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Linda Dudderar this week officially retired from her job as assistant superintendent of instruction, the top academic position in St. Mary’s public schools.

Dudderar served a variety of roles with St. Mary’s public schools during the last 25 years, including as principal at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School.

“Linda is an outstanding educator and administrator,” said Mary Washington, who has been a school board member since 1996.

Washington said that Dudderar is an extremely hard worker and will be missed. “She gets the job done.”

Dudderar, who turned 65 on Jan. 1, the day of her retirement, began teaching at Park Hall Elementary School after moving to St. Mary’s from Florida. She was soon appointed assistant principal at Banneker and then spent a decade as principal at that school.

She was principal of George Washington Carver Elementary School for a year before becoming director of elementary education at the school system’s central office. After four years in that job, current Superintendent Michael Martirano appointed her seven years ago as the chief academic officer, a position later renamed assistant superintendent of instruction.

“I hope I never forgot what it was to be a teacher, what it was to be a principal,” Dudderar said. She said she always tried to keep in mind that the job was about educating children, and that her ability to show empathy to parents and others served her well.

Martirano said he does not plan to fill the position until July, and that other administrators will take on her duties until then. Still, “it’s a critical position,” Martirano said, adding that a search for Dudderar’s replacement will begin sometime this spring.

“We are all in the process of saying goodbye to her right now,” Martirano said.

Dudderar lives in California with her husband, Raymond “Chip” Dudderar. They have two grown children who live on the West Coast along with three grandchildren and one more on the way, Linda Dudderar said.

She said her family is a big part of her decision to retire, and that she and her husband already have several vacations planned for the coming year.

Still, she said she feels lucky to live in St. Mary’s and to have established a career here. “It’s like winning the lottery,” she said.

Linda Dudderar has also volunteered with several community organizations, including Rotary and United Way and also serves on the MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Board of Directors.

Barbara Thompson, current chair of the hospital board, said Dudderar served as chair during the hospital’s transition to join Medstar, which Thompson said has helped bring more medical services and physicians to St. Mary’s County.

Dudderar, as chair of the hospital board, provided an “invaluable service both to the hospital and the community,” Thompson said.

jyeatman@somdnews.com