BCP February 2019 Newsletter
In this issue:

  • $25 for Dinner and a Show? Yes! "Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader?"
  • Leading Minds: Educating the Whole Child
  • Help Wolfe Street Academy Students Set Sail for Success
  • BCP Schools Celebrate Black History Month
  • Gang Resistance Education and Training Program at City Springs
  • Frederick Elementary Math and Literacy Night, Healthy Cooking Workshop, and More ...
  • Interview with Govans Elementary Principal Bernarda Kwaw
  • Govans Elementary Wins Regional Robotics Competition
  • Hampstead Hill Academy's Second National History Day Project Fair

$25 for Dinner and a Show?
YES! "Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader?"
April 10, 2019 at the American Visionary Art Museum
Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader? 2019 Adult Contestants
When: Wednesday, April 10th, 2019, 6:15PM - 8:15PM
Where: American Visionary Art Museum
Enjoy: A fun-filled quiz show, delicious dinner and a cash bar.
Tickets: Purchase online at: http://bit.ly/areyousmarter2019
Sponsorship Opportunities: Email bcpinfo@baltimorecp.org

Actor and comedian Bob Heck will serve as MC.

All proceeds will help BCP provide over 2,600 students with a world-class education.
Leading Minds: Educating the Whole Child
Over 350 teachers, school board members, foundation representatives, policymakers and other education stakeholders attended the Baltimore Curriculum Project’s eighth Leading Minds forum, “Educating the Whole Child”, on January 25, 2019 at Johns Hopkins University. (View the video at: https://youtu.be/fSonTLL1py4)

The forum, which was co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and sponsored by McGraw-Hill and Chesapeake Employers Insurance, explored a variety of strategies to educate the whole child and address the socio-emotional barriers to learning associated with poverty.

Panelists included Mark Gaither (Principal of Wolfe Street Academy), Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan (Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland), and Karen Webber (Director of OSI-Baltimore’s Education and Youth Development Program.) Dr. Sarah Warren (Executive Director for Whole Child Services and Support at Baltimore City Public Schools) served as moderator for the panel discussion.

Baltimore City Schools’ Student Wholeness Vision

Dr. Warren opened the forum with an overview of Baltimore City Public Schools’ (BCPS) approach to educating the whole child. The City Schools vision for student wholeness states that “students are inspired to pursue their passions and reach their potential when schools provide engaging, safe, and supportive environments that foster well-being and meet academic, social, emotional, and physical needs.”

In order to realize this vision, BCPS has named 20 schools socio-emotional intensive learning sites. The schools are receiving focused training in supporting students’ social and emotional learning. Each school will have an inviting space where students can reflect and decompress, with a trained staff member who works with them on developing constructive behavior and connecting them to academic support or other services.

With support from Open Society Institute–Baltimore, 15 additional schools are receiving intensive Restorative Practices training from the International Institute for Restorative Practices, the Community Conferencing Center, and others. Restorative practices promotes positive school environments and works to build healthy communities, another area that is essential to addressing student wholeness.

Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education

Dr. Kirwan talked about how the recommendations of the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education relate to whole child education. The 25-member Kirwan Commission was created in 2016 to review and update the current education funding formulas for the schools in Maryland and to develop policies and practices so that Maryland’s schools perform at the level of the world’s best systems.

He noted that Mark Gaither and Karen Webber had an impact on the work of the commission.
Reflecting on his visit to Wolfe Street Academy, Kirwan said: “I was amazed by the impact of being a community school; what it was doing for the education of those students.”

Dr. Kirwan referred to Karen Webber as a “lead thinker about Restorative Practices.” The commission included recommendations about Restorative Practices in their report to the Maryland General Assembly.

Restorative Practices

Ms. Webber focused on how Restorative Practices can help lift some of the barriers to learning related to poverty and disrupt the school to prison pipeline.

Although approximately 24% of Baltimore City residents live in poverty, approximately 85% of Baltimore City Public School students live in poverty. Many of these students are exposed to negative factors such as trauma, mass incarceration, violence, and drug addiction, which contribute to anxiety, attention deficit, depression, impulse control, and aggression.

“These are all things that teachers have to manage without any tools, necessarily … Not to have tools at your disposal to handle the types of behaviors that are in your classrooms leads to this school to prison pipeline,” said Ms. Webber.

“If you don’t have any experience with seeing a child go from zero to 100 in five seconds flat because they’ve been triggered, you’re going to want them out of your space. And that’s what we see happening over and over again.”

Schools that have large populations of African-American students are less likely to use Restorative Practices or any type of restorative approach to resolve conflict. The focus on punitive measures means that these schools are preparing students more for prison than college and career.

