New year, new principals
Lynch plans to build school’s relationship with community
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.