From the Superintendent

Appointment of Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer for Frederick Campus
June 25, 2024
Dear MSD Community, 
I'm writing to provide a brief update on the status of the Chief Educational Programs Officer for our Frederick campus. As announced in an earlier communication in June, following a series of interviews, the leadership team has decided not to fill the position at this time.
To ensure a seamless transition and sustained leadership during this period, I am pleased to announce that Tara Holloway has graciously accepted the role of Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer for the Frederick campus during the 2024-2025 school year. This decision was made in the best interests of the Frederick campus operations. Tara currently serves on the MSD leadership team as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, where she oversees the development and implementation of curriculum and instructional strategies. 
Tara has been with MSD for 15 years, teaching High School English, Middle School Language Arts, Algebra, Government, and Psychology. She then led the CTE Department as a team leader for one school year before moving to serve as the department administrator for the middle school. She eventually became the Director of Accreditation and the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, leading a team of data and content area specialists. Her extensive experience in these roles has equipped her well to provide support to the department principals.
Tara will begin her transition this summer to prepare for the new academic year. In her interim role, she will continue to oversee the curriculum team, and the duties and responsibilities will be delegated accordingly to ensure that the curricular and instructional support are provided.
I am confident that Tara will continue to foster a collaborative partnership with Dawniela Halischak, Chief Educational Programs Officer of the Columbia campus, as we align our efforts to ensure curriculum and support services meet the diverse needs of our students.
Jennifer Yost Ortiz will return to her original role as Dean of Student Affairs full-time and will continue to provide support to the Frederick leadership team, including Tara Holloway in her new interim role. 

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe summer break.

Best regards, 
John A. Serrano
Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer Update
June 11, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to provide an update on the status of the Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer (CEPO) position. After the second round of interviews and the community presentation, the leadership team has decided not to fill the CEPO position at this time.
I want to express my gratitude for your participation and support throughout this process. I recognize that this is not the outcome we had hoped for before the last day of school. However, I remain committed to working with the leadership team over the summer to prepare for the new school year.
In the meantime, Jennifer Yost Ortiz, who has served as Interim CEPO, will continue in t his role for part of the summer as we transition to the next interim CEPO. However, she will return to the Dean of Student Affairs role the next school year. We will determine and communicate our plans for managing the interim CEPO role for the 2024-2025 school year soon. 
The CEPO posting will be removed for now and will be reposted later in the school year.
Thank you again for your continued support, and have a wonderful summer.
Thank you, 
John A. Serrano
Appointment of Our New Human Resources Director
June 7, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I am writing to provide an update on the status of the Human Resources Director position. As you may recall, this position was vacated by Deborah Colon-Martin, who voluntarily stepped into a different role within the Human Resources Office earlier this semester.
After a competitive selection process, including two rounds of interviews, I am delighted to announce that Ashley Parks will be our new Human Resources Director, starting on June 12, 2024.
Ashley ParksAshley brings over nine years of extensive experience in Human Resources Management. She holds a Master's degree in Human Resources from the University of Maryland and a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Ashley has held significant roles in Human Resources management within the Maryland Judiciary/Circuit Court for Baltimore City and the University of Maryland-Baltimore. Currently, she is the Associate Human Resources Partner at Towson University, where she independently oversees all Human Resources functions. Her responsibilities include executive coaching and counseling for the Vice President of Student Affairs and key departments such as the Dean of Students, Housing & Residence Life, and Career Services. She also manages Human Resources operations for over 200 state employees, demonstrating her ability to handle complex Human Resources challenges and leadership requirements. I believe her skills and experience will serve MSD well, given its dual role as a state agency and a school.
Ashley is enthusiastic about joining the MSD community and is eager to begin her new role.
In closing, I want to extend my appreciation to Christine Travers for leading the office as Acting Human Resources Director during this busy time of the year. 
Please join me in warmly welcoming Ashley to our Oriole family.
With Oriole Pride, 
John A. Serrano
Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer Update
May 24, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I'm writing to provide you with an update regarding the search for the Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer (CEPO).
As many of you are aware, the CEPO position has been vacant for a year, with Jennifer Yost Ortiz serving as interim CEPO during this time. After an initial review of the applications last fall semester, which did not yield the desired outcome, the position was reposted this semester with some minor adjustments to the posting. Following another round of applications, a single candidate has emerged from the first-round interview to advance to the second round.
We are pleased to announce that Anne Grace Donatucci, currently serving as the Director of Curriculum and Educational Programs at Minnesota State Academies, has been identified as the candidate for the second round of interviews.
Anne Grace DonatucciAnne Grace Donatucci will be visiting the Frederick campus on Monday, June 3rd, for the second round interview process. This will include an interview with the MSD Leadership Team, followed by a community presentation in the afternoon. During the presentation, you will have the opportunity to engage with Anne Grace Donatucci and participate in a question-and-answer session.
I invite you to attend the community presentation, which will be offered both in person and via Zoom. Anne Grace Donatucci will address the following questions during the presentation:
1. What is your core educational philosophy and how has it shaped you as a leader?
2. As the Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer, what strategies do you propose to elevate MSD's Frederick campus to new heights, aiming to "LEVEL UP," and how will you implement them?
Details for the community presentation are as follows:
Date: Monday, June 3, 2024
Location: Kent-McCanner Cafetorium 
Time: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
For those who are interested in participating via Zoom, a separate link will be distributed which will require you to register. Please be on the lookout for another email soon. 
Thank you for your continued involvement and support in this important process. We look forward to your participation in welcoming Anne Grace Donatucci to our campus community on June 3.
With Oriole Pride, 
John A. Serrano
School Climate Survey
May 20, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I am please to inform you that we will soon be distributing our school climate survey. This initiative has been in the works for some time, and I am excited about the opportunity it presents to gain deeper insights into the strengths and needs of our school climate.
Background Information
To provide some historical context, several years ago, the MSD Board of Trustees collaborated with Idaltu Counseling and Consulting with the aim of addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) related issues. As part of this effort, the development and distribution of a school climate survey were planned for Fall 2022. Unfortunately, the intended survey did not materialize, and the project lost momentum. Subsequently, the Board of Trustees tasked me with revitalizing this important work. The process of survey development took longer than anticipated, involving careful thought and planning. This included revising the initial survey questions developed by the consulting firm and translating the survey questions in ASL by a Deaf Interpreter to ensure accessibility. This process was crucial in ensuring that we could gather comprehensive and inclusive feedback from our entire school community.
The primary goal of the school climate survey is to take a comprehensive look at the current environment within our school. By gathering detailed feedback from students, families, and staff, we aim to identify both the strengths and areas where MSD can improve. This data will be instrumental in enhancing our school climate and fostering a stronger sense of belonging and inclusivity among all members of our community. This initiative is a critical step in ensuring that MSD remains a supportive and responsive educational environment.
Rollout Plan
The climate survey has been carefully designed to cater to different groups within our school community, including elementary students in grades 3-5, middle school, high school, and Orioles Career Academy (OCA), families, teachers and staff, student life staff, and administrators. 

