from the Frederick County Public Schools’ Urbana High School team
earned second place nationwide in the 2015 Euro Challenge. With expert guidance from their advisor,
social studies teacher Nathan Kachur (far right in photo), the team of Urbana students (left to right) Akhil Kapoor, Jinghan Sun, Katherine Li
and Rishub Nahar came in second only to defending champions from
Princeton High School. More than 100 schools from 15 states competed in
In the challenge students demonstrated their knowledge about the European Union (EU) and the euro. They made presentations answering questions about the European economy and the single currency, the euro. They were also asked to pick one member country of the “euro area” to examine an economic problem at the country level, and to identify policies for responding to that problem.
The Urbana team chose Spain and focused on the Spanish labor market. The team presented a 15-minute speech on the economic state of the EU, then answered questions that the judges posed. Judges were Wall Street bankers, Federal Reserve Bank economists and the EU ambassador to the United States. For their excellent performance, the students each received scholarships.
Goals of the Euro Challenge are to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of the European Union and the euro, promote an understanding of economic challenges facing European Union member states, support local learning standards related to global studies and economics, foster economic and financial literacy and understanding of economic policy issues, and develop communication, critical thinking and cooperative skills.
In addition, for the last three years, Urbana students won first place in the regional Econ Challenge held at Mount St. Mary’s University. The Econ Challenge is similar to the former Fed Challenge. It is a mock 15-minute speech to the President about the state of the economy and their recommendations for the future, followed by a 15-minute Q and A.
The Euro Challenge is a program that the Delegation of the European Union to the United States launched in partnership with The Moody’s Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York serving as program advisor. The program has wide support from BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, the University of North Carolina, Florida International University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois, the University of Texas at Austin, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin, the Learning Economics and Finance Network, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, the DC World Affairs Council, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Pittsburgh Branch), the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Detroit Branch.
Hood College to Acknowledge Him with Tressler Award
Tony Miller, a social studies teacher at Linganore High, will receive the 2015 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award. Sponsored by Hood College, this award is presented each May to a Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) teacher who has had a significant impact on young people.
Mr. Miller learned today that he is this year’s honoree when the FCPS “Prize Patrol,” led by Deputy Superintendent Michael Markoe, visited him at Linganore High School. Central office and school administrators, staff and students were present to congratulate him. Social Studies teacher Aaron Burch nominated Mr. Miller for the award on behalf of Linganore High. He cited Mr. Miller’s 36 years “positively impacting students’ lives,” adding that Mr. Miller’s “rapport with students is unparalleled. With comic book themed lunch pails, action figures, student work, inspirational quotes, field hockey sticks and stacks of AP textbooks, his room is a testament to his role as teacher and coach,” wrote Mr. Burch. “It’s obvious why an entire class of seniors voted for him to speak at Senior Awards Night and why ninth and tenth grade students cannot wait to take his classes.” Linganore Principal Dave Kehne agreed that Mr. Miller is an extraordinary teacher: “Abiding respect for each student and the joy he takes in student success in its many varied forms are but two of the hallmark qualities that Tony shares with his students and colleagues every day…Tony is passionate about teaching the whole child, and his classes are always filled with students who have sought him as a teacher.” Mr. Miller has spent his entire teaching career since 1979 at Linganore High, where he has taught every social studies class for every grade level throughout the years until 1984. At present he teaches Advanced Placement U.S. History, Advanced Placement Psychology and American Studies II (Honors). He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary social studies from Shepherd College in 1979 and completed his master’s in secondary education curriculum and instruction in 1987 and earned 30 credits beyond his master’s degree at Hood College. He has coached field hockey, softball and lacrosse and received a senior class Golden Lance Award as the person who had the most impact on their school lives. Mr. Miller’s leadership activities have included chairing the Social Studies Department, advising the Psychology Club and membership on the School Improvement Team, among others. The United States Capital Historical Society named him the Frederick County Teacher of the Year. From 1979-2010, Mr. Miller wrote and revised FCPS social studies curricula. The late Samuel Eig of Gaithersburg, MD, established the Tressler Award to recognize Dr. Tressler, a Giles professor emeritus of early childhood education who taught at the college from 1964 to 1990. Dr. Tressler chaired Hood’s Education Department for 18 years and served on the school’s graduate school council for 12 years. Hood College will formally present Mr. Miller the award during its graduate school commencement on May 16.
