Parents line up to meet Dr. Kevin Maxwell, at right, the new superintendent of the Prince George's County Schools.
A day after he contract was finalized, the new head of the Prince George's County school system held his first meet and greet with parents and students last night.
For more than an hour Dr. Kevin Maxwell slowly moved around the cafeteria of Crossland High School, shaking hands and talking with each person in a line that never seemed to get shorter.
"I think 400 or more... I think that's a conservative estimate," he said of the crowd.
Maxwell won't actually become the new CEO of Prince George's County schools until next month, and he came to this meeting just hours after taking part in his final official meeting at his current job as superintendent of schools in neighboring Anne Arundel County. He broke free from the handshake line only briefly, to address the full crowd.
"I prefer the line around the room we were doing earlier to some of the formal presentations, because we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work at some point. But if you come tonight and this is the last time I see you, or your school sees you, or your association sees you—then that's a tragedy," he said.
County executive Rushern Baker attended the meeting, fitting since he picked Maxwell for the job. There was nary a hint at the meet and greet of the discord still in the county over the process that allowed Baker to choose the schools leader.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly gave Baker that power, as well as more control over the school board. It brought back memories of the contentiousness seen in neighboring D.C. when former Mayor Adrian Fenty did something similar last decade.
As for those still upset in Prince George's County, Maxwell is asking them to reserve judgement—using a basketball metaphor.
"People who talk about the Princeton offense, the people who like it, the people who don't like it. If it get results, that's where you really ought to focus. What we really need to focus is what are we going to do now. What are we going to do from here. How are we going to look forward and not backward," he said.
And with that, Maxwell spent close to another hour shaking hands.