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Two principals singled out for performance

If you're a pupil at Broward Elementary, at least four times a year you will get a personal letter from Beverly DeMott.

It's just her way of staying in touch with all 700 of her pupils.

"I want the students to know that I care about how they do," said DeMott, the school's principal. "They need to know that there is someone who's out there pulling for them."

It was that extra attention to the pupils' well-being that helped her win the state Education Commissioner's Principal Achievement Award. "I'm thrilled that someone thinks I'm doing something right," she said last week.

This is the second year she has been nominated for the award.

DeMott, the mother of a 10-year-old son, has garnered some attention for her active role in trying to improve academic performance at her school. She has reduced dropout rates, started a Spanish program for students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades, and developed an in-school suspension program to deal with discipline problems.

Dale Raistrick would, at first glance, seem an unlikely fan of DeMott's.

Seven years ago, DeMott told Raistrick that her daughter couldn't be promoted from third to fourth grade.

"The teachers were afraid to tell me, but she sat me and my husband down and told us this was the best thing for our daughter," Raistrick said. "And she was right; my daughter was able to catch back up with the rest of her classmates."

Parents aren't her only fans; the 45-year-old principal has won quite a few teachers over, too.

"She has tried to make this school the children's second home," said Patty Scrivener, a teacher's aide at Broward. "She wanted a place where the kids could feel safe and loved, and she's done just that."