Millersville is a small, suburban school, nestled in a quiet community south of the Severn River. Families who move into the area stay for generations, often on the same property or on the same country road. But the sleepy, rural exterior of Millersville Elementary School has no reflection on the power and energy that students and teachers experience inside the classrooms of this tremendously progressive educational setting. When one first enters the building, the school’s vision, mission, and value statements impressively greet all visitors and, as many would tell you, they are not empty words, but an agreement for how every child, teacher and parent lives while working in the school.
The 375 students come from diverse backgrounds. Many students read and perform math well above their respective grade levels. Last year MSA scores indicated that on the average, 90% of all third, fourth, and fifth graders scored in the proficient or advanced levels in reading and math. For those students who have not met academic challenges, the Millersville staff employs a wide range of intervention programs to remediate and help them. No one falls through the cracks; every single student is monitored by close examination of assessment data and classroom performance. The PTA works closely with the school and provides tuition-free after school tutorial classes for students who demonstrate a need for additional help. Several teachers are paid by the PTA to stay after school and work to bring 25 students up to grade level in mathematics.
Millersville is the home of the school system’s regional autism cluster site. Elementary schools from all of Anne Arundel County send students with Autism Spectrum Disorders to Millersville, when their home schools cannot provide for the academic and behavioral needs of these students. The goal is to provide an educational setting in the least restrictive environment. So one could say that Millersville hopes to provide a warm, loving school experience for students with autism so they will not have to attend one of the counties three special education centers. Students have the support of a specialized autism classroom and teachers and teacher assistants who work throughout the day to provide as many opportunities as possible for inclusion in regular classrooms.
Our principal, Dr. Diana Strohecker, a 2006 winner of the Washington Post Principals of Excellence Distinguished Educational Leadership award, has an extensive background in special education. She spent years working as a Reading Specialist in the county assisting regular education teachers in the strategic teaching of reading for children of all ages. Her perspective on education is wide and deep, and after 27 years of experience, has much to offer the teachers who work along side her at Millersville. She was given a scholarship by the Fulbright Commission last year, and was sent to the United Kingdom to explore new technology tools for children with autism. Millersville Elementary is thrilled to be the first school in Anne Arundel County to purchase and use Promethean Interactive White Boards in classrooms. This technology allows teachers to create and implement daily lessons on a “magical” electromagnetic white board that are interactive, alive and captivating. The teachers and students are able to manipulate text and images using a special pen on the highly durable 72-inch white board that is mounted on classroom walls. Millersville currently has three Interactive white boards and has raised funds to purchase another six. Our goal is to have a Promethean White Board in every classroom by June of this year. The staff and families of Millersville Elementary are working diligently towards raising funds to make this initiative a reality.
Millersville Elementary is a remarkable place to work and learn because of the fantastic staff and fabulous families that allow us to share the day with their children. We believe that students should be encouraged to follow their dreams in order to become the best that they can be. In the words of the very wise Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”