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What’s New at Beverly Farms Elementary?

Beth Brown, who is beginning her second year as principal of Beverly Farms Elementary, establishes high expectations for teachers and students.

“Last year we set our goal very high in math and wanted 100 percent of the kids to meet the on-grade level indicators, and 80 percent to make above grade level,” she said. “We have come very close on both of those.”

There is one class of students in each grade level at Beverly Farms who are one year ahead on their mathematics work. For example, the third-grade has a class of students working on fourth-grade level math content, and so on.

Math experts from the central office are visiting the school each month to train Beverly Farms teachers on ideas and strategies for differentiating their math instruction for children of all levels in the classroom. In addition, Beverly Farms teachers have networking opportunities with teachers at Bells Mill Elementary to compare notes and discuss successful techniques.

“This year we’re staying with the same math goals and adding on reading goals,” said Brown. “We’re using para-educator time for extra support in academic classes.”

Beverly Farms also features in-depth, special projects for students.

“Our PTA is extremely important, and they provide a lot of the budget for cultural arts, such as the opera program,” said Brown.

In previous years, just one class of students had the opportunity to participate in the annual opera, which is guided by a visiting vocalist. This year, Brown is expanding the program so that more students can participate, and she is also adding alternatives for students less musically inclined. Instead of the opera, they can participate in activities that are more math-and-science focused, such as a stock market game and a trout-raising simulation. There will also be a special literary project where students will create a newspaper or magazine. All fifth-graders will participate in one of the exploration activities.

In compliance with the county’s new mandate, Beverly Farms began offering full-day kindergarten classes this year, transitioning from three half-day classes to four full-day classes. Brown said that the increased kindergarten enrollment is partly due to students whose families had previously opted for full-day private kindergarten.

JANETTE GILMAN of Potomac is beginning her second year as PTA president of Beverly Farms Elementary. She has been a PTA member since her children began attending Beverly Farms in 2001, and she has served as PTA vice president, committee chair and volunteer. Gilman has two children in the school system – a daughter at Beverly Farms and a son in middle school.

“At Beverly Farms, we’ve tried really hard to increase participation and also to step up community service,” she said. “We’ve always done service projects and last year we had our first community service fair. Kids came along with their parents and did projects like writing letters to troops in Iraq … and bagging lunches for Stepping Stones,” which is a homeless shelter in Rockville.

The school also participates in the annual Walk for the Homeless to benefit Stepping Stones. This year the walk will be held Oct. 13, and the community service fair will be held in February.

Beverly Farms’ “sister school” is Maryville Elementary in Rockville, which has a significantly more poor students. The first week of school, students at Beverly Farms brought school supplies to donate to students at Maryville.

“This year we have a pretty robust community service committee,” said Gilman. “We do projects the kids can do so that they have a hands-on experience…. We’re hoping for more dialogue at home between children and parents” about community service, she said.

At over 700 members, Gilman said that Beverly Farms has the largest PTA membership among the Churchill, Wootton, Rockville and Richard Montgomery clusters, even though it is a relatively small school. The PTA has received state awards for membership growth and having 75 percent of its families enrolled. Over half of the staff members at Beverly Farms are PTA members.

One key to the PTA’s success if their outreach efforts for diverse families.

“More than 20 countries are represented at Beverly Farms, and about 17 percent of the school’s families speak Spanish at home. We really try to reach out,” said Gilman.

“We did a big international fair last year, and this year we have a translator coordinator to make those parents feel as welcome and comfortable at the school as possible,” she continued. At meetings, “we have the PTA mission read in English and Spanish, and we invite multilingual chairs to speak other languages so folks can be more comfortable knowing they can be understood in the school community.”

Beverly Farms Calendar:

* Back-to-School Night -- Sept. 13

* Scholastic Book Fair: Nov. 27 - Dec. 1

* Community Service Fair: Feb. 10

* Multicultural Celebration: May 10

* End-of-Year Picnic: May 31

* Science Expo: Apr. 26 & 27

* Club Beverly Farms: Oct. 7, Jan. 6, Feb. 3, March 3, April 14, June 2