Each group will receive a tailored set of questions addressing relevant aspects of their experience and interaction within the school environment. To ensure inclusivity and accessibility, the survey will be available in multiple languages, including ASL. To uphold the integrity and confidentiality of the feedback process, all survey responses will be anonymous, containing no identifiable information such as names or email addresses. This anonymity encourages honest and open communication from all participants, ensuring that the data collected is reliable and valuable in enhancing our school's climate.
For our students, the survey will be administered in a familiar setting within their classrooms, aligning with the structure used during local and state testing. The deadline for student responses is scheduled for the end of the school day on Friday, May 31st.
Families, teachers, staff, and administrators will be given an additional week, with the deadline extended to Friday, June 7th.
Post-Survey Plans
Upon completion, the survey results will be analyzed to identify both strengths and areas needing attention within our school environment. These insights will play an important role in shaping the priorities and action items for the 2024-2025 academic year. Additionally, this data will serve as a foundational component of our strategic planning and accreditation process scheduled to begin in Fall 2024. This intentional use of survey data underscores our commitment to continuously improving the educational experience and climate at MSD.
Thank you for your cooperation and participation in this important endeavor.
John A. Serrano
Leila Hanaumi — Class of 2024 Commencement Speaker
May 7, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I am thrilled to announce that Leila Hanaumi has accepted our invitation to address the Class of 2024 at their upcoming commencement ceremony. As is tradition, the graduating class was given the opportunity to select a distinguished individual to inspire them at their graduation as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Leila Hanaumi is a Deaf Asian creator, performer, writer, and accessibility advocate. Her recent ASL performance for Barbie earned her critical acclaim, and she had the opportunity of a lifetime to interview Margot Robbie, star actress of Barbie, onstage after the film's community screening.
She has previously been involved as an actor and Director of Artistic Sign Language in theatrical productions: The Laramie Project with Deaf Austin Theatre and Ground Floor Theatre (2023); Cinderella with Deaf Austin Theatre and ZACH (2023). Using her platform to spread awareness about Deaf culture, she was invited to present during Microsoft's Ability Summit alongside Chief of Accessibility Jenny Lay-Flurry.
As a creative outlet, she produces and performs ASL song covers, which have totaled over a few million views online. Under her lifestyle brand Today I Awaken, she creates and sells planners. She enjoys juggling different roles and loves giving motivational presentations, vision board workshops, and baking custom cakes for her children's birthdays. She currently works for dozanü innovations, a Deaf-owned marketing firm. She lives in Austin, TX, with her Deaf husband, two young Deaf children, and two aging chihuahuas. 
We have no doubt that Leila's address will be inspiring and empowering, setting our graduates on a path of purpose and determination. The ceremony will take place on Friday, May 31, at the Benson Gym. More details about the event will be shared with the community soon.
Let us all come together to welcome Leila as we commemorate this momentous occasion and bid farewell to our graduating seniors with the sendoff they deserve.
John A. Serrano
Academic Calendar Updates
April 10, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
Welcome back!

