Forrest takes the reins as new Funkstown principal

August 10, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

FUNKSTOWN -- Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education is Kathy M. Forrest's first job as principal, but at the same time she's returning to her roots.

Starting July 1, Forrest, who has taught preschool through second grade, took over for principal Susan Burger, who retired. Burger, who taught first grade at Old Forge Elementary when Forrest was teaching kindergarten there, was an informal mentor for Forrest.

Funkstown is expected to have at least 245 prekindergarten and kindergarten students when school starts Aug. 18, Forrest said. New to the school this year will be the pre-K autism program, which was at Lincolnshire Elementary in Halfway. Six students, with varying degrees of autism, will be included in the pre-K classes, but will have an extra teacher and instructional assistant to help them, she said.

Forrest discovered her affinity for working with primary students during field work as part of her elementary education studies at Loyola College in Baltimore.


"I love to sing, to interact," she said.

So Funkstown students can expect to hear a few rounds of "If you're ready and you know it, clap your hands," from their new principal.

"I thought she would be a perfect match for Funkstown," a primary school, said Maugansville Elementary Principal Archie van Norden. Forrest was assistant principal at Maugansville last school year.

Van Norden said he remembered when Forrest picked up the cafeteria microphone early during the school year and began singing to the kindergarten through second-grade students to get their attention. The kids sang back to her, he said.

"It was great. She got their attention," van Norden said.

Forrest said she will greet Funkstown students as they arrive and depart, see them during lunch in the cafeteria, and will be in the classrooms as much as possible.

She wants to check on the progress the students are making as well as how the teachers are implementing plans, Forrest said.

Forrest grew up in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

She taught first grade for five years at two Catholic schools in Baltimore County, Md., before moving to Hagerstown 15 years ago because her husband is from the area.

Her husband is Washington County Board of Education member W. Edward Forrest. Her job gives him insight to the daily schedule of a former teacher and new administrator so he knows the job isn't 9-to-5, she said.

The couple has three children. Jonathan and Alison attend North Hagerstown High. Benjamin is studying pharmacy at Towson University, following in the footsteps of his dad, a pharmacist for Martin's Food Market.

After taking time away from her career to raise her young children, Kathleen Forrest taught first grade at St. Mary's School in Hagerstown for a year before becoming preschool director at John Wesley Day Nursery, where she also taught 3-year-olds.

She taught at Old Forge and Eastern elementary schools before becoming an assistant principal at Paramount Elementary.

When about 200 Paramount students were redistricted to Maugansville Elementary in 2008, Forrest went with them.

Forrest said she believes her move to Maugansville provided a familiar face for students and their parents, easing the transition.

Career timeline

Present: Principal, Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education

2008-10: Assistant principal, Maugansville Elementary School

2007-08: Assistant principal, Paramount Elementary School

2005-07: Student achievement specialist, Eastern Elementary

2003-05: Kindergarten teacher, Eastern Elementary

2002-03: Second-grade teacher, Old Forge Elementary

2000-02: Kindergarten teacher, Old Forge Elementary

1998-2000: Preschool director and preschool teacher, John Wesley Day Nursery in Hagerstown

1997-98: First-grade teacher, St. Mary's School in Hagerstown

1986-91: First-grade teacher for two Catholic schools in Baltimore County, Md.

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