SPOTLIGHT Articles


 

Congratulations to the following people who received awards at the
May 19, 2010 Presidents and Principals Dinner:

Liz Wheeler - Maryland PTA Life Membership Award

Carlos A. Scandiffio, President and CEO, Allworld Language Consultants, Inc. - Partnership in Education Award

Kay Romero - PTA National Lifetime Membership Award

 

Sligo Creek ES PTA Celebrates 10th Anniversary of the FLES Chinese
After School Program (CASP)!

Chinese teachers and their 16 K-5 grade students celebrated the
arrival of the Chinese New Year in February with an Open House
presentation for parents.

The celebration was complete with traditional songs, folklore, games,
sticky rice cake, tangerines and a gift of _Hong Bao_ for each child!

The CASP Program began in 1999 at Sligo Creek ES and continues to be
made possible through the MCCPTA-EPI FLES Program in cooperation with
the Sligo Creek PTA.

The program is the only PTA offering in Montgomery County that gives
K-6 graders the opportunity to participate in four hours of Chinese
per week after school.

Congratulations to Sligo Creek PTA! Gong Xi Gong Xi!


 

Champions for Children

Congratulations to the Springbrook HS PTSA for being chosen as a winner of the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE) Champions for Children Award. The PTSA is being recognized for their volunteer program called PALA - Padres y Alumnos Latinos en Acción. This award recognizes and celebrates an outstanding local PTA/PTSA program or individual volunteer who is a role model for parent involvement. The PTSA will receive a check for 1,000 dollars and a plaque to display as an accomplishment of the PTSA and their volunteer work.

More about the Program:
Program Title or Individual Parent Volunteer Name: Kathleen Indart, PALA Co-
Founder and Board Member (PALA - Padres y Alumnos Latinos en Acción – at
Springbrook HS)

I. Description
PALA- Padres y Alumnos Latinos en Acción- (Latino Parents and Students in Action)
was formed by a dynamic group of parents who were concerned about the progress of
latino students at Springbrook High School and decided to do something about it. This
core group of parents, which also started the PALA group at White Oak Middle School,
was energized by a program held at WOMS in the spring of 2006 called Conquista tus
Sueños. PALA - Springbrook was founded in the spring of 2007.

PALA is a grass-roots group led by parents with the support of the PTSA and the school
administration on a very limited budget. The group has been so successful that other
schools have taken notice and are forming similar groups. We know that effective parent
advocacy is a key indicator of student achievement, and one of PALA’s primary goals is
to “Promote parental involvement” by educating Latino parents about the critical
importance of understanding the educational system in America and how to ensure that
their children are able to take advantage of the outstanding opportunities available to
them in MCPS.

We recognize that the health of a school can be measured by how connected every person
in the community (students, staff and parents) feels to the school, so PALA “works
together with the PTSA and the school administration to improve the education of all
children” by promoting activities that serve this goal.

The goal of PALA-Springbrook is “Academic and social success for Latino students at
Springbrook High School.”

More about the Event:
http://mcbre.org/events-cfc.shtml

Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE)
Champions for Children

Champions for Children is an annual awards celebration that highlights and rewards quality teaching, outstanding leadership, and exceptional supporting services in our schools. Exemplary support for youth programs by businesses and parent associations also is recognized at this ceremony. Ten awards are given out at this gala including the award for Montgomery County Public Schools Teacher of the Year who then goes on to compete at the state level. The gala is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors which include several of MCBRE's board member organizations and many non-board companies. The 8th annual Champions for Children Awards Celebration will be held on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at MedImmune (One MedImmune Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20878) from 4:30-7:00pm. The event will be hosted by WTTG Fox 5 Meteorologist Sue Palka.

The awardees are honored at the event and receive recognition by over 250 attendees including Superintendent Dr. Jerry D. Weast, County Executive Ike Leggett, and several other distinguished guests. The awards celebration airs in its entirety on Montgomery County cable channel 34.


Council Award for MCCPTA

Our Council received a COUNCIL OF EXCELLENCE AWARD at the Maryland PTA State Convention Awards Dinner on Friday, November 13, 2009. Maryland PTA offered congratulations to the Montgomery County Council of PTAs for a job well done in supporting local PTAs in our county.

Local PTA Winners

Parent/Family Involvement Awards- Grants from Maryland PTA.

In addition, four of our local PTAs received Parent/Family Involvement Awards -Grants at the Maryland PTA State Convention Awards Dinner on Friday, November 13, 2009.

About the Maryland PTA Parent/Family Involvement Grant

Maryland PTA supports the research that indicates, children succeed when families, schools and communities work together. Maryland PTA encourages the development and implementation of family-school parent engagement programs that link to student learning and success. Each year Parent/Family Involvement Grants are awarded to some of the many deserving local PTAs that promote and encourage parent, family, caregiver and community engagement. Maryland PTA invites all PTAs to apply for the Grant that supports your PTA's effort to collaborate with students, parents, families, caregivers, teacher, the community and your school staff. The maximum amount of the grant is 500.00. All winners were recognized at the State Convention.

Our local PTA award winners were added to the Maryland PTA website: http://www.mdpta.org/bridge_parentinvolvement.html

DuFief Elementary PTA, Montgomery County Council:

Project Name: DuFief Reading Dragon Mural
Description: To involve our Learning Center families in a project that will increase their sense of inclusiveness with the DuFief Elementary School PTA. The PTA received a grant last year from Lowe's School Tool Box to create an Outdoor Learning Center Garden in front of their school. The entire school participated in planting and laying the pavers for a walkway. The garden is almost finished and has many educational aspects to it. One last major component to this garden is a Mural on the large expanse of white wall behind the garden. In an attempt to nurture the parent involvement that began with the garden, a professional muralist will complete the main component of the mural and then the art teacher will work with the children to add flowers to the mural. When completed they will hold the official unveiling with an Ice Cream Social for all families in the school.

