Superintendent returns to her teaching roots

Lesson: State schools chief Nancy S. Grasmick conducts a reading lesson in Baltimore County, keeping in touch with children.

March 27, 2001|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

She gave her pupils positive feedback -- and challenged some of the more eager ones to sit quietly until their classmates caught up. At the end of the lesson, she passed out autographs and hugs.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick returned to her teaching roots yesterday when she visited Pine Grove Elementary School in Baltimore County and taught a reading lesson to a group of fourth-graders.

"I love interacting with children, and it helps to keep me focused," said Grasmick at the end of a half-hour lesson. "It energizes me to see the faces of real children ... and to meet with real teachers and real parents."

Grasmick visited Pine Grove, in Carney, as a courtesy to a friend, Eva Joyce, who teaches at the school and is the daughter of former Baltimore County Board of Education President Calvin D. Disney.

The superintendent came to visit with Joyce's pupils, too.

Grasmick asked the children, who were reading a story about the life of Walt Disney, to tell her what he had to do early in his career to get a job as a cartoonist, his dream career.

Keren Cho, 10, who with the rest of the class has been studying the link between "cause" and "effect" in language, told Grasmick that Disney left Chicago, where he lived with parents, and moved to Kansas City.

"Wait until I tell Mrs. Joyce what beautiful work you're doing," Grasmick told Karen, who grinned in response.

Still, Grasmick knew when to be stern, such as when hands went shooting up to answer a question and not every member of the group was ready to listen.

"Take your time," she told the fast ones. "We can be patient, can't we?"

Children were clearly taken with Grasmick, whom they greeted with a bouquet of tulips and an oral review of many of the high points of her career.

During the brief lesson, they listened to her remarks and tried hard to impress her with their reading skills.

"I thought she definitely did a good job," said Stephen Grabner, 9, a connoisseur of teaching methods. "She gave a good description of everything, and she made everyone feel very special. She gave really good compliments."

Grasmick visits 100 schools every year and rarely misses a chance to get up in front of a group of students, she said. Recently, she's taught groups of elementary, middle and high school students.

"The hard part was that the Periodic Table had changed," she said of the day she taught high school chemistry.

For Joyce, who has been a teacher for six years, Grasmick's visit represented a chance to see a teaching professional in action.

"She is so genuine about children and how they are learning," said Joyce, in her first year at Pine Grove after five years at Hawthorne Elementary School. "I look up to her because of all the fighting she does for us, for teachers and for schools that need the help."

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