• Doolittle in Running for Maryland Teacher of the Year

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 8/28/2014
    ErinDoolittle FCPS Teacher Is One of Seven State Finalists

    As an exciting addition to the first week of school, Frederick County Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban learned that Hillcrest Elementary pre-kindergarten teacher and Frederick County Teacher of the Year Erin Doolittle is one of seven finalists for the Maryland State Teacher of the Year award. Dr. Alban will visit Hillcrest tomorrow to celebrate the news.
    “We are so proud of Ms. Doolittle,” said Superintendent Alban. “She is an amazing teacher, an amazing advocate for children and families, and an amazing representative of the outstanding teachers in Frederick County.”
    Ms. Doolittle earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and master’s degree in reading specialization, both from Hood College. She is a Frederick County Pre-Kindergarten Master Teacher for all content areas and has served on Hillcrest Elementary’s school improvement team since 2005. As an advocate for early childhood education, Ms. Doolittle volunteers regularly at Judy Center events, collaborates with childcare professionals and presents at conferences and professional-development events.
    A panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations selected the seven finalists from among the state’s 24 district Teacher of Year recipients. They evaluated finalists according to a rigorous set of national criteria that included teaching philosophy, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues and suggestions for instructional improvement. Oral interviews with the seven finalists will take place in September.
    The 2014-2015 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West on October 10. The winner will receive monetary and other awards, national travel opportunities and a new car valued at over $25,000 donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association. The Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to participate in the national Teacher of the Year program, speaking to education, business and civic groups about the teaching profession.
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  • First Day Starts with Sun and Blue Skies

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 8/25/2014
    66 Schools Welcome 40,000+ Students
    Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) opened all 66 schools on schedule today, the first day of the 2014-15 school year. The day started well before sun up at the school bus depot. With nearly 30,000 students eligible to ride buses, FCPS drivers all reported safe travels this morning. Ninety-three percent of morning routes ran on time within 10 minutes of their schedules. Director Fred Punturiero said there are always some delays as bus drivers and students meet and make adjustments the first few weeks of school. He’s confident that they will soon settle in to comfortable routines. Meanwhile, FCPS invites parents to check the following webpage for a list of buses running later than 10 minutes: http://www.fcps.org/Page/811.
    Not one to miss the first-day fanfare, Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban started her day at Governor Thomas Johnson High School. She appreciated the effort that student and parent volunteers put in beautifying the school grounds and creating interior murals over the summer. She enjoyed sitting in on a morning music class in which students were creating name chants as “ice breaker” introductions, and she was glad to see students using computer-aided design (CAD) technology in an architectural engineering class. Next, Dr. Alban visited Monocacy Middle, where sixth-grade math students were eagerly raising their hands to participate in an “estimation challenge.”
    Across the county, while Brunswick Middle students were already at work in their first-block classes, Brunswick Elementary students gathered under a clear, blue sky for a first-day flag-raising ceremony.
    At North Frederick Elementary Principal DeVeda Coley saw smiles everywhere as students arrived at their brand-new school and teachers quickly engaged them in fresh, colorful classrooms. North Frederick was Dr. Alban’s third stop, followed by visits across town to Waverley and Hillcrest Elementary. There students will soon occupy a new 12-room pod, installed over the summer and providing indoor access to restrooms. A new west Frederick City elementary is planned to relieve overcrowding at Hillcrest now that North Frederick’s new building is complete and the new Frederick High design is underway.
    BOE President Joy Schaefer was happy to see the new security vestibule in use at Spring Ridge Elementary. FCPS added security vestibules at Heather Ridge and several other schools over the summer.
    At Myersville, students sang the school song with lyrics about “learning to be the best we can be.”
    Behind the scenes staff worked to keep students energized and on the move. Food and Nutrition Services offered some of students’ favorite lunch choices: chicken nuggets, pizza, carrot sticks, tossed salad, mashed potatoes, fresh apples and oranges, other assorted fruit and cold milk. Food and Nutrition Services also provided 10 schools with classroom breakfast and served a cafeteria breakfast in the remaining schools. Schools offered 2,400 pounds of produce countywide for breakfast and lunch.
    From elementary to high school, students and staff shared first-day impressions. Tuscarora Elementary Principal Steve Raff asked students how their first day was going and got one-word responses: “Good!” For his part, Principal Raff said, “I love the first day of school. It's all brand new, yet familiar with a community that I enjoy serving. Students, staff and parents came in today smiling with an enthusiasm for learning.”
    At Monocacy Middle, Principal Brian Vasquenza heard, “I love having my own locker. We have so much more independence than in elementary school. It’s nice to be able to change teachers every period.”
    “The first day is a great opportunity to see the kind of personal and caring connection we have with every student,” says Michael Doerrer, FCPS Communication Services director; “That’s what makes FCPS so special. While students and teachers focused on getting to know each other, administrators were out to visit every school in the system. It’s a time to renew our focus on the promise of public education.”
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  • Dr. Alban Takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 8/21/2014
    DrAlbanIceBucket Issues Students a Challenge of Her Own