Brown Station Elementary PTA, Montgomery County Council:

Project Name: Mornings in School
Description: The program is designed to bring parent volunteers into the classroom during school hours on a regular monthly basis. The program will run once a month for five consecutive months. The PTA surveyed their parents and determined that one of the main reasons that parents are unable to volunteer in the classroom is because they care for at least one younger child at home. The purpose of this program is to provide structured volunteer opportunities for the parents of young children during school hours with onsite babysitting by experienced childcare professionals.

Fields Road Elementary PTA, Montgomery County Council:

Project Name: Adults Are Students Too. English Conversation & Learning: How to become involved in your child's education.
Description: The program is designed to involve parents and guardians where English is a second language into the school and into their children's school life. Help them feel welcome and confident enough to assist their children with homework. More than 17% of the student body is enrolled in ESOL. This grant will begin an 8-week workshop for parents and guardians who don't currently speak English and therefore are not able to understand the flyers and announcements that come home from school, nor can they help their students with homework. Professionals will teach parents how to help their children be successful in school along with 8 one-hour language sessions.

Georgian Forest Elementary PTA, Montgomery County Council:

Project Name: Conversational English Courses for Parents
Description: The PTA will provide free conversational English classes to non-English speaking parents to help them better understand English so they can become more engaged in their children's education and help them succeed. 27% of the student population is enrolled in the ESOL program. Volunteer instructors will lead weekly English language conversion courses designed to strengthen participants' vocabulary and grasp of the language. In addition to these sessions, the PTA will provide participants with textbooks and information on self-study options such as tutoring programs, drop-in centers, and ESOL classes available in the county.


 

Montgomery Council Approves 2009-11 Growth Policy; Rejects Major Changes

County’s Planning Board Had Proposed Changes to Relax School
Overcrowding and Traffic Congestion Tests

ROCKVILLE, Md., November 12, 2009—The Montgomery County Council on Nov. 10 gave final approval to the 2009-11 County Growth Policy, the purpose of which is to attempt to ensure that public infrastructure is adequate to handle the impact of new development. In approving the policy, the Council rejected major recommendations suggested by the Montgomery County Planning Board to relax or weaken a number of school overcrowding and traffic congestion standards.

Density and the type of development in particular areas such as White Flint and Gaithersburg West are established in master plans and zoning laws, not in the Growth Policy, which deals almost exclusively with the timing of development in relation to needed infrastructure. The Council is currently considering the proposed White Flint Sector Plan and the Gaithersburg West Mast Plan, but has not taken any action on either.

Regarding school capacity, the Council rejected the Planning Board’s proposal to raise the threshold to require school facilities payments by developers from 105 percent of capacity in a high school cluster to 110 percent. Had the Council approved the change, which was opposed by the Montgomery County Council of PTAs, it would have been possible for a majority of the elementary schools in a cluster to be substantially overcrowded, but for the average for the elementary school cluster overall to fall below the 110 percent threshold. [For example, three elementary schools at 115 percent and two at 98 percent would produce an average of 108 percent.]

Under the test maintained by the Council, a school facilities payment of approximately $20,000 per additional student would be triggered because the average school capacity would exceed 105 percent. Under the Planning Board proposal that was rejected, a school facilities payment would not have been triggered.

The Council also rejected a proposal by the Planning Board to allow capacity to be transferred from an approved project to a proposed project within a cluster. That proposed change would have enabled a developer to go forward with a project that otherwise could not be built—or not be built without paying a schools facilities payment.

Regarding transportation capacity, the Council rejected the Planning Board’s recommendation to substantially weaken traffic mitigation requirements by changing Policy Area Mobility Review (PAMR) standards. The Council deferred any major changes to the PAMR standards until the Council has the opportunity to review recommendations by the County Executive that are expected by March 31, 2010.

The Council also sharply scaled back a Planning Board recommendation to establish an alternative review procedure to PAMR standards that would have lowered traffic mitigation requirements for mixed-use and energy-efficient buildings. The Planning Board recommended allowing such an alternative approach in Metro Station Policy Areas and in areas within one-half mile of where transit service runs at least every 15 minutes during peak periods. The Council was concerned that too much of the downcounty, and many other parts of the County, would have qualified under this definition for the alternative review procedure. Councilmembers restricted the use of the new test to Metro Station areas and a few other discrete areas, including Germantown Town Center and Kensington.

“Essentially, the Council maintained tougher tests for school overcrowding and traffic congestion mitigation than proposed by the Planning Board,” said Council President Phil Andrews. “The changes that the Council did approve to the Growth Policy were modest expansions of the current policy of encouraging development at Metro Stations and in other areas well-served by transit. In a primarily suburban County, the Council recognizes that most residents are going to continue to get around by car and is striving to maintain acceptable average travel times on our roads. The Council also is committed to providing more transit service, which benefits transit users directly, and drivers indirectly, by freeing up capacity on existing roads.”


Forest Knolls students host walk for homeless (Excerpt of article)

Fifteen-hundred rainbow-colored pieces of Trix cereal stuffed in a large plastic container represented something much more sinister to the children of Forest Knolls Elementary School in Silver Spring last week.

Each Trix piece symbolized one of the many men, women and children in Montgomery County who spent last night in the cold rain and not in their own homes, Charlotte Garvey Corbett, an outreach assistant for Interfaith Works, told the students at an assembly last week.

