Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

New principal brings passion for teaching to Clopper Mill

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Though Stephanie B. Curry, Clopper Mill Elementary School’s new principal, dabbled in other fields, her true calling has always been working with youth.

‘‘It’s been a passion of mine to make a difference in the lives of children,” said Curry, 44, who officially joined the Germantown school on July 1.

Curry replaces former principal Roni Silverstein, now an elementary leadership training director for Montgomery County Public Schools.

‘‘I’ve had to hit the ground running,” Curry said.

Clopper Mill had 426 students during the 2006-07 school year, according to MCPS’s Web site, and has four portables, Clopper Mill administrative secretary Patricia Litwin said.

‘‘Ms. Curry really seems to have that jump-in-there-and-do-it attitude,” said acting PTA President Sharon Gorenstein.

Curry served as principal intern at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park for the last six weeks of the 2006-07 school year before being appointed to the Clopper Mill post, according to Rolling Terrace administrative secretary Jean Williams. She left her yearlong position as principal intern at Summit Hall Elementary School in Gaithersburg to help out Rolling Terrace, Williams said.

Curry was assistant principal at Strawberry Knoll Elementary School in Gaithersburg from 2004-06 and student support specialist at John Poole Middle School in Poolesville from 1999-2004.

Though Curry, a 20-year resident of Gaithersburg, briefly considered a career in medical lab technology, a conversation with a long-time friend helped her realize her childhood dream of becoming a teacher, she said.

‘‘My favorite thing to do is watch them learn and grow,” she said.

Originally from Cincinnati, Curry earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1991. She stayed in the area after graduating because she ‘‘fell in love” with the region’s diversity, she said.

Curry said she enjoys living near where she works because it allows her to see former students grow up and achieve their goals.

Curry said the first order of business will be improving coordination between teachers. Curry said maintaining test scores, which she said have improved in recent years, is a priority.