    August 18, 2014  The Ice Bucket Challenge has come to Frederick County, and Frederick County Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban  accepted the challenge to raise attention and funding to cure ALS. Commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease; the technical name for ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, eventually causing paralysis and even death.
    The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice. This viral sensation, which has used the hash tag #IceBucketChallenge, has attracted thousands of followers worldwide.
    As of today, the ALS Association has received more than $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year, from July 29 to August 18. The donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 donors new to the association. The ALS Association’s mission is to provide care to people with ALS and their families through a network of chapters working in communities across the nation and to fund a global research program focused on the discovery of treatments and eventually a cure for the disease. In addition, the Association’s efforts empower people to advance public policies in our nation’s Capital that respond to the needs of people with ALS.
    Among those joining Dr. Alban in the ALS ice bucket challenge at Tuscarora High School was Urbana High student Megan Schlesinger. Megan's father was diagnosed with ALS last year. She, her father and her family have been touched by the outpouring of support throughout the county. They hope the millions raised in recent weeks will help scientists find a cure.

    It was Middle Schools instructional director Tom Saunders who passed the challenge to the Superintendent. He was challenged by his daughter.
    “We’re all very happy to support a good cause and to have some fun as we head into the new school year," says Dr. Alban. "But I think there’s a serious message here too. The people who originated this challenge have shown all of us that when you’re passionate about something and devote your energy and hard work, you can make amazing things happen. That’s a message I’d like to bring to all of the young people of Frederick County. Who knows? One of the FCPS students who sees this might turn out to be the scientist who someday cures ALS. I think we can all take some inspiration from this challenge on many levels.”
    See the video:  http://youtu.be/Xc3YFPnb8Rs

    More information about the Ice Bucket Challenge is online at www.alsa.org.

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  • Gifts for Education and Gladhill Grants

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 8/18/2014
    Application Process Opens Today
    Students in Frederick County public schools benefit each year from generous citizen donations through the Community Foundation of Frederick County. This past school year, more than $8,000 in earnings from donated funds supported student-enrichment projects.
    Today, FCPS posted applications online for the 2014-15 Franklin and Bess Gladhill Fund for Agricultural Education and the FCPS Gifts for Education Fund at www.fcps.org. Public school students, families, employees and any public schools, departments and program areas wishing to support student enrichment or enhance student learning through innovative means may apply for grant funding. FCPS encourages collaborations that will combine and maximize resources. The application deadline is Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 4 p.m. For more information, please call 301-696-6805 or e-mail Deb.Huffman@fcps.org.
    The primary intent of Gifts for Education funds, supported with community members’ gifts, is to provide for student enrichment activities not funded through regular school system budgets. Franklin and Bess Gladhill established the Gladhill Endowment Fund for Agricultural Education in 1998 to support FCPS agricultural education programs. The grants are not intended to supplant existing funds, but rather to supplement current budgets. Award preference for the Gladhill grants is given to applications submitted to benefit schools in the Linganore, Tuscarora and Urbana high school feeder areas and the FCPS Career and Technology Center.
    The Community Foundation of Frederick County accepts tax-deductible donations and has distributed over $138,000 in 270 grants from these two funds since the endowments were launched in 1998. Anyone wishing to donate may call 301-696-6805.

