Superintendent, Baltimore County Public Schools
Distinguished as a vibrant and visionary leader, Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance has united Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) students, staff and the community into Team BCPS, a powerful force committed to producing globally competitive graduates. As superintendent of the 25th largest school system in the nation, Dr. Dance, whose tenure began in 2012, is responsible for overseeing the instruction of 110,000 students and leading and managing a $1.6 billion budget, 19,000 employees, and 173 schools, centers and programs.
In collaboration with Team BCPS, Dr. Dance spearheaded the development of Blueprint 2.0, a five-year strategic plan focused on improving academics, safety, communication and organizational effectiveness.
Under Dr. Dance’s leadership, fundamental shifts in teaching and learning are taking place through two groundbreaking ways. First, S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) is designed to create a 1:1 digital learning environment for all students. S.T.A.T. began with the development of curriculum in core content areas to redefine how instruction is delivered, placing a stronger emphasis on personalized instruction and critical thinking skills. In addition, the Second Language Acquisition program supports all students by ensuring that they graduate with fluency in a second language. By the 2015-2016 school year, Second Language Acquisition, which offers Spanish language instruction starting in Grade 4, will be in 25 elementary schools while S.T.A.T. will be operational in seven middle and 10 elementary schools.
In recognition of the school system’s advances in instructional technology, BCPS was accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a $1.5 million grant to BCPS. In 2014, Dr. Dance was selected by President Barack Obama as one of 10 national “Connected Educator Champions of Change,” named one of eight “tech savvy” superintendents by eSchool News, appointed to the board of directors for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and received the “Walk the Walk" award from EdSurge and Digital Promise. Dr. Dance also was named among the National School Boards Association’s prestigious “20 to Watch" educators for 2014-2015, identifying him as an “emerging leader" who will help shape education technology for the next 20 years. Microsoft honored BCPS in 2015 by selecting it as one of its “Showcase” school systems.
A popular speaker about education and technology, Dr. Dance discussed the BCPS digital learning initiative before an international audience in Korea, as part of the Global Symposium on ICT in Education 2014.
Other areas of focus for the Dance administration have been enhancing special education services and magnet programs through a strategic audit and redevelopment process; expanding preschool access; increasing equity and rigor; rethinking middle schools; and boosting the graduation rate.
The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate surged to 86.3 percent for the Class of 2013, gaining nearly two and half percentage points in a single year with the help of concerted efforts to identify struggling students and provide interventions. The rate jumped another 1.33 percentage points to 87.6 percent in 2014. District Administration magazine named BCPS a national “District of Distinction" in 2014 in recognition of the school system’s “innovation and success" with programs aimed at making graduation a priority for all students.
Participation on the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) exams surged in 2014. Grade 12 SAT participation rose 58.5 percent since 2013, growing from 4,094 to 6,489 test takers. The increase came about thanks to SAT School Day, a new BCPS initiative that gave all Grade 11 students the opportunity to take the SAT at their own schools during the school day and without cost.
Early in his superintendency, Dr. Dance restructured administration to ensure more targeted support to the schools that need it most and established a new Office of School Safety and Security. His administration continues to be proactive in initiating preventive measures to promote school safety including controlled access systems in every building.
Open dialogue with the community—both in-person and digitally—and professional development for all staff members are additional hallmarks of Dr. Dance’s administration. More stakeholders are engaged with BCPS than ever before through a reinvigorated Education Foundation, new Parent University, advisory councils, town halls, community forums, “We Are Team BCPS” marketing campaign, and live-streaming of public meetings, as well as a redesigned website and the launch of the BCPS Now mobile app, a blog and a weekly e-newsletter. An annual stakeholder satisfaction survey, which historically attracted about 500 participants each year, engaged 74,905 students, parents, staff and community members in 2015.In recognition of their demonstrated commitment to communications, Dr. Dance and BCPS Chief Communications Officer Mychael Dickerson received the prestigious national Leadership Through Communication Award from AASA, the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and Blackboard.
Other honors for Dr. Dance include an appointment from President Barack Obama to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans and selection to the executive committee of the American Association of School Administrators.
Prior to his appointment in Baltimore County, Dr. Dance served as one of three chief school officers in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the seventh largest school system in the nation. As part of the HISD senior leadership team, Dr. Dance played a significant role in numerous milestones, and he spearheaded the launch of several innovations including a pre-AP English language arts and mathematics curriculum (in partnership with the College Board); two single-gender college preparatory academies with a strong science, technology, engineering and mathematics focus; and the redesign of a school to accelerate at-risk students two grade levels in one year. In addition, Dr. Dance assumed a pivotal role in addressing a budget deficit and school facility efficiencies.
Before his tenure in Houston, Dr. Dance served in executive leadership positions in Virginia. He began his career as a high school English teacher in Henrico County Public Schools.
Dr. Dance earned a bachelor's degree in English from Virginia Union University and a master's degree in administration and supervision and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.A resident of Baltimore County, Dr. Dance enjoys travel, music, reading and all sports, especially golf. He is the proud father of one son, Myles Dallas Dance.