As we approach the end of the school year, it's a busy time filled with exciting end-of-year activities and events. I trust everyone enjoyed a restful spring break and returned to school this week with renewed energy.
This letter brings two updates regarding our academic calendars.
First, the last day of school for the 2023-2024 academic year has been rescheduled. As of today, MSD has used three inclement weather days this school year. Therefore, the last day of school is now Wednesday, June 12. Please note that this information is subject to change pending any additional inclement weather days.

Secondly, I am pleased to share with you the academic calendar for the 2024-2025 school year.
We appreciate everyone who took the time to complete the calendar survey. Your input has been invaluable in guiding out decisions for the upcoming school year. The survey results highlight a general consensus among stakeholders regarding the major aspects of the calendar, emphasizing a strong preference for consistency. Feedback and voting patterns from parents largely reflect concerns about childcare arrangements, especially on days off from school. Notably, the survey results consistently indicate opposition to the addition of more half-days. Additionally, survey results also indicate several mentions of the need to align spring break with Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) and Howard County Public Schools (HCPSS). It's important to acknowledge some discrepancies in voting regarding holidays, with parents predominantly voting against changes while staff members are in favor. If interested, please review the disaggregated survey results on our webpage. 
Our academic calendar has a new look and some key changes.
Please note the following key changes to the calendar:
  • The first day of school will be on Tuesday, August 27. We have designated Monday, August 26, as the Back to School event as part of our commitment to strengthening the family-school partnership. This will allow students and families to get acquainted with their teachers and staff before starting school.
  • In a departure from tradition, we will have school on the day after Labor Day. Dorms will reopen and classes will resume on Tuesday, September 3.
  • Based on survey results and community feedback, we were able to align MSD's spring break with other school counties, notably FCPS, HCPSS, and Montgomery County Public Schools. This includes a week off, followed by no school on Monday. Dorms will reopen on Monday, April 21, and classes will resume on Tuesday, April 22.
  • Traditionally, Staff Day has been observed on the day after Memorial Day. However, it has been decided to reschedule Staff Day to the day after the last day of school. This adjustment will provide faculty and staff with an opportunity to conclude the school year, including tasks such as grading, classroom cleanup, as well as opportunities for staff recognition and end-of-school-year celebrations before the summer break.
  • The last day of school will be Thursday, June 5.
There are two sections to this calendar. On the first page, the right side lists all key dates for the school year, including interim and end of quarters, as well as school closings and early dismissals. The second page mirrors the calendar and includes dates for when the dorms reopen, along with interim and end of quarter dates, and dates for 10, 10.5, and 11-month staff.
We are excited about this new calendar and believe it will best support our students, families, and staff.
Warm Regards, 
John A. Serrano
Solar Eclipse Safety — April 8, 2024
April 5, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
On Monday, April 8, we will experience a partial solar eclipse. Depending on your specific location in the state of Maryland, the eclipse will occur between 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., with the maximum solar coverage at approximately 3:20 p.m. This timing coincides with the regular school day and dismissal.
Most of Maryland will witness a partial eclipse that blocks 85-90% of the sun, resulting in some degree of darkness. While we are not in the path of a total solar eclipse, it remains a remarkable phenomenon that offers valuable opportunities for learning and observation. As educators, we recognize the value of incorporating real-world events like solar eclipses into our curriculum. Observing celestial events foster curiosity, scientific inquiry, and a deeper understanding of the natural world. Teachers may choose to integrate discussions, activities, or projects related to the solar eclipse into their lesson plans to enhance student learning and engagement. Additionally, teachers and staff will take necessary precautions to ensure that students can safely and responsibly observe the eclipse.