Read the full story at here


Five Middle Schools Emphasize Connecting with Youth and Families (Excerpt of article)

The Collaboration Council has formed a partnership with the Montgomery County Public Schools to bring resources to selected middle schools to enhance the level of students’ attachment or engagement with their school.

Five middle schools are participating: Argyle, Eastern, Gaithersburg, Martin Luther King and Newport Mill.

This newsletter describes plans at Martin Luther King and Newport Mill. The remaining three schools will be featured in the next issue.

Martin Luther King Middle School ( Germantown)

Under the leadership of Principal Marc Cohen and the school team, the theme will be “building academic engagement at home and social engagement at school.” Leveraging this grant with their own funds, their goal will be to bring their students and parents together for more activities that build their sense of community and furnish strategies that parents can use to support their students’ success. These include home visits by school/parent teams; continuing Conquista Tus Suenos, focus groups with MCPS’s Office of Family and Community Partnerships, and schoolbased family events. Some activities will be school-wide while others are for minority students where increased partnerships are especially desired. To support learning at home, families and their students will be able to access Study Island software for non-school time use for self-paced review and supplemental learning. Also, outreach efforts will seek to motivate parents to use Edline, MCPS-wide software, a key communication tool between teachers and students/home. The school’s student government is a critical partner in ensuring school-wide student involvement in planning and carrying-out of activities.

Newport Mill Middle School (Kensington)

Principal Penny Tsonis and her team also will be leveraging this funding with other support to create an outdoor interactive science classroom. Through a survey and conversations with students, staff and parents, there was an enthusiastic response to participating in this project. This classroom will enhance school connectedness as general and special education students work with each other and with adults/parents to create and maintain habitats for plants native to Maryland and from the many countries represented in the student population. Building on this initial investment and pride in planning and constructing the space, the school envisions active multidisciplinary use with science, math, English and social studies curriculums and continued use to engage parents in their students’ learning. Research has shown that this environment based classroom is highly successful in contributing to student learning and school connectedness by families. Student clubs related to science and the environment will be especially active participants.

For further information, contact Carol Walsh, Chief, Planning, Policy and Programs at

carol.walsh@collaborationcouncil.org .

Excerpted with permission, The Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families June 2009 Newsletter. For complete article, please visit:

http://content.delivra.com/etapcontent//MontgomeryCountyCollaboration/attachments/collaborativepiece0909.pdf

 


Certificate of Recognition

At the May 27, 2009 MCCPTA Presidents and Principals dinner, Craig Zucker, Chief of Staff for State Comptroller Peter Franchot, presented a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of Mr. Franchot to MCCPTA “In recognition of your tireless advocacy on behalf of teachers, parents and students throughout the county. Your activism and energy have helped to make your association one of the most effective in the state of Maryland.”


Maryland's PTA 2009 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Family-School Partnerships Award of Merit Winners

This year, 117 applications were received from 30 states.  This increase quadruples the number of applications received at National PTA last year!  Thank you for your leadership and support and look forward to even greater participation next year.

  • Anne Arundel County Council of PTAs - Annapolis MD
  • Fox Chapel Elementary PTA - Germantown MD
  • Greenbelt Elementary School PTA - Greenbelt MD
  • Jones Lane Elementary School PTA - Gaithersburg MD
  • Kingsville Elementary PTA - Kingsville MD
  • Perry Hall Middle School PTSA - White Marsh MD

Three Public Schools Receive Marriott Spirit to Serve Award

Schools, Individuals, Group Honored for Community Service With Marriott Spirit to Serve Awards

Eight local volunteers and community-minded schools were honored for their contributions to the Montgomery County community by being named recipients of the 2009 Marriott Spirit to Serve Community Service awards at a ceremony on May 5 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

The annual event was sponsored by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center and Marriott International. Awards were presented by Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, County Council President Phil Andrews and Montgomery County Public School Superintendent Dr. Jerry Weast. Marriott Executive Vice President Stephen Marriott gave brief remarks. The Marriott Spirit to Serve Community Service Award is the County’s preeminent award, recognizing volunteers, groups and schools whose efforts have provided outstanding service to Montgomery County. Eight honorees from across the county were selected, and Marriott International donated $500 to the charity of each of the honorees' choosing.

The following three public schools were honored for their efforts to get students involved in the community:

Westover Elementary School, Silver Spring. The school principal and student council sponsor provide the leadership critical for effective community service projects. Once a need is determined, the student council body is responsible for determining the tasks necessary to complete the project. For example, it was learned that there was a food shortage at a local food bank. From this need, the “Harvest for the Hungry” project was created. More than 1,000 pounds of canned food was collected by students. Students also made placemats and baskets of toiletries for the National Adventist Senior Living Center, hosted a toy drive to support Toys for Tots, made valentines for Westover’s elementary autism classes and wrote letters to community workers as part of Public Service Recognition Week. Furthermore, as part of the seven-day National Learn and Serve Challenge, Westover collected 475 pounds of clothing for Planet Aid and over $900 for Stepping Stones Shelter.

James Hubert Blake High School, Silver Spring. Students, faculty and parents are all important sources of service project ideas at Blake. Activities included various school supply, food and toy drives; local clean ups; a sandwich making project that delivered over 1,000 sandwiches to DC Central Kitchen; two Blood Drives with INOVA Hospital; the Nike Reuse a Shoe Program; Walk for the Homeless; and making and selling bracelets for the Students Taking Action Now: Darfur group. Students helped numerous individuals afflicted with blood cancers and educated the school community about blood cancers and the services of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They sponsored a Bengal Ball Tournament, Dance for a Chance and organized three restaurant nights. These efforts raised over $12,000.

