Into Mrs. Jaska's first-grade classroom she came, rolling a cart filled with boxes of freshly baked Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts. One by one, the important lady in the pearls, black dress and high heels handed a treat to each of these children at Folger McKinsey Elementary School.
"It isn't every day you have the superintendent of schools delivering doughnuts," said Charlene Pryseski, the Severna Park school's principal. "This is big."
Superintendent Carol S. Parham played doughnut lady at Folger McKinsey yesterday as part of a spontaneous celebration of the school's improvement over the past few years on the MSPAP, the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. She was also there to present a bigger gift, an oversized check from the state for $48,848.14 (the real check, the kind that can be cashed, will be presented later).
"It recognizes your sustained improvement as one of the best schools in the state," Parham told the pupils.
Later, she went to nearby Jones Elementary School to be the guest of honor at a second surprise assembly. One pupil at Jones, trying to guess what the surprise would be, ventured "a puppy." Instead, Parham brought a check for $30,769.58.
The two schools are among 61 public schools in the state that will share $2.75 million as part of the 2001 Maryland School Performance Recognition Program for making significant improvements in student performance and attendance over the past few years. An additional 293 schools - including 24 in Anne Arundel County - will receive certificates for one year of gains.
"Do you know what you're here for today?" Peter Nicolini, a director of instruction for the school district, asked the boys and girls at Folger McKinsey. "Nooo," came the reply from row after row of well-mannered, cross-legged pupils.
He told them what they had done and what they had earned for their school.
"Wow," many said."$48,000," one boy marveled. "That's almost $50,000."
Pryseski, who thanked her pupils and staff for their hard work and teamwork, said she doesn't know how she will spend the money. She hasn't had much time to think about it. "I didn't even realize it was quite that amount," she said. "I'm just so excited, I can hardly even talk."
She has a lot of discretion in how she spends the money, though it cannot go for teacher bonuses, Nicolini said.
At Jones Elementary, where the check was smaller because fewer children attend the school, Principal Alison Lee said she, too, hasn't had time to discuss with her staff about how to spend the money.
She said she will seriously consider her physical education teacher's long-standing request for a climbing wall and the laboratory technician's desire for a laptop computer.
"You guys always, always do the best, and doesn't it feel good?" Lee asked during the Jones assembly. "This is more money than I've ever held in my hand."
Each of her classrooms had a cookie reception yesterday, and Lee told them there would be another celebration next week.
"I'm really glad that we got this and I'm proud of our school," said Babette McGeady, a fifth-grader. "We really pushed ourselves and stuff."
Babette said she thinks the money should go for computers, textbooks or other materials to help teachers "help kids learn better." She also thinks some should go toward more field trips.
"I know I love field trips," she said.