Oakland Terrace Principal Honored for Educational Leadership

April 3, 2009
Oakland Terrace Elementary School Principal Receives Washington Post Educational Leadership Award

Cheryl Pulliam, principal of Oakland Terrace Elementary School, has been honored as this year’s winner of The Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.

Pulliam believes that communication is key to student success. She has worked hard to make sure that communication extends from teacher to student, parents to principal, and student to student. She has several ways to foster communication—monthly newsletters, staff bulletins and phone calls to parents outlining the school’s weekly activities. Parent outreach activities—such as math nights, literacy programs, ESOL outreach events, and gifted and talented informational meetings—have supported student achievement.

Parents, staff, and students describe Pulliam as a passionate and inspirational leader who constantly encourages students and staff to reach their highest potential—as evidenced by the number of students taking more rigorous coursework and in the number of teachers seeking National Board Certification. Always open to new ideas, she is committed to building a professional learning community based on teamwork and shared collaboration, planning, and problem solving. With 735 students from kindergarten to Grade 5 and a staff of 90, Oakland Terrace is the second largest elementary school in Montgomery County.

“She is a true instructional leader whose passion and energy for children are exceptional,” Community Superintendent Heath Morrison wrote in his nomination letter. “Her leadership has taken a school with many challenges and made it a role model for our system efforts in elementary education.”

When Pulliam first arrived at Oakland Terrace in 2002, she felt the special education program was not adequately serving its students. So, she initiated full-inclusion classrooms, and data has since shown that this model has helped close the achievement gap at Oakland Terrace. She also made a bold move to advance reading comprehension performance for students in Grades 3–5. The results were significant. In Grade 5, 61 percent of students performed on the advanced level of the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) Reading test, one of the largest Grade 5 groups in the county performing above the proficiency level.

The school’s growth in overall MSA scores also is impressive. In reading, the number of students scoring proficient rose from 72.3 percent in 2004 to 92.6 percent in 2007. Math scores also have soared, going from 58.5 percent proficient in 2004 to 91.3 percent proficient in 2007.

The Distinguished Educational Leadership Award is given annually by The Washington Post to principals in Washington-area school districts who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment.

Pulliam will be among those honored at the Champions for Children gala on Tuesday, April 21. The gala, sponsored by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education, recognizes Montgomery County Public Schools teachers, administrators, and supporting services employees—along with parent and business volunteers, and other community partners.

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