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  • New Principal at Monocacy Valley

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 8/14/2014
    Frederick County Public Schools has named Nancy Radkiewicz as the new principal at the Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School, effective August 20, 2014. Ms. Radkiewicz will fill the vacancy created when Felacita King accepted a position as Hillcrest Elementary assistant principal.
    After earning her bachelor’s degree in 1971 from the University of Nebraska in Kearney, Nebraska, Ms. Radkiewicz completed her master’s degree in gifted education from the University of Connecticut in 1991. In addition, she has acquired principal licensure and Montessori school leadership and management credentials.
    Ms. Radkiewicz began her education career in 1971 teaching third grade in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She later taught fifth and sixth grades in Tucson, Arizona and Ralston, Nebraska, respectively. In 1986 she became a resource teacher for gifted and talented education in Colorado Springs, and from 2001-2004 was a regional facilitator and district-level coordinator for gifted and talented education. Her administrative career began in 2004 when she was appointed principal of the Eugene Field Elementary International Baccalaureate School in Littleton, Colorado. She remained there until starting her most recent assignment in 2011 as principal of the Monarch Montessori School of Denver.
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  • School Buses to Sport Route Numbers

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 8/11/2014
    BusRouteSticker As Frederick County public school employees prepare to welcome more than 40,000 students Monday, August 25, FCPS buses are sporting a special new feature. This year instead of learning a bus number, students will travel by route, a letter-number combination displayed in windows on each side of the bus. The route designation will remain the same even when a substitute bus is scheduled to serve that route.

    Most routes begin with the first letter of the high school in the student’s feeder pattern, or service area. For example, a student in the Brunswick High feeder pattern—which includes the high school plus middle and elementary schools that “feed into” that school—will be assigned a route starting with the letter B. Because there are 15 routes in the Brunswick area, its route numbers are B1 through B15.
    Catoctin area routes are numbered C1-C26; Frederick F1-F21; Governor Thomas Johnson G1-G24; Linganore L1-L36; Middletown M1-M36; Oakdale O1-O22; Tuscarora T1-T24; Urbana U1-U26 and Walkersville W1-W25. Special education buses are numbered S1-S87. Heather Ridge buses are numbered H1-H7.

    In addition to making it easier for students to remember which bus to board, the new system allows drivers to remain with one bus. This helps drivers be more familiar with their own bus’s handling and provides positive incentives for drivers to maintain their vehicles well.

    Parents and students will find the route numbers online when that feature of the www.fcps.org/backtoschool section goes live Friday, August 15 at 5 p.m.

    FCPS recommends that parents remind their children of safe transportation practices included on page 24 of this year’s Calendar Handbook, online at www.fcps.org/calendar, and coming home with each student the first school day.

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  • School Starts in 5 Weeks

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/23/2014
    Monday, August 25

    Frederick County public schools are preparing to welcome more than 40,000 students Monday, August 25. Here’s how FCPS is shaping up for the 2014-15 school year:

    * Enrollment will slightly rise again this year, having increased three percent over the last decade. Schools expect about 40,800 students. If you have a child not yet enrolled, please contact your local school immediately, as staffing is based on enrollment.

    * FCPS offers more ways than ever to get the newest information about what’s going on in county schools. The Back-to-School section at fcps.org/backtoschool is a single stop for school-supply lists, back-to-school nights and orientation dates, forms, school meals information, new testing requirements, transportation updates, the new Calendar Handbook and more. Also online are links to FCPS social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, flickr, LinkedIn and Pinterest, as well as the mobile FCPS app for Android and i-devices.

    * Online bus routing is slated to go live at 5 PM, Friday, August 15. Mechanics are prepping more than 400 yellow school buses to travel more than 38,000 miles each day as drivers transport 30,000 kids to and from school. It is essential that parents notify the school right away of any changes expected in transportation this school year; transportation staff are determining routing now. Forms for reporting transportation changes are online.

