insurance, warehousing and vehicle maintenance.

Lockard said Hyde has focused on bringing computer technology to Carroll schools.

"Principals have computers that give them the ability to pull up MSPAP [Maryland School Performance Assessment Program test scores] and make instructional decisions for their schools," Lockard said.

Critical juncture

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