Principal Receives Distinguished Leadership Award

November 15, 2002
Ida Lou Polcari, principal of Benjamin Banneker Middle School, has been selected to receive the 2002 Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award for Montgomery County.

Polcari was viewed as a "strong, committed leader" who "finds a way to make things happen" in a diverse middle school by reviewers of her nomination. 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.

Polcari became principal of Banneker Middle School in 1995. Among her accomplishments, she has raised test scores, introduced a Character Education program that has made a difference in how students interact with one another, and has supported a group of African American parents in their partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy that encourages children's interest in the fields of math and science.

With Polcari's support and assistance from local agencies, sixth grade students created a wetlands on the school grounds. Banneker has a nationally recognized afterschool activities program and Hoops for Heart campaign. The school is a Weather Watcher school with its own weather station on the roof. In 2002, the state of Maryland named Banneker an Honorable Mention Blue Ribbon School and also recognized it as an exemplary school for student service learning, citing Polcari for her encouragement of student service learning.

Polcari has more than 30 years of experience as an educator in Montgomery County. She has taught at the elementary level and served both as a social science and science interdisciplinary resource teacher and a reading specialist. She began her official administrative career at Banneker as an administrative intern and became assistant principal in 1989.

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