All students, staff, and parents/guardians are encouraged to take note of the following safety tips during the eclipse:
  • Avoid staring directly at the sun, particularly during a solar eclipse, as it poses a significant risk of eye damage. Looking directly at the sun, even with sunglasses, telescopes, or binoculars, can result in permanent harm to your eyesight. It's crucial to use specialized viewing glasses or filters that meet all International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards.
  • When acquiring viewing glasses, ensure they are from reputable manufacturers, as there have been instances of counterfeit products falsely labeled to meet international safety standards. The American Astronomical Society offers a list of companies whose products are confirmed to adhere to ISO standards.
For more information about the solar eclipse and eye safety guidelines, please visit NASA's official eclipse website. Additionally, if you have any specific questions or concerns, please contact your child's department principal. 
Let us embrace this opportunity to marvel at the wonders of the universe while prioritizing safety and education.
Warm regards, 
John A. Serrano
Update on the Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer Position
February 20, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I am writing to provide you with an update on the status of the Chief Educational Programs Officer (CEPO) position at our Frederick Campus.
Last fall, we actively engaged the Frederick Campus community to participate in the first round interview committee for the CEPO position. Ensuring adequate representation from the Frederick Campus community was a priority in identifying committee members. Unfortunately, we did not receive a sufficient number of qualified applicants to initiate the interview process in Fall 2023 as planned. Therefore, we decided to extend the deadline to January of this year.
The vetted applications underwent thorough review by the committee. However, the consensus among the committee members was that it would be in the best interest of MSD to continue recruiting additional qualified applicants. We remain steadfast in our commitment to attracting candidates with substantive administrative and supervisory experience coupled with a strong teaching background.
In light of this, we have temporarily taken down the job posting to make necessary changes to the job description. Upon completion, the position will be reposted. Furthermore, we plan to launch a robust public relations campaign to attract a more diverse pool of qualified applicants.
I sincerely appreciate your continued patience and understanding throughout this process. I also extend my gratitude to the interim CEPO, Jennifer Yost Ortiz, and the Frederick Campus leadership team for their support as we seek a permanent hire.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment and support of MSD.
Warm regards, 
John A. Serrano
Appointment of Frederick Campus Family Education and Early Childhood Principal
January 10, 2024
Dear MSD Community:
I am pleased to share that Amy Gregurich Lindley has been hired for the Family Education & Early Childhood Education Department (FEECD) Principal position. She will begin on January 24, 2024. Amy has 15 years of experience teaching in the Early Childhood Education field and 18 years of experience teaching teacher-preparation undergraduate and graduate courses in education and deaf education, with a focus on emergent and early literacy and development.
Amy graduated from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin and attended Gallaudet University for her undergraduate and graduate studies, where she studied Biology, Psychology, Early Childhood Education and Family Centered Early Childhood/Deaf Education. She currently holds Advanced Professional Certificates from the Maryland State Department of Education in Early Childhood Special Education, Infant to Grade 3 and Early Childhood Education, PK-3.
Amy Gregurich Lindley Amy's journey as an educator began at MSD in 1999, where she taught in the FEECD. In this capacity, Amy served as an early childhood education teacher for the infant, toddler and preschool classes, as an early intervention specialist doing home visits all over the state of Maryland and as a teacher mentor for new employees or interns. She was also a Parent Group Coordinator, where she coordinated and facilitated workshops, school-family events, panels and group discussions for FEECD families. She also worked with county infant and toddler agencies to set up IFSP services for deaf and hard of hearing children, birth to two years, and their families.
While working for MSD, Amy pursued her passion for educating and mentoring teachers in deaf education by teaching Children's Literature, Emergent Literacy and Early Childhood Environments for 10 years at Gallaudet University as an adjunct lecturer before transitioning to teach Literacy Instruction for Deaf Students at McDaniel College for 8 years, where she also supervised student teaching interns.
In 2014, Amy transitioned from MSD to her home, where she homeschooled her 3 CODAs for over 9 years while continuing to teach at McDaniel College. She also worked as an assessor for the Center on Literacy and Deafness assessing deaf and hard of hearing students in grades K-2 for a three-year testing of the Fingerspelling On Our Way to Reading evidence-based supplemental literacy program for deaf and hard of hearing students.
Most recently, Amy served as the Coordinator for School Leadership, Partnerships and Placement at Gallaudet University where she was responsible for developing a three-tiered curriculum pathway (graduate certificate, Ed.S. and Ed.D.) in Transformational Leadership and Administration in Deaf Education, working with current school leaders and stakeholders in the development of the curricula. She was also responsible for overseeing review and accreditation processes for all programs in this track, and for coordinating the placement and supervision of student interns in K-12 public and private schools as well as K-12 deaf schools and programs, including MSD.
Amy resides in Frederick County with her husband of 25 years, Lloyd, and together they have three children, with one in college, one soon-to-be in college, and one in middle school. 
We would like to show our deep appreciation for Tara Duboski Finkle, previous FEECD principal, for her leadership and love for the FEECD department. Tara continues to make significant contributions to MSD through her new role as a Reading Coach. Thank you, Tara!
We would also like to recognize and thank Nancy Robitaille for her willingness to become the interim FEECD Principal until we hired a new one. Nancy held the fort with patience and grace. Thank you, Nancy!

We are looking forward to having Amy join the Oriole Family!

