Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Upcounty schools greet students on first day

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New teachers and administrators, new programs and portables, and even a new roof greeted students as they arrived for the first day of school at Damascus and Clarksburg area schools on Monday.

A rundown of the new features and teachers includes:

Cedar Grove Elementary

Cedar Grove Elementary School grew a little during the summer, with an enrollment of 575 as of two weeks ago. The school ended last year with about 540 students, Principal Lee Derby said.

‘‘We’re projected to grow somewhat [during the year],” Derby said. ‘‘We’re already getting some kids from Arora Hills.”

The school has six portable classrooms that house fifth-grade classes, instructional music classes and para-educators.

Some grades have large classes, but as of press time, not large enough to warrant adding a new class. Most kindergarten classes have 26 students.

Derby is new to the school this year. He was appointed n May to take over from Principal Anita Murphy, who announced last winter that she would leave the school.

Besides bringing several teachers from his former school, Garrett Park Elementary, to Cedar Grove, Derby is also bringing the William and Mary Language Arts Program for highly able readers to the school.

The program was developed by the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary to meet the needs of high ability students and is being used at many county schools. The program includes a series of units designed to challenge students to read advanced texts and perform a variety of tasks. The literature and tasks increase in complexity as students move from one grade to the next.

Cedar Grove has three new fourth-grade teachers — Leslie Granofsky and Lori Rolston, who came from Garret Park Elementary, and Brian Humphrey. Patricia Mstowski is the new fifth-grade teacher.

Back to School Night was held last week for parents of kindergarten students. It will be held Tuesday for parents of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students and Sept. 5 for parents of first- and second-grade students.

School staff will be working at McDonald’s at 21121 Frederick Road in Germantown on Sept. 10 as part of a PTA fundraiser.

The school is located at 24001 Ridge Road in Damascus.

Clarksburg Elementary

Four portable classrooms were removed from Clarksburg Elementary School over the summer, but six portables remain at the school.

Principal Kwang Lee said that she anticipates enrollment will hover around 400 students this year. Little Bennett Elementary School opened last fall for the first time to relieve overcrowding at Clarksburg.

Jason Levine is the new vice principal at Clarksburg Elementary School this year. He was a fifth grade teacher at Dufief Elementary School in Gaithersburg last year and has already spent a month working with the staff at Clarksburg Elementary.

‘‘I think Mrs. Lee is phenomenal,” Levine said. ‘‘I’m looking forward to joining a tremendous staff.”

The school will also introduce a new after-school science club in October, which will be open to students in the fourth and fifth grade.

Back to School Night will be held Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

New staff members include Ailyn Schwartz, teaching kindergarten; Daria Taylor, media specialist; Anne Burson, teaching music; Lina Liebhold, teaching instructional music; and Judith Lefebvre, media assistant.

The school is located at 13530 Redgrave Place in Clarksburg.

Clearspring Elementary

The main office at Clearspring Elementary School has been renovated and there is a slew of new playground equipment for the children this year.

‘‘With the growing population at Clearspring, we decided to add to the equipment we already had,” Principal Gayle Mollet said. ‘‘We wanted the children to have more areas to play on.”

The PTA funded all of the playground additions with proceeds from a golf tournament in May. The additions include new climbing equipment, a double slide, a climbing bar and a balance beam.

A black six-foot safety fence was also placed around the playground area with funding from the county and help from the school’s PTA.

The carpet in the main office was torn up and replaced for the first time in 20 years. The office hallway and lounge received blue and white tiles. The principal’s office, assistant principal’s office and office conference room were re-carpeted.

Clearspring Elementary School will administer the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support system for the first time this fall. Under the program, teacher and staff members will reward students for positive behavior. Students will received a Husky stamp on their hands when they are found doing the right thing within the school. The Husky is the school’s mascot.

‘‘It helps to create a safer and more effective positive climate,” Mollet said. ‘‘It is teaching children a positive discipline system.”

Back to School Night will take place Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. for third through fifth grade and Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. for kindergarten through second grade.

New staff members include Andrea Pearcy, teaching second grade; Tara Besser, counselor; and Megan Milford, special education learning center teacher.

The school is located at 9930 Moyer Road in Damascus.

Damascus Elementary

Damascus Elementary School received its technology upgrade this summer and 75 new flat-screen computers have been delivered to the school.

‘‘I love them,” Principal Rebecca Jones said. ‘‘I am very happy. We have been using them since the middle of July. I don’t have any complaints.”

