Carroll sees major change in its schools New superintendent wants to keep focus on teachers, students

'Ready to come back'

Work is finished on Linton Springs, Wolfe elementaries

August 24, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

When Carroll County's 36 public schools open for a new academic year today, some changes will be obvious.

Linton Springs Elementary School will become more than a construction project as students fill the gleaming hallways and inaugurate the playground. Displaced Elmer A. Wolfe Elementary School students, who attended the old New Windsor Middle School for the past three years while their outdated school was being rebuilt, will find a new and improved home school.

The county school system will welcome about 150 new teachers and more than 600 additional students this year, bringing enrollment to more than 26,000.

But perhaps the most significant changes are taking place outside of the classroom, as the school management team assembled by Superintendent William H. Hyde settles into position.

Hyde, who was hired by the school board in June to succeed Brian Lockard, has launched the most comprehensive reorganization of the central school administration and reassignment of staff members since 1987.

Changes include restructuring elementary school management, creation of several new positions -- including supervisors of instructional technology and continuous improvement -- and the promotion of two women to top administrative positions. Seven schools are starting the year with new principals, partly due to Hyde's reshuffling. A search is under way for a new principal at Friendship Valley Elementary.

"The guiding principle that I've followed has been to focus the energy of the system on the point where the student meets the teacher," said Hyde. "I've set up what I think is a leadership philosophy that says the basic question that needs to be answered with every decision you make is, 'How does this improve student learning?' "

Dorothy D. Mangle, the new assistant superintendent for instruction, said this is one of the most change-filled years she can remember since joining Carroll schools in 1971.

"Without a doubt if you roll in the new facilities, the school-based leadership and changes in the central office," said Mangle. "Fortunately, it's a school system where there is so much collaboration that you get that real investment in helping others be successful."

Hyde said the reorganization at the elementary level reflects his efforts to emphasize the teacher-student relationship.

The four elementary supervisors have each been assigned two to six elementary schools where they will work with and evaluate principals and teachers. The idea is to give supervisors a more hands-on and defined role in school management than they have traditionally had. The principals previously reported to Mangle, whose former position as director of elementary schools has been eliminated.

"The goal is to make them [the supervisors] very visible -- to know teachers and student performance in that building and be prepared to offer resources and recommendations," said Mangle.

Another key Hyde initiative is the creation of the office of Continuous Improvement. Former elementary school supervisor Michael Perich has been named to run the four-person office.

Hyde said the new division has two overriding goals: the use of data -- including performance assessments, the latest education research and test scores -- to improve instruction, and reducing teachers' workloads.

"You can't work people's butts off and kill them with stress and overload and say that you're an organization that nurtures and supports staff and students," he said.

Despite the upheaval of the administration, not much has changed when it comes to opening day preparations in the schools.

"I don't think our teachers are really affected that directly by the changes above them," said Sherri-Le Bream, Westminster High School principal.

"Teachers like the beginning of school, just like the kids do," Bream said. "They're ready to come back and, if they aren't, then they're generally ready to retire."

Pub Date: 8/24/98

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