As the new principal at Beltsville Academy, Leslie Lowe knew she was taking on a different role during a time of major transition in Prince George’s County schools. The teacher evaluation process has changed and there are new academic standards affecting classroom instruction.
On top of that, Lowe recently learned during a principals’ meeting with Kevin Maxwell, the school system’s chief executive officer, that children who are proficient in reading in the second grade are more likely to graduate within four years of high school.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to lead the school and excited about the challenges,” said Lowe, who began working at Beltsville 24 years ago as a teacher.
Lowe is one of 15 principals that have been hired in Prince George’s County this school year. More than half of those principals were hired over the past month.
Lowe, a former reading teacher and assistant principal who was hired Aug. 26, said she has already started discussing reading proficiency with her staff.
“That’s a challenge,” she said. “Not all of our students are proficient at the end of second grade. . . If we are doing that then we are helping education in the future.”
Doris Reed, who represents the principals’ union, said unfortunately it was not uncommon for the school system to start the school year with more than a dozen new principals.
Reed said there is always a lot of discussion about teacher retention. The same could be said about retaining qualified principals, she said.
“It’s a hell of a lot harder to get an experienced administrator than it is to get a teacher,” Reed said.
The other new principals are: Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster (acting resident principal) at College Park Academy; Theresa Moseley-Fax at Crossland High School; Torrie Walker at Fairmont Heights High School; Sharon Porter at Imagine Andrews Charter School; Lynnette Walker at Imagine Foundations Leeland Charter; Massa Washington at Lamont Elementary School; Tanya Washington (acting principal) at Parkdale High School; Shawna Fagbuyi at Allenwood Elementary School; Sheena Hardy at Cherokee Lane Elementary School; Jeffrey Holmes at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School; Anita Walls at J. Frank Dent Elementary School; Maisha Strong at Longfields Elementary School; Nasser Abi at Robert Goddard French Immersion School and Rashida Edwards at Rosaryville Elementary School.
Meanwhile, the district is still in need of teachers. The school system, which has 69 vacancies, recently held a recruitment fair seeking educators who could teach special education, math, early childhood, elementary, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school system, said the county routinely hosts events during the school year to “source, recruit and hire qualified teachers.”
As a result of the recent fair, which was attended by about 100 applicants, the school system has a pool of certified substitutes and a pool of teachers to fill positions as they become vacant, Pugh said.