A small computer lab was created at the school for the first time this year and will have 11 computers. There will be 28 computers in the full computer lab.

Jones said that the addition of the new computers will give teachers more opportunities to use technology. Last year, each classroom had two computers; this year, teachers will be able to bring take their students to the small computer lab for instruction.

‘‘It breathes new life,” Jones said. ‘‘For teachers, it is exciting to use computers that are a little bit faster.”

Back to School Night will be held Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. for grades first through fifth. The parents of kindergarten students attended Back to School Night last Thursday.

New staff members include Philip Alexander, teaching fourth grade; Christine Gormley, teaching ESOL; Ben Greenman, teaching fourth grade; Delyza Howard, counselor; Nancy McEvoy, teaching special education; Melanie Miller, teaching speech; and Lisa Rose, media specialist.

The school is located at 10201 Bethesda Church Road.

Little Bennett Elementary

Little Bennett Elementary School begins the school year with five new portable classrooms and a new assistant principal.

More than 740 students are expected to attend classes at Little Bennett this year. The enrollment exceeded the county expectations by 115 students last year, as the school opened with 525 student and enrollment rose throughout the year.

The school opened with kindergarten through fourth grade last year, but a fifth grade was added to the school this year.

A new program, called the Eagle Ambassador Program, is available this year. Under the program, two students from every class at every grade level are welcoming all of the new students and sitting with them at lunch.

‘‘It is important here because we are a rapidly growing community,” Principal Shawn Miller said. ‘‘The more ways we can come up with to help the new members of our school community, the better.”

Miller said this year the school will focus on achievement in math. He hopes to have as many fifth-graders as possible studying sixth grade math.

Yolanda Allen is Little Bennett’s new assistant principal after spending the past two years as a math specialist for the county school system’s Office of Organizational Development. She arrived at Little Bennett on July 1.

‘‘It is a very welcoming environment for myself and the students,” Allen said.

New staff members include Rachel Fisher, teaching kindergarten; Elizabeth Valenza, teaching fifth grade; Martina Basuino, teaching first grade; Deneise Hammond, teaching fifth grade; Deborah Wowk, teaching first grade; Tricia Smith, teaching second grade; Lauren Hering, teaching third grade; Katherine Fay, teaching third grade; Rebecca Opie, resource teacher; Chrissy Zezzo, teaching fourth grade; Julie Torrence, special educator; Elizabeth Monzon, teaching fourth grade; Julie Cruickshank, special education teacher; and Courtney Catoe, teaching fourth grade.

The school is located at 23930 Burdette Forest Road in Clarksburg.

Lois P. Rockwell

The private infant day care program that was held in a room at Rockwell Elementary School for local teachers has been expanded and it is now available to the public.

Kids Co. Jr. rented a room for staff last year to provide teachers in the Damascus area with convenient day care for their children. However, this year the program is using a 2,900-square-foot modular unit in the back of the school.

The childcare program generally takes care of children age 2 to 5 years old.

Back to School Night will be held Sept. 6 from 7-9 p.m.

Christy Miller is the only new staff member this year and is teaching the Preschool Education Program’s Intensive Needs Class (PEP INK) for 3- and 4-year-olds. Last year, Miller was a special education teacher at Cloverly Elementary School.

The school is located at 24555 Cutsail Drive in Damascus.

Woodfield Elementary

There are no new renovations or new programs at Woodfield Elementary School this year, but three new staff members have joined the fold.

‘‘We are looking forward to the children returning,” Principal Gayle Starr said earlier this month. ‘‘We have been diligently working to ensure maximum opportunities are available for all students to achieve.”

Rebecca Daniel will teach kindergarten after working as a first-grade and kindergarten teacher at Sherwood Elementary in Sandy Spring. Mary Ann Paciotti has joined Woodfield’s first-grade team after spending the past seven years teaching first grade at S. Christina McAuliffe Elementary in Germantown.

Holly Walker is a new counselor at Woodfield after serving as a counselor at Montgomery Village Middle School for the past two years.

Back to School Night is set for Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. for third through fifth grades and Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. for kindergarten through second grade.

The school is located at 24200 Woodfield Road in Damascus.

John T. Baker Middle

The entire roof at John T. Baker Middle School was replaced for the first time in the school building’s 33-year history and other renovations were made throughout the school to be ready for the new year.

New ceiling tiles and recessed lighting were added to the main office, media center and hallways.

‘‘It looks like a brand-new school,” Principal Louise Worthington said. ‘‘We have white tiles and bright lighting. It is all modernized.”

