BCP February 2020 Newsletter
In this issue:
  • Brenda Kahn Excellence in Education Award Recipient
  • Govans Elementary Wins 1st Place Global Innovation Award
  • Hampstead Hill Academy's Third Annual National History Day Project Fair
  • WE Schools visits City Springs
  • Mindful Moment at Frederick Elementary
  • Interview with Briana Richardson of Wolfe Street Academy
  • Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader?
Brenda Kahn Excellence in Education Award
By Jon McGill , Director of Academic Affairs, BCP
I have known and worked with Marvelyn Johnson for nearly ten years, in my capacity as Director of Academic Affairs for the Baltimore Curriculum Project. Marvelyn has worked for BCP and for Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) for considerably longer than that. Marvelyn’s expertise and effectiveness have taught me, and many others, a huge amount about both Direct Instruction and coaching/mentoring in general.
Marvelyn has worked in several of our schools, including Collington Square, Hampstead Hill Academy and, currently, at our newest school, Frederick Elementary. In fact, the very first “serious” Direct Instruction lesson that I observed was in 2010 when I watched Marvelyn do a demonstration lesson for a new teacher at Collington Square, with a fifth-grade class. My book-learning about DI was immediately rendered into second place, made almost obsolete by watching an expert teacher work with students and show a new teacher how things might look in a well-run classroom. From time to time, I grab a chance to see Marvelyn do these “demo” lessons and I always learn something new! 
Let me focus on her work at Frederick as an exemplar of her overall work with students and teachers: Frederick Elementary is the result of a 2017 authorized public conversion charter school under BCP operation. It is the amalgamation of the two lowest performing elementary schools in the state of Maryland and that fact represents the challenges we faced in taking on this new school. One of the smartest early decisions we made was to move Marvelyn to that school to tackle the need to teach and train a group of new teachers, many of whom were new to Direct Instruction and to the kind of behavior management and classroom effectiveness that Marvelyn knew we needed.
The work Marvelyn has done in two and a half short years is magnificent. She has trained DI programs across grades 2-5, metaphorically and literally holding the hands of teachers who have varying degrees of experience, from raw recruits to veterans of other programs and methods. She is assiduous in ensuring that teachers are faithful to the philosophy and practice of DI, since she knows that fidelity to the program is the foundation for success. What typifies Marvelyn’s work is her unfailing good nature, her unflappable certainty that teachers can be effective and her relentless practices of coaching and mentoring every one of the teachers in her groups.
Marvelyn does not accept mediocrity. She is gentle, encouraging and determined. She really does believe that every teacher is capable of effective work if they will only follow both script and coaching advice and she rarely gives up on anyone. This is not to suggest that there is not steel in her spine: I have seen her rise with real force and impact when necessary but that is an effective technique only because it appears so infrequently. She is focused always on academic results and success and getting that success for her students and teachers is the basic principle of everything she does.
Marvelyn is collegial, warm-hearted, supportive and very professional. Her reputation as a coach brings her more summer work than she sometimes needs or wants! She is an exceptional trainer of new teachers because she can empathize with them but not overmuch. She has high standards and expects the same of others, no matter what their stage of career. On top of all this, she is one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet!
I can think of no other coach. teacher, mentor, trainer, or person who is more deserving of accolades. Brenda would be just delighted to know that this award goes first to Marvelyn Johnson.

Govans Elementary Wins 1st Place Global Innovation Award
By Debbie Dininno, Regional Director, Baltimore
 The Govans FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team competed in the Baltimore City FLL Qualifier with their coaches, Ms. Thomas, Ms. Nemeth and Ms. Crosby. This team of 4 th and 5 th grade girls were well prepared to compete in all 4 areas of the competition (Robot Design, Project, Core Values and Robot Game). Big Shout out to the coaches for working very hard these past few months to prepare the team to compete. And a big thank you to Devon for all her support behind the scenes. 
 
I am pleased to announce they were awarded the 1 st Place Global Innovation award for their creative solution to the project. They identified a problem within a building or public space – the air conditioning in the temporary school leaks onto the floor creating dangerous puddles. They developed a prototype of a planter and wick system to absorb the water, while watering the plants. They will be submitting a video to the state judges. 
 
They also won the 1 st place Robot Performance award. They completed multiple missions and used sensors and creative attachments to score points in the Robot Game and ended the match on top of the bridge. 
 
And best of all, congratulations to Govans for winning the 1 st place Champions Award. This award goes to the top team that fully embraced the Core Values, while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project. They will be competing at the State Championship on Sunday February 23 rd at UMBC.
 
