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Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donna Hanlin Announces Retirement as of June 30

Dr. Donna Hanlin, who has served as Superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools since July 2016, announced Friday that she will retire June 30 after an education career of more than 43 years.

“It is with mixed emotions that I shared with the Board on Tuesday evening my plans to retire effective June 30, 2022,” Dr. Hanlin said Friday in a video message to staff. “After more than 43 years of a wonderfully fulfilling career in education, it is time for me to focus on family. With most of my family in North Carolina, including four beautiful grandchildren, my husband and I are looking forward to spending more time with our growing family as we plan for the next chapter of our lives.

“While I will continue to give my all to my duties as Superintendent through June 30th, I am making this announcement so the Board of Education, in collaboration with the community, will have as much time as possible to conduct the search for a new leader for Wicomico Schools. Whoever is selected as the next Wicomico Superintendent of Schools will have the privilege of guiding an outstanding school system with an extremely dedicated staff and excellent students.”

The Board of Education, which appointed Dr. Hanlin in 2016 and gave her a new four-year contract in 2020, just before the pandemic, shared its appreciation for her leadership after she handed Board Chairman N. Eugene Malone Jr. her retirement letter prior to Tuesday’s Board meeting. While the terms of her contract allowed for the possibility of retirement prior to the end of the contract in 2024, the Board said it could not have had a better person in charge these past few years.

“Dr. Hanlin has done an outstanding job as Wicomico Superintendent of Schools through many opportunities and challenges and initiatives since 2016,” Mr. Malone said. “She will be leaving an impressive legacy of leadership, and this Board thanks her for all she has done, and will continue to do in the coming months, for Wicomico students, families, staff and the community. We all wish you well in your next chapter.”

Dr. Hanlin brought an education background that was both homegrown and broad and varied to her position as Superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools. After graduating from James M. Bennett High School and receiving her bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, she began her career as a classroom teacher in Wicomico County Public Schools. Later, as a school counselor, she assisted in the design of the school system’s elementary guidance program. She went on to serve students and families as Assistant Principal at Wicomico Middle, Assistant Principal and Principal of James M. Bennett High, and Director of Secondary Education. 

Dr. Hanlin earned a master’s degree in education from Salisbury University and a doctorate in education leadership policy studies from the University of Maryland College Park. After 26 years in Wicomico Schools, Dr. Hanlin moved to Washington County, where she served the public school system as Supervisor of Special Education, Director of Elementary Education, and Associate Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer.

Dr. Hanlin taught master’s and doctorate level courses for Frostburg State University on instructional design, assessment and accountability, and the change process. She served as consultant in the design of the STEMM Technical Middle College, a partnership between the Washington County Public Schools and Hagerstown Community College, providing early college opportunities for high school students. She worked as Co-Chair and Director of Assessment and Accountability for the Department of Education at Shepherd University just before returning to Wicomico County Public Schools as Superintendent in 2016.

“Wicomico County Public Schools is home to me, and it will be hard to leave,” Dr. Hanlin said. “I grew up in this school system, first as a student and graduate, then as a teacher, a guidance counselor, a school assistant principal and principal, Director of Secondary Education, and finally Superintendent of Schools. But for each of us, there will come a day when we know it is time to leave.

“It is time for me, after June 30th, to say goodbye to the school system that has felt like my family for almost my entire life, and to turn my focus to my own family and our future.

This school system that has been as integral to my life and success as it is to that of our community. It has been an honor to lead Wicomico County Public Schools these past six years. My tenure as Superintendent has been and will continue to be the privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime.”

In her message to staff, Dr. Hanlin shared her appreciation for the way employees have risen to meet every challenge during one of the most difficult times ever experienced in public education.

“I thank you for your steadfast dedication to the students of Wicomico County. My admiration for your commitment during what has no doubt been the most challenging time in history for teachers, administrators, and support staff has been, and continues to be, impossible for me to fully communicate to you. My trust in your ability to persevere has never wavered. You have made it through the most arduous period of education during this pandemic and are stronger for that. We all are. I truly believe that even though there may still be rough days ahead, the most challenging times are behind us. Each day feels a little brighter, and even brighter days are ahead.”