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Administrators share vision for better schools


About 70 school administrators and supervisors participated in an annual two-day retreat last week at Wakefield Valley Conference Center in Westminster.

This year, the retreat focused on the outcomes-based approach to education and on work that needs to be done to identify an "essential curriculum" that should be offered to all students, as well as an extended curriculum for specialized areas such as calculus or auto mechanics.

The retreat's focus varies from year to year, but always deals with school improvement, said Gary Dunkleberger, director of staff development and curriculum for Carroll County schools.

Last year it was at Western Maryland College, and the year before it was at a conference center in West Virginia.

"If you're going to do any kind of staff development, one important aspect is the climate, the setting in which it occurs. When you're in a school and the people are in schools every day, that's the wrong outlook," he said.

He said the group of about 70 couldn't fit well in the Resource Center, a room at Westminster High School sometimes used for training of smaller groups.

"The Resource Center holds 75 people theater-style, but for interaction of people and the like, it's just not suitable," he said.

The school system didn't have to pay for use of the conference center, he said, but did pay a little over $1,000 for lunch and coffee and snacks.

The lunch was about $7 per person per day, Dr. Dunkleberger said. He did not have a figure for the coffee, soda, Danish and cookies put out for breakfast and an afternoon break.

About $500 toward the retreat came from grant money for staff development, he said.

"One of the important things in any organization, particularly in a large organization, is how well people work together and how much they share a common vision of what they're doing," Dr. Dunkleberger said.

"You don't enhance either one of those things by developing a training session for people in cramped, uninviting quarters, and not creating an opportunity for them to interact with each other."

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