Things pointing up for Rockburn principal PTA names Slacum Educator of the Year

November 14, 1995|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Earl H. Slacum's students surprised him with the biggest thumbs up of his life yesterday morning. Congratulating their prin cipal on being named the 1995 Maryland PTA Educator of the Year, Rockburn Elementary School's 50"He comes around to the classes every morning and gives us a thumbs up," said fifth-grader Sarah Closson, 11. "It shows us that he cares about us. He cheers me up when I'm down."

Mr. Slacum, 51 years old and a 14-year veteran of the Howard public schools, was honored Saturday night at the Maryland PTA Convention in Ocean City for his work at Rockburn and in other county schools.

"I can't think of someone who deserves this more," said Ann Bradley, the school's fifth-grade team leader who followed Mr. Slacum to Rockburn from Stevens Forest Elementary School. "He's a wonderful principal who supports the teachers and the kids."

Edward Alexander, county director of elementary schools, described Mr. Slacum as a "very collaborative administrator."

"He believes strongly in including teachers and parents in decisions," Mr. Alexander said. "He really does have outstanding people skills, and that's the hallmark of a good and effective administrator."

Parents say they feel welcome in the school, crediting Mr. Slacum for seeking parent volunteers. "The school is so open, and he's always encouraging us to come in and help out," said Kathy Tomaszewski, the PTA's media chairwoman.

Since Rockburn opened in 1993 with Mr. Slacum as its first principal, the school has served as a demonstration site for several programs, including the county's new gifted and talent curriculum and efforts to bring more special education students into regular classrooms.

Rockburn also is setting up a professional development school with Loyola College to provide yearlong internships. This year, the school has five student teachers from Morgan State University, three student teachers from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and seven interns from Loyola, Mr. Slacum said.

"We're trying to be an excellent training site for teachers," said Mr. Slacum, whose wife Rachel is an assistant principal at Baltimore's Elmer A. Henderson Elementary School. "As professionals, I believe we should give back to the profession, and that's what we're doing with this."

Students, teachers and parents at Rockburn praise Mr. Slacum for his work in the school, saying that he's always there with a helpful hand.

"He takes care of everyone in the school," said third-grader Jenny Jones, 8. "He even helps people when they need help with their friends."

During yesterday's celebration, students cheered for Mr. Slacum and presented him with a book of their thoughts on him.

"This is a very, very happy moment," Mr. Slacum told the students.

Crediting the award to both "the wonderful boys and girls of Rockburn" and the school's "fantastic staff," Mr. Slacum said he "wished I could cut [the award] up into many, many pieces."

Prior to leading Rockburn and Stevens Forest elementaries, Mr. Slacum has been an assistant principal at Phelps Luck Elementary School and a team leader at Dasher Green and Swansfield elementary schools. He also has been a teacher in Baltimore and a demonstration teacher for Towson State University.

Rockburn will hold a tea party for Mr. Slacum Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the school

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