Building strong relations key for new Manor View principal
August 18, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - To Donna O'Shea, the new principal at Manor View Elementary School, building strong relationships is the key to success in education.
"I believe if a teacher tries to build a relationship with a student, they can inspire that student to do anything they want," she said.
O'Shea comes to Manor View after serving as principal of Crofton Elementary School for almost five years. The Dover, Del., native replaces Anita Dempsey, who is now principal of Jessup Elementary School.
The Anne Arundel County Public Schools' redistricting plan has made Manor View one of two elementary schools on post to serve children in grades one to five. The new Pershing Hill Elementary School will also serve students in those grades.
Both elementary schools relinquished their pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and early childhood intervention programs to alleviate overcrowding as part of the redistricting process.
Manor View will enroll about 300 students in the fall, O'Shea said.
"I'm excited about this year," said Theresa Negron, the new president of the school's Parent Teacher Association. "Manor View is going to be much smaller, which will be better for the kids. The kids will get more one-on-one attention."
Negron said she is pleased to have O'Shea on board.
"She's fantastic. ... She's so easy to approach. She'll be great with the kids. She'll get to know each and every one of them," Negron said.
O'Shea will lead a staff of 25 teachers and oversee two new programs at the school -- the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and the "Treasures" Reading Program.
The International Baccalaureate PYP is the elementary component of the rigorous IB curriculum, which includes language, social studies, mathematics, arts, science and social, physical and personal education, and is targeted to ages 3 to 12.
O'Shea said all of Manor View's students will be exposed to the program.
"I'm excited about it," she said. "The program inspires children to become big thinkers about worldwide issues."
The IB Programme is now part of the Fort Meade school feeder system and includes the IB Middle Years Programme at MacArthur Middle School and the IB Diploma Programme at Meade High School.
The "Treasures" Reading Program is a research-based, comprehensive reading and language arts curriculum for kindergarten through sixth grade. The program includes high-quality literature and emphasizes small-group instruction and the use of technology and interactive exercises "to help students grow as life-long readers and writers," according to its website.
O'Shea said she will also be using a new teaching and learning model this year to observe teachers in the classroom and provide constructive feedback.
"I want kids to enjoy learning," O'Shea said. "If you engage them and make it fun, there's no end to what they can do."
O'Shea, whose late father, Michael, served as an Air Force senior master sergeant, said she was inspired to become an educator by a high school English teacher.
"I loved to see what she did with high school kids," she said. "I wanted to meet the goals she set for me."
O'Shea earned her undergraduate degree in education in 1982 from Wichita State University in Kansas as well as a master's degree in elementary education from the same university in 1989. O'Shea also earned her library science certification in 1989 from Emporia State University in Kansas and completed course work for a superintendent certificate from WSU in 2000.
From 1985 to 1987, O'Shea taught at two Department of Defense schools in Germany and then taught first grade in the Kansas public schools from 1987 to 1989. She later worked as a library media specialist for six years before becoming an assistant principal in 1995.
O'Shea then served as the principal of three schools in Wichita before moving to Annapolis almost five years ago to lead Crofton Elementary School.
Her husband, Doug Lowe, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and works in computer security. The couple, who reside in Piney Orchard, have three children.
O'Shea's immediate goals are to lead the school in achieving its proficiency standards for the Maryland School Assessments tests for 2011-2012. She also wants to recruit more parents to become volunteers. In the next three to five years, she plans to prepare the school for any renovations or construction that will result from the county's six-year Capital Improvement Program.
"I look forward to carrying on the positive things that are happening here," O'Shea said.