Ms. Webber asserted that Restorative Practices works. Recent research demonstrates that Restorative Practices results in improved graduation rates, reduced suspensions, increased attendance, improved teacher-student relationships, and decreased disproportionality between black and white students and low and high-income students.

Ms. Webber also acknowledged the Baltimore Curriculum Project’s role in promoting Restorative Practices.

“I want to give a shout out to BCP because they are the leaders in this work,” said Ms. Webber. “They’re the ones you can point to and say, 'If you don’t know what this should look like, go to City Springs, go to Hampstead Hill, go to Wolfe Street.' We’ve got it happening right here in Baltimore City with our own children.”

Community Schools Strategy

Mr. Gaither talked about how the Community Schools strategy supports whole child education. Community Schools identify and meet the basic student needs such as food, security, and health so that students can focus on learning.

Wolfe Street Academy became a community school in 2006 and a BCP school in 2007. Although Wolfe’s poverty rate and the percentage of students speaking a language other than English at home increased between 2006 and 2014, during those years Wolfe moved from 77th to 2nd highest performing elementary school in Baltimore City on the previous state standardized test.

The Community School strategy has been effective at Wolfe because it helps the school develop trust and engage deeply with the community. Wolfe is north of Hampstead Hill Academy and east of City Springs, but the communities these schools serve are very different.

Community Schools allows us to give “hyperlocal attention to the needs of that specific community … Having somebody at the school to address these hyper-local needs of the school is essential," said Mr. Gaither.

"If you put a community school coordinator in each school with concentrated poverty, that person can make the personal relationship connections to that community."

Thank you

BCP would like thank the following people and organizations for making this event possible: The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, McGraw-Hill, Chesapeake Employers Insurance, Mark Gaither, Dr. William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Karen Webber and Dr. Sarah Warren.
Help Wolfe Street Academy Students Set Sail for Success
Funding cuts are making it increasingly difficult for Wolfe Street Academy (WSA) to provide the extra-curricular programming that has made WSA one of the best elementary schools in Baltimore.

Since the 2015-2016 school year, the Downtown Sailing Center (DSC) has engaged WSA students in after-school STEM-based activities twice a week. Students split their time between hands-on STEM experiences in the classroom, and learning how to sail in the harbor.

This program utilizes the Reach curriculum, developed by US Sailing, to combine their love of sailing with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) principles.

Wolfe Street Academy hopes to extend this learning experience into the summer by offering STEM/Sailing classes during the summer school session. The DSC has agreed to partner again with WSA and provide matching funds if we can raise $5,400.

DSC already provides a fantastic STEM and sailing camp for Baltimore City youth. 

“DSC’s Adventure Camp is focused on encouraging a life-long love of sailing and is for persons 8 - 15 years old. Our Camp is designed to provide your child with a safe, fun environment to grow as a person - and sailing is the vehicle we use to make it happen!” – Down Town Sailing Center 

WSA serves over 200 students from Pre-K to 5th grade on a site that has housed a succession of public schools since 1852. The buildings have changed but these schools have always served the most recent immigrant population who seek new and better lives in Baltimore.

Over 80% of our students speak a language other than English at home and 96% of our students come from low-income households. Our Summer school serves these same students. Roughly 80 students participate in a free summer learning experience for 4 weeks (totaling over 100 hours of academic and enrichment learning).

The goal of the summer program is to reduce summer learning loss and to provide students with enriching experiential learning opportunities. Opportunities like these provide the background knowledge students need to be successful in class. 

Please help us provide our students with this enriching experience. Without programs like ours, and generous donors like you, these children would not have the opportunity to participate these character building experiences.

BCP Schools Celebrate Black History Month
By Jon McGill, Director of Academic Affairs, Baltimore Curriculum Project
February is Black History Month. BCP schools are recognizing this in a number of ways.

At Hampstead Hill Academy, teachers and staff have decorated their classroom doors with displays that focus on prominent historical figures.

This idea came from an HHA parent and was quickly supported by the HHA Equity Committee.

At Frederick Elementary, teachers are also decorating their hall spaces and doors with references to the history of the United States, which is interwoven with the history of African-Americans.

At City Springs, the “door project” inspired by HHA is taking place and on February 4th, BCP Academic Director Jon McGill read his own short poem to the elementary students at the morning assembly. 


Black History

The History of Black people in this land
Is something we all need to understand
It is the story of the whole United States
It’s what made America, Maryland and Baltimore
Always great.

Elijah Cummings, Oprah Winfrey, and Obama
These are names so full of drama
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the lawyer, Thurgood
Know these names? I think you should!
Frederick Douglass, Malcom X, Muhammad Ali
The Greatest: people we would love to see!
Jackie Robinson, Stevie Wonder
Voices that could ring like thunder.
Don’t know these names, well that’s not fair
How about a former Baltimore Mayor
Kurt Schmoke, still working for our City
I know you know Beyoncé, she is more than simply pretty.
Harriet Tubman, Serena Williams, the tennis star
A woman who has gone so far
August Wilson who wrote great plays
Sam Cooke, from gospel to a pop star craze!
James Baldwin, Aretha, W. E. B DuBois
People for whom we should make some noise.

