Highland ES Principal Receives Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership

November 3, 2009
Highland Elementary School Principal Receives Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership

Raymond Myrtle, principal of Highland Elementary School in Silver Spring, received the U.S. Department of Education’s Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership at the Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Program today in Washington, D.C. Myrtle was among only eight principals from around the nation to receive the Bell Award.

Myrtle led Highland Elementary to recognition this year as a National Blue Ribbon School. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors schools that have either placed in the top 10 percent of schools in a state based on their performance on state assessments or have shown dramatic improvement on state assessments over five years. The program recognizes outstanding public and private schools.

Highland Elementary School currently has a poverty rate of almost 82 percent, one of the highest among schools in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Approximately 62 percent of Highland students participate in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. In the 2004–2005 school year, the school was identified for Corrective Action by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for missing Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) for four consecutive years. Just two years later, Highland Elementary School exited MSDE School Improvement status after achieving AYP for two consecutive years. Now Highland’s scores on the MSA significantly exceed the standards and rival those of schools that do not face the challenges associated with highly diverse, high poverty, and high mobility student populations.

Myrtle began his extensive career with MCPS in 1973 as a classroom teacher. He also has served as principal of Cannon Road, Somerset and Lucy V. Barnsley elementary schools. In addition, he was acting director of the MCPS Division of ESOL Programs and a specialist in elementary curriculum and gifted and talented programs. Myrtle was appointed principal of Highland in July, 2005.

The Bell award is given by the U. S. Department of Education in cooperation with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Middle Schools Association, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The award, named for the former U.S. Secretary of Education under President Reagan, recognizes outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in overcoming challenging circumstances.

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