Clemens Crossing principal is PTA Educator of the Year

January 05, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Contributing Writer

Jacqueline Lazarewicz can't wait to go to work each morning.

"As I drive to work I actually get chills. I enjoy the successes of the students around me. I see the sparkle in their eyes. I love my job," the principal of Clemens Crossing Elementary School said.

Dr. Lazarewicz was recently named Educator of the Year by the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers, the statewide PTA organization, recognition that was based partly on her ability to involve parents in their childrens' education.

Last year, for instance, Dr. Lazarewicz said she enlisted about 400 parent volunteers.

"Parents want to volunteer but they want to know that they're needed. They feel that the key to being successful in life is having a good education so they do take time off from work and spend time with their kids at school and at home," she said.

Parents at Clemens Crossing certainly feel needed. Some of the year-long programs involving parents include a one-to-one reading strategy and a math program, in which parents come up with interesting math activities for a poster board near the school's front door.

In the picture parent program, another year-long activity, parents are taught about an artist and then visit classrooms to give short presentations, which can include showing the art, reading stories about the artist or even dressing up as the artist.

Parents also volunteer in the media center and in the front office. Dr. Lazarewicz said she likes to have the parents in the schools because they are an important part of a child's learning.

"We have a lot of programs where we invite the parents in because parents are truly their first teachers and we like to enhance the teaching they do at home," she said.

According to Clemens Crossing's PTA President Sally Liningston-Goldman, that attitude is what got Dr. Lazarewicz her plaque and certificate from the statewide PTA.

"She's wonderful," Mrs. Goldman said. "She's incredibly dedicated and involved in the community. She goes the extra mile every time. I find it easy to have a working relationship with her because she's full of integrity. She fosters a bond between the home and school and keeps parents involved in the school."

Former PTA President Peggy Sheer said she nominated Dr. Lazarewicz last year because of her openness. "She has coffee with the parents and she has an open door policy for parents and teachers. She's accessible and visible around the school. Any time I had a question or a concern, I always found her willing to listen to another viewpoint," Mrs. Sheer said.

"We've always felt that she was an outstanding administrator. All the PTA presidents who have worked with her very enthusiastically recommended her for the award. Sometimes when you work hard at things, you don't want publicity, but this is one I think she deserved," Mrs. Sheer said.

Dr. Lazarewicz said keeping in contact with parents and students as often as she does takes a lot of late afternoons and weekends of hard work, but it's something she doesn't mind doing.

"What you get out of it is so much more than what you put in," she said. "I think when students come to Clemens Crossing they're happy and they're excited and they're ready to learn. And that's just how you want them."

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