Q&A with Michael Martirano

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By Erin Timony 
The State Journal

Amid packing and unpacking boxes, preparing to move across state lines and focusing on the basics of food and shelter, Michael Martirano is looking forward to new opportunities awaiting him in the Mountain State.

The West Virginia Board of Education selected Martirano as state superintendent following a nationwide search. As part of the process, the national search firm, Ray and Associates Inc., engaged 248 individuals regarding the position. From the 248 candidates, 64 over a collective 43 states submitted applications, with the Board of Education narrowing the candidates from 10 to five and then to the three finalists.

In a recent phone interview with The State Journal, Martirano discussed his excitement, overarching educational mission and all the things he has yet to do before starting his new job effective this fall.

The State Journal: What made you decide to apply for the West Virginia state superintendent job?

Michael Martirano: I’m from the mountains of western Maryland. My grandfather was a coal miner. I spent time in northern West Virginia growing up. I know the state, area and (the educational system) and was relying on my understanding and familiarity of the state when applying for the job.

TSJ: What’s one of the first things or issues you plan to focus on?

Martirano: There are so many things to focus on. (My ultimate focus) is student achievement in West Virginia. I’m looking forward to building solid partnerships and relationships and having conversations centered around student achievement. It’s not a singular effort.

TSJ: How hectic has it been trying to finish out your contract in Maryland while transitioning to your new role in the Mountain State?

Martirano: I’m going to make up a new word … “invigoratingly frenetic.” I’m doing lots of things simultaneously … leaving a job and starting a new job and working on moving out of (my wife’s and my) current home (in Maryland). We found a rental in Kanawha City. (In Maryland), I was the longest serving superintendent … 10 years. I built some tremendous relationships during it. Since news of my new job, I’ve gotten 300-plus cards and emails and 9,153 views on Twitter. It’s bittersweet. (Those in Maryland) will always be a part of my life.

TSJ: What are you most looking forward to coming to West Virginia?

Martirano: Meeting the students, principals and teachers. I’m extroverted and relationship-oriented. I need to get in the schools and meet the students. That’s what really charges me up. West Virginia gave me a great first impression. I really want people to understand how honored I am and that I don’t take (the responsibility) lightly. I’m eager to work with everyone and am humbled and happy to serve the students and people of West Virginia.