Welcome aboard, Amy!
Jennifer Yost Ortiz
Interim Chief Educational Programs Officer
Jr. NAD National Conference at MSD
November 7, 2023
Dear MSD Community:
I am thrilled to share some exciting news with you: Our school has been honored with the opportunity to collaborate with the National Association of the Deaf in hosting the Junior National Association of the Deaf's (Jr. NAD) biennial national conference for the first time since its inception in 1968. This is a momentous occasion, and I am proud of our school's selection to host this esteemed event.
This week, from November 8 to 12, we will welcome student representatives and advisors from 23 schools, totaling 119 participants of which 80 are high school students to MSD Frederick campus. This conference provides a unique platform for student leaders to gather, refine their leadership skills, establish connections, and learn from both each other and various community advocates and leaders. The focus on advocacy and leadership aligns with the vital pillars that sustain a healthy and vibrant community for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals.
Reflecting on my own high school experience, I had the honor of attending the Jr. NAD conference in 1996 in North Carolina. It remains one of the best and most memorable experiences of my youth. Meeting local and state deaf leaders, learning from their experiences, and understanding how their advocacy efforts paved the way for the accessibility we enjoy today were invaluable lessons. While there is still much work to be done to enhance the quality of life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, the Jr. NAD conference serves as a crucial stepping stone for young advocates and leaders.
As we prepare for this significant event, I encourage each of you to join me in extending a warm welcome to our visitors. Let us embrace them with the familiar MSD hospitality that we know so well. Remember that each one of us is an ambassador for our school and community. I invite you to go the extra mile in ensuring our visitors feel not only welcome but truly embraced by the warmth and inclusivity that defines our school. 
While the conference is for Jr. NAD student delegates only, there is one part of the event that is open to the community, and that is the Pitch Competition on Friday, Nov. 10 at 7pm in the Ely Auditorium on the Frederick campus. Come watch contestants pitch their social issue projects that will have a positive impact on our deaf communities. The winner of this competition will become the Jr. NAD Ambassador for the next two years. Admission to this special event is $5 per person, and proceeds go to MSD's Jr. NAD Chapter.
Thank you for your continued support, and let us look forward to a successful and enriching Jr. NAD national conference for our future leaders.
Warm regards, 
John A. Serrano
Update on the Frederick Campus Chief Educational Programs Officer Position
September 8, 2023
Dear MSD Community:
I am writing to provide you with important updates regarding the recruitment and hiring of the new Chief Educational Programs Officer (CEPO) for the Frederick campus at MSD.
We have launched the advertising phase to attract candidates for this pivotal role. We are actively seeking a dynamic individual who will serve as a beacon of strategic educational leadership. The CEPO will play a crucial role in fostering a culture of high expectations and shared responsibility, ensuring equitable access to bilingual and culturally relevant instruction for our students at the Frederick campus. Collaborating closely with our Columbia campus CEPO, they will elevate MSD's academic offerings to new heights, contributing to the ongoing transformation of the MSD educational experience.
Next, I would like to share our timeline for the search process. We are committed to making this progress inclusive and transparent for our school community. I will be chairing the search process, and I want to highlight that it will involve at least two rounds of interviews with various stakeholders, as well as a community forum to provide the selected candidates an opportunity to engage with the Frederick campus community and receive valuable feedback.
Here is an overview of the timeline:
August 2023
    • Frederick campus CEPO position is posted, and MSD begins accepting applications.
Late September/Early October 2023
    • The Human Resources Office and the interview committee will screen applications and identify the most qualified candidates for interviews.
October 2023
    • First round interviews will be conducted, consisting of a committee comprising:
      • Two department principals
      • One teacher
      • One support staff member
      • One curriculum & instruction staff member
      • One CEPO/Main Office representative
      • Superintendent (Interview Chair)
Late October/Early November 2023
    • Second round interviews will take place with selected members of the MSD Leadership Team.
    • Community presentations and forums will be held at the Frederick campus, providing an opportunity for community members to engage and offer feedback.
    • The MSD Leadership Team will carefully review interview notes and community feedback to make a recommendation.
December 2023
    • The Superintendent will announce the selection of the new Frederick campus CEPO and their start date.
The new Frederick campus CEPO is expected to start no later than July 1, 2024.

For more details about the position, please visit this link. If you or someone you know may be interested and qualified for this position, we encourage you to apply or forward this information to that prospective candidate.
If you are interested in serving on the First Round Interview Committee or know someone who may be, please reach out to Jennifer Lake from the Superintendent's Office at [email protected] by Friday, September 15, 2023. Committee members will be selected with careful consideration of diversity and representation of the Frederick campus community.
We are excited about this process and look forward to your continued support and engagement as we work together to shape the future of our beloved school. 
Warm regards, 
John A. Serrano
Appointment of MSD Athletic Director
August 24, 2023
Dear MSD Community:
I'm pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Coleman as MSD's new Athletic Director. With a deep-rooted passion for athletics and fitness, coupled with his impressive background as an athlete, Jason brings a wealth of experience and expertise to our K-12 Athletics program.
Jason's commitment to MSD, along with his proficiency in fitness and sports, truly shone throughout the interview process. His dedication to utilizing athletics as a means of fostering positive relationships within the MSD community was evident. He demonstrated a heartfelt investment in our students across both campuses, emphasizing the growth of student-athletes and their personal bests over a singular focus on winning. Furthermore, he is dedicated to building strong collaborations within the school and student life programs, aligning with MSD's core value of equity. We eagerly anticipate the new energy and fresh perspective he will infuse into our Athletic Department to enhance the holistic MSD student experience.
Jason Coleman Previously, Jason served as a Physical Education teacher at the California School for the Deaf, Riverside and Maryland School for the Deaf. He also excelled as the Strength and Conditioning Program Coordinator at both schools. Before venturing to establish his fitness training business, JC Sports Performance, he was the Physical Education Team Leader at MSD.
Through JC Sports Performance, Jason led various sports performance and fitness clinics. His influence extended to conducting sports clinics and offering consultation services to numerous K-12 schools and programs throughout the country. Notably, he organized a national volleyball summer camp for deaf, hard of hearing, and KODA youth and conducted diverse workshops in the realm of sports and fitness.
His extensive coaching background at CSD, Riverside and MSD includes roles as the head coach for varsity football, varsity girls basketball, junior varsity boys basketball, and high school boys track and field. During his time at MSD as a student, Jason was actively engaged in various sports both in high school and college. He represented the USA Deaflympics team in handball and basketball on the international stage. His vast playing and coaching experience will serve him well in supporting our student-athletes and coaches.
Jason holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Gallaudet University and a Masters of Science degree in Special Education with a focus on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education from National University.
Jason is set to commence his new role on Monday, August 28, coinciding with the first day of school for MSD students. His strong presence will undoubtedly be felt at our athletic facilities right from the start.
Lastly, I would like to express my personal gratitude to Athletics Assistant Director Elena Ciccarelli and the now retired Director Andy Bonheyo for their steadfast efforts in managing the Athletics Department, including organizing Fall Sports camps for our student-athletes, throughout the summer.
Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Jason Coleman. I am confident that his dedication and expertise will contribute significantly to the advancement and transformation of our Athletics Program.
Warm Regards, 

