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What’s New at Potomac Elementary?

Linda Goldberg, who is beginning her fifth year as principal at Potomac Elementary, said that her job has been to build on the school’s already solid record of academic excellence.

“I came to a school that was already a good school,” she said. “I think that over the years we’ve been able to continue on that path to improvement.

“The kids at Potomac love school – they come ready to learn,” continued Goldberg. “The teachers and parents work very closely with their children. I’m really, really, proud of this staff and what they do for the children.”

Potomac is one of three schools in the county designated as a model for the arts. This is its third year receiving a federal grant that provides resources for teachers to implement arts into the curriculum at all levels. Over the summer, about a dozen teachers from Potomac traveled to the Maryland Arts Teacher Institute to learn how to integrate arts into their classes.

“Teachers might use a drama strategy in math or a dance strategy in social studies,” said Goldberg. “They work closely with the art teacher, music teacher and physical education teacher.”

Potomac Elementary has also housed a Chinese immersion program since 1996. 20 to 25 students per grade level – equal to about 25 percent of the school – are enrolled in the program. The classes are almost entirely filled by students in the Potomac Elementary district, with preference given to siblings. The rare extra slots are opened to other Montgomery County students by lottery.

Though a modernization for Potomac Elementary is not on the horizon, this year the school received eight new portables to replace their old ones, as well as new tiling in the hallway and cafeteria and a technology modernization of computers and software. In addition, the PTA had a capital campaign to bring 18 additional computers to the school.

In compliance with the county’s new mandate, this is Potomac Elementary’s first year offering all-day kindergarten. Before, the school had offered half-day classes.

“I see it as a plus all the way,” said Goldberg of the move to full-day kindergarten. “Most of our kids were in full-day preschool before coming here, so it’s part of what they’re used to anyway. They have more time to learn the curriculum and teachers can go more in-depth.”

Assistant principal Toi Davis is new to the school this year. She came from Maryvale Elementary in Rockville, where she worked as a math coach.

“It’s been great to have her here as part of the team,” said Goldberg.

DIANA CONWAY of Potomac is beginning her first year as PTA president of Potomac Elementary. She has served on the PTA board for at least four years and was a PTA delegate for three. She has three children in the school system – one at Potomac Elementary and two at Hoover Middle School.

“I have a couple of goals,” said Conway. “One is to make sure that MCPS performs on the promise given last spring regarding upgrades to the facility since there is not any modernization scheduled as far as the eye can see, and that means post 2016.

“We also want to maximize parent involvement in the PTA so we can offer the most enrichment possible to all our students,” she continued.

The Potomac Elementary PTA offers informal “coffee meetings” for parents while school is in session so that they can come and learn more about the school and the curriculum. This year, the PTA is grouping the coffee breaks and other parent events by grade level into kindergarten and first-grade, second- and third-grade, and fourth- and fifth-grade.

“That way when new a new fourth-grade parent says, ‘I’m worried about this or that,’ the current fifth-grade parent can say, ‘Look, I went through this last year and I worried about it to, but relax,’” said Conway. “Combining [the grades] boosts attendance at any one event, which makes it more productive for staff to be there. It also allows parents to cross-pollinate across grades with ideas and suggestions.”

Like many PTAs in the area, parents in the Potomac Elementary PTA have the resources to raise money for school enrichment projects.

“We are blessed to be able ... to bring extraordinary opportunities for kids to participate in – whether in music, literature or art,” said Conway.

The school has an annual opera that the entire third-grade participates in. As an arts integrated model school, the Potomac Elementary invites authors, muralists, painters and dancers to the school “more often than a typical elementary does.” Other annual events include a science fair, book fair, and fall and spring festivals.

Potomac Calendar:

* Back-to-School Night: Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

* Fall Festival: Oct. 5, 5-8 p.m.

* Book Fair: Oct. 8 (tentative)

* Walk for the Homeless: Oct. 31, 2 p.m.

* International Night: Dec. 13, 5:30-9 p.m.

* Poet in Residence: Jan. 23-26

* Chinese New Year: Feb. 15, 5:30 p.m.

* Science Fair: March 28, 7 p.m.

* Potomac Idol/Art Show: April 19, 7 p.m.

* Fun Fair: May 10, 6-8 p.m.

* Creating Original Opera: May 23, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; May 24, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

* Club Potomac: Oct. 7, 6-8 p.m.; Nov. 4, 6-8 p.m.; Jan. 6, 6-8 p.m.; Feb. 10, 6-8 p.m.; March 10, 6-8 p.m.; April 14, 6-8 p.m.