Barclay to keep principal


Gertrude Williams will remain as principal at Baltimore's Barclay School, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey announced yesterday, a day after parents publicly protested his plan to reassign the veteran administrator.

He had asked Ms. Williams to leave Barclay and to help school officials develop and introduce in other public schools a curriculum modeled on that of the private Calvert School, he said yesterday.

She declined to leave the school where she has been principal for 22 years, but has offered to help the effort, Dr. Amprey said yesterday after a brief meeting with her.

Ms. Williams' proposed transfer was one of many considered as part of a reorganization targeting the 27 lowest-performing schools in the district and routine year-end personnel changes, he had said last week.

Parents, who had begun planning a demonstration against Ms. Williams' proposed reassignment, rejoiced when they learned of the decision.

"We hope that we were the influence, because we do stand behind Ms. Williams in her fight to extend educational challenges to the kids," said Clifton N. Boone, president of the school's Parent-Teacher Organization.

The parent group's vice president, Monique Gilliam, said many parents recognize that Ms. Williams is approaching the twilight years of a long and productive academic career, but many also say they believe she is far from finished with her work for Barclay's children. She has worked for the school system for 45 years, and has told some parents that when she does retire, she would like to volunteer at Barclay.

"We are grateful that we'll get to continue working with her, and helping her, and we'll follow up with a letter of thanks," Ms. Gilliam said. "Do you think it's possible they'd be willing to let her stay until she is ready to retire? I'm afraid we'll revisit this issue again."

At a hastily called meeting Tuesday night, the parents group had launched a letter-writing and petition campaign. They had called on Second District Councilman Carl Stokes to fight to keep Ms. Williams at Barclay.

"I carried the message back from the parents to the mayor, and that they thought she was great -- not just that the Calvert program was great," said Mr. Stokes, who is the chairman of the council's education committee. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke assured him that a misunderstanding had taken place and "that everything would be OK," Mr. Stokes said.

Mr. Schmoke could not be reached to comment.

Ms. Williams said yesterday that she wants to stay at Barclay and also help with the new curriculum or an expansion. Five years ago, Ms. Williams spearheaded the drive to adopt the demanding Calvert program, which emphasizes fundamentals, at her elementary school. She said she wanted to finish that work.

"I really am relieved, because you get so tired of fighting and fighting when you'd rather spend your time with the children," she said. She volunteered to help train principals and teachers, but not to copy the Calvert method, she said.

The improved test scores and attendance marked at Barclay have in recent years prompted calls for an expansion of the Calvert curriculum to additional schools.

This year, Carter G. Woodson Elementary school in Cherry Hill neighborhood began introducing the curriculum one grade at time, beginning in the earliest grades, as Barclay did. This fall, the program will be added to Barclay's sixth grade.

However, the Baltimore-based private school has been cautious about expanding too quickly to additional sites. And the cost of adopting its curriculum and training teachers in its methods have prevented additional public schools from signing on, Dr. Amprey said.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad