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Sandymount teacher sings community's praises as she retires


YOU WOULD THINK things would change after teaching for 40 years.

But for Norma Brown, vocal music teacher at Sandymount Elementary, the important things have remained the same.

"The children and the families are as wonderful as they have always been," said Brown, who has spent 20 years of her career in Carroll County. "I've had total community support, particularly at Sandymount. I'm really going to miss that."

On May 14, the teacher directed "I Need a Vacation," the fourth-graders' ode to summer break and all its activities. In addition, the performance - Brown's last as an elementary school teacher - featured selections by pupils who had performed in the Sandymount production of "Hamlet" and the faculty chorus.

Brown noted that 18 or 19 years ago, she and Barbara Patterson, then the school's instrumental music teacher, started the group.

"She was my college roommate," Brown said. The two had graduated from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va. "We went to school together and then a long time later, we both ended up at Sandymount Elementary."

Brown's travels as a teacher also took her to the American Independence Schools in Germany for three years and to Baltimore County as an elementary school teacher for 17 years.

But through it all, Sandymount has been the most supportive.

"We've had wonderful children, parents and grandparents here," she said, noting that she has taught part time at other Carroll elementary schools while working at Sandymount. "I have a lot of adults coming to my retirement party that I taught in Baltimore County who are bringing their children, who I've taught at Sandymount. It's very, very nice."

Nonetheless, Brown - whose husband, C. Todd Brown, retired a year ago - said it's time to spend more time with her family.

"He's getting tired of waiting for me," she said with a laugh. The couple plans to travel and visit with their 2-year-old granddaughter, Alexandra. Brown's son, Scott, lives with his daughter and wife, Karen, in Westminster.

"I'm not only going to miss doing what I do, but miss the entire Sandymount community," Brown said in her farewell the night of May 14. "I wish you and your children much success, and thank you for giving them to me."

Reading rewards

On Tuesday, several East Middle School pupils went to the Orioles-Detroit Tigers game in style, complete with limo, a trip to Burger King and the company of famous author Dan Gutman.

Four of the pupils were top earners in the school's third annual Read-A-Thon, which raises money to support East Middle's Visiting Authors program and other reading activities.

"These students raised anywhere between $300 and $360 each," said Laurie Walters, who organized the event Feb. 16 in which 184 pupils read for 100 minutes in the school gymnasium. Each pupil had gathered pledges for the evening's activities, which included games and refreshments.

Treated to the game were sixth-graders Chris Munchell, 11, and Cody Pierce, 12; seventh-graders Tiffany Hare, 12, Jennifer Harford, 13, Danielle Knell, 12, and Brittney Spergun, 12; and eighth-graders Tim Rebert, 13, and David Robertson, 13.

The Orioles donated the tickets.

Gutman has written several books for children and young adults, including "The Kid Who Ran for President," "The Kid Who Became President" and "Honus & Me."

His books are "cool," the youngsters agreed as they eagerly awaited their visit with the New Jersey author, whose 37 nonfiction books and novels usually feature sports, most frequently baseball.

"We get to have our books signed early," Walters said gleefully, noting that the rest of the school would wait until Wednesday to hear from Gutman.

Brown-bagging it

Experience the creativity of two local award-winning artists at this month's Lunch and Learn from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday at Carroll County Arts Council, 15 E. Main St. in Westminster.

Christina Andersen and Jo Israelson, who received Individual Artist awards from Maryland State Arts Council for their sculptures, will present slides of their work during the hourlong presentation.

The artists, who received $3,000 and $6,000, respectively, won in the visual arts, three-dimensional category, which was first introduced to the statewide program this year.

Andersen, program assistant at the local arts council, uses a range of materials in her work, which is inspired by personal reflections and her family. Sculptures range from a bikini crafted from cabbage leaves to an outdoor pool cover fashioned from family photos.

Israelson's work has been displayed locally and around the country. In her latest piece, "Palimpest I & II," Israelson paid tribute to the employees of the largest woollen mill in the South with works installed at Oella Mill and Savage Mill.

Participants take brown-bag lunches. The cost is $1, or free for arts council members.

Information: 410-848-7272.

25 years of education

In celebration of its 25th year serving Carroll County pupils, Westminster Elementary School will sponsor an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the school media center.

Visitors will meet faculty members and look at the school.

Information: 410-751-3222.

Amy L. Miller's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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