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Mayor visits Mt. Royal school


Teacher Yvonne Brown isn't used to someone serving her orange juice, pastries and coffee from a cart festooned with flowers. And she looked a bit shocked when the person waiting on her today was none other than Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

"This is not bad," said a delighted Ms. Brown, who teaches fourth- and fifth-graders in a gifted and talented class at Mount Royal Elementary School.

Mr. Schmoke played principal for an hour at the McMechen Street school as part of Teacher Appreciation Day. Wearing white plastic aprons, the mayor and principal Frank Whorley served continental breakfast to a number of surprised teachers.

As the teachers snacked, students sat reading. Every Tuesday, students, teachers and everyone else in the building is asked to stop everything and read for 20 minutes.

"We've been doing this for three years," Mr. Whorley said of the reading program. "The whole building just stops."

In one class, a contemporary jazz selection played softly in the background as the students read. In others, kids read from books with such titles as "Maniac Magee," "The Babysitters Club" and "Holidays Around the World."

But some kids had trouble keeping their eyes off the pastries.

"This is for the teachers, kids," the mayor reminded the students.

At lunchtime, Mr. Whorley served sandwiches and salads to the teachers.

Even though they weren't treated to breakfast, the students seemed honored by Mr. Schmoke's visit. "He touches them and raises their spirits," Mr. Whorley said.

One student took the opportunity to suggest that the mayor fix up vacant homes for homeless people.

Njal Curtis, 11, got to play short violin selections by Handel and Bach for the mayor.

Asked whether he was excited about playing for Mr. Schmoke,the reserved sixth-grader said, "Yeah." Were you nervous? "Yes," he said.

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