7-year bond ends tomorrow Looping: As eighth-graders at Waldorf school graduate, they'll leave the teacher who was with them since 1992.

The Education Beat

June 10, 1998|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

IT WILL BE AN emotional parting tomorrow, when Waldorf School's eighth-graders graduate and leave behind their teacher seven years, Carol Steil.

Steil, 54, has grown up with these kids. She became their teacher in 1992, when they were still losing baby teeth. She was their teacher in '96 and '97, when puberty rushed in with horns blaring. Now they're young men and women, and Steil is still their teacher -- at least until tomorrow.

Known as "looping," the idea of one teacher sticking with a group of kids for more than a year is as old as the one-room schoolhouse.

It's simple, really: Instruction may improve when teachers work with students over a longer time and get to know them better. When students and teacher return to school each fall, for example, they don't have to waste time getting acquainted.

Some schools practice looping in two or three early grades, but ** Waldorf in North Baltimore carries the idea through the middle grades. Steil is a veteran by now; the eighth-graders she'll see off tomorrow are her third such long-term class.

"You have to understand," she said, "that the teacher isn't static while the kids grow. She grows with them."

Only the children's families know them better than Steil. "It's so gratifying," she said, "to watch the changes physically and emotionally and intellectually. Some of the changes are enormous. I have a boy who was very tight in the early grades. He pulled himself inward. But when he reached adolescence, he bloomed. It was just amazing!"

But what happens when a child and a teacher just don't gel? Seven years of hell for both?

Waldorf teachers often get these questions. But they say it doesn't happen in practice. Parents are interviewed at the outset and pledge to support their children. Bad teachers are quickly spotted. In a private school setting like Waldorf's, duds are not long tolerated.

And in the private school setting with its low mobility, groups of kids really do stick together for years.

Steil is taking a year of "renewal," as she put it, before taking on another group of first or second graders. Meanwhile, she'll be filled with emotion tomorrow, she said. A part of her has grown to love her students.

"But as an educator, I know it's time to let them go."

Top Poly students enjoy fancy reception

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute's Class of 1998 graduated Sunday, but a few days before that the academic stars of the class were treated to a high-brow reception at the Engineer's Club in Mount Vernon.

About 75 students and 25 faculty mingled, grazed and listened to the sounds of a string trio. One of the four Poly graduates who sit on the board of the club addressed the group.

Barbara Strickland, who handles alumni affairs for Poly, said invitees were those students who did well in all of their academic courses for four years. And they don't fool around at Poly. Even seniors take seven courses in an eight-period day.

"This affair is given by Poly faculty who opened their hearts and, I might add, their wallets as well," Strickland told the students. Poly teachers donated their own funds for the reception. The cookie presses were made in the school's machine shop, and Lissa Rotundo, who teaches biology and molecular genetics, provided the desserts.

Northern High wins travel brochure contest

Northern High School scored a victory over Forest Park High Monday in a contest to design and produce the best travel brochure touting the wonders of Baltimore. "Eat Out in Charm City" was the headline on the winning Northern brochure, which invited interested parties to contact the mythical Bye Bye Birdie Travel Agency.

While the judges judged at Dunbar High, the contestants at Northern and Forest Park watched on interactive television. Why had her group chosen the culinary theme? asked one of the judges. "Because I thought people like to eat," replied Jasmin Banks, who shared the prize with fellow ninth-graders Akenna Greer and Demetrius Wilson.

Intended to teach city high school kids about writing, marketing and graphic design (and the jobs that are out there if they do well in school), the contest was sponsored by Johns Hopkins University with a federal grant.

Sylvan opens tutoring center downtown

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and civic activist Sally Michel were on hand yesterday as Sylvan Learning Systems opened its first downtown Baltimore tutoring center.

Thirteen city students have signed up to be tutored privately at the new center, on the ground floor of Sylvan's corporate headquarters on Lancaster Street in Inner Harbor East.

Meanwhile, Michel wants to expand her summer "Supercamp" for poor-reading city kids to serve 4,000 -- a nine-fold increase over last year. They say it can't be done, she told the crowd yesterday, but "if Doug Becker can grow fast, so can we."

She was referring to the president and co-chief executive officer of Sylvan.

Pub Date: 6/10/98

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