An assistant principal at Mount Hebron High wins Maryland award


February 04, 2007|By John-John Williams IV

When Jennifer Clements started as an assistant principal at Mount Hebron High School four years ago, she was new to the school, fresh out the classroom as a teacher at Oakland Mills High School.

She had the unenviable task of starting her new position two months into the academic year.

"I was transitioning midstream," Clements said about her October start. "I was very excited about my new position. I knew I had a lot of learning to do.

"I learned the new job, new people, and I've been running since then."

Clements, 33, certainly has made an impression at the Ellicott City school. She was recently named the Maryland State Assistant Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Honorees are chosen based on three major components: collaborative leadership, curriculum instruction and assessment and personalization.

Veronica Bohn, who worked with Clements for three years while Bohn was principal at Mount Hebron, nominated Clements for the award.

"In my 34 years in high school education, I have known no other administrator who has the management skills, humility, genuineness, intellect, vision, commitment, compassion, eagerness to learn, and professionalism that Jennifer Clements possesses," Bohn wrote in her nominating letter.

Bohn also wrote: "She is a personable leader who forges personalized relationships that help her to keep her finger on the pulse of the personnel, students, and parents with whom she works. She has a sense of humor, uses it professionally, and is quick on her feet."

As the statewide winner, Clements will be honored at a black-tie event this spring in Washington.

During her stay in Washington, Clements will be able to participate in professional development and networking activities.

Clements will represent Maryland for the national Assistant Principal of the Year award.

"She is one in a million," said Bohn, who now is a principal on special assignment in the office of school administration. "She's able to balance personality and the workload to work with individuals to keep the whole vision of the school in front of her. She is very, very good."

Clements, a 1991 graduate of Oakland Mills High, said she enjoys watching students progress from their freshman year to graduation.

"I work very closely with the students and their families," she said. "It's rewarding to see that come through [to] fruition."

Organizing skip day

Ferris Bueller had nothing on current high school students.

Through advancements in modern technology such as social networking Web sites like and Facebook. com, teenagers are able to organize senior skip days.

This week, a national skip day is being planned, and area high school students plan to participate.

A Howard High student said she planned to participate in the skip day event.

"I plan to sleep late, go to a restaurant and eat breakfast with my friends," the senior said. "We'll see what happens after that."

Another student said he learned about skip day through the Internet.

"It's just a tradition," he said. "A lot of people plan on skipping. It's just a well-known day."

When Howard High School's Principal Regina Massella got wind of senior skip day, she immediately contacted parents in an attempt to thwart the plan.

"We monitor attendance," Massella said. "High schools are held accountable for attendance."

She said she expected that her notice to parents would deter students.

"A lot of kids talk about doing it, but it rarely happens because we communicate," Massella said.

But, alas, the indecisiveness of teenagers has made it almost impossible to pinpoint an exact day for the skipping.

A quick visit to a club page entitled "SENIOR SKIP DAY!!!! 2007!!" shows students bickering about the date of the skip day.

One student wrote: "Yea, so the national senior skip day is apparently on the 5th of Feb."

Another wrote in response to a plan to hold skip day on Monday: "nobody care 4 da other club cuz it'll be on the 7th."

A third wrote: "SKIP BOTH!!! Seriously, WHY NOT!?"

Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard County Police Department spokeswoman, said she was not aware of senior skip day. She added that each school likely would handle skip day differently.

"That's why we have the SROs [school resource officers] in each school to cater to the needs of that school," Llewellyn said.

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