Dorrell Green new head of largest school district in Delaware

It’s a new year for Red Clay schools, and there’s a new face at the helm as we enter the 2019-20 school season.

Dorrell Green was hired as Red Clay superintendent in February, following the retirement of Merv Dougherty who stepped down last fall for a position in another state.

Over the past 20 years, Green has served as a teacher at Christina School District’s Bancroft Elementary and Stubbs Elementary and a school leader at Stubbs, Christina’s Bayard Elementary, and Brandywine School District’s Harlan Elementary before leading Brandywine’s Title I and Elementary Division.

Green joined the Department of Education on Aug. 1, 2017 serving as Director of a newly formed Office of Innovation and Improvement, before applying for the Red Clay position in fall 2018.

Originally from Easton, Md., on Maryland’s eastern shore, Green spent most of his formative years in the Washington DC metro area, arriving at the University of Delaware on an athletic scholarship as a defensive back for the Blue Hens.

Green said his phone has been ringing off the hook recently with kudos and congratulations as UD announced Green as a contender for the top ten defensive backs in Blue Hen history, and was added to their Hall of Fame.

“I’m truly humbled,” Green said. “Most people are finding out that I actually played sports for the first time. I never really felt the need to broadcast it – it was a means to me earning an education, and I am thankful for that opportunity.”

With his family already having lived in the district for the past 11 years, Green said he decided to throw his hat into the ring for Daugherty’s position in seeking a greater challenge.

“What greater challenge than to be the head of the largest school district in the state?” Green said.

Like many who work in education, Green was first drawn to the field following a teacher’s influence early on, finding something in him that he didn’t see himself.

“In my experience in almost 21 years in education … you’re either a legacy educator, where you grew up in a home where your parents were educators, a teacher inspires you, or it’s a second career,” he said.

In Green’s case, it was a tenth grade teacher named Melody Caldwell, who took notice of Green, challenged him, and showed a vested interest in keeping him on the right track.

“She just literally showed an interest in me, raised a level of expectation that I didn’t have in myself at the time,” he said.

Even though he’s been on the job for six months, Green said people still approach him to ask if he still enjoys the work – despite the fact the job has barely begun.

“I do love it – I love engaging our families,” Green said. “And people will apologize for my time, and I’m like, ‘No, this is it – this is what I am supposed to be doing.’”

He added that he takes “the good with the bad” and not vice versa, since there is more good than bad in what educators do.

“When we see children and we see the impact we have on families, in terms of what Ms. Caldwell did for me and paying it forward, it is always a blessing to me,” Green said.

Looking ahead to 2019-20, Green said he’s pleased to see the district’s early learning program expand, noting that preschool education is a key focus on a statewide level.

Administrators will also be looking at the district’s high school career technical education program, as well as increasing efforts to identify trauma in affected students and families, and the best way to address the situation.

Building student voice, he added, will also be a focus this year.

“There are wonderful programs going on that can bring that sense of community,” he said. “When we say ‘community,’ no matter where you live, we mean it. The Red Clay umbrella has everyone covered.”

When he’s not helping shape young minds, Green enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, playing sports with his children, attending Bethany Baptist in Newport (where he socializes with Red Clay legend William “Buzzy” Cooke), and riding his 2015 Kawasaki Z1000 sport bike.

He’s also a sucker for “The Shawshank Redemption” and the 1980s classic “Red Dawn” when channel surfing.