    * Full-price lunches and milk prices are the same as last year, but breakfasts have gone up by 25 cents to $1.35 for elementary students and $1.60 for middle and high. For prepaying and monitoring school meals, FCPS invites parents to use www.myschoolbucks.com. Cafeterias continue to offer whole-grain options, fresh vegetables and fruits, and low-fat choices daily. Families may apply for free or reduced-price student meals using a Meal Benefit Form distributed to all families when school starts.

    * Graduation requirements have changed for the coming school year. Details are linked from the fcps.org home page and in the back-to-school section.

    * Student Information Cards will go home on the first school day—personalized with the information FCPS has for every student. FCPS urges parents to verify or legibly update their child’s forms and return them to school as soon as possible.

    * This year it remains important that parents legibly complete the email section of the Student Information Form. FCPS is working to transition FindOutFirst to email addresses registered in the Student Information System. FindOutFirst continues to offer phone text messaging for emergency closing notices. Subscribers will need to update their schools and grade levels of interest and add their smartphone numbers and carriers to receive emergency text messages.

    * In addition to watching FCPS TV online at fcps.org/tv, watch school videos at the FCPSMaryland YouTube page. Comcast subscribers can tune to Channel 18 for FCPS TV broadcasts such as live Board of Education meetings.

    * This year, FCPS is scheduling half days off for parent-teacher conferences November 24 and 25 for elementary and middle schools only. FCPS will provide students a 2014-15 Calendar Handbook on the first school day, with additional important dates and information. Meanwhile, the Calendar at a Glance is online: fcps.org/calendar. Look for the new tear-out page with Calendar At-a-Glance on one side and emergency procedures on the other.

    * The new North Frederick Elementary is on track to open on schedule to accommodate 725 students in grades pre-kindergarten through five. In addition, Hillcrest Elementary is getting a 12-classroom modular building that will include separate group restrooms for boys, girls and staff.

    * Some charter schools have added grade levels. Carroll Creek Montessori will serve pre-kindergartners age 3 through grade five. The Frederick Classical Charter School will accommodate grades kindergarten through seven. Monocacy Valley Montessori will serve pre-kindergartners age 3 through grade eight.

    * The county and state have committed about $21.5 million for new schools, renovations, additions, technology and land, down from $44.5 million last year. The FY ’15 operating budget is $539.5 million, up from $532.7 million in FY ’14, primarily due to an increase in state funding. Over 97 percent of the FCPS budget goes directly to schools and school support, the physical plant, and student transportation, with less than 3% to administration.

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  • FCPS Explores Cage-Busting Leadership

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/22/2014
    Many people throughout the community are participating in Frederick County Public Schools’ Superintendent Terry Alban’s book club, reading and discussing Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers. However, Outliers isn’t the only book FCPS is talking about this summer.
    Members of the Superintendent’s Leadership Team are engaged in another book study: Frederick M. Hess’s Cage-Busting Leadership. In this leadership-development opportunity, members of the team as well as principals and other “book buddies” will meet with educator, political scientist and author Frederick “Rick” Hess on Wednesday, July 23, in Frederick.
    Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program and on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at Harvard University, Georgetown University, Rice University and the universities of Pennsylvania and Virginia. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in government and an M.Ed. in teaching and curriculum from Harvard University. In addition to Cage-Busting Leadership, Hess has written Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age, Common Sense School Reform and other books, as well as articles published in U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the Washington Post and New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and National Review.
    According to Hess “two things are true. It is true, as would-be reformers often argue, that statutes, policies, rules, regulations, contracts, and case law make it tougher than it should be for school and system leaders to drive improvement and, well, lead. However, it is also the case that leaders have far more freedom to transform, re-imagine, and invigorate teaching, learning, and schooling than is widely believed.'  In his travels across the country, Hess has met school and system leaders who have shared stories about evading, blasting through, or reshaping unnecessary and counterproductive constraints. Drawing on these stories and with his sharp eye, Hess shows current and aspiring leaders how they can cultivate and sustain powerful cultures of teaching and learning.”
    With Cage-Busting Leadership, the group has been discussing ways to exercise effective leadership in Frederick County public schools. They have been meeting throughout the summer.
    FCPS Chief Operating Officer Ann Bonitatibus, who helps lead the discussions, looks forward to Hess’s visit. “To have an expert of his standing meet with FCPS leaders is an amazing opportunity. His visit, while notable on its own, will undoubtedly help FCPS continue to find ways to deliver on the promise of public education for the families of Frederick County.”
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  • FCPS Demonstrates Strong Performance

