Af­ter 25 years, Stir­ling tries on yet another hat

Catholic school com­mu­nity is a fam­ily, Stir­ling says

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Megan Soly, mid­dle school sci­ence and eight-grade al­ge­bra teacher, said she is ex­cited to lead the stu­dents with hands-on of projects such as Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

With the new school year comes a new prin­ci­pal at Lit­tle Flower School — al­beit one who has been with the school com­mu­nity for 25 years as a teacher and par­ent.

Bar­bara Stir­ling said she’s “worn many hats” dur­ing her ten­ure at the Catholic school in Great Mills, teach­ing mid­dle school math, mu­sic, lan­guage arts and more.

“I’ve worn just about every hat in this school,” she said.

When the Rev. Jerry Gam­rot of Holy Face Church asked her to fill the po­si­tion, Stir­ling said with hu­mor she would “see what kind of dam­age I could do.”

Caitlin Oglesby, the school’s for­mer prin­ci­pal, re­turned to fam­ily in Bos­ton at the end of the last school year, Stir­ling said.

“She left on good terms,” Stir­ling said. “We’re still in com­mu­ni­ca­tion … she said that I was a nat­u­ral fit for the job.”

En­roll­ment is on the rise, with an es­ti­mated 154 stu­dents, up from around 130 last school year, she said.

The school is now pro­vid­ing an inau­gu­ral sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math ini- tia­tive for all stu­dents and a prekinder­garten for 3-year-olds, Stir­ling said. Other pro­grams of­fered at the school in­clude a robotics club and vol­ley­ball. us­ing pop­corn to ex­plore the five senses and learn­ing about earth­worms.

She said teach­ing to “dif­fer­ent age groups pro­vides the chance to pre­pare a va­ri­ety of lessons.” She said she hoped to see “a lot of smil­ing faces” as stu­dents learn.

Stir­ling said the pre-K pro­gram has a ca­pac­ity of 18 chil­dren, and “there seems to be a real need for the pro­gram.”

She said she’s seen for­mer stu­dents re­turn with their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to Lit­tle Flower. “We re­ally are a fam­ily school, she said. “What we of­fer here is a place where chil­dren are safe, happy” and prayer is in­cluded in the school day. Stir­ling said chil­dren and staff par­tic­i­pate in a school­wide Mass every Tuesday.

“When chil­dren put on the [school] uni­form, they are a part of the tra­di­tion” of the Catholic school, she con­tin­ued.

Stir­ling said school staff will start cel­e­brat­ing the school’s 130th school year with a Mass sched­uled for Oct. 2. Com­mu­nity lead­ers such as Del. Deb Rey (R-St. Mary’s), Sen. Steve Waugh (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert), St. Mary’s County com­mis­sion­ers and oth­ers plan to at­tend the ser­vice, and a fam­ily pic­nic will be hosted af­ter­ward with field games for the chil­dren, she said.

Stir­ling said when el­e­men­tary school chil­dren are in­clud- ed, “there has to be some kind of games in­volved.” She said the school of­fers a place for chil­dren to make mem­o­ries, “which makes happy chil­dren, happy par­ents … make peo­ple feel good about the school.”

With par­ent and vol­un­teer sup­port, the school is able to host fundrais­ers such as the Wed­nes­day evening bingo nights, a Sum­mer Sounds event for the school com­mu­nity to re­con­nect and the sec­ond Pa­triot Day 5K race, sched­uled for this Saturday start­ing at 8 a.m.

Hol­ly­wood Catholic school opens Tuesday

In other news, an Arch­dio­cese of Wash­ing­ton spokesper­son said last week St. John’s school staff were pre­par­ing their class­rooms by re­plac­ing desks and re­mov­ing text­books from the school be­fore stu­dents re­turned Tuesday, a week later than an­tic­i­pated due to the dis­cov­ery of mold and wa­ter dam­age to the base­ment area dur­ing a build­ing in­spec­tion.

Staff were re­plac­ing desks with “hand-me-down ... desks re­ceived from the pub­lic schools,” the spokesper­son said. Text­books dis­carded “were old in­struc­tional ma­te­ri­als,” she said. “This is all rou­tine ac­tiv­ity as the school pre­pares to open their doors for the school year.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI

Lit­tle Flower Prin­ci­pal Bar­bara Stir­ling, left, vis­its Tuesday with sev­enth-graders Javier Guadalupe and Mariya Wim­pee dur­ing their sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math, or STEM, class.

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