Worthington said the renovations were part of the county’s standard renovation process.

The school will also debut Read 180 for the first time this fall. The course was introduced to help struggling readers catch up to grade level. The students in the class will engage in silent reading, use computers to aid their learning and work in small groups.

‘‘It has been proven effective in other schools in the county,” Worthington said of the class. ‘‘We are very happy that Baker has it as well.”

Chorus teacher Virginia Flynn was added to the staff this year.

‘‘The community wanted it brought back,” Worthington said of chorus. ‘‘We accommodated the community.”

Back to School Night we take place Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.

New staff members include Nick Berluti, teaching world studies; Susan Casarez, teaching Spanish; Stewart Cummings, teaching world studies; Jennifer Cummings, teaching special education; Jeffery Kenst, teaching physical education; Alicia Murphy, teaching special education; Anthony Rettig, teaching world studies; Katie Roberts, teaching math; Karen Thiekle, teaching special education; Heidi Walker, media specialist; Scott Webster, teaching English; and Kristie Welch, teaching special education.

The school is located at 25400 Oak Drive in Damascus.

Rocky Hill Middle

Two new portable classrooms were added to Rocky Hill Middle school over the summer to accommodate the school’s soaring enrollment.

Enrollment at the school rose from 960 students at the start of the last year to 995 students by the end of last year. This year, 1,060 students are enrolled at Rocky Hill.

‘‘If we didn’t have to use portables, I would be happy,” Principal Steven Whiting said. ‘‘With the growth we have, portables are essential rather than having teachers floating from room to room.”

Whiting said that parents have not complained much about the presence of the portables. The school’s theme is focusing on empowering and engaging students at Rocky Hill, he said.

There are 10 new staff members at the school this year. Whiting said that the enrollment boom created some unique challenges last year.

‘‘What it is causing is bigger class sizes,” Whiting said. ‘‘The county is supportive in getting us staffing. When [enrollment] grows at this rate, it is tough for them to keep up.”

Rocky Hill will also offer Read 180 for the first time this fall, which is a class that will help struggling readers catch up to grade level. The class is offered to students with poor reading scores on standardized tests and students in all grades are eligible.

Back to School Night will be held Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.

The new staff members include Pamela Pennington, teaching science; Scott Molley, teaching science; Christine Wirth, teaching reading; Tom Marvel, counselor; Heather Williams, math resource teacher; Jessica Farber, teaching special education; Ian Stuart, teaching music; Joe Kilcoyne, teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL); Cory Gerbasi, teaching math; Carol Nezzo, teaching Spanish; and Keith Reynolds, school security.

The school is located at 22401 Brick Haven Way in Clarksburg.

Clarksburg High

Several new courses are being offered at Clarksburg High School this year and the school now has a senior class.

More than 980 students in grades ninth through 11th attended the brand-new school when it opened last year. The school drew students from the Watkins Mill, Seneca Valley and Damascus high school clusters.

However, this year the school welcomed more than 400 new students and 40 new staff members as it adds a 12th grade.

‘‘Now the focus is on scholarship,” Principal James Koutsos said. ‘‘It is on becoming known in this community and beyond as a respected academic institution.”

A class called Network Opportunities is available and will teach students how to repair and refurbish computers. Students enrolled in the class will also be able to learn how to set up a Local Area Network (LAN).

A new business program that includes classes such as consumer math, entrepreneurship and accounting is offered this year.

‘‘We want our students to be financially literate,” Koutsos said. ‘‘We want them to make good decisions what they budget and invest money.”

Back to School Night will be held Thursday at 7 p.m.

Some 40 new staff members joined the school family this year, including Gretchen Moss and Lee Paul, teaching Spanish; Yaseman Mirmozaffari, Jeanne Tufano, Katie Rahmati, Edith Lee and Christina Mann, teaching English; Laura Honacki, Paul Koda, Lori Kolejian and Brendon Friedman, teaching science; Brian Alspaugh, Scott Mathias, Raleigh Jaffe and Megan Hartman, teaching social studies; Donald Jackson, Mark Bowie, Andy Hwang, Danille Manns and Denise Vizzini, teaching math; Veena Seshadri, Carin Frank, Susan Sloan and Keila Oropeza, teaching foreign language; Candis Fratkin, teaching health; Mat Derrick, teaching physical education; and Lynne Galloro and Danille Siebert, teaching art.

The school is located at 22500 Wims Road in Clarksburg.