Pupils give principal retirement tips Belle Grove administrator concludes long career NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

June 14, 1993|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff Writer

If she takes the advice of second-graders at Belle Grove Elementary School, retiring Principal Gloria B. Reid will spend her leisure days riding dirt bikes, cheering at Orioles games, lazing in front of the television and living it up at Disney World.

Mrs. Reid, 61, smiled often Friday as dozens of the Brooklyn Park school's pupils paraded past her bearing such advice, along with flowers, cards and drawings. The children surprised the veteran teacher and administrator, who started her career in 1952, with an assembly in her honor.

Children sang songs, read poems, unfurled congratulatory banners and lined up to hug a principal who had baked them birthday cupcakes, rewarded good grades with lunches at restaurants and dipped into her own pocket when supplies ran short.

For her part, the principal of six years handed out her own words of advice, urging her charges to stay in school and dig in.

"Make something of yourselves," she said. "Without an education today, you are going to be lost."

While at Belle Grove, the former principal of Meade High and Pumphrey Elementary schools said she was most proud of her success in raising children's self-esteem.

"The children thought they couldn't learn," she said. "I had to make them see that's not true. Everyone can learn something."

Mrs. Reid emphasized positive reinforcement, for example, by choosing students of the week and month and placing stickers on outstanding papers. And she started extracurricular learning programs, such as one run by volunteers to strengthen math skills, noted Pat Renes, president of the school's PTA.

Such programs and incentives helped boost grade point averages, attendance and functional math and reading test scores, Mrs. Renes said.

Mrs. Reid, who grew up in Severn, graduated in 1948 from Wiley H. Bates High School in Annapolis and earned her bachelor's degree at what was then Bowie State Teachers College. She did graduate work at Morgan State University, the University of Maryland, University of Delaware and Loyola College and took post-graduate courses at the Johns Hopkins University.

Her teaching career began in 1952 at Friendship Elementary, where she fondly recalls students who were determined to learn, though many of them had to walk several miles to the rural school.

She taught next in Newark, Del., then returned to Maryland in the early 1960s after schools became integrated to teach at Odenton Elementary.

As the school's only black teacher, she had to work to earn the trust and respect of an all-white class. She recalls buying a record player and urging pupils to talk to her about their hobbies. Many of the children from military families had moved a lot and fallen behind in reading, so she worked on raising their skill levels.

The children warmed to her quickly, becoming her only allies in a school where, at first, none of the teachers talked to her. That Christmas, she was surprised when each pupil gave her a gift.

Mrs. Reid said she has mixed feelings about retiring.

"I can think of a thousand things the students need to do, but I feel 40 years is enough," she said.

Contrary to some of her students' advice, Mrs. Reid said she looks forward to traveling and spending more time with her husband, a retired instrumental music teacher.

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