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Welcoming video takes the place of convocation

August 21, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Officially abandoning its annual convocation, the Washington County school district sent out a welcome video to teachers and staff Monday.

During the convocations - which former Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. started in 1998 - thousands of teachers and staff gathered at North Hagerstown High School to hear a motivational speaker. Each speaker was paid between $3,000 and $6,000.

But Elizabeth Morgan, the current superintendent, said teachers found it difficult to spare time away from school as they readied their classrooms.

Instead, the school system produced a 17-minute video at a cost of about $1,200.

"Rather than making Mohammad come to the mountain, it brings the mountain to Mohammad," Morgan said.

A copy of the tape was played during the School Board's Tuesday evening meeting.

On the tape, School Board President Edward Forrest greets teachers and staff as classical music plays in the background.

Morgan then notes the district's standardized test scores and the accolades earned by individual schools and teachers.

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She urges viewers to pursue "kaizen," which is a Japanese word for continuous improvement, and to read Price Pritchett's "New Work Habits for a Radically Changing World."

During the Tuesday morning work session, board member Roxanne Ober teased Forrest, saying he should have smiled more.

"I made Al Gore look relaxed," Forrest said.

Ober also complimented Morgan on the videotape.

"It's cost-effective and it keeps teachers in the schools," she said.

Claude Sasse, president of the Washington County Teachers Association, said the video makes sense considering the time-consuming work teachers face in preparing classrooms for students to arrive this Monday.

"It's probably a very wise thing to do. It costs little, it doesn't take much time and we can get right to work," he said.

School officials for the first time have prepared a packet of information for students to take home to their parents.

The guide, delivered to the youngest student in each family, contains information about what is taught in each grade and a handbook of student rights and responsibilities.

Staff Writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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