Albert Einstein High School, Kensington. The school community held a fundraiser for Heifer International, an organization that helps to provide food sources for families in developing countries. Other service activities included holding a kids crafts fair; conducting several blood drives; holding various food, clothing and toy drives to support local shelters, Toys for Tots, Planet Aid, and UNICEF; participating in Walk the Homeless, Light the Night and Autism Speaks events. A Halloween Extravaganza for the children at Stepping Stones Shelter was organized, with face painting, crafts, cookies, and games.


Principal and Teacher Receive NAACP-MCPS Awards

April 16, 2009

Paint Branch High School Principal and Mill Creek Towne Elementary School Teacher Receive the NAACP-MCPS Principal and Teacher of the Year Awards

The Montgomery County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Montgomery County Public Schools are proud to announce Mrs. Jeanette E. Dixon, principal of Paint Branch High School, and Ms. Angel L. Mason, kindergarten teacher at Mill Creek Towne Elementary School, as the inaugural recipients of the NAACP-MCPS Outstanding Principal and Teacher of the Year Awards for 2009.

Read the entire press release: MCPS Press Release

http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/press/index.aspx?page=showrelease&id=2502


MCPS Volunteer Champion of the Year

Congratulations to the Arcola ES PTA on winning the MCPS Volunteer Champion of the Year award for their innovative Bilingual Buddies program!

Arcola's program pairs bilingual parents with parents who don't speak English in a simple, straightforward process that has dramatically increased parent participation in school events and doubled the membership of their PTA!

The Arcola ES PTA will be honored at MCBRE's annual Champions for Children Gala, which will take place April 21, 2009, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

Karen Smith
MCCPTA Vice President for Programs


MCPS Class of 2008 Sets New Advanced Placement Records

February 4, 2009

Scores of African American and Hispanic Students Surpass National Average for All Students

Paint Branch High School Leads Nation in African American Performance in AP World History

"The Paint Branch High School Class of 2008 led the nation in the percentage of African American graduates who earned a 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement (AP) World History exam, exemplifying improved participation and performance districtwide."

Read more on the MCPS website:

http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/press/index.aspx?pagetype=showrelease&id=2455


Parent Volunteerism Up at Germantown Elementary School

‘10 for Excellence' encourages 10 hours of volunteer time

Read Gazette.Net Article


Paint Branch HS named Parent's Choice in Maryland by Business Week

GreatSchool's Parent's Choice (public): Paint Branch High School
Click here for more info.

From Business Week
America's Best High Schools
by state:
Go to website

Maryland:
Go to webpage


Congratulations to Roberto Clemente Middle School!

A HUGE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED IN, AND SUPPORTED, the coat and canned food drive at Roberto Clemente Middle School. Upon initial count, it looks like over 600 coats and 800 cans of food were received! This is a wonderful display of service to our community. The food will go to the Germantown HELP Pantry, and the coats have been taken to Interfaith Clothing Center and to a womens’ shelter in our area. Thanks, also, to Mrs. Couch for coordinating the distribution of these items to the community!


Congratulations to Highland Elementary School!

SIX MARYLAND SCHOOLS AWARDED “BLUE RIBBON” STATUS

  • Highland Elementary in Montgomery County
  • Western High School in Baltimore City
  • Southern High in Anne Arundel County
  • Seventh District Elementary in Baltimore County
  • Hammond Middle in Howard County
  • Stephen Decatur Middle in Worcester County

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program is a state and national program that recognizes and honors schools that exhibit high performance and/or significant improvement in reading and mathematics achievement as measured by Maryland’s assessments. Schools must meet rigorous standards developed by the Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education. These schools are either extremely high achievers in reading and mathematics or economically disadvantaged schools exceeding norms and dramatically closing achievement gaps of their students in reading and mathematics. Maryland can select up to six schools for recognition, based on its school-age population. The Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools go on to compete for National Blue Ribbon Awards, which will be announced by the US Department of Education next September.


Montgomery County Award Winners

Montgomery County Award Winners-Maryland PTA State Convention President’s Dinner and Award Celebration-November 14, 2008:  At the November 25, 2008 MCCPTA Delegates Assembly, we will present these awards. Please make sure the MCCPTA Delegates representing your schools are there to receive your awards.

MEMBERSHIP

This was calculated based on the information that was submitted by the local units to Maryland PTA on March 31, 2008

Membership, 5 percent growth

  • Burning Tree Elementary
  • Laytonsville Elementary
  • Sherwood Elementary
  • Spark Matsunaga Elementary

Membership, 15 percent growth

  • Westover Elementary
  • Whetstone Elementary
  • Robert Frost Middle School

Membership, 25 percent growth

  • Damascus Elementary
  • Fairland Elementary
  • John T Baker Middle School
  • James Hubert Blake High School
  • Northwood High School

PTSA Student Membership

  • Ridgeview Middle School

Outstanding County/City Award

Given to one local in each county/city for the largest percentage of membership based on school population. This was calculated based on the information that was submitted by the local units to Maryland PTA

  • Winston Churchill HS

DAD4PTA Award

A male PTA member who has made contributions, which are outstanding and exemplary and reflect the Purposes of the PTA

  • Mr. Melvin Moore, Briggs Chaney Middle School PTSA- Mr. Moore attended the awards

Congratulations Patti Twigg, MCCPTA Communications Chair and Listservs Moderator!

