Belle Grove Elementary's new principal aims to create a community of readers


September 09, 2001|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FOR BELLE GROVE Elementary pupils, the new school year brings the excitement of a new principal: Adrienne J. Taylor.

Taylor has been a part of Anne Arundel County schools for 25 years, but she began her teaching career in Norfolk, Va. Her first assignment in the county was as a teacher at Manor View Elementary School in Fort Meade.

She went on to teach at Ferndale Elementary and later at Jessup Elementary. She served as assistant principal at Hilltop and Cape St. Claire elementary schools.

In her high school years, a career in education wasn't what Taylor had in mind.

"I wanted to be a ballet dancer," she said. "I wanted to study at Juilliard. My parents told me that that would be a very challenging career.

"Then I looked at education and realized that I wanted to be a teacher," she said. "I used to watch all the old shows, Miss Sally and Romper Room, and I played school a lot when I was little."

Belle Grove and the Brooklyn Park community have already made a lasting impression on Taylor.

"Brooklyn Park is a tight-knit community, and the people have a lot of pride," she said. "Lots of generations came through this school. They value the school."

She has two immediate goals for Belle Grove: to increase community involvement and to enhance the pupils' love of reading.

Taylor plans to work closely with the school's PTA to make community members know that they are welcome in the school.

"We have an active PTA and they have many exciting activities planned. I'd like to see more parents involved in activities in the school," she said. "Belle Grove is so small. I'm surprised that such a small school existed in Anne Arundel County. But this will let me get to know every child and be more involved as an instructional leader."

Her enthusiasm for increasing the pupils' enjoyment of reading is contagious.

"I want them to want to read for enjoyment - turn off the TV," she said.

She hopes to introduce the Chessie Program at the school.

"The Chessie Program is a reading incentive program. The media specialists at Cape St. Claire and Solley elementaries created it. This is their baby, and they decided to share it with other schools," said Taylor.

In the Chessie Program, pupils select the books they want to read. When they have finished reading the book, they meet with a faculty member and discuss what they have read.

After reading five books, pupils become members of the Chessie Club. When they read 12 books, they become Chessie All-Stars. Every book read helps the pupil move up the ranks to Captain and, finally, to Admiral.

"With the ranks, the pupils get to have their names on display and mentioned on the morning announcements," Taylor said. "It's a popular program.

"We have a new media specialist, Helen Chapman, who has been trained in this program. We hope to start it in January," Taylor added.

"Reading opens the door to opportunities. In math class, we ask [children] to explain or write how they arrived at their answer. It helps them to learn to communicate clearly. Reading helps with writing and all areas of study," said Taylor.

She said reading will be taught in a way that is enjoyable for the children.

"Belle Grove needs to improve in this area," she said, "and we are going to do it."

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