New year, new prin­ci­pals

Lynch plans to build school’s re­la­tion­ship with com­mu­nity

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BRAD KRO­NER bkro­ner@ches­

As the 2016-2017 school year be­gins, stu­dents will wel­come two new prin­ci­pals at lo­cal schools — Jen­nifer Lynch at Edge­mere Ele­men­tary School and Shan­non Wash­ing­ton at Spar­rows Point Mid­dle School.

Jen­nifer Lynch, Edge­mere Ele­men­tary School’s new prin­ci­pal, is plan­ning to lead a com­mu­nity- cen­tric ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion, bring­ing the school and the com­mu­nity to­gether to help stu­dents grow.

The daugh­ter of two long­time Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic School em­ploy­ees, ed­u­ca­tion has al­ways been a prom­i­nent part of Lynch’s life.

“From the time when I was very lit­tle, ed­u­ca­tion has just re­ally been part of the fab­ric of my life,” she said.

A Ca­tonsville High School grad­u­ate, Lynch would later grad­u­ate from Tow­son Univer­sity with a de­gree in psy­chol­ogy, af­ter stints at the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege Park and Ca­tonsville Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

While study­ing at Tow­son, Lynch worked as a sub­sti­tute teacher, of­ten work­ing at Spar­rows Point Mid­dle School.

Af­ter work­ing in re­tail and as a sub­sti­tute teacher, Lynch went back to school, get­ting her mas­ter’s de­gree in school psy­chol­ogy.

“It’s al­ways been some­thing that’s been of ex­treme in­ter­est to me, and psy­chol­ogy has al­ways been a huge in­ter­est,” she said. So when I found that I could com­bine my love of ed­u­ca­tion and psych that seemed like a great fit and match for me.”

School psy­chol­o­gists work with teach­ers to as­sist in class­room manage­ment, help­ing to de­velop mod­i­fied strate­gies for stu­dents who re­quire ad­di­tional ser­vices or re­me­di­a­tion and plan­ning in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ven­tions for stu­dents re­quir­ing be­hav- io­ral or aca­demic sup­port.

“It was re­ally more about ser­vic­ing stu­dents ev­ery day and help­ing teach­ers pro­vide ser­vices for stu­dents,” she said.

As she worked as a school psy­chol­o­gist and be­came more in­volved in the day to day op­er­a­tions, she be­came more in­ter­ested in ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Lynch served as a school psy­chol­o­gist at sev­eral schools, in­clud­ing Gen­eral John Stricker Mid­dle School and John­ny­cake Ele­men­tary School, where she also spent the last three years as an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal.

In all, she has 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Schools, in­clud­ing ten years as em­ployee, af­ter two years as an in­tern and three years as a sub­sti­tute teacher.

As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Matthew Wi­naker, who is also in his first year at Edge­mere Ele­men­tary, said he is ex­cited to work with Lynch, who he says “has a lot of good ideas and is on the fore­front of ed­u­ca­tion.”

Wi­naker has worked in the Dun­dalk area be­fore, at Bat­tle Grove Ele­men­tary School. He said he’s ex­cited to be back in the area.

Lynch said she’s thrilled about the op­por­tu­nity to work with such a strong com­mu­nity in Edge­mere.

“What I would like to do is in­vig­o­rate the com­mu­nity to be ex­cited about ed­u­ca­tion,” she said. “And I’m hear­ing from a lot of fam­i­lies that they want to be in­vited into the learning ex­pe­ri­ence here. Our teach­ers are re­ally ex­cited for par­ents to be in­volved.”

Lynch later added that stu­dents’ fam­i­lies “have demon­strated an im­pres­sive ded­i­ca­tion to ed­u­ca­tion and to Edge­mere Ele­men­tary school. I want our fam­i­lies to feel in­vig­o­rated about the new and ex­cit­ing way we are ap­proach­ing learning. We are fo­cus­ing on in­no­va­tion and rel­e­vance and cre­ativ­ity and rigor.”

Wi­naker agrees, adding, “to be able to work with the Edge­mere com­mu­nity is dou­bly ben­e­fi­cial.”

He­len Shif­flet, the pres­i­dent of Edge­mere’s Par­ent Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion, said she has met with Lynch and that the meet­ing went well.

“The PTA is look­ing for­ward to her en­thu­si­asm for the school,” she said. “We’re look­ing for­ward to work­ing with her.”

Lynch’s com­mu­nity- fo­cused ap­proach is a plus for Shif­flet.

“I am very happy that this is hap­pen­ing again,” she said. “It takes a com­mu­nity to ed­u­cate chil­dren. If you don’t have com­mu­nity sup­port, the chil­dren aren’t go­ing to pros­per.”

Com­mu­nity outreach ef­forts have been “ex­cel­lent,” Lynch said.