Board of Education Honored Distinguished Service Award Winners on Thursday, October 23, 2008

Patti Twigg is an advocate on behalf of excellence in education for all children in the school system. Over the past decade, she has been not only an active PTSA parent, but also a PTSA president, a special needs chair, a cluster representative and a cluster coordinator, along with accepting numerous other assignments within MCPS and state-level PTSAs. Twigg has testified countless times before the Board of Education and the County Council on issues that affect education. One of her notable contributions has been in championing and implementing the use of listservs. She has coordinated and moderated e-mail groups and participated in writing new rules and guidelines to govern the use of listserv by local PTSAs.

The complete award winner list:
http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/press/index.aspx?pagetype=showrelease&id=2409

Watch Award Ceremony

The Distinguished Service Awards will air on Ch. 34 (Comcast), Ch. 36 (Verizon FiOS), and Ch. 89 (RCN).
Fri., 10/24 at 8 p.m.
Sat., 10/25 and Sun., 10/26 at 7 p.m.
Wed., 10/29 at 8 p.m.
Sat., 11/1 and Sun., 11/2 at 7 p.m.


Congratulations Charles R. Drew ES

AEMS ALLIANCE ANNOUNCES
For Immediate Release: October 1, 2008

Three Maryland Schools Receive National Award

• Berlin Intermediate School, Worcester County Public Schools
• Charles R. Drew Elementary, Montgomery County Public Schools
• Winters Mill High School, Carroll County Public Schools

Recipients of the 2007-2008
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award

BALTIMORE - The Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) Alliance and The Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) congratulate the recipients of the John F. Kennedy national awards program honoring outstanding school arts programs. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award is presented each year to five schools from throughout the United States that have made the arts an essential part of their students' education. For the first time in the history of the Kennedy Center awards program, three of the five schools chosen for this prestigious national recognition are from one state. The three Maryland winners will receive a monetary award to support their arts education programs and may be invited to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. These schools will be honored during the AEMS Alliance Cultural Arts For Education (CAFE) Conference in the spring of 2009:

Berlin Intermediate School, Worcester County Public Schools, Grades 4-6, Berlin, Maryland

Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School, Montgomery County Public Schools Grades K-5, Silver Spring, Maryland

Winters Mill High School, Carroll County Public Schools, Grades 9-12, Westminster, Maryland

The winners of the award were selected from the schools nominated by their State Alliance for Arts Education. The award is presented to individual public schools that have ensured a creative educational environment for outstanding student achievement by providing high-quality opportunities for learning in and throuigh the arts


MCPS Back to School Fair

MCCPTA was in the house—or on the blacktop—at the August 16th, MCPS Back to School Fair.  Membership Chair April Keyes and I had a great time talking to parents about PTA while applying tattoos and handing out hundreds of pencils emblazoned “Join your local PTA.” 

We were there to promote PTA membership and it was interesting that many parents told us that they hadn’t previously joined the PTA at their child’s school because they didn’t have the time to get involved with PTA.  April and I took a page from Maryland PTA’s idea of tiered membership and informed people that you didn’t need to make a commitment of time to join the PTA.  We explained that PTAs support all the students at a school regardless of whether their parents are members or not and so joining the PTA is the first step toward supporting their child’s education regardless of whether they could make a commitment of time.  Most PTAs provide information to all parents; provide cultural arts and enrichment to all students; and support all staff. Once it was explained that membership didn’t mean a big commitment of time many parents told us that they would join their local PTA. 

Parents were very pleased when we explained that joining a local PTA also made them a member of MCCPTA.  The idea that their membership could help give a stronger voice to MCCPTA was very appealing to them.  We described some of the advocacy efforts MCCPTA has made in recent years and explained that it makes a difference when we testify to the County Executive, County Council, and School Board to be able to say that we have 50,000 members. We also pointed out that it gives their own local PTA a stronger voice when membership increases—it makes a difference when the PTA president can tell the principal he/she is speaking on behalf of hundreds of parents rather than dozens. 

The fair was very well attended and there were lots of activities for young children as well as a DJ and entertainment crew for the older students.  There was lots of free food and a raffle which culminated with raffling off a desktop computer.  There were many informational booths and April and I are both looking forward to returning next summer.

- Jane de Winter


Congratulations to our MCPS Volunteer Winners!

MCPS Division of Family and Community Partnerships

Click to see which schools had the most volunteer hours recorded this school year (2007-2008)!

» Congratulations to our Volunteer Winners!


Sally K. Ride and Target Announce “Look What I Read!!  I’m Right on Target!!”

Sally K. Ride Elementary School, the SKR PTA, and Target are proud to announce a partnership that sponsored a reading incentive program encouraging children to read on a daily basis.  The main goal of this program was to show children that reading is fun, important, and should be part of their every day lives. Too often, reading is considered a chore.  One method used to combat this attitude was to encourage children to read whatever interested them, either alone or with a friend or adult, without the pressure of concurrent instruction. 

The program also tried to change the fundamental way that reading is encouraged.  Children are very social beings, yet reading is usually a solitary task and therefore, it is not an activity that caters to their natural tendencies.  However, talking about books that children read can be a very social activity.  Children share their thoughts about their favorite cartoon, game, TV star, or sports hero, but they seldom talk about books.  This program attempted to add books to the list of things about which children talk.  To accomplish this, the children were encouraged to talk about the books they read with family, friends, and teachers.  As an optional activity, children were given a rating form on which they could rate the books they read and share what they thought in age-appropriate terms that included “Awesome!” or “Boring!”.  SKR teachers did a phenomenal job in promoting participation in the incentive program and providing time for discussion of the books that their students read.

