After 25 years, Stirling tries on yet another hat
Catholic school community is a family, Stirling says
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.”
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.