Turning over the reins

Retirement: As Principal Harriette Greenberg retires from Howard County public schools, she reflects on the gains the system has made in reading and other areas.

January 03, 2001|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

When Clarksville Middle School Principal Harriette C. Greenberg leaves her job in February for a more restful existence in a warmer climate, she won't just be taking her 30 years of experience in education.

She'll also be leaving behind a legacy of continuous improvement for future administrators and students to follow.

Greenberg, 52, is retiring as Clarksville Middle's principal after five years on the job. Since Greenberg's arrival in 1995, the school's scores on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program exams have improved annually. This year, Clarksville's composite scores on the state test jumped 13.8 points, hurtling it to the top in Howard County and the state among middle schools.

"Our school is focused," Greenberg said. "We use the same goals, the same lessons. We have teachers thinking the same way. The kids are getting consistency all throughout. I think that has truly made a difference."

Greenberg also said she has made a point to have teachers include reading and writing in every subject.

"You could go in a music class and think it's a reading class," Greenberg said. "I'm looking at an art lesson right now - a teacher just put it on my desk - and it has reading and writing in it."

The district's director of middle schools, Alice W. Haskins, said she thought long and hard about Greenberg's successor to be sure Clarksville Middle's academic excellence would continue without interruption. She settled on Beverly A. Koren, assistant principal at Mount View Middle School, who Haskins said will work well picking up where Greenberg leaves off.

"She'll do great," Haskins said. "I think this is a good fit for her."

Koren will begin her new position as Clarksville's leader Feb. 1, Haskins said. Greenberg is scheduled to leave anytime after the middle of February.

"That gives her two weeks to work with Harriette," she said.

Greenberg said she is glad her replacement is arriving so soon.

"I think there's a lot of advantages to a principal coming in now," she said. `They can do schedules; they can do hiring. It gives them four or five months to really learn the school."

And Greenberg agreed with Haskins that Koren is a good choice.

"I don't think she's going to be the kind who makes major changes right away. I think her personality is one to build on strengths," Greenberg said. "I think she's the type to come and thrive off what Clarksville has already. We have a lot of strengths here."

Greenberg said she hasn't worked closely with Koren, but can tell from limited associations with her that the two have something in common. "I think what I do best is school climate - pulling people together," Greenberg said. "And she's a people person, like I am. So that's a good thing."

Greenberg has a long history in Howard County, one that Superintendent John R. O'Rourke lauded at the most recent Board of Education meeting.

After graduating a semester early from the University of Maryland, College Park, Greenberg taught briefly in Baltimore and then moved to teach third grade at St. John's Lane Elementary School in Ellicott City. Her career took her to Stevens Forest Elementary as a third-grade teacher, Patapsco Middle School as a guidance counselor and then assistant principal at Clarksville.

"I loved the third grade," Greenberg said. But she found her true calling at the middle school level. "Now I can't imagine being anywhere else," she said.

Greenberg and her husband, David - a guidance counselor at Centennial High School - will be retiring to Hilton Head, S.C., "to try warm weather by the beach," she said.

But she hasn't ruled out starting a new legacy in her new home. "The school systems down there need desperate help," Greenberg said. "But I don't know yet. I'm going to wait and see."

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