Two Principals Honored with Mark Mann Award

September 19, 2007
This year, two outstanding principals have won the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award—Lance Dempsey, principal of Shady Grove Middle School, and Lee Derby, current principal of Cedar Grove Elementary School. Derby won for his work at Garrett Park Elementary School, where he was principal for five years.

The Mark Mann award is given annually by Montgomery County Public Schools to one (and occasionally two) administrators who have shown an exceptional ability to encourage academic excellence, positive human relations, and strong community outreach. The award honors Dr. Mark Mann, former principal of Parkland Junior High School, who died in 1988.

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast presented the awards at the September 19 meeting of administrators and supervisors. Dempsey and Derby also will be recognized at the October 9 Board of Education meeting.

Lance Dempsey

At Shady Grove Middle School, the proof of excellence is in the progress.

The school’s ongoing academic success over the past five years is exemplified by significant annual increases in student achievement across all subgroups in math and reading Maryland School Assessment (MSA) scores.

The scores are impressive. Performance results for Adequate Yearly Progress showed an overall 24 percent increase in math scores (from 49 to 73 percent), including a jump of more than 21 percent (from 28 to 49 percent) for African American and almost 43 percent (from 21 to 64 percent) for Hispanic students. Similar progress was made for students in reading.

Behind the scores is Dempsey’s passion for doing what’s best for her students. Her goal is to have better learners, more engaged students, and better results. She instills in students and staff the belief that all students can learn and be successful.

Her influence on Shady Grove is evident in some of her many accomplishments: a special education full inclusion program to ensure all students have access to the curriculum; 72 percent of students enrolled in algebra this year; grade-level data meetings with students to share scores; and a schedule that includes professional development and recognition, common planning time, and intervention programs in reading, writing and algebra.

Through building a shared vision, Dempsey has successfully transformed Shady Grove into a professional learning community.

Lee Derby

Students, staff, and parents at Cedar Grove Elementary School are hoping that Principal Lee Derby will bring the same outstanding blend of high expectations, concern, and respect that won him this year’s Mark Mann award for his work at Garrett Park Elementary School over the past four years.

Garrett Park students’ overall performance on the MSAs has improved over the past several years, while achievement gaps between African American and Latino students and their peers have decreased. In 2006-2007, 61 percent of fifth graders (compared with the MCPS target of 33.3 percent) and a few younger students successfully completed the accelerated Math A course.

Staff and parents sponsor after-school support and enrichment groups matched to student needs and interests. Derby is also a strong supporter of family involvement and community outreach. Garrett Park has joined the National Network of Partnership Schools, participated in Study Circles and Conquista Tus Sueños programs, and partnered with community organizations.

The school celebrates both collaboration and individuality among students and values these qualities in staff as well. Structures in place at the school include common planning time, team mission statements, and team coaches. Derby also has supported the individual interests and pursuits of his staff. This support has enabled two teachers to become certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, one teacher being nominated for the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher award, and another being recognized as national Disney Elementary Teacher of the Year.

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