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The Maryland State Department of Education announced Tuesday that Calvert County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith has been named chief academic officer for the state.

“I’m looking forward to what will be an intense focus on student learning and practicing things we worked hard on in Calvert County, such as implementing the common core in the curriculum and increasing the graduation rate,” Smith said.

According to Smith and Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, Smith will be in charge of academics, which include assessments, instruction, special education, career education and library services. Smith will be overseeing these and other aspects of the school system.

“He knows the state so very well. He’s been in education in [Maryland] for a couple of decades,” Reinhard said. “He knows from the ground level knows what needs to be done.”

The announcement came less than a week after Smith announced his plans to step down as superintendent, and was unbeknownst to many Calvert County Board of Education members.

“[Smith] is an intelligent man, and I think he’ll do very well,” Eugene Karol, president of the board of education, said Tuesday. “He will be a real plus for the state department.”

Although Karol and fellow board members Joe Chenelly and Kelly McConkey said they were unaware of Smith’s new position, all wished him well.

“I’m not surprised,” Chenelly said. “He spoke about other opportunities he had out there. But I’m happy for him, and I’m glad he’s staying within Maryland.”

“[Smith] is a smart guy. I knew someone would pick him up,” McConkey, board vice president, said. “Hopefully, we’ll still get to work with him since he’ll be in Maryland.”

“Jack Smith has built his career working to improve learning and increase student achievement,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery, in a press release issued Tuesday morning by the state department of education. “He helped build the outstanding schools of Calvert County, as a superintendent, administrator and principal. Nobody is more qualified to lead our efforts to strengthen every classroom in Maryland.”

Smith, who was named Maryland Superintendent of the Year this past fall, will provide leadership, guidance, administration and supervision to MSDE’s continued efforts to strengthen student academic performance, according to the release.

Smith will end his term as superintendent of Calvert County Public Schools on July 31 and begin his new position Aug. 8.

snewman@somdnews.com