Educators return to school for 3-day class

Teachers, staff, parents to plan goals for next year

June 29, 1999|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Teachers, parents and administrators in Baltimore County are getting a head start on the next school year -- about 700 of them are meeting this week to create school improvement plans.

The three-day seminar, which began yesterday, is the largest for the annual event first held three years ago to help educators refine their goals, said Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione. He visited Perry Hall Middle School, one of two activity sites. Perry Hall High School is the second site.

"The feedback has been that the planning sessions are very helpful," he said. "It helps to work up a plan with guidance from experts."

That extra edge has helped some schools outperform others, officials said.

"The word is out," Marchione said, nodding to a crowd of teachers and principals who filled a workshop on "What Middle Schools Need to Know Now to Prepare for the High School Assessments."

School improvement teams -- consisting of principals, teachers and some parents -- from 140 elementary, middle and high schools are attending the conference, said Ronald S. Thomas, assistant to the superintendent for educational accountability.

The school system pays the cost of sending two delegates from each school to the seminar, Thomas said. After that, schools must take use money from their own budgets to pay teacher or administrative salaries for the three days. The cost didn't keep some schools from sending large teams, Thomas said. Dundalk High School sent 17 representatives.

For Karen Donoho and Ann Mugele, who teach fifth and fourth grades respectively at Pot Spring Elementary School in Timonium, the seminar offers an opportunity to brainstorm about ways to improve their school's behavior code and Maryland School Performance Assessment Program test scores, especially in areas of reading and math.

"We need to work on child-to-adult respect as well as child-to-child respect," said Mugele, a 20-year classroom veteran who praised school district officials for including teachers in the planning.

"We're the ones who benefit students in the end," she said.

Mugele and Donoho attended the seminar with Pot Spring principal Paul Murrell, who said he will ask the two teachers to brief co-workers in the fall.

"They are leaders and they have the respect of their colleagues, which means they will listen to them," said Murrell.

Debbie Thissell, a school social worker who is moving this fall to Deep Creek Elementary School in Essex, said she hopes to get up to speed with her new colleagues on student needs and campus goals.

"As a new employee, it's especially helpful to get a head start," Thissell said.

Pub Date: 6/29/99

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