Going Back: It’s Elementary

Going Back: It’s Elementary

Principals Prepare for First Day of School

On Thursday afternoon, Countryside Elementary School principal, Arlene Glaser, pushed a shaky cart of boxes that towered over her head through the main office in preparation for the first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 5.

"Is anybody going to listen to me? OK, I need copies of these maps. We better make 100," she shouted with a smile. "I’m multitasking."

Five years ago, Glaser opened the school with Assistant Principal Roz Zietz.

In its fifth year, Countryside Elementary School will open with 565 students. Glaser welcomed 10 new teachers to her 80-person staff, including new art and music teachers this year.

In addition, Glaser looks forward to continuing Loudoun County Public School’s Steps To Literacy Program, which provides teachers with tools to better teach reading to students in kindergarten through third grade.

This year, Countryside Elementary School is expanding the program to the fourth grade and next year, to fifth-grade students.

Glaser outlined several goals for the 2006-2007 school year.

"We want to continue to bring the [Standard of Learning] test scores up," she said, "and close the achievement gap."

Outside of the classroom, Glaser hopes parents will continue to volunteer at the school.

"We are a different institution," she said. "We truly have an open-door policy."

Glaser said parents are always welcome in the school and she looks forward to annual Chick-fil-A dinners and bingo nights sponsored by the PTO. The school’s first Chick-fil-A night is Wednesday, Sept. 13, and bingo night is Friday, Sept. 29.

On Thursday night, Glaser met with parents and students at the school’s Back-to-School night. Glaser said she likes to hold this event before school starts so parents can meet teachers and understand their teaching philosophies.

"We want everyone to be on the same page on the first day of school," she said.

IN THE SUGARLAND Run neighborhood, Angela Robinson prepared for her first day of school.

The new Sugarland Elementary School principal passed bulldozers, construction workers and cardboard boxes on the way to her office Thursday afternoon.

"Things have been crazy around here," she said.

In August, construction workers began tearing down walls to build four new classrooms, including art, music and computer classrooms, and a new auditorium, scheduled to be complete by September 2007.

"It’s just our turn," she said. "We’re one of the oldest schools in the county."

In addition to the renovations, Robinson is excited about the continuation of programs like Parents as Educational Partners (PEP), an after-school program for parents to obtain life and job skills and information about their child’s education through classes and workshops. Sugarland Elementary School staff will provide child care in the cafeteria while parents work with teachers and volunteers.

"We will mold the program to what the parents need and want," Robinson said, "but the main focus will be children and education."

Like Countryside Elementary School, Sugarland Elementary School will expand its Steps to Literacy program to fourth-graders this year.

This year, Robinson’s primary goals are to work on reading and math with her school’s diverse population. With the addition of math resource teachers and reading specialists, she believes her students will achieve their goals.

"The county’s given us the resources," she said. "We can’t do it by ourselves and they gave us the help."

Robinson will open Sugarland Elementary School with approximately 420 students. She won’t be the only new face in the halls. In July, former Fairfax County Public School teacher Joy Andrews joined the Sugarland team as assistant principal.

Robinson also welcomed eight new teachers to the school, including new kindergarten, resource and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers.

"I’ve only been here since July, but I already feel like family," she said.

LIKE ROBINSON, Guilford Elementary School principal, David Stewart, is anxious to begin his year at a new school.

"It’s always been a dream of mine and something I’ve worked toward," he said.

For the past five years, Stewart worked as assistant principal at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn. Before that, he taught fourth and fifth grade at Sanders Corner Elementary School in Ashburn.

As the new principal, one of Stewart's primary goals is to get to know the students and their families. With more than 80 percent of Guilford's students enrolled in ESL classes, his biggest challenge may be communicating with non-English speaking parents.

Stewart welcomes programs like the Steps to Literacy program to his school. This year, the program will expand to fourth-grade students.

In addition to new programs, Stewart welcomed five new teachers to his staff and will open the school with 346 students.

"We're here for them," he said. "Every child will be given 110 percent."

BRUCE SHAFFERMAN opened Lowes Island Elementary School five years ago.

"From the time I got here, my goal has been to make sure every child is served well," he said. "We provide quality education and we do that with a great staff."

Lowes Island Elementary School traditionally scores well on the SOLs, Shafferman said, "but there's always room for improvement."

"We still have a small number of students who didn't pass the tests," he said. "We want 100 percent."

In an effort to achieve perfection, Shafferman welcomes programs like Steps to Literacy, which will expand to the fourth grade this year.

In addition, the principal looks forward to annual "Songfests."

During Halloween and the holiday season, Shafferman travels from classroom to classroom, singing songs with students.

"My background is in music," he said. "I want the kids to know me."

Shafferman said he also likes to "get in the classrooms" and read to students.

Shafferman will open his school to 641 students and welcomed 12 new teachers to his staff.

FOREST GROVE Elementary School Principal Nancy Torregrossa carried a stack of papers through the hallways Thursday afternoon.

"We are just so busy here," she said. "We're busy getting ready for the students."

Torregrossa will open her school with 624 students and 92 staff members. In July, she welcomed four new teachers, including kindergarten, first- and fourth-grade teachers, to her team.

In addition to new teachers, Torregrossa is excited about expanding the Steps to Literacy program to the fourth grade.

Torregrossa is also excited about the laundry list of programs outside of the classroom.

Like Sugarland Elementary School, Forest Grove will offer parents resource tools through the PEP program.

"We invite parents and families to come to school," she said.

While parents are working with staff and attending workshops, Torregrossa said staff members will provide students tutoring in the cafeteria.

Forest Grove Elementary also offers students an after-school intramural sports program and art classes. Computer labs are open to Forest Grove families before and after school.

"We hope that parents come to school often. We love to have visitors," Torregrossa said, "and we adore our volunteers. We have great volunteers."