Howard High principal, Elkridge Elementary teacher honored Leadership, innovation cited ELLICOTT CITY/ELKRIDGE

June 07, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

An Ellicott City high school principal and an Elkridge elementary teacher have won awards for their innovative leadership and teaching skills.

Scott Conroy, who teaches fourth- and fifth-graders at Elkridge Elementary School, earned the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year Award. Howard High School Principal Eugene L. Streagle Jr. was chosen Principal of the Year by the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals.

The Principal of the Year award is given annually to one administrator in Maryland. Mr. Streagle, who has overseen Howard High for the past nine years, said he was flattered by the award.

"It's almost embarrassing because you just try to do your job," said Mr. Streagle, whose school has 1,260 students, 75 faculty members and 40 support personnel.

The Sallie Mae award, given by the American Association of School Administrators, recognizes first-year teachers for their distinctive qualities, instructional skills, and interaction with students, parents, faculty and staff.

"I was surprised I was nominated and even more surprised when I won," said Mr. Conroy, who received a plaque about two weeks ago.

Mr. Conroy's classroom is decorated with students' poetry and artwork, and plastic containers filled with snails, spiders and insects students have found on the school grounds.

In one corner, Mr. Conroy and his students have created a stage reminiscent of a popular MTV program where students can read or rap poems they write for class assignments. A student drawing of Nintendo characters, Sonic and Tails, completes the stage.

"He's really kind of cool," fifth-grader Anna Baran said of the teacher.

Mr. Conroy said his teaching style stems from his laid-back personality.

"I like to keep them active, I like to move around the classroom, and I like to let them discover their answers," he said.

One recent morning, Mr. Conroy moved from desk to desk, checking students' work on double bar graphs, praising most and telling some to use their "six-inch voices," which are heard only at their desks.

For Mr. Conroy, teaching is a family affair. His mother is a social studies teacher at Wilde Lake Middle School, and his father is an educator at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center.

His family ties come in handy when he needs advice.

"My mom is a constant resource," Mr. Conroy said. "I could always get help."

Before he began teaching at Elkridge Elementary, Mr. Conroy taught social studies at Glenwood Middle School. He was transferred to the elementary school because of crowding there.

The transition was difficult at first.

"It was real tough because my major was middle school education, grades six through nine," said Mr. Conroy, who attended Elon College in North Carolina.

At Glenwood Middle, Mr. Conroy taught social studies and math six times a day. At Elkridge, he also found himself teaching science, reading, language arts and health.

But with the help of experienced teachers and staff members, Mr. Conroy said, he learned to adapt.

Principal Mary Jane Mitchell said she is impressed with Mr. Conroy's sincerity and willingness to learn. She also likes the way he treats his students.

"He goes out of his way to work with them, talk with them, and he doesn't give up on any of them," she said.

Mr. Conroy's advice to first-year teachers is "to be flexible and be ready for anything."

Jennifer Keller of Bollman Bridge Elementary School also received the Sallie Mae award. She and Mr. Conroy will advance immediately to a national competition, from which 100 winners will be determined in September. Each winners receives a certificate and a $1,000 award.

At Howard High School, Mr. Streagle and his staff have helped make academics as important as school sports. Students who earn high marks receive academic letters similar to athletic letters.

"We make that carry an equal weight to the varsity athletic letter," Mr. Streagle said of the academic letter.

The principal has also expanded the honor roll list to include students who earn at least a 3.0 grade point average.

When report cards are issued, he tries to sign those of students who have earned high marks or have dramatically improved their grades. This year, he cooked breakfast for students who earned straight As.

"Moms and dads appreciate it when you know who their kid is," said Mr. Streagle, a 25-year Howard County educator.

Because of his longevity in Howard County, he has had in his school children of former students.

"The value of being around a long time is that families know you and trust you," he said.

It also has enabled Mr. Streagle to observe trends in education. During the past quarter century, he said, he has noticed teachers accept more responsibilities.

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