“I’ve had won­der­ful meet­ings with com­mu­nity lead­ers such as the North Point Penin­sula Coun­cil As­so­ci­a­tion, the Edge­mere Rec pro­gram and other lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers such as the pres­i­dent of the bank across the street. We re­cently par­tic­i­pated in the North Point-Edge­mere Fire­fighter pa­rade, and the stu­dents were thrilled to see their teach­ers walk­ing down the street.”

“The North Point Penin­sula Coun­cil wel­comes Prin­ci­ple Lynch to the Edge­mere com­mu­nity and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing our long tra­di­tion of strong part­ner­ship,” wrote Fran Tay­lor, the coun­cil’s pres­i­dent, in a state­ment to The Dun­dalk Ea­gle.

She also touted a new part­ner­ship with Trade­point At­lantic, the com­pany that bought the 3,100- acre Spar­row Point in­dus­trial site with hopes of re­de­vel­op­ing the prop­erty.

“One of the things that we’re very ex­cited about at Edge­mere this year is we’ll be im­ple­ment­ing an in­no­va­tion lab, which is a space where stu­dents can come in and can cre­ate, where we pose a crit­i­cal prob­lem,” Lynch said. “[ Stu­dents] get to come in and show us their out­side- ofthe- box think­ing and what they can pro­duce.”

“They have amaz­ing, amaz­ing, ideas,” she said.

Lynch wants to have Trade­point At­lantic, as well as other busi­nesses, pose prob­lems to stu­dents and have their em­ploy­ees pro­vide men­tor­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to stu­dents.

“We’re hop­ing to be that next gen­er­a­tion of those thinkers and learn­ers to be de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing things that we can’t even imag­ine,” she said.

Aaron To­mar­chio, a spokesper­son for Trade­point At­lantic, said the com­pany is ex­cited to part­ner with Edge­mere Ele­men­tary.

“We will be work­ing with Edge­mere Ele­men­tary to pro­vide ex­pe­ri­en­tial learning op­por­tu­ni­ties for the teach­ers and stu­dents,” he said. “This would in­clude class­room vis­its and men­tor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with mem­bers of our team, site vis­its to our mar­ket­ing cen­ter and of­fices, and brief­ings for fac­ulty and staff on ways to help stu­dents make con­nec­tions to dif­fer­ent types of in­dus­try jobs.”

To­mar­chio added that the com­pany and Lynch talked about con­nect­ing stu­dents with their com­mu­nity’s his­tory and the trans­forma­tion of Spar­rows Point into a site that will pro­vide jobs for the fu­ture.

“Edge­mere Ele­men­tary School does many things well,” she said. “This is a great school. Our teach­ers care very deeply for our stu­dents. We have some real strengths in what we’re pro­vid­ing for our stu­dents ev­ery day aca­dem­i­cally. We have a strong PTA. We have a staff that is very car­ing and they ded­i­cate ex­tra time. And they’re al­ways look­ing for how they can bet­ter meet the needs of the stu­dents.”

Lynch hopes to make stu­dents bet­ter cit­i­zens, not just bet­ter stu­dents.

The build­ing blocks for be­ing a good cit­i­zen, she said, are put to­gether in ele­men­tary school.

“We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to teach chil­dren how to be good cit­i­zens, to teach them how to think crit­i­cally for them­selves, to teach them how to be in­no­va­tive learn­ers and thinkers, to de­sign the prod­ucts and busi­nesses of to­mor­row, and to teach them how to have a sense of civic re­spon­si­bil­ity, she said. “We are a com­mu­nity, and we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to care for each other and pro­tect our en­vi­ron­ment, as well as to look out for those that are less for­tu­nate than us. Th­ese are all skills that we cul­ti­vate in ele­men­tary school.”

She said, “We hold the key for chil­dren to hav­ing so much po­ten­tial. To watch them ex­ceed our ex­pec­ta­tions ev­ery day is joy­ful.”

Ex­plain­ing that peo­ple con­stantly tell her that Edge­mere is “a happy place,” Lynch said Edge­mere is the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for chil­dren to start their jour­ney.

“There is no bet­ter way to have chil­dren be ex­cited about learning than to come to a happy place ev­ery day,” she said. “In ele­men­tary, we get them as the small­est seedlings, and we nur­ture them and we in­still in them that life­long love of learning, self con­fi­dence, love of com­mu­nity, and the sense that they mat­ter.”

All of this in­volves a re­la­tion­ship be­tween the school and the com­mu­nity.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to the op­por­tu­nity to bring the com­mu­nity into the school, and the school into the com­mu­nity,” Lynch said.


Prin­ci­pal Jen­nifer Lynch wants to have a com­mu­nity-cen­tric ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion at Edge­mere Ele­men­tary School.

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