by Jenna Bloom ’21
What was the process and timing like from Dr. Minus departing to you accepting the position of Acting Principal? What was your immediate reaction to the offer to take the job?
Dr. Minus did not officially accept an executive level position for Baltimore County Public Schools until the end of June, into early July. Normally, the county would like enough time to advertise and set up interviews [for a new principal] prior to July 1 because that is the start of a new calendar year for MCPS and most school systems. That all said, I am in the pre-qualified Principal pool for MCPS and so the director and area associate superintendent reached out to me to see if I was interested in taking over. I enthusiastically accepted and off we were running. It does make sense to have some continuity based on the fact that we lost our principal and unfortunately, we also lost one of our assistant principals, Dr. Carroll, who sadly, passed away in June.
What does your average work day look like as you prepare for the upcoming school year? What has been the most challenging thus far?
The work day is very different. I can work at school and from home. The biggest difference is I am constantly on call. There does not seem to be an end time. Sometimes I find myself speaking with staff, parents, and central office folks later in the evening. It is ultimately very hard to meet with people through Zoom or Google Meet. It is effective, but sometimes it is hard to adjust and wifi does not always work well.
How has it gone this summer working with your administrative team and also with the Instructional Leadership Team? Has a new Assistant Principal been selected/hired for Sherwood yet? What has Mr. Dunn brought to his new role at the school as an Assistant Secondary Administrator? How will the role for Mrs. Gelfand change now that she is an Assistant Principal?
The summer has been going well, but fast. The leadership team and admin have been able to meet virtually, to discuss the needs for the upcoming school year. We have selected a new assistant principal. Her name is Ms. Belinda Penn, and she is coming from Roberto Clemente Middle School, where she was a resource counselor. We are excited to have her on board and feel that she will bring a lot of new ideas and excitement to her role. Mr. Dunn is equally excited to step into the administrator role. He has a lot of great ideas to support the students of Sherwood. Ms. Gelfand is already somewhat of a veteran at our school; however, she will now take over the master schedule and other responsibilities in her assistant principal position. Mr. Harris will also remain as our most experienced administrator. He will be a big support for me and the other team members throughout the school year.
MCPS this week has sent out a draft of the online class schedules for elementary and secondary schools. What do you think of the plan, and is there the possibility that Sherwood might tweak it?
The county plan for middle and high schools cannot be tweaked much. However, we are looking at unique ways to schedule other programs for our one open period. Since lunch is period 5 for us, we will have an open period two days a week. We are meeting as a leadership team to discuss and implement something that will support our students appropriately. Stay tuned.
Is there any information about what the grading policy for first semester will be? What expectations will you have for students regarding their attendance and participation in their online courses?
I have been informed that grading will go back to A, B, C, D, E. There will be an expectation of attendance and accountability for all students. Teachers will be planning and doing live instruction. If students are having trouble with WIFI or not getting on Zoom, the teacher, counselor, and admin will be following up to find out what supports that student/family needs. However, it will be expected that a student attends class and attendance will be taken. Assignments and assessments will be expected to be completed and will be graded in full.
What are your thoughts on how interactive electives such as chorus, theatre, and physical education will work during online learning?
The elective courses can be difficult, but those teachers are usually the most creative. The elective classes of Art, Music, and PE will meet with their students and provide instruction through creative methods. More to come from those departments.
Anything else you would like to add?
All our staff have been and will be working hard and doing the best they possibly can to make this new way of online learning work for our students.