National group honors PRMS as a "school to watch"

National group honors PRMS as a 'school to watch'

by Kristy Locklin
Staff Writer
Pine Creek Journal
March 21, 2007



The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform named Pine-Rich-land Middle School one of three "Schools to Watch" in Pennsylvania.

For months, state leaders waded through hundreds of written applications, searching for educational institutions that exemplified academic excellence, commitment to student achievement and strong leadership.

Six schools met the National Forum's criteria, and were visited by teams who spent an entire day analyzing data and lesson plans, observing classrooms and interviewing administrators, teachers, parents and students.

"The committee described our school as an 'exciting, electric environment for learning inspired by a hardworking staff,'" Prin-cipal Dr. Kathleen Harrington said. "That's what we try to do -- provide an excellent academic program

for children to make sure they love learning."

Harrington, along with Assistant Prin-cipal John Pietrusinski and teachers Susan Frantz, Jennifer Latronica, Angela Moras-cyzk, Andrea Peck, J.P. Prager, T.J. Srsic and Ryan Woods, accepted the honor at the Pennsylvania Middle School Association State Conference in Harrisburg, Pa., earlier this month.

"We congratulate these schools for being places that do great things for all of their students," said Dr. John Harrison, president of the National For-um. "These schools demonstrate that high-performing middle-grades schools are places that focus on academic

growth and achievement. They are also places that recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all their students and ensure that every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education."

The 500 delegates who att-ended the conference were given a virtual tour of the middle school through a video created by students and staff. The presentation highlighted the school's academic teams, pre-Advanced Placement programs, technology utilization, teacher training

and development, community service in-volvement and family atmosphere.

"Even though we're growing in size, we keep it personalized," Harrington said of the school, which houses 1,055 students. "We're there for each other. That's one of the things that I'm most proud of. If children like where they're going, then it creates a positive learning environment."

The video will be shown again at the Schools to Watch Annual Conference, held June 21 to 23 in Washington, D.C. There, administrators will find out if the facility's "School To Watch" status -- a designation it maintains for three years -- earned PRMS any additional accolades or grants.

Harrington believes the true reward is having a teaching staff that gives 110 percent every day.

Being recognized, she said, is an added bonus ... and a good excuse to throw a party.

In May, Pine-Richland Middle School students and staff will celebrate their achievement with local dignitaries. After that, it's back to the books.

"We're far from finished," Harrington said. "We're still a work in progress. This award just motivates and excites us more."