Almost two weeks of school under their belts in Baltimore City — so it’s a great day to introduce you to Mary McComas, principal of Francis Scott Key school in Locust Point. Did you know she was an army captain in her prior life? Personally, the CP Team LOVES the children’s book she thinks all kids should read. It’s one of our favorites, too!
Francis Scott Key
Former Life: Army Captain
What do you do to get yourself revved up for the year?
I like to exercise a lot. I run to rejuvenate physically, mentally, and emotionally. I read a wide variety of books both for work and leisure. I find time to tend to my family during the summer and go on family vacations. I also watch TED talks on leadership. I see the school as an athlete approaching the playing field, you must be on and ready, half time may come in December but other than that you are always on.
Aside from your principal duties what other hats have you worn to help run your school?
I have to do a lot of marketing to raise interest in the school. This past Sunday I went to the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance swim event at the Patterson Park pool to talk to parents.
What is the sweetest part of your job?
Getting hugs from the kindergarteners and seeing kids return happy. It tells me we are doing right by them.
Are there any unique skills you have that your staff or students may not know about?
I was a captain in the army at barely 5ft. tall. I know how to repel out of helicopters, do reconnaissance surveillance, and go through an army obstacle course. I also did a sprinter triathlon 5 years ago.
What is the stinkiest job you have done as a principal?
Emptying out the lunch trash can.
If you had to pick two welcome back songs one for your staff and one for the students, which would they be?
I would pick Celebrate Good Times by Kook & The Gang for both students and staff because it is important to remember that school is something to be excited about.
What organizational strategies have you kept as a principal that you used as a teacher?
I had a passion for teaching which helped me to be energetic and physically keep moving toward goals and to communicate my values to others. I carry that passion and energy over to being a principal. Also, as a teacher I was able to key in on what students were good at and help them shine. As a principal I used that skill to help develop each teacher’s gifts.
What was your favorite school supplies growing up? Now?
I loved notebooks and folders. Now, I still love to be organized so, planners, sticky pads and tabs are my favorite.
How do you get your teacher’s revved up for the coming year?
I try to remember the things I needed as a teacher and honor that. Especially when returning to school there is a great need for time to plan and get ready but I remember as a teacher my time being filled with meetings that could have been easily communicated through email. I try to give teachers that time first, communicate as much as I can via email and identify the most important information for in person meetings.
While most teachers and students were off for the summer — what were you doing?
I was getting the building ready for them. Because we are a public school we must vet for services with vet with 188 other schools in the district. There are only so many maintenance crews so I am often found with my family spackling walls, painting lockers, and classrooms. There are also conferences to attend, families to reach out to, expansion plans to organize, and general planning for the year. I also have to pick up materials around the city as they become available. I had to use my pickup truck to haul chairs and textbooks another school was no longer in need of.
Is there a children’s book you have read this summer that you would like your students to discover?
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. It is a great example of personification, example of conflict resolution, and example of how to use talents in new and creative ways.
Francis Scott Key School is a Public Elementary/Middle school located at 1425 E. Fort Avenue, Baltimore.
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