These are just a few names of which we are so proud
Let the mountains ring with cheers so loud
For all they did and what they taught us
For the freedoms that they always brought us.

I could go on with names until the day is done
Dr. Richetta, would that be fun?
She’s going to say no because she knows best
You need to learn to pass the Black History test!!!

Find out about these names and more
It’s where you come from, heroes galore!
Know where you came from so you know where to go
Tell everyone the story you should you know!

February is Black History month: in fact, every month is Black History month because we would have no American history if we did not have Black History.
Gang Resistance Education and Training Program at City Springs
City Springs Elementary/Middle would like to thank Baltimore City School Police Officer Garry Holifield for speaking with Ms. Arechar’s students about the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program during a recent visit.

G.R.E.A.T is an evidence-based, national and international gang and violence prevention program that has been building trust between law enforcement and communities for almost 30 years. 
 
G.R.E.A.T. is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership. It is designed for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior.
 
The G.R.E.A.T. Program is built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. It provides a continuum of components for children and their families. These components include a 13-lesson middle school curriculum, a 6-lesson elementary school curriculum, a summer component, and a families component.

For more information visit: https://www.great-online.org/GREAT-Home
Frederick Elementary Math and Literacy Night, Healthy Cooking Workshop, and More ...
Healthy Cooking Workshop

Mentors and mentees came together for a workshop on why it is important to eat healthy foods that are good for the body, and quick meals you can make that are healthy.

At the end of the workshops, everyone made their own nutritional smoothies. Thank you to the Enterprise Women's Network for making this workshop possible.

Attendance Pep Rally

FES recently held its first pep rally for attendance and it was something to cheer about. Scholars received information on how important it is to come to school every day and on time. Some scholars received awards and accolades for coming to school every day. Hats off to the staff and scholars at FES!

Math and Literacy Night

Scholars and their families experienced a Winter Wonderland of math and literacy at the recent Math and Literacy Night. Families completed activities with a Winter theme, enjoyed a lovely meal, and participated in book giveaways. A special thanks to FES staff for all their hard work putting together this wonderful event.

Dental Screening and Cleaning

Scholars will be smiling more now showing off their pearly whites that were given a gentle cleaning by the Baltimore City Health Department. Thank you to the Baltimore City Health Department for giving our scholars another reason to smile wide.
Interview with Govans Elementary Principal Bernarda Kwaw
By Jon McGill, Director of Academic Affairs, Baltimore Curriculum Project
Bernarda Kwaw is our most recently appointed Principal, now in her first year at Govans Elementary.

Jon McGill: Ms. Kwaw, how long have you been teaching and in what schools?

Bernarda Kwaw: I worked for 22 years at Collington Square Elementary/Middle School. I began there as an elementary teacher in 1993 and was a classroom teacher for eleven years. I then became an academic coach for four years, after which I was promoted to Assistant Principal. I served in that role for seven years.

In 2015 I interviewed for, and was appointed to be, the Assistant Principal at Govans, which had just become a BCP conversion charter school. Linda Taylor, the Principal at Govans, retired last year and after a lengthy interview process, I was chosen to lead the staff and students here at Govans.

JM: What makes you stay with BCP schools?

BK: When I began at Collington, it was a traditional Baltimore City school. For my first six years, we struggled to bring students to mastery and to find sufficient resources. When BCP took over the school, I saw education from a completely different perspective.

We were trained to effectively use Direct Instruction in reading, language, spelling and mathematics. Students were individually tested, grouped on their level and they soon began to flourish. Teachers improved their skills as expert academic support and professional development was provided by BCP.

Social service resources were provided to support families and classroom assistants were added. Even with all these resources, we were unable to maintain the charter school status and I saw first-hand how losing BCP negatively affected the staff and students. I wanted to get back to a BCP school!

JM: What brought you to Govans after so long at Collington?

BK: Leaving was a difficult decision. It was the only school I had known as an educator. I felt, however, that I could continue to grow myself and support other educators if I went back to BCP. Elementary age children have always been my preference. Going to Govans allowed me to focus on that age.

JM: How is year one of being a Principal?

BK: I am so excited to be the Principal at Govans! I am surrounded by hard working and experienced people who have welcomed me to the position with open arms. So many staff members go above and beyond the call of duty every single day.

Being a Principal has brought new challenges. I had to learn new things: systems, managing school facilities, and prioritizing the spending. I expect to master these new challenges and be wiser as a result. I have access to the more experienced BCP principals and the BCP staff who are just a phone call or text message away. Many members of the school district’s office have also extended themselves to me. I am so excited about the work that the Govans team is doing.

