Burnt Mills Elementary Principal Wins Mark Mann Award
Stacy Ashton, principal of Burnt Mills Elementary School, is this year’s winner of the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award.
The Mark Mann award is presented annually to an MCPS administrator who has shown exceptional performance in promoting academic excellence, positive human relations and community outreach. Superintendent Jack Smith presented the award to Ashton at the April 9 meeting of MCPS administrators and supervisors.
Under Ashton’s leadership, the school’s Professional Learning Community (PLC) has made a commitment to its neediest students. How has she led that charge? The school maintains a list of students, not by subgroup, but by name. The PLC meets regularly to monitor, reflect and troubleshoot for these students to ensure their achievement. Teams meet to look over data, track trends and collaborate on solutions. During her four years at Burnt Mills, student achievement has increased tremendously.
She works hard to strengthen relationships with students, staff, parents and community stakeholders. She leads with her heart, always asking: “What is best for our students?” Before she arrived at Burnt Mills, the school was struggling. The climate was difficult. Some high-performing teachers left the school. Some parents moved their children to other schools. Once Ashton arrived, that changed. Now, shared decisions are made. There is an open-door policy and transparent decision-making. Teachers are excited to work for Ashton, and they encourage others to apply at the school. Families are eager to send their children to Burnt Mills. The school’s Spanish Immersion program is more than 90 percent full.
“As a visionary, she has charged the staff in cultivating a growth mindset of high expectations and equitable practices,” a team of staff members wrote in support of her nomination. “ … Teachers have developed a broader lens in looking at student data and providing equitable instruction to meet the needs of all students. Not only has she challenged the staff … she also holds herself accountable to keep equitable practices. In her third year, she challenged herself to learn every student’s name and ordered lanyards for each student to assist with this challenge.”
Ashton believes that nothing is achieved in isolation. She worked to organize the school community in obtaining Action in Montgomery (AIM), which offers free after-school academic and enrichment programs for students. She found a school-based teacher leader and worked with the PTA. The group went door-knocking to spread the word to parents and rented a charter bus to take 200 parents to a local community group where they advocated for Burnt Mills to be selected an AIM school. Burnt Mills is now in its second year of hosting an Excel Beyond the Bell after-school academic and enrichment program, which serves more than 100 students in Grades 2–5.
One of her latest initiatives is working to get more fathers and father figures into the school. Along with the PTA and parent community coordinator, she launched the “Watch D.O.G.S.” program, bringing Dads Of Great Students into the school.
Ashton has also worked as a teacher, staff development teacher and assistant principal. A Maryland native, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Towson University, a master’s from Howard University, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Argosy University. She is married with two daughters.