Oak Hill Elementary got an early gift


December 24, 1997|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALTHOUGH MOST of us exchange Christmas presents tomorrow, the folks at Oak Hill Elementary School realized a month ago: "Yes, Severna Park, there is a Santa Claus."

What made them believers was a check for $37,754 presented to the school at a ceremony in late November by the State Board of Education.

Representatives from 200 of the approximately 1,300 elementary and middle schools in Maryland were at the ceremony to receive certificates for having made "significant and sustained gains in academic achievement" over the past year.

Sixty-two schools were given monetary awards for maintaining their academic improvement over a two-year period, and among them was Oak Hill Elementary.

"Schools are awarded "x" number of dollars per student," said Oak Hill Principal Larry Campbell.

"The idea was proposed by Gov. Parris Glendening and supported by the state legislature, and the awards were presented for the first time last year," Campbell said.

"It's a very complicated process. They crunch all the numbers of the sub-tests, for example third grade. The result is one score for the state, one for the county and one for the individual school. You had to demonstrate by your numbers a significant academic gain."

Anne Arundel County came away with almost 20 percent of the monetary awards, with 16 winners.

"At the ceremony, I felt humbled by the experience," the principal said. "Oak Hill won this award because of everyone working together as a team. We have great parental cooperation with the teachers."

A school improvement team, composed of teachers, parents and administrators, has spent a month deciding how to use the reward.

"The first thing we wanted to do is to pay our science and social studies teachers to come in during the summer to write their new unit plans," said Campbell. "We normally give our reading teacher comp time for coming in during the summer to test children. Now we can pay her."

Other uses of the award include:

A computer mini-lab for kindergarten and developing students (those who have had trouble with their reading readiness).

Computer programs to help children with special needs, or in reading and writing.

New recess equipment and, to complement another grant, a high-quality public address system for the physical education teacher.

Completing a computer lab in the media center.

The school also will use the money to send teachers to professional workshops and to buy other new equipment for students, better chairs for the secretaries, classroom shelves for books and new material for art and music teachers.

"We have one of those video cameras from 1970 with a big power pack. Now we can buy a hand-held video camera and some new tape recorders," said the principal.

"We've set aside a little bit of money for our middies who come in to tutor as a thank you to them," Campbell said of some Naval Academy midshipmen who have been helping students.

"While not every teacher is getting something, the kids are benefiting from this award across the board," he said.

Pub Date: 12/24/97

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