A total of 276 students completed the incentive and rated 183 books. Amazingly, of the 183 books rated, only 12 were read by more than one student showing the wonderful diversity and plethora of books that SKR children read.  The SKR PTA made a compilation of these books and the ratings and provided them to teachers and parents. 

All students who completed the incentive were rewarded with the opportunity to choose a Scholastic book as their prize, the cost of which was primarily covered by a generous grant from Target.  Perhaps the greatest proof that this incentive was a success was that after children took their prize books back to class, numerous teachers remarked that they had some difficulty getting children to put down the books so that the teachers could continue lessons.  Even the children who did not complete the incentive sat with someone who had and together they read the new book.  The irony of teachers telling children to stop reading was not lost on SKR staff or parents!

The staff at SKR, the SKR PTA, and Target are all very excited about the success of this program.  The title “Look What I Read!” is meant to convey the pride in reading so many different books while “I’m right on Target!” is an obvious play on the name of the financial sponsor that shows that SKR children are right on target in reading every day.


PTA Workshop at Wayside Elementary School

We recently had Debbie Fink lead a two day workshop for third graders at Wayside Elementary School.  Mrs. Fink worked with approximately 100 students celebrating National Poetry Week with a workshop entitled, There Once was a Limerick.

The two day seminar was structured with a learning/thinking day on the first day and hands on writing on the second.  The first day’s focus was setting the stage through The Gift of Writing: Going from Inspiration to Publication.   Mrs. Fink tailored the program to incorporate our third grade teachers’ requirements which were to help the students with creative writing and to work with them on something outside of the regular MCPS curriculum.  Providing an overview of poetry styles and genres, Mrs. Fink discussed emotions in poetry and focused on rhyming poetry.  She got the kids involved by having them read quotes about poetry by great poets.  The kids really enjoyed Mrs. Fink’s Limericks’ Rhythm and Rhyme in which she taught limericks through movement.

On the second day, Mrs. Fink focused on writing limericks.  She started the day in a brainstorming session so the students could practice the process of writing a limerick.  Each student was then given a camera-ready prototype to write their final two limericks along with an illustration.  Mrs. Fink is now overseeing the publishing of a poetry book for the students entitled, There Once was a Limerick from Wayside…, so that the children will have a book, published by Harmony Hearth, containing their limericks, illustrations, and some photos from the workshop.

Mrs. Fink brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the workshop that all of the students are touched by it.  The students were very upbeat and excited by the whole program and are eagerly awaiting the publication of their book.  The teachers were very positive about the experience.  One teacher commented, “Debbie was organized, enthusiastic, and knew her stuff.  Also, she built on things that the kids have learned without repeating what we’ve done in school.”  Another summed up, “I would love to have Debbie back again next year, especially since we now know what to expect.  She was very organized and it was apparent that she has a passion for writing.  There was a clear beginning, middle, and end to the program and I think the students really enjoyed the process.”

If you have any questions, please email Cheryl Kitt.


Fitness Program at Jackson Road Elementary School

A little bit of Mahatma Gandhi is alive and well in Silver Spring, Maryland — or at least his words: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." Gandhi's quote inspired veteran art teacher Lisa Gutman to do something about a problem she was seeing among her students at Jackson Road Elementary school: poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity.

So Gutman made a bold move. Through a grant she received from the Verizon Foundation and the support of Principal Sally Macias, she developed a program called "Fit to Learn, Fit for Life." The program is designed to provide a safe, respectful and responsible environment where elementary school students can exercise, learn proper nutrition and acquire the skills necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle. The best part about it? It can easily be integrated into the school day as well as at home.

The program starts with morning fitness classes in the cafeteria before the school day begins. Either through DVDs or live guest teachers, such as local trainer and owner of Fiterrifix Scott Sulkin, kids enjoy 20-minute exercise sessions, featuring hip-hop, yoga, and other kid-friendly routines. Teachers also get a DVD called "Energy Blasts" for quick exercise breaks in the classroom.

To teach students how to live healthier lives, a dietician from the Department of Food and Nutrition Services leads discussions about fitness and nutrition. And, because kids love "stuff," Gutman also offers students cool program T-shirts, which they wear with pride.

How are students responding to the program?

"They love it," says Gutman. "I've seen a real metamorphosis. Kids are becoming much more active. Suddenly, in my art class students are rushing to clean up so that they have time for a quick bit of hip-hop."

Even better, kids are beginning to understand there's more to hip-hop than just fun moves; they're starting to embrace the link between exercise and health.

"If you're fit," a first-grader recently told Gutman, "you could live to be 100 years old!"

More proof of the program's success comes in the form of paper stars filling up the walls in the school's hallways. On each star, students describe what they like best about their workouts — strong testimony to their new-found enjoyment of physical activity. Kids also created a "Fit to Learn, Fit for Life" cookbook to share with their families, featuring recipes supplied by a local author.

"We're also in the process of collecting written fitness goals from every student," says Gutman, "and helping them make plans to reach them."

How does the future of fitness look at Jackson Road Elementary? Strong.

"These days," says Gutman, "the kids are the ones leading the charge for more fitness activities."

For example, the students decided amongst themselves to start a recess running club. As a result of their request, a P.E. teacher mapped out a quarter mile loop for them to run, and a local trainer arrived to head up their club. Could the next world-famous marathoner be among Jackson Road's fledgling runners?

To include families, Gutman is working with students from George Washington University's exercise science program to participate in a Family Fitness Night. Led by Professor Alex Dickman, the GW students are working with the kids to set up health and fitness stations for the families to engage in and creating take home bags of fitness goodies to keep the momentum going.