LET’S GO is very proud of Govans accomplishments and we look forward to working together to prepare the team for the State Championship on Sunday February 23 rd at UMBC.
Hampstead Hill Academy Third Annual National History Day Project Fair
By HHA Parent Magazine
  The third Annual HHA National History Day (NHD) Project Fair was amazing. Every HHA middle school student takes honors social studies, which
requires participation in NHD, a nationally recognized program designed to foster in-depth research, public presentation practice and writing skills
that our students will need in high school, college and on the job. More than 35 judges were invited to discuss and grade the projects. Every judge
came away impressed with the student work. The theme this year, "Breaking Barriers in History," is an exciting one and students chose fantastic
topics and people including Lillie Carroll Jackson, Muggsy Bogues, The Battle of Gettysburg, Harvey Milk and The Great Baltimore Fire. Nine of
HHA’s top performing groups will go to the district-wide competition and, hopefully, to the Maryland State competition. Special thanks to middle
school teachers Jason Farber, Kat Locke-Jones, Amy Kosmer, Sarah Hohman, Meaghan Venezia-Walerstein, Sarah Bassinger and Kevin Ball for
working with more than 270 students to produce such great projects and to middle school Academic Coaches Carey Fetting-Smith and Mike Lucas
for supporting teachers and being lead once again on the project fair!
WE Now Speaking Tour Visit City Springs Elementary/Middle
By Mya Hodge, HR/Development Associate, BCP
On Monday, February 3rd, 2020, WE Now visited City Springs for a Speaking Tour. The speaking tour offers an exciting new leadership program designed to empower, educate, and equip students with the skills, tools, and resources they need to develop a unique volunteer campaign. Students develop tangible leadership skills by identifying issues that affect their community, and brainstorm ways to take action in a meaningful way. 
In this workshop, WE facilitators provided the students with the skills and tools needed to become social issues ambassadors in their school and community. They led a session on creating action plans, which the students will later use to engage their peers in social action.WE Schools is an innovative series of experiential service-learning programs that engage educators and youth globally to empower them with the skills, knowledge and motivation to bring positive change in themselves and the world. WE Schools operates in over 18,000 schools and is proven to increase: academic engagement, civic engagement and college and workplace readiness.
Mindful Moments at Frederick Elementary After-School Program
By Jannika Simms, After School Program Director, Frederick Elementary
Ms. Jillian Zarra, Frederick’s Library Media Specialist volunteers to teach Yoga enrichment class to our scholars which teaches them to be patient and work towards their goals, breath. Yoga also provides tools for practicing compassion, mindfulness, generosity, focus, strength, and flexibility
Interview with Briana Richardson at Wolfe Street Academy
By Jon McGill, Director of Academic Affairs at BCP
  • What made you want to be a teacher? (Include a bit about your own background, family, where you grew up?)

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland with my parents and younger sister. Growing up, I was not interested in becoming a teacher. I knew I wanted to help people and work with children, but I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. However, my family, especially my mom, frequently mentioned that I should look into teaching. Once in college, I decided that I was going to pursue a degree in nursing. My plan was to become a pediatric or neonatal nurse. However, before my first semester ended, I decided nursing was not for me.
 I changed my major to early childhood education, took education courses, and completed student teaching experiences. Once I started taking the education courses, I became excited about the teaching profession. During the student teaching experiences, I enjoyed working with the students and helping them learn. I knew that teaching would allow me to help students and make an impact in their lives. Additionally, I enjoyed reading and hearing various success stories in classrooms. The journey was not always easy and there are still new challenges, but I believe teaching is my calling. It is always rewarding seeing children learn, grow, and develop as students and citizens.

  • How did you connect with BCP and Wolfe Street?
In 2018, I was in the process of transferring school districts and applied to Baltimore City Public Schools. Mr. Mcgill reached out to me via email and asked if I had accepted a teaching position. I was still looking for a school and knew I wanted to teach students in the earlier grades. I met with Mr. Mcgill at the BCP headquarters for an interview. Shortly after the interview, I was able to complete a demo lesson at Wolfe Street in first grade. After the demo lesson, I received an email from Mr. Gaither about teaching kindergarten. I knew the opportunity was for me!

  • How was your first year at WSA?
My first year at Wolfe Street Academy was exciting, challenging and helped me grow and develop as a teacher. In coming to Wolfe Street, I had to learn and implement a new curriculum. Initially, it was a challenge, but through coaching and practice I was able to become more comfortable with the curriculum. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching my students. The students were enthusiastic about learning and were quite humorous. Their love of learning and positive attitudes helped me gain confidence in teaching.

  • What do you value about being with a BCP school? (Coaching? Leadership? Staff? The kids?
In being part of a BCP school, I value being able to work with wonderful students and staff. In addition, the coaching I receive continues to help me grow me as a person and an educator. I am able to use the skills and strategies learned in all subject areas. I also value how BCP schools emphasize engagement within the community and meeting multiple needs of students and their families.

  • What are your ambitions for,say, the next five years?
Within the next five years, I plan to receive my master’s degree. I also desire to continue to grow as an educator. Lastly, I hope to be a resource for first year teachers and teachers new to Wolfe Street.

Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader? April 30th, 2020
By Mya Hodge, Development/HR Associate, BCP
This year our 5th Graders from City Springs Elementary/Middle, Frederick Elementary, Govans Elementary, Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy will compete with:
Heidi Daniels - President and CEO, Enoch Pratt Free Library
Jessica Henkin - Coordinator, Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Early Learning Program
Nic Stone - Author
Laura Wexler -Co-Founder and Co-Producer of The Stoop Storytelling Series

Actor and Comedian Bob Heck returns as MC. This event is family-friendly. Paid street and garage parking is available. All proceeds will benefit over 2,600 students attending the Baltimore Curriculum Project's neighborhood charter schools.

Sponsorship packages available!!!