New faces in new places in North Baltimore County Schools

New Fifth District Elementary School principal Bob Findley has an office filled with friendly pictures and lots of stuffed animals. Findley had been the principal at Edgemere Elementary School for the past eight years. (Photo by Phil Grout, Patuxent Publishing / August 2, 2011)

The signs of summer's end are everywhere. Kids are descending on stores to buy their school supplies. School bus drivers are memorizing their stops and practicing their routes. Teachers are putting up creative bulletin boards and getting their first pop quiz ready.

Baltimore County Public Schools and Our Lady of Grace School open for students on Mon. Aug. 29, but St. James Academy students don't have to report until Wed. Sept. 7.

Here's a glimpse into what students will find at each school on that first day.

Hereford High School:

"Like" explorebaltimorecounty's Facebook page

Hereford High School's new principal isn't new to Hereford at all. Andrew Last, former assistant principal at Dulaney High School, came to Hereford as a student teacher in 1997 and then as foreign language department chairman and Spanish teacher from 2002-2005.

Law graduated from Towson University and taught Spanish at St. Paul's School for Girls and Parkville High School. He also spent a year teaching English in Costa Rica.

Last, 54, is from Colchester, England, where he worked restoring old buildings. He moved to the United States in 1989 and decided to try a new career.

"I went to a career counselor, took all these tests, and every one said I should be a teacher," he said.

He eventually got a master's degree in education administration from Towson University and became an assistant principal at Dulaney High School in 2005.

When he learned he was taking over for retiring principal John Bereska, Last visited Hereford and met with faculty and students. He already knew many of the teachers from his time as department chairman.

"This is a dream school," he said. "My job is to motivate teachers so we can all work together to make this a great experience for kids. I don't want the kids to feel like they're just a number."

Last said he wants to focus on recognizing students who achieve in all areas — music, art and creative writing — as well as athletics.

Last expects the school to open with about 1,400 students and 87 teachers. Hereford lost 10 teachers who retired or transferred and were not replaced. Most class sizes will be slightly larger, he said, but Hereford will offer 23 Advance Placement classes, the same as last year.

"I've been so warmly received by the community," said Last, who is married, has two children and lives in Towson. "It's humbling."

Hereford Middle School:

Hereford Middle's 950 students might not be too pleased, but the school has just joined Edline, an on-line system that allows parents to check on their student's test scores, attendance and homework. Hereford High School already uses the online communication program.

"It is more work up front for teachers, but they all love it," said Cathy Walrod, Hereford Middle principal. "The site is updated every two weeks and parents get notified by email when there are new grades to see. Teachers love it. Parents love it. The kids? Let's just say they don't love it."

Carroll Manor Elementary:

The Baldwin school should open with 335 students, roughly the same number as last year, said Principal Will Cirrincione. There are two classes in kindergarten, first and fourth grades, with three classes in second, third and fifth grades.

He said a successful Tech Trek fundraiser last year enabled the school to purchase 11 laptop computer for teachers.