Frederick schools invite success stories from academic year

Some of the greatest successes in a school year can go unnoticed by all except those they touch.

Those are exactly the sort of stories Frederick County Public Schools aimed to celebrate in its Season of Celebration and Success program that ended Thursday and invited the community to submit their moments of success from the last school year.

Among those who told their stories were Lisa Anthony-Price, whose severely disabled 11th grade daughter had the time of her life in her first ever integrated classroom at Sherando High School, and Jacqueline Read, a first-year teacher at Bass-Hoover Elementary School who struck gold with a staff she said made her wish she didn’t have to leave for the summer.

Praising high school agriculture teacher Jeffrey Stout, Anthony-Price said she wrote to the school system because of her daughter Tessa’s experience this year.

Tessa is intellectually disabled, has cerebral palsy and has a paralyzed right arm so fragile it breaks easily. She’s also epileptic.

For years her mother has tried to integrate Tessa into some regular education classes, but she said each time the teachers didn’t have necessary training or else the school didn’t have the resources.

Then Stout intervened.

“He embraced her in the class, which, you know, you would think would be tough,” said Anthony-Price.

With the teacher riding alongside, Tessa drove a tractor.

“She went, you know, out into the woods and collected samples of leaves,” her mother recalled.

“She had an absolutely marvelous experience with him this year,” she said. “I really felt like he went above and beyond what was required in his job.”

Part of what made it all so special was that he didn’t have to do it, but Anthony-Price said he ensured Tessa was a part of the class while also encouraging her classmates to learn empathy and helping his more expert students include Tessa in their own projects.

“What he did was pretty simple,” she said. “You know it was creative, but simple, and I think just about any teacher who wanted to could do what he did.”

Across town at Bass-Hoover Elementary School, Read had been learning her own lessons of acceptance and marveling over how what might have been a terrible year instead became phenomenal.

A Long Island transplant, Read was excited for her first year of teaching, but had a tough start when her mother died of bile duct cancer during the second week of school.

On July 22, Read learned her mother’s doctors couldn’t do any more for her. Knowing she had to leave New York for Virginia, Read said she considered turning down the job.

“I didn’t know what was the right thing to do,” she said. “And then I met my team and then I met my kids.”

“They were there for me,” she said. “And everyone in the school, too.”

Her team members rallied to cover her classes, while she returned home for the funeral.

“I came back to the most caring children in the world,” she said.

Read thought it might have been difficult explaining to her students what had happened, but she said they understood.

One boy raised his hand and asked her, “How’s your dad doing?”

In her message to the school system, she thanked her team and the rest of the school staff for getting her through a difficult time and making her first year of teaching one that she could remember fondly.

“Every day that I was there was just like the best day of my life,” she said.

Third grade too, she said, “It’s like the Goldilocks grade. It’s just right.”

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com