John A. Serrano
Getting Ready for 2023-2024: Important Updates
August 23, 2023
Dear MSD Community:
Last week kicked off with a warm welcome to our new teachers, who engaged in training sessions led by our Curriculum and Instruction team. Additionally, we're pleased to welcome our new employees who have joined us for orientation as we continue to grow our team.
In alignment with our preparations, our teachers and staff returned on Monday of this week, marking the commencement of staff week — a time of collaboration and preparation for the upcoming school year.

The energy on our campus is charged with excitement, courtesy of our middle and high school student-athletes, who are also here participating in the fall sports camp. Their presence has breathed life into our surroundings, creating an atmosphere filled with school pride and enthusiasm.
With our students' return on the horizon, the countdown to the eagerly awaited first day of school on August 28 has begun. We are very much looking forward to welcoming students back to MSD.
MSD School Theme
Theme for the 2023-2024 School Year
I am excited to introduce the theme for this school year — "Level Up".
In choosing the theme "Level Up", we draw inspiration from personal and academic advancement, much like the progression players experience in video games. "Level Up" is more than a catchphrase; it embodies a mindset, a commitment, and a rallying cry for our entire school community.
At the core of the "Level Up" theme lies the concept of personal growth. Our dedication is to cultivate an environment that encourages both our students and staff to challenge themselves and strive for excellence. Embracing a growth mindset empowers each individual to consistently exceed their expectations. The idea of progress mirrors the concept of continuous improvement, highlighting that learning is an ongoing journey, and every experience, whether successful or challenging, contributes to the development.
Furthermore, "Level Up" extends beyond individual paths; it embodies our collective pursuits of excellence as a school community. It signifies our unified commitment to enhancing the overall educational experience at MSD. Through collaboration, innovation, and shared determination, our aim is to elevate the entire community.

