Principal Jay Ward said the last day of school will be difficult for him.
“I’m certainly leaving with some sadness,” Ward said. “We have a great group of people here and have made great strides to improve achievement. But I’m also excited about this new opportunity.”
Ward said he leaves Stemmers Run believing the school is in better shape than when he arrived and is confident students there will have a bright future. He is proud of the school’s improvement in state test scores during his tenure.
For example, 82 percent of seventh and eighth grade students scored proficiently in the reading portion of the Maryland School Assessments in 2011. This compares to 58 and 61 percent, respectively in 2007. Also, 76 percent of sixth graders scored proficiently in the math portion of the MSA last year, compared to 60 percent in 2007.
“At one point, Stemmers Run had the second-lowest scores in the state,” Ward said. “But thanks to work that began with my predecessor and continued after I arrived, we have made considerable strides. This would not have been possible without the hard work of the teachers and staff, the students and the school community as a whole.”
Ward said a big reason for Stemmers Run’s recent strides is the work the school has done getting the community involved.
This includes forming a chess club, which placed third in the , and hosting the “Stemmers Sprint,” a 3K run the students competed in as part of a fundraiser that brought in $5,000.
The school plans to use those funds for classroom technology and trying to make the entire school wireless.
The school also hosted its annual “Gallery Night” last month where each department showed off interactive displays of student work and research that students have worked on this year.
“We make it a carnival-like atmosphere,” Ward said. “There were events like a math card game and an African-American quiz show. We even make sure to open the event up to the elementary feeder schools so they can see what we’re doing and feel good about coming to middle school.”
Ward said what he is going to miss the most at Stemmers Run is the students. Randallstown will be his first position as a high school administrator, which he admits will be a big change for him.
“Middle school is a special place to be,” Ward said. “Students here are a unique group. These students are in a period of self discovery and it’s our job to help them on that journey.”