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State superintendent visits Carroll schools as part of yearlong tour

Carroll County Times - 3/18/2017

March 18--Karen Salmon watched as a small group of students helped cut bright green Rice Krispie treats covered in marshmallows.

The students carefully sliced through the St. Patrick's Day treat as Salmon stood off to the side watching the kids, who are a part of the county's autism program, practice life skills.

She then toured rooms set up for those students, some with soft, calming items, others stark white to help a student with autism relax without too much stimuli. From there, Salmon stopped into an advanced placement U.S. Government and Politics class, watching the group play a "Jeopardy"-like game.

Salmon, Maryland's superintendent of schools, spent Friday visiting three Carroll County schools as part of a yearlong goal of getting into schools across the entire state. She's hit 18 counties so far, she added. And she plans to get through them all by the end of the year, and make it a tradition.

"I'm going to do this every year," Salmon said.

There's no way to understand the schools, and be knowledgeable about them, without stepping foot inside and seeing what's happening on a regular day, she added.

Salmon toured Winters Mill High School, Robert Moton Elementary School and Gateway High School/Crossroads Middle School. In addition to seeing students in Winters Mill's autism program, Salmon saw a history class and also part of the choir, which was practicing Billy Joel's "Goodnight My Angel."

The group touring the schools, which consisted of Salmon, Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie, four members of the county's Board of Education and other school administrators, finished the day at Winters Mill.

They stopped by Robert Moton prior to that, checking out a fourth-grade class working on geometry.

The day started at Carroll County's alternative school program. The school, which houses a small group of both middle school and high school students, is a learning system for students who haven't found success in a traditional school setting.

The group visited Karen Murchie's art class, where students drew and painted. This type of class is important to the school, Murchie said.

"It's a creative outlet that allows a moment of relaxation and de-escalation," she added.

Salmon said it's "impressive" that students in the program are so happy there, that many want to stay and not return to their home school.

The school system has been asked to do a presentation to the Maryland State Board of Education in May about the alternative school, Guthrie said.

"It is a gem in our county," he said of Gateway/Crossroads.

Guthrie said it's wonderful that Salmon is visiting schools in all the systems in Maryland to understand all of the programs offered.

"It is important for her to know what's going on," he said. "It's important for her to have the knowledge about what's working in school systems."

Salmon, who's been in education for "41 years and counting," said supporting and being involved in education is the most important thing we do as a society, she said.

"Education is what we need to put the bulk of our energy in if we want to continue to have a world-class society," Salmon said.



(c)2017 the Carroll County Times (Westminster, Md.)

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