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/11/2014
    In Midst of Major Transitions

    The Maryland State Department of Education has released test data from 2013-2014 Maryland School Assessments (MSA). Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) students continue to demonstrate strong performance in the midst of major transitions.

    In elementary reading the statewide average of students achieving at the advanced/proficient levels was 84.3 percent, while FCPS students scored 92 percent. Elementary math scores were at 75.8 percent advanced/proficient statewide and 84.3 percent for FCPS. Middle school reading scores were at 79.6 percent statewide and 85 percent for FCPS. Middle school math scores were 63.1 percent statewide and 67.5 for FCPS. MSA science performance remained the same at 77 percent for our fifth graders and 80 percent for our 8th graders.

    The MSDE web-posted data reminds viewers that MSA data does not include the entire student population at FCPS, as up to 10 percent of our students, randomly chosen, took assessments based on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARRC). FCPS has fully completed the transition to new state standards at all grade levels during the past school year in reading and mathematics, but with accountability frozen throughout the transition during which Maryland School Assessments and curriculum were misaligned, uses of the data are very limited.

    “FCPS exercises caution in comparing data or placing too much emphasis on scores from assessments that were not yet aligned with curricula,” says Dr. Jeanine Molock, the school system’s director of Research, Development and Accountability. “Our focus remains more on monitoring student performance in this period of transition than on test scores from the portion of students still taking the MSA, which was not aligned to our updated curricula. Our goal is continuous improvement in achievement for all students.”
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  • Dr. Michael Markoe Named Deputy Superintendent

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/9/2014
    MMarkoe Frederick County Public Schools has named Dr. Michael Markoe the school system’s new deputy superintendent, effective August 1, 2014. Dr. Markoe will fill the vacancy created when Dr. Steve Lockard resigned to work in Fairfax County, Virginia, Public Schools. |

    Dr. Markoe will plan and oversee the administration and leadership of schools systemwide. With 20 years of experience in public education, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in special education from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and master’s degree in educational leadership from Hood College. In 2008, he completed his Ed.D. in an interdisciplinary doctoral program for educational leaders at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    A career educator, Dr. Markoe brings to the position extensive experience, most recently as associate superintendent for Educational Improvement and Innovation at Washington County Public Schools (WCPS), Maryland. He started his career in education at Monocacy Middle School in Frederick, where he was special education teacher and later student support teacher. He was promoted to assistant principal in 1999, assigned to Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School. In 2002 he accepted an assignment at Washington County Public Schools as principal of Western Heights Middle. He was promoted in 2004 to Student Services and Special Education director. From 2006 to 2012 he worked in WCPS leadership positions including acting assistant to the superintendent for System-Wide Improvement, Efficiency and Accountability, assistant superintendent for Elementary Education and assistant superintendent for Student and Staff Support.

    During Dr. Markoe’s tenure as assistant and associate superintendent, he oversaw systemwide professional development and the departments of Human Resources, Special Education, Student Services, Development and Community Partnerships, Public Information, School Counseling and Health Services, Safety and Security, and Title I and II Programs. He co-chaired the WCPS Diversity Recruitment Taskforce and the Teacher Leadership Responsibilities Program, chaired the Social Media and Calendar committees, directed a Teacher Incentive Fund grant, led negotiations with teacher and educational support personnel associations, taught school law as an adjunct professor for Hood College and much more.

    “I am confident that Dr. Markoe’s proven commitment to excellence in public education, his record of leadership and his passion for high academic achievement for all students will contribute substantially to our mission of delivering a premier education to students across Frederick County,” said Dr. Terry Alban, FCPS superintendent.

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