Ashburton History: 1957- Present
Ashburton Elementary School was originally built in the fairly rural Bethesda, Maryland community in 1957. Mr. Roy Collins was the principal and there were about 250 students. The rapid growth of school-age children in the late 50's and early 60's throughout America was replicated in Ashburton, which needed additions in 1958 and 1961. There were even enough students throughout the 60's and 70's to warrant an assistant principal. Mr. Collins' worked with two assistant principals, Mrs. Lacey and Miss Ann Bruce. As the baby boom ended, however, the school population decreased. Mr. Collins retired in 1975 as the population was diminishing quickly.
Mrs. Julia Penn became principal at a time when Ashburton, like many other schools, was in danger of closing. But due to the hard work of the community, Ashburton remained open and merged with two schools that were closed, Fernwood and Grosvenor. In 1985, Ashburton's main office was renovated and an elevator was added. In 1988, Ashburton was added to the modernization list. Mrs. Penn retired after the 1990-1991 school year.
Mrs. Joan Carroll became principal just as plans for a school modernization were about to be completed. Mrs. Carroll worked with school based and school system based committees to finalize the plans for the NEW Ashburton. Ashburton's physical plant was in great need of replacement and it was rapidly becoming too small for the neighborhood. During the summer of 1992, Ashburton was moved to Grosvenor Elementary School for the 1992-1993 school year while the modernization took place.
In September 1993, Ashburton reopened. Our new school had four additional classrooms, new heating systems, air conditioning (!!!!), a fully Macintosh networked school; cable TV including two in house cable channels; a new media center with 7 student computer/cd-rom stations, a multimedia station, automated circulation and telecommunications options galore; a communications studio (TV studio), a 29 stations Macintosh computer lab; and an 21st century telephone system!
Ashburton Elementary School was rededicated on June 7, 1994. Mr. Collins, now living in Venice, Florida was unable to participate but Mrs. Penn and former Ashburton parents and staff were able to join in the celebration along with government officials from the school board, the county council and the state government.
In 1996, Mrs. Carroll was awarded the Washington Post Principal of the Year, after the staff and PTA nominated her.
In the fall of 1998, Joan Carroll, Media Specialist Brenda Anderson, and Media Assistant, Wendy Cimmet, labored over an application for the National Blue Ribbon Award. A US Education Department committee member visited Asburton and met with staff and community to verify the documentation. We were awarded this prestigious National Award in 1999. Many tangible benefits came in addition to the award itself, including gifts such as the Weather Station, several laptop computers and software.
In 1999, Joan Carroll was appointed principal of North Bethesda Middle School, which reopened after Tilden Middle School grew over 1250 students. Mrs. Carroll worked with the community to renovate the school and to create a strong middle school. Ashburton students matriculate to North Bethesda along with Wyngate and Kensington Parkwood elementaries.
Dr. Barbara Haughey came to Ashburton with years of experience in elementary education, middle school special education, and high school administration. Dr. Haughey maintained the high expectations of the school for both students and staff and strengthened the community ties with our many partnerships (OASIS, Suburban Hospital, the Naval Dental School). She has worked with MCPS on a variety of committees. Recently she co-chaired the Grading and Reporting Committee as MCPS evaluated the current policies on grades and report cards.
The school was a part of a technology modernization plan that was implemented in the 2002 - 2003 school year and will be updated again in the 2006 - 2007 school year. This plan provides for over 100 Dell computers for the school.
The School Today
Parents continue to be actively involved in Ashburton’s PTA activities and as school and classroom volunteers. The gym is finally complete after years of testimony about the need for elementary school gyms. The gym was dedicated in January 2004 in a celebration that included elected officials and the community. Cub Scouts, the Drum and Bugle Corps, and Girl Scouts participated in addition to SGA officers. Honored guests included Senator Brian Frosh, State Delegate William Bronrott, County Council members Michael Subin, Howard Denis, and Nancy Floreen, Board of Education members, Sharon Cox, Patricia O’Neill, and Charles Haughey, Superintendent Jerry Weast, Community Superintendent Frank Stetson, OSA Director Pat Abrunzo, Physical Education Coordinator Terry McCauley, and former staff Andrew Humenay, Ann Strine, Patty Smith, and Joan Carroll. Mr. Dartouzos led line dancing and other activities in the gym and the PTA provided cake and water in bottles labeled “Fitness for Life.”
Ashburton enrollment continued to grow; necessitating seven portables due to new housing and growth within the community. Additionally full-day kindergarten started at Ashburton in 2005 and the PEP program grew to 8 classes. The growth meant that we needed 7 portables and work began on an addition for the school. Included in the scope of the addition project feasibility study was modification of the PEP rooms without bathrooms, a PEP playground, solutions for humidity and moisture problems and additional parking and parent drop-off area.
In 2007, we nominated Suburban Hospital for the Montgomery County Chamber of Congress Business Partnership Award and they were presented a nice award at the Champions for Children Dinner. We are very proud of our partnership with Suburban and feel fortunate to have a continuing relationship.
Dr. Haughey retired in January 2007 and Ms. Charlene Eroh was appointed principal in April 2007. She comes with experience in teaching in several elementary schools, staff development and administration. Ms. Eroh’s first year was busy getting to know the students and community and overseeing the addition project. Her high expectations for both staff and students again maintained the excellence in academics, strong parental and community involvement and warm sense of community that defines Ashburton. Ms. Eroh hosted the county site for Walk to School Day 2007 with many local dignitaries in attendance, including : County Executive Isiah Leggett, State Transportation Secretary John Porcari, State Delegates Bill Bronrott and Bill Frick, Montgomery County Fire Chief Tom Carr and Sparky the Fire Dog, Bethesda District Police Commander Russell Hamill, and Board of Education Member Dr. Judy Docca. She also instituted Academic Awards Assemblies, TQ luncheons, and strengthened the SIT team by inviting more parents and students.
The ten-room addition was started in the summer of 2007 and completed in the summer of 2008. The art room was relocated and the new room overlooks the playground with its own patio. Eight classrooms for fourth and fifth grade are in the new wing which resembles the older building with matching colored wall stripes and floor tile. The exterior brick also matches the existing building. Also in the new wing is a primary special education room, a conference room for PEP and a new kindergarten room. The interior courtyard has tables and benches and a bricked area with engraved bricks sponsored by the PTA.
Included with the project are four new playgrounds, one for PEP, two in the main play area and an additional more advanced to the east of the building. Students participated in a consensogram voting for their favorite pieces of play equipment.
Currently, Ashburton has students from about 40 countries, speaking almost as many languages. We see much mobility of our students throughout the year; our mobility rate is listed at 18% but some years it seems like much more. Class size varies from a low of 23 to 30 students per class. We are projected to have six kindergarten classes, five first and second grades, four third grades, three fourth grades and four fifth grades. We will have three Learning and Academic Disabilities (LAD) classes- a K/1, 2/3 and 4/5 class. This year we will have four PEP Classic classes and two PEP, Inc. classes.
Walter Johnson Cluster (of which Ashburton is part) principals and staff development teachers have worked closely for the past few years; meeting frequently and working collaboratively on Baldrige. Vertical articulation has been a priority for the cluster both within schools and as students transition from one level to another.
Some of the information from this history was excerpted from a School History by two former PTA presidents, Dr. Sue Olson and Mrs. Kristina Marshall.