Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced former Brandywine School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick as his nomination for the next Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education.
With Susan Bunting's departure after several years in the position and five decades in public education, Carney said Holodick, "understands what it takes to create a culture where all students and educators succeed."
Further, Carney told WDEL that Holodick will be tasked with tackling learning loss, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, among some of the state's earliest learners.
"We want all of our children to be reading at grade level by grade 3--that's where kind of one of the first assessments takes place with respect to reading, and frankly, some schools aren't doing the job that they need to, and now we're going to see kids that are arriving in first grade not ready to learn or behind, and we've got to find a way for them to catch up. And I think the only way is extra time," said Carney.
Holodick was handpicked for the position because the governor said students in the Brandywine School District saw the highest levels of achievement in the state under his leadership.
"Particularly his students that are in the northern part of the city of Wilmington--students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds--those achievement levels are the best among the districts that have pieces of Wilmington--that's a big priority for me," said Carney. "In addition, Brandywine was the only school district that had their own desegregation plan, and I think that's important, and part, maybe why they were able to be more successful with their students than the other districts."
He further added Holodick is "easy to work with" and is well-respected and posed to accomplish some of the goals of the Redding Commission, which seeks to reform the state's education system with a goals of equity and improvement of student outcomes.
"We have some big challenges to put in place--what we'd like to see in terms of a collaboration zone in the city of Wilmington--and I think Marks brings that experience to the table with the best results.
Holodick left the Brandywine School District in 2020 to join the University of Delaware's Delaware Academy of School Leadership. There, he leads coaching and professional development programs for principals and other district leaders there.
"He brings those resources to the table and his hands-on efforts working with educational leaders, principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents--he's done quite a bit of that work, and his leadership at Brandywine was impressive," said Carney.
Previously a principal at Concord High School and at a blended middle school and high school in the Delmar School District, Holodick took the reigns of the Brandywine School District in 2009, overseeing 16 schools and more than 10,000 students. He was named Administrator of the Year in 2016 by the Delaware Association of Educational Office Professionals and Superintendent of the Year in 2017 by the Delaware Chief School Officers Association.
Holodick's nomination must be confirmed by the state Senate. That confirmation won't happen until the General Assembly reconvenes in mid-January next year. Holodick will likely serve as interim cabinet secretary after Bunting steps down in December.
"I appreciate being given the opportunity to work collaboratively with educators and stakeholders across Delaware with a focus on improving opportunities and outcomes for all students," said Holodick in a prepared statement. "If confirmed by the Senate, I will assume the position of Secretary with much gratitude and enthusiasm."
Holodick declined an interview with WDEL pending his confirmation.