Up next is a workout video contest, in which students will develop their own five-minute fitness routines. Gutman will then choose the best workouts and combine them into a video for everyone to use. Presently each morning the halls are lined with students waiting for their routines to be recorded!

Fitness Gurus Billy Blanks and Denise Austin — watch out!

Here are some tips for increasing the fitness of your student body:

Present exercise as a fun activity.
* Focus on kid-friendly exercises, such as hip-hop.
* Present quick activities that can be done at home as well as at school.
* Give kids public recognition for accomplishing fitness goals.
* Educate parents and kids about good nutrition.
* Involve parents as much as possible.
* Encourage and empower kids to take fitness programs further.


Hollywood Comes to Paint Branch Winterguard!

On Thursday, March 20, 2008, Paint Branch Winterguard will participate in the filming of the Hollywood movie "State of Play," directed by Kevin Macdonald and starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Russell Crowe, and Helen Mirren.

The Paint Branch Winterguard members are: Marthe Ambroise, Marly Diallo, Bernardine Frazer, Christina Heng, Hawi Itana, Meri Kitila, Amanda Lay, Christine Lay, Renee Reardon, Sierra Reynolds, and Jessica Tran.

Filming will take place on the steps of the Scottish Rite Temple on 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, throughout the day.

The film is based on a BBC mini-series of the same title. In the movie, a team of investigative reporters work alongside a police detective to try and solve the murder of a congressman's mistress. The film is scheduled for release in 2009.

The Winterguard is under the direction of Dawn Simounet and her assistant Cecilio Alvarez. Ms. Simounet has been the instructor for the past five years and choreographed the number which will appear in the film.

The Winterguard is part of the Paint Branch Marching Band under the direction of Sean Kirchhoff, a 1996 Paint Branch graduate and an alum of the music program. This is Mr. Kirchhoff's eighth year as a band director, and his first at his alma mater.


ADVANCEMENT IN SCIENCE …

The Montgomery County Council on Feb. 26 recognized students from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda for their victory in a battle of scientific and mathematical wits in the recent Maryland Science Bowl state championship. Whitman has now qualified to compete against 67 other teams in the National Science Bowl competition in Chevy Chase in May. Councilmember Roger Berliner presented a proclamation in honor of the team’s success to Damjan Korac, Shantanu Jha, Seth Gordon, Evan Weingarten and team advisor Julie Frank.


Wheaton High School Named National Breakthrough School

January 31, 2008

MCPS

Wheaton High School Named MetLife-NASSP Breakthrough School for Encouraging High Levels of Student Achievement

Wheaton High School has been selected as a MetLife-NASSP Breakthrough School, one of only 10 schools in the nation serving large numbers of students living in poverty that were honored for encouraging high levels of student achievement.

The Breakthrough School program, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), showcases middle and high schools that are high achieving or are dramatically improving student achievement. The 10 schools selected as Breakthrough Schools demonstrated continual growth on state assessments over at least three years, specific efforts addressing the achievement gap, equity of student participation in challenging courses, and academic and career-focused learning plans for students.

Wheaton has a diverse student population. Of the 1,324 students who attend, 53.4 percent are Hispanic, 24.2 percent are African American, 11.6 percent are Asian and 10.6 percent are white. Almost 49 percent of Wheaton students receive free and reduced-price meals.

With supports in place—such as access to rigorous coursework for all students, differentiated instruction with multiple assessments, data-based decision making and opportunities for career development—Wheaton is working to close the achievement gap. The number of students who take Advanced Placement classes and exams continues to increase. Wheaton actively recruits students to take Honors classes in their freshman and sophomore years. This year, 61.7 percent of all students are participating in AP and/or Honors classes, with 26 percent enrolled in Advanced Placement classes.

Wheaton offers professional development that supports students’ particular needs. All staff members participate in subject-level Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that meet at least once a month. Based on data gathered last school year, this year the PLC is focusing on motivating students and looking at implications for instruction.

Wheaton is committed to the concept of smaller learning communities, which allows the school to target all students for academic success. Wheaton has five academies—Academy of Information Technology, Academy of Engineering, Academy of Biosciences and Health Professions, Institute for Global and Cultural Studies, and the Ninth Grade Academy. The four content-specific academies are integrated with course pathways that provide advanced-level instruction. Next year, all incoming freshmen, in addition to attending the Ninth Grade Academy, will participate in another academy during their years at Wheaton.

The high school also partners with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, which provides tutor funding at the Homework Center, where students can work with teachers across all disciplines. Lunchtime Enrichment is offered every day through the various academic departments and academies.

The school will receive a $5,000 grant and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Principal Leadership magazine. Wheaton and other Breakthrough Schools will be honored at the National Association of Secondary School Principals conference, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, February 22–28, 2008.


November 2007

"The Gift of Writing" at Mill Creek Town ES

Mill Creek Towne ES hosted a local author-in-residence, Debbie Fink, who spent the day meeting with our students, grade by grade, in the Media Center. Mrs. Fink adapted her program, The Gift of Writing: Going from Inspiration to Publication, to meet each grade's reading and writing goals and objectives. She highlights that The Gift of Writing is a metaphor for the writing process ("to write is a gift to both the reader and writer"). To emphasize this metaphor, she brings huge gift boxes, representing the three stages of writing. Student volunteers got to climb into some of these gift boxes as part of her explanation--met with peels of shared laughter! She also uses a visual simile, comparing the three stages of writing to a traffic light. To explain her simile, the gift box for each writing stage is a color of a traffic light: green is for "Inspiration" (Ideas), yellow is for "Perspiration" (exercising caution and sweating the details), and red is for "Publication" (the final product).

