From the Superintendent

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