School receives national honor

First Blue Ribbon in county awarded to Spring Garden

May 18, 2001|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Spring Garden Elementary School became Carroll County's first National Blue Ribbon school yesterday.

"It's a real affirmation," said Principal Gloria Julius, who received the news during an afternoon telephone call from Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

"You sense that you're doing a good job, but you have to do so much documentation for this award. To have someone look at all that and say you're one of the best schools in the nation - it's exciting," Julius said.

The recognition delighted Charles I. Ecker, interim superintendent of county schools.

"The principal and the staff do a wonderful job there," he said, noting that the school stresses writing and reading, and its staff is bolstered by supportive parents, many of whom volunteer at the school.

The Hampstead school was one of nine Maryland elementaries to receive the national prize this year. Representatives from each school will travel to Washington, where President Bush will formally present the awards.

About 4 percent of the nation's public and private schools have received the honor, bestowed annually by the U.S. Department of Education since 1982.

The program had honored 105 public and private schools in Maryland through last year.

To win, a school must demonstrate a challenging curriculum, excellent test scores, an aggressive approach to improving teaching and learning, and a strong partnership with its community.

Model of excellence

Winners join a network of schools studied by education officials as models of excellence.

Spring Garden has an unusually devoted and unified staff, said Julius, who has been at the school on Boxwood Drive for four years.

The school's staff is "very child-centered. It's always, `What can I do to help this child reach his or her potential?' They all take responsibility for every child."

Superintendent visits

Maryland schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick visited Spring Garden on Tuesday, praising pupils and teachers for winning the state's Blue Ribbon designation in November. She lavishly complimented pupil writing samples that lined the school's walls.

Pupils delivered a high-pitched cheer when Grasmick reminded them they might win the national award.

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