Ms. Fink's creative program involves many artistic elements: the visual appeal as described above, as well as music (she played her fiddle), movement (lots of upper body motion), drama, sign language, art, and children's literature. When Mrs. Fink explained the printing process (during "Publication"), she integrated science, art, and math. When she talked about visual literacy, she integrated art and storytelling. Everyone left the Media Center with a smile on their face, and the talk in the halls was very positive, from teachers, students, and staff alike. We at Mill Creek Towne highly recommend "The Gift of Writing" for your students. Next time our students pick up a pencil, they will remember that they have a gift to give, and give, and give . . .

For further questions about the Mill Creek Towne ES experience, please contact Traci Bird, MCTES Cultural Arts Committee, at [301-670-1810].


William Tyler Page Elementary School is a National PTA award recipient in celebration of PTA Healthy Lifestyles Month!

CHICAGO (October 24, 2007) - PTA's national office today announced it will award $500 to 39 PTA schools, and a grand award of $1,000 to one PTA school, to help thousands of students and families celebrate PTA Healthy Lifestyles Month, November.

These PTAs are receiving cash awards to recognize PTA Healthy Lifestyles Month activities they have planned to promote health and wellness and parent involvement in their schools; emphasize the link between involvement and student achievement; and further PTA's mission. Hundreds of PTAs submitted proposals describing different family activities they have planned, such as walkathons, and health fairs, as well as yoga and cooking classes.  » Read More


Winston Churchill HS Named National Blue Ribbon School

October 2, 2007

MCPS

Winston Churchill High School is among six Maryland public schools selected today as a 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Churchill is the 33rd school in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to achieve national blue ribbon status since 1985.

The No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that are either academically superior or have shown dramatic improvement among economically disadvantaged students.

Churchill was named on the basis of superior performance on the High School Assessments in algebra and English, as well as outstanding performance on SAT and Advanced Placement examinations. Competition for the National Blue Ribbon included a site visit to the school and evidence of other outstanding aspects of the school’s program.

“The National Blue Ribbon is an important recognition that reflects high expectations and a commitment to excellence,” said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. “MCPS is very proud of this achievement earned by the students, staff, and administrators at Winston Churchill High School.”

This is the first year that Maryland high schools were among the schools named for this honor under the new Blue Ribbon Schools Award process that uses performance on state assessments as the primary criterion for selection. Two public elementary schools, two public middle schools, and two public high schools were honored. Other winners in addition to Churchill include schools in Howard and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City. One nonpublic school in Maryland also received National Blue Ribbon status—St. Andrew Apostle School in Montgomery County.

Schools selected as National Blue Ribbon winners will be honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November. For more information on the program and a list of 2007 winners, visit the link below.

  » Blue Ribbon Schools Program


September 2007

Walter Johnson High School Best Buddies Named Top High School Chapter in the World

A ceremony and reception will be held on Monday, September 10, honoring the Best Buddies chapter at Walter Johnson High School. The chapter was named the most outstanding high school chapter in the world by Best Buddies International.

Walter Johnson’s Best Buddies program was selected from program chapters in more than 800 high schools worldwide for its commitment to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-on-one friendships. The 2006-2007 school year was the first full year in existence for the chapter, which grew considerably under the leadership and guidance of Walter Johnson students Sara Moss, chapter president, and Eli Lewis, buddy director.

Among the guests at the ceremony will be Board of Education Vice President Shirley Brandman, Board of Education members Patricia O’Neill and Ben Moskowitz, and Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. Christian Metzger, director of Best Buddies for the state of Maryland, will be present, along with several other Best Buddies representatives.

The international program, founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, pairs general education students (buddy peers) with special education students (buddies) to create one-on-one friendships and expand connections among groups of students with differing abilities.


August 2007

Academy of Finance at Paint Branch High School Receives Award from the National Academy Foundation

The Rebecca F. Baber Academy of Finance program at Paint Branch High School has been honored as one of five most improved National Academy Foundation (NAF) academies in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The award was presented on July 20 by the NAF, in partnership with American Express, to Jeanette Dixon, principal; Rebecca Baber, site coordinator; and Sandra Navidi, program director, at the NAF Institute for Staff Development in Washington, DC. The $5,000 award recognizes the Academy of Finance team’s successful efforts to reach criteria for program excellence, such as graduation rate and percent of placements in paid internships. The award may be used for student scholarships and awards, or for programmatic support.

The Academy of Finance at Paint Branch High School began in 2003 and operates as a "school within a school." It introduces students to the broad career opportunities in the financial services industry and includes paid internships at banks, brokerage houses, and other businesses that deal with finance and accounting practices.

The Academy of Finance also is offered at Albert Einstein, Gaithersburg, Col. Zadok Magruder, Northwest, and Watkins Mill high schools. More than 500 students participate in AOF programs. For more information contact Sandra Navidi at 240-632-6938 or email her.


July 2007

Six MCPS PTAs Receive National PTA Unit Recognition Awards

Congratulations go out to the local PTAs at six Montgomery County Public Schools that were recognized with the Unit Recognition Award for 2006-2007. These PTA units worked to increase their membership, involve parents in the school, and inform parents about issues affecting student achievement or school success. The units also attended a state PTA convention or other state-sponsored event. The six schools are: Clearspring ES PTA, Cloverly ES PTA, Dr. Martin Luther King MS PTSA, Little Bennett ES PTA, Rocky Hill MS PTA and Stonegate PTA.

Congratulations to these schools!

Locals are encouraged to apply for this award. The application form can be found on the Maryland PTA website.

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