JM: What is your vision for Govans over the next three years?

BK: We live in a changing, digital age and navigating technology is a must for all our students. I want to increase the technology that is available to our students. We have worked to ensure that every classroom has a “smart board” or promethean board that helps teachers present material to students. We had a fundraiser the brought us 90 new computers. We also purchased a 3D printer!

We have a great technology teacher in Ms. Tracey, who has introduced our students to coding, 3D printing, word processing and a host of other up-to-date things. We plan to both sustain our current technology and improve by replacing outdated equipment every year.

Additionally, our new building, currently scheduled to be completed by 2021, will be a 40-million-dollar state-of-the-art facility with technology tools and devices that will help our students to become productive, contributing citizens who will receive the quality education they deserve.

Our new building will include well-furnished classrooms with central air conditioning and modern lighting, 3,000 square feet of Community Space, an extensive Library, state-of-the-art Media Center and Science Laboratory, full size stage with lighting for school productions… just to name a few features! I know this will help our students on their path to success!

BCP is grateful to have five excellent principals leading our schools. Along with Ms. Kwaw, we have Mr. Mark Gaither, Mr. Harold Henry, Mr. Matthew Hornbeck, and Dr. Rhonda Richetta.
Govans Elementary Wins Regional Robotics Competition
By Debbie Dininno, Baltimore Region STEM Director, LET'S GO Boys and Girls
The Govans Elementary Robotics Team took first place in the FIRST LEGO League regional competition on January 26, 2019. The team of 10 students competed against 14 other Baltimore City teams.

"Today was an amazing culmination to a season of hard work and dedication by coaches Ms. Nemeth and Ms. Crosby, LET’S GO Boys and Girls mentor Amanda Porter, and the 4th and 5th grade students on the team," said Debbie Dininno, Baltimore Region STEM Director for LET'S GO.

Last fall 10 students from the Govans Elementary after school program were selected to be on the FIRST LEGO League team based on their love of STEM and robotics. They practiced weekly to prepare for the regional competition. They also gave up their half-days to stay at school and work.

The students designed, built and programmed a robot; researched the challenges astronauts face in space; and ‘created’ an innovative solution called Medic 2.0., which is a pharmaceutical machine to compound and dispense medicine.

The students also interviewed an engineer; shared their research with local medical professionals; and learned how to work together as a team and improve their communication skills.
 
At the regional competition the team took first place in Robot Performance. This award recognizes a team that scores the most points during the Robot Game. Teams have a chance to compete in at least three 2.5 minute matches and their highest score counts. Their robot scored 94 points.

They also won the Champions Award, which recognizes a team that embodies the FIRST LEGO League experience by fully embracing the Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project. This is the highest award at the competition.

By winning the Champions Award, the team will advance to the State Championships on February 23rd at UMBC. The top 72+ teams from all the qualifiers around the state of MD are invited to compete at this championship.

"On the days leading up to the City Qualifier's you could feel the tension and nerves in each of the Govans' team members, but by the morning of the competition all that faded," said Devon Ritchie, Director of the Baltimore Curriculum Project's 21st Century Community Learning Center at Govans Elementary.

"They were enjoying their robotic practice time, meeting students from other teams and celebrating each of the day's accomplishments with grace. There was a new and deeper level of confidence in each team member by the end of this day."

The Govans Elementary after school program is an initiative of the 21st Century Community Learning Center at Govans Elementary, which is funded by a generous grant from the Maryland State Department of Education.

In addition to developing the Robotics Team, LET'S GO Boys and Girls provides STEM curriculum, teacher training and ongoing support for the after school program.

"The family support today was also incredible," said Ms. Dininno. "All 10 students had at least one family member (parents, grandparents or siblings) attend the competition. LET’S GO is very proud of all the hard work and effort that went into today’s success."
Hampstead Hill Academy's Second National History Day Project Fair
Reprinted from the Hampstead Hill Academy February 2019 Parent News Magazine
The second Annual HHA National History Day (NHD) Project Fair was even better than last year.

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, including a school board member, the president of a foundation, business leaders, former HHA students and staff, came away impressed with the student work.

The NHD theme this year is “triumph and tragedy.” Students chose topics including Rosa Parks, The Great Fire of London, The Triangle Tragedy, Adolf Hitler and more. Four of our 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 and Amy Kosmer for working with more than 260 students to produce such great projects and to middle school Academic Coach Carey Fetting-Smith for supporting teachers and being lead once again on the project fair! Congratulations to everyone! 
Baltimore Curriculum Project | 410.675.7000 | bcpinfo@baltimorecp.org | www.baltimorecp.org