This theme serves as a daily prompt to seize opportunities for growth and progress. It encourages us all to establish ambitious personal and academic goals, take proactive steps, and tackle challenges with determination. "Level Up" fuels motivation, ambition, and resilience, propelling us beyond comfort zones. Just as characters level up in video games to confront greater challenges, the theme readies students for real-world obstacles by urging them to step out of comfort zones and cultivate skills necessary to navigate a rapidly changing world.
Together, we will learn the importance of persistence and resilience as we navigate the highs and lows of this school year. "Level Up" reinforces the idea that setbacks are merely stepping stones toward growth. Each achievement, whether big or small, contributes to the overall progress, and "Level Up" encourages us to recognize and celebrate these accomplishments. Each day presents an opportunity for personal growth, and this theme will remind us of the significance of embracing challenges and learning from them.
Here's to a year of leveling up in every aspect of our lives.
MSD Handbook
The Student/Family Handbook for the 2023-2024 school year is now available. This comprehensive resource provides valuable information about our school's policies, procedures, expectations, and support services. Whether you are a returning family or new to our school community, the handbook is designed to guide you in effectively navigating the upcoming year at MSD. To access the handbook online, please visit
I would like to highlight that this year, we have introduced an addition to our Handbook webpage: Administrative Procedures. For specific policies, there will be links leading to pages with more detailed information. For more details, please visit
As partners in your child's education, I strongly encourage you to dedicate time to review the handbook together with your student(s). Should you have any questions or need clarification regarding any of the content, please contact your child's department principal or Dr. Latasha Bacote-Owens at [email protected].
Your active engagement with the handbook and our school policies is greatly appreciated as we work in partnership to create a successful and supportive learning environment for all students.
More updates and information will be shared by the leadership team in the next coming days.
With Oriole Pride, 
John A. Serrano
Appointment of Career & Technical Education Principal for Frederick Campus
August 9, 2023
Dear MSD Community:
I'm pleased to announce the selection of Jessica Willoughby as the Career and Technical Education Department Principal for Frederick campus.
Jessica's expertise, drawn from her profound knowledge and experience as both a classroom teacher and a school administrator, stood out during the interview process. Her genuine passion for Career and Technical Education, bilingual pedagogy, as well as transformative, culturally responsive leadership, was evident throughout. It is these exceptional qualities that we have solidified her selection for this important role.
Jessica's journey as an educator began at MSD in 2014, where she taught English & Digital ASL Literature, Multimedia & Orioles News, and Performing Arts for two years. This teaching experience solidified her expertise and knowledge in the realm of Career and Technical Education. She then transitioned to the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, where she spent two years in the classroom as a high school English teacher before assuming the role of Coordinator of Instructional Support for an additional two years.
Jessica Willoughby In this capacity, she emerged as one of the first instructional team leaders at the Clerc Center, embracing the shared leadership model. In this role, she collaborated closely with the leadership team, ensuring comprehensive oversight of teacher observations and effective coordination of staff development activities. Her involvement extended to contributing to data-informed decisions, offering support, and providing recommendations for school-wide assessment, strategic planning goals, and school accreditation.
Before her return to MSD in January 2023 as the Data and Assessment Coordinator, Jessica served as the Program Coordinator for the Deaf Education Graduate program at McDaniel College. In this capacity, she provided operational oversight of the graduate program, managing the implementation and evaluation of course sequences and curricula, overseeing the hiring and supervision of instructors and staff, and providing academic advising to students. During this period, she fostered a strong working relationship with the Maryland Department of Education (MSDE), which proved advantageous in her subsequent role as the Data and Assessment Coordinator, particularly in relation to assisting MSD teachers in obtaining and maintaining teaching certification. 
She is currently working towards a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Management with a concentration in Creativity and Innovation from Drexel University, with an anticipated graduation date of December 2024. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and Theatre Arts from Gallaudet University, as well as a master's degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College.
Looking ahead, we eagerly anticipate Jessica's commencement in her new role on August 23, 2023. In this role, she will not only lead and revitalize our current CTE program but also lay a stronger foundation, aligning with the forthcoming reopening of the Veditz Building.
We will initiate the process of seeking a replacement for the Data and Assessment Coordinator position in the coming weeks. During this transition, Jessica will seamlessly support the data and assessment initiatives in her new capacity until the position is filled.
Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Jessica Willoughby. Her dynamic expertise and commitment will undoubtedly contribute to the continued growth and success of our Career and Technical Education program.
Warm Regards, 

