For openers, Georgia is getting Mount View Middle principal


June 24, 1999|By Diane B. Mikulis | Diane B. Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A SALESMAN who gets the sale is a good closer. And in baseball it's great to have a pitcher who is a good closer.

But a good opener -- where do you need a good opener?

Just ask Marion Payne, who has established a reputation as an opener of new schools. She opened two schools in Howard County -- one as a teacher and one as a principal -- and she will soon take on the job of opening four schools in Georgia.

Payne, who has been principal at Mount View Middle School since it opened five years ago, is moving to Milledgeville, Ga., next month. She will watch over the final steps in the construction of four middle schools there, hire personnel and take care of all the details to get the schools up and running.

She will be the director of the middle schools, and the school principals will report to her.

Payne is excited about her new opportunity.

"I'll get a chance to take what I've learned and to do something with it," she said.

Opening Mount View as a principal in 1993 and Harper's Choice Middle as a teacher in 1973 are the highlights of her career in Howard County. Building a sense of community in the new schools was an important part of her work.

"From those two beginning experiences, so many things took off," Payne said.

While sorting through her files a few days ago, she came across a list that had been put together during Mount View's opening. The paper listed problems that needed to be solved at the school.

Furniture was delivered late and carpeting was not laid until the night before school opened. "They look like little things now, but were real headaches then," she recalled.

Payne has many great memories of her time at Mount View.

"There was never a day when I dreaded going to work," she said.

One experience is foremost in her mind because it is so recent and also unique: the day the horses came to school.

Last month, two eighth-grade students, Megan Brown and Kelly Dunn, asked Payne if they could ride their horses in the school's annual variety show. Payne said that in previous years she would have said "no," but this year she said, "Let's give it a try."

She wanted to make sure those in the audience would behave well and not frighten the horses and endanger the girls.

So she spoke with all the students and let them know what was expected once all 600 of them went outside for the show.

As it turned out, the students behaved admirably as they watched Megan and Kelly jump and perform with their horses.

"It shows that kids will do anything we teach them to do. They made my year," Payne said.

Last week, the Mount View PTA held a reception for Payne. Parents, pupils and teachers, both current and former, attended to wish her well.

PTA President Sandy Bieganski presented Payne with a handmade silver pin with an amethyst, Payne's birthstone. The pin was in the shape of a stylized M, which stands for both Marion and Mount View.

Bieganski said she was always impressed with Payne's commitment to the children. She saw Payne's service as president of the National Middle School Association as evidence of this commitment.

"She did so much work on the weekends for the organization," Bieganski said. "That's what impressed me the most."

Bieganski noted that the pupils will miss Payne. "I always saw her in the hallways with the kids with that huge smile of hers," she said. "They really respected her."

Before coming to Mount View, Payne was principal for five years at Owen Brown Middle School in Columbia and assistant principal there for six years.

And before that, she taught English to speakers of other languages and was on loan to the Maryland Department of Education as a specialist in basic skills. She also taught at an American school in Iran for two years.

Her Howard County career began in 1972 as a fourth-grade teacher at Clarksville Elementary.

Payne received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Virginia State College and a master's in education from Howard University. She also has certification in administration and supervision from Loyola College in Baltimore.

Payne's husband, Bill, who has been principal at Stevens Forest Elementary School, will be principal of an elementary school in Milledgeville. They are both excited about the move and the chance to work in a new setting.

"I'm looking forward to getting there and getting busy," Marion Payne said. "I want to re-create the same kind of atmosphere for learning and involvement."

Brothers in Scouting

Boy Scout Troop 737 recently held an Eagle Court of Honor for two brothers -- Bradley and Matthew Thompson.

Matthew attained the rank of Eagle last year, but the family wanted to wait until Bradley completed the requirements so the brothers could be honored together.

The ceremony was held at the Thompsons' home in Clarksville.

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