Rosemont Elementary School has won the 2000 Exemplary Reading Program Award from the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council (SoMIRAC), making this the sixth consecutive year that an MCPS school has earned the prestigious award.
The school was selected for the honor after a rigorous screening and a site visit. Members of the SoMIRAC evaluation committee examined evidence of the success of the reading/language arts program in enhancing student learning; encouraging an enthusiasm for reading both in school and at home; involving administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders; and incorporating current theory and research on the effective teaching of reading/language arts.
Principal Paul B. Schnitman believes that the specific, continuous staff development training the school has been participating in the past three years was what has made a difference in the school's reading program.
"We're already using the model our superintendent, Dr. Jerry Weast, is going to next year," he said, referring to the superintendent's Call to Action plan, which includes having a staff development specialist in each school. This is our third year of using the model."
Rosemont is a Title 1 school, with 54 percent of its students on the Free and Reduced-price Meals System. Title 1 funds allowed the school to get additional instructional support-in the form of Susie Prin, the staff developer who is working with the reading team.
In many schools, according to Schnitman, instructional support teachers are used for pull-outs from groups, to help individual students. But as the 13th neediest building in the whole county, "that wouldn't help us much; it would be like putting a finger in the dyke." Instead, the school uses Prin's position for staff development.
The training has made a difference for all students, said Schnitman, from the youngest up through fifth grade. Research has shown that the school now has more students reading on and above grade level.
Schnitman and reading specialist Laura Evans will receive the Exemplary Reading Award at the annual SoMIRAC Bosses Breakfast in Towson, Md., on March 15. Rosemont and the other top winners from across the nation, selected by their state associations, also will be honored at an awards banquet at the International Reading Association (IRA) annual conference in Indianapolis, Ind., to be held April 30-May 5. School staff will present an overview of the school's program at the conference.