`Notebook doctors' come to pupils' aid


January 15, 2001|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHILDREN AT Patapsco Middle School in Ellicott City start the academic year with a clean slate - an empty loose-leaf binder divided by subject area. As the weeks roll by, the notebooks fill up with tests, assignments, handouts, essays and other material.

So by this time of year, it's not surprising that many of the notebooks are overstuffed and disorganized.

That's where Patapsco's "notebook doctors" come in.

One parent for each grade volunteers to help schoolchildren revive their ailing notebooks. The notebook doctor helps them prune the papers and makes sure they have enough supplies.

Maureen Romano, the sixth-grade "doctor," is a pharmacist by trade. As a joke, she started wearing her old lab coat to the Wednesday morning sessions .

She even carries around a Fisher-Price medical kit complete with plastic stethoscope and reflex hammer. The sign on the door of the small room that serves as her emergency rescue unit reads, "The notebook doctor is in."

Notebook clinics are held during the school's "academic support class," a time when children can get extra help or make up assignments. Some are referred to the notebook doctors by their teachers, and others realize on their own that their notebooks could use a little attention.

Principal Carol Mohsberg says the children aren't graded on the notebooks but keeping them organized is an important skill.

"The moms who have taken this project on have done so with great humor as well as helpfulness," Mohsberg said. "They actually make organizing a notebook that is overflowing with papers and assignments fun for our students."

The doctor for seventh-graders, Pat Winter, takes a slightly different approach to the medical theme.

"Because my background is nursing, I call myself the notebook nurse," she said.

No matter what they call themselves, these parents serve an important function.

"The school identified it as a need, and I like to work with the kids," said Terry Woessner, the doctor for eighth-graders.

Young poet

Albert Zhang, a fourth-grader at Centennial Lane Elementary School, won the Young Authors' Writing Contest for his poem "Nature."

The poem begins:

When I look at the rustling leaves on the trees,

I feel the fresh breeze that comes from the air.

The nature surrounding me,

Makes me feel safe and pleasant.

Because his poem won at the Howard County level, Albert is a state finalist. The state level of judging will be next month.

Albert will read his poem Feb. 4 at Jr. Editions at The Mall in Columbia for "Reading Day at the Mall."

His poem can also be found on the bulletin board in the school's front hallway.

Helping hands

Boy Scouts in Troop 944 have been collecting school supplies, clothing, toys and other items to deliver to war-torn Kosovo for use in rebuilding the country's school system.

The Scorpions Patrol was inspired by Centennial High School and West Point graduate Lt. Burke Hare, who asked that supplies be delivered to him.

The Scorpions' adult leaders, Barbara Dudley, Chip Galloway and Jerry Kramer, seized the opportunity as a community service project for the patrol.

The Scorpions have collected goods donated by neighbors and themselves, amassing four large boxes' worth.

The members of the Scorpion Patrol who are doing the legwork for this project are Kevin Bowen, Scott Brown, Tristan Brown, George Dudley, Cliff Galloway, Chad Kramer, Ned Prutzer and Jeffrey Stanford.

Information: Robert Gordon at 410-752-9749.

A mouse and a snake

The Elkridge library branch is offering a program on the snake and another on the mouse - computer mouse, that is.

Because the Chinese New Year brings us the Year of the Snake, the library is presenting "Snakes Rule!" for ages 6 to 9.

Participants can hear folktales and see snakes and reptiles, courtesy of Today's Pet, a Columbia pet store.

Registration begins today."`Super Science' Mouse in the House" is designed for ages 7 and older with an adult and will focus on finding Web sites and information for science projects. Registration begins tomorrow.

Information and registration: 410-313-5085 or at the children's desk of the library.

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