Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Newsflash: Principal Returns to School

Since when does a principal heading back to school in August make headline news? Since the name on the door to that principal's office is "Ms. Phelps."

When Debbie Phelps, mother of Olympic phenom Michael Phelps, returned to Baltimore recently
, the media spotlight followed her — from Beijing right to Windsor Mill Middle School, where Monday she welcomed back 600+ students.

No doubt, Phelps’s version of "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" will outshine most at Windsor Mill, but the students aren't complaining. They'll reap the benefits of having a celebrity principal, who has her sights set on gold-medal performances in the classroom
and on the Maryland School Assessment for reading. This week, The Baltimore Sun reported:
Earlier this month, Phelps presented her students with a challenge called "Read Your Way to Beijing." On Aug. 8, the students received recorded phone messages asking them to read as many 100-page, age-appropriate books as possible between then and Sept. 8, she said. The winners of a drawing will get to spend an afternoon or evening with her son at the ESPN Zone, she said.
Together, Debbie and Michael Phelps have raised awareness of other education issues, including bullying and learning disabilities. Read about Michael Phelps's struggle with A.D.H.D. in the New York Times article "Phelps’s Mother Recalls Helping Her Son Find Gold-Medal Focus," and watch this joint interview with mother and son, in which Michael applauds his mom's commitment as a principal and describes his memories of being bullied in school. (Hint: To watch the video, download Silverlight when prompted and bear with the commercial; then, to view the mother/son portion of the interview, slide the arrow directly under the screen to the 15:00 mark.)

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