John A. Serrano
Preparations for the Upcoming School Year
August 8, 2023
Dear MSD Community:
It's remarkable how swiftly August has arrived, signaling the near conclusion of summer. I trust this letter finds you well, and that you're enjoying a summer full of rest and enriching experiences. As students and the majority of our staff and teachers relish their well-deserved break, MSD has remained operational, tirelessly working around the clock to prepare for the new school year.
Summer Camps and ESY
Throughout these recent months, we've had the pleasure of hosting five engaging summer camps, observing the pure enjoyment radiating from our campers. Our long-standing Camp Invention, managed by one of our dedicated teachers, once again proved to be a resounding success. Additionally, we proudly introduced a new school-sponsored initiative: the Career Expedition Camp. This program was crafted to offer our high school students with insights into various careers, fostering exploration and the discovery of post-secondary plans.
In collaboration with Front Row Films and MSD Columbia PTCA, we successfully launched a three-day Deaf Film Junior Academy Camp. Tailored for children in grades 3-8, this innovative camp program became an instant sensation. Watching our campers unleash their multimedia talents was a genuine delight. Sports enthusiasts were not left behind, as we also welcomed the JCSP Volleyball Camp and the National Deaf Girls Basketball Camp. These camps were aimed at enhancing the athletic fundamental skills of our young student-athletes.
Furthermore, in addition with the summer camps, we extended academic support by offering Extended School Year (ESY) services to MSD students on both campuses. Both of our campuses remained bustling with activity throughout the summer. The return of students brought a refreshing change to the usual rhythm of the summer days. We eagerly look forward to hosting these exceptional summer programs again next year.
Planning for the New School Year
In line with my ongoing endeavors to enhance efficiency and clarify roles and responsibilities, several changes have been implemented. The titles of the Frederick and Columbia Campus Principals have been updated to Chief Educational Programs Officers (CEPOs). Our current assistant principals for both campuses are now referred to as department principals. This transition underscores our commitment to reinforcing and streamlining our organizational structure.
The responsibilities of the department principals will remain the same, encompassing tasks such as managing the daily operations of their departments, teacher evaluation and support, lesson plan monitoring, and collaboration with support staff to ensure top-notch instruction. In addition to these adjustments, the CEPOs for both campuses will continue to support department principals while also holding the overarching responsibility for advancing academic achievement and student success systematically.
In addition to these title changes, department principals, along with other leaders and 12-month staff, have been diligently working to strengthen protocols and systems. This strategic effort is aimed at more effectively addressing student needs, including comprehensive planning for the initial weeks of the school year. We are also in the process of devising plans to provide support and training to teachers and staff, particularly those who are new to MSD.
I'm pleased to inform you that the position of Chief Educational Programs Officer for the Frederick campus will be posted this week. Given the significance of this position, the search process will span multiple months to ensure the selection of a qualified candidate. This process will comprise two rounds of interviews. The first round will involve an interview committee with diverse representation, and the second round will include members of the MSD Leadership Team. Specific details about the search process will be communicated separately. Meanwhile, Jennifer Yost Ortiz, the current interim Frederick campus CEPO, has been collaborating with the leadership team, including Columbia campus leadership, to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Throughout the summer months, our focus has also been on recruiting and hiring to address various vacancies across both campuses. Notably, we conducted a rigorous search for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department principal. I'm thrilled to announce that the committee has provided a recommendation, and an independent announcement regarding this selection will follow shortly.
Furthermore, in light of Andy Bonheyo's retirement, a comprehensive search was conducted to find a new Athletic Director. Even though Andy officially retired on August 1st, he continues to support MSD in preparation for the upcoming fall sports season at least until the position is filled. Additionally, he will support the transition of the new Athletic Director upon hire, and we are appreciative of his dedication and service to MSD. The interview committee, in the midst of a competitive process with a significant number of qualified applicants, is finalizing their evaluations and will soon provide a recommendation. Once the recommended candidate accepts the position, a dedicated announcement will be shared with the community.
While students enjoy their summer break, our maintenance staff is diligently taking advantage of this period to enhance and update various areas and buildings on both campuses. This includes tasks such as replacing roof shingles on selected buildings and undertaking numerous painting projects.
Veditz Building
I acknowledge that my previous community announcement included information about the Veditz building renovation set to commence in May/June 2023. Since that announcement, we have encountered unforeseen delays that were beyond our control. Issues with the bidding process for selecting a construction company arose, involving the Department of General Services (DGS), a state agency overseeing major construction projects for state institutions like MSD. This resulted in a temporary holdup. We are hopeful that DGS can swiftly address this matter so construction can commence soon. As your new superintendent, I consider this a valuable lesson in not jumping ahead of the process, as unforeseen setbacks can occur. In this particular case, I now recognize that providing projected work dates for this project isn't feasible until we witness workers on-site wearing hard hats. 
Hessian Barracks
MSD has been awarded a Semiquincentennial grant of $750,000 by the National Park Service as part of the nationwide commemoration of the United States' 250th anniversary. This grant acknowledges the historical importance of the Hessian Barracks located on our Frederick campus and the need to support preservation efforts.
Considering its age and shifting landscape, the barracks require essential foundation work for stabilization. The grant award serves as an important supplement to the total funding required to successfully complete the comprehensive stabilization project for the barracks. We are actively engaged in seeking additional funds from the state to further support this significant project.
MSD Board of Trustees
I would like to update you on some significant developments within the MSD Board of Trustees. Our board composition has undergone changes, with certain members completing their terms and subsequently concluding their service on the board. This includes the departure of two of our longest-serving members, Dr. Sheryl Cooper and Dr. Dennis Galvan. Their dedication and commitment to the board over the years have been invaluable, and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to them. We wish them all the best in their future pursuits.
I'm pleased to inform you that the Governor's Appointments Office has confirmed the appointment of the following individuals, who will commence their roles on the board starting with the upcoming meeting scheduled for September 8, 2023:
  • Mary Keane, Ph.D.
  • Michelle Morales, Ed.D.
  • Lawrence Musa
  • Katrina Patterson
  • Alia N. Thomas
  • Julie Tibbitt, Ph.D.
As we prepare for the next board meeting in September, we will officially welcome our new board members. We look forward to the insights and perspectives that these new appointees will bring to the board. Additionally, on a related note, the Board Executive Committee will convene on August 16, 2023. The purpose of this meeting is to review and subsequently endorse the 2023-2024 Handbook, ensuring its readiness for the upcoming school year. Please remain informed about Board initiatives and communications through their webpage at
As I conclude this message, I want to emphasize that a series of crucial communications will soon be coming your way from MSD as we prepare for the first day of school. This will encompass the exciting reveal of our new school theme, a guiding force that energizes me, as I know it will lead us through the year ahead. As we approach the beginning of a new school year, I am genuinely enthusiastic about embarking on this journey alongside all of you. Your continuous support and collaborative efforts remain instrumental in achieving our collective success. With great anticipation, we look forward to the forthcoming academic year, brimming with promising potential and opportunities for growth.

With Oriole Pride, 

John A. Serrano