Principal Receives Distinguished Educational Leadership Award

November 26, 2001
Kathy Brake, principal of Washington Grove Elementary School, has won her second major award this year by being selected to receive the 2001 Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award for Montgomery County.

The award, for promoting an excellent educational program and creating an exceptional educational environment, is presented annually to one principal in each Washington metropolitan area school district and to one principal of an area private school. The 20 winners will be honored at a recognition dinner at the Post and will participate in a six-day seminar to examine issues in education.

In July, Brake received the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award for her exceptional ability to encourage academic excellence, positive human relations and community outreach.

In the 10 years that Brake has been the principal of Washington Grove, the school has shown strong improvements in student performance, as well as in community support and participation. Last year, the Maryland State Department of Education recognized Washington Grove for making significant progress toward meeting state standards. In 1999, the state's MSPAP website included Washington Grove on lists of schools succeeding in helping African American and Hispanic students to achieve. Also on its website, MSDE described Washington Grove's process for developing a school improvement plan as a model for schools throughout the state.

Under Brake's leadership, the school has forged a strong partnership with the City of Gaithersburg and the Greater Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.

As part of a major effort to remove obstacles to learning for Washington Grove students, nearly half of whom are eligible for the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS), Brake obtained a grant to implement an all-school breakfast program last year that functions with the help of parent volunteers. This fall, Brake also has worked with parent volunteers to establish Homework Corner, in which students receive help to complete their homework during lunch and recess each day.

"As a result of Mrs. Brake's exemplary leadership, Washington Grove has risen to and overcome the vast array of challenges facing many public schools today," says Linda Dutka, PTA president, who with other PTA and staff members nominated Brake for the Post award. "She is a shining beacon of educational leadership and excellence."

Among Brake's efforts to enrich the school's offerings, she has helped teachers obtain grants to provide programs such as math enrichment and poet- and artists-in-residence. Brake recognizes staff development and professional collaboration as keys to raising student achievement, conducting mini-staff-development sessions as an integral part of her biweekly staff meetings. She herself is currently pursuing a doctor of education degree at Bowie State University.
The veteran educator joined MCPS in 1985 as a kindergarten teacher at Farmland Elementary School.

<<Back to browse