All across the country, parents went back to school last week when schools opened their doors for American Education Week.

In addition to welcoming parents into the classroom, Pleasant Plains Elementary School hosted special events each day. On Monday, the school had a kick-off breakfast in the lobby for parents and staff, and also celebrated bus driver appreciation day by giving the drivers cookies and notes of appreciation.

Tuesday was "Moms and Muffins" day, and Wednesday was for "Dads and Doughnuts."

Thursday was "School is Cool Day," as students were served ice-pops in honor of "their hard work and commitment to their public education," and could wear their favorite baseball hat to school. T


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The week concluded with "Fun Friday: Learning Inside-Out." You guessed it — students wore their clothes inside out. Friday was also staff appreciation day and staff was given a small gift bag.

Over at Immaculate Heart of Mary School on Loch Raven Boulevard, there are two new faces in the school this year:

Nate Dippold teaches math and science and is the assistant coach for the school's cross country team.

Chris Leavens teaches American history, world cultures and language arts, and works with IHM's in-house basketball league.

Both men were placed at the school through Operation TEACH (Teachers Enlisted to Advance Catholic Heritage), a two-year post graduate program administered locally through Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Eileen Phelps, the school's enrollment and marketing manager, said the goal of Operation TEACH is to, "develop teaching and leadership skills in a group of highly motivated, spiritually focused and sincerely committed educators."

Participants commit to teaching at a local Catholic school for two years while completing graduate work and, in exchange, they receive a stipend and their educational costs are paid.

They also agree to live "in community"— Dippold and Leavens live with seven other program participants in the former convent of Sacred Heart of Mary in Dundalk. In addition to sharing housing expenses and cooking responsibilities, they have fellowship time on Sunday evenings with prayer.

Dippold graduated from St. Vincent College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Latrobe, Pa., where he majored in math and had a minor in education. He is currently working on master's degree in Catholic leadership and administration.

Leavens is from Harrisburg, Pa., and graduated from the California University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in secondary education. His master's degree will be in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.)

Both the assistant principal and principal at Immaculate Mary are pleased with the Operation TEACH staff.

Chrissy Blake, assistant principal said "adding young people with fresh ideas and lots of energy is refreshing."

And referencing the increase in the percentage of male staff, Principal Amy Belz said, "More diversity in our staffing is a big positive for our community. Students and teachers are delighted to have Nate and Chris with us."

Loch Raven High School is accepting nominations for its next inductees in the Athletic Hall of Fame. Those making a nomination may fill out the form available online at the school's website, http://www.edline.net/pages/Loch_Raven_High.

Nominees must have graduated at least five years ago, and all nominations will be reviewed by a committee and will be selected for recognition at the 2012 homecoming football game. Any nominee who is not selected by the committee is eligible for consideration in the following year.

Nominations run for a five-year window. After five years, the nominee shall be removed from active voting status. However, any year a nominee is re-nominated, the five year window starts anew.

Nominations may be sent to Mike McEwan, athletic director, Loch Raven High School, 1212 Cowpens Ave., Towson, MD 21286.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and contact me to read your news in the next Loch Raven column!