Amanda Portner, Thurmont Middle School literacy specialist, was surprised to learn today that she is the Frederick County Public Schools 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year. The school system’s most prestigious award recognizes outstanding representatives of the teaching profession. Ms. Portner joined Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) in 1996 to teach English/language arts. In 2005 she became a secondary literacy specialist. In 2008 she was teacher specialist for secondary English/language arts, and in 2012 she returned to the role of secondary literacy specialist. Since 2000, she has served as an FCPS curriculum writer and teacher trainer. She’s co-directed the Maryland Writing Project for Frederick since 2008, and since 2014, she has also taught English for the FCPS Virtual School. Principal Jennifer Powell says, “Amanda’s enthusiasm is contagious, and she is a master at inspiring others. Teachers flock to her professional development offerings, finding Amanda to be an expert in what she shares and full of ‘no nonsense’ examples and strategies that they can use in the classroom the next day. Teachers also appreciate her wonderfully warm sense of humor and presentation style.” “While I realize a literacy specialist is not typical of the vision for Teacher of the Year, Amanda meets the criteria by far, and then some,” said Principal Powell. “Countless numbers of students are so much better off due to her direct work with them, with teachers and the larger community.” Ms. Portner earned her master’s degree in English Curriculum and Instruction in 2009 at Hood College. She has served in school-based leadership positions too numerous to list; some are Frederick County Reading Council treasurer, English Department Chair and Maryland Writing Project Satellite Committee Chair. She is also a member of the International Reading Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Writing Project and many other professional organizations. She even serves as a reader and member of the selection committee for Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan books. “This year, we had 64 outstanding Teacher of the Year nominees. Ms. Portner stood out in an exceptional group of candidates,” said Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban. “Ms. Portner’s dedication makes me proud that she is representing the many excellent teachers who serve children in Frederick County public schools.” The Board of Education of Frederick County will honor Ms. Portner and all the school district nominees at its regular 6 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, May 13. The Maryland Board of Education will honor Ms. Portner along with the winners from Maryland’s 23 other school districts at a luncheon and state board meeting on Tuesday, May 19 and at the 25th Annual Maryland Teacher of the Year Awards Gala on Friday, October 9 when the state-level winner is announced. Maryland’s Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year award.
Tuscarora High School student Sarah Perez will be a junior by the time she begins her term as the next student member of the Board of Education of Frederick County, July 1. Until then she will shadow the Board’s current student member Emmanuel Apea.
Frederick County middle and high school students participated in an online voting process to elect the 2015-2016 student Board member. Sarah received the most votes, running against five other candidates.
In addition to an application that the Frederick County Association of Student Councils (FCASC) Executive Board and SGA advisors reviewed, each candidate answered questions in a Town Hall format that FCPS televised and posted online. Each also submitted a one-page online platform statement. Then nominees participated in a Candidate Forum, answering moderator questions; FCPS also televised this event and posted it to YouTube.
Middle and high school students participated in online voting from February 18 to March 13 to determine which candidate the schools’ Student Government Association (SGA) representatives would support in an April 29 General Assembly. Student enrollment determines a school’s number of representative delegates. When Sarah won the FCASC General Assembly election, the Assembly submitted her name for approval to the Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent to serve a year-long term, beginning in July 2015.
The role of the student member is to bring a student viewpoint on educational issues to BOE meetings. The function is not to represent any particular special-interest group of students on an issue, but rather to respect the diversity of students’ points of view, to improve communication between the student body, staff and BOE members and to inform students of policies and decisions executed by the BOE.
In her platform, Sarah wrote, “I aspire to connect the voice of the student populous whether it is at the elementary, middle or high school level to ensure a better foundation for our students. I would like to improve communication between schools and the Board of Education…[and] believe that all students deserve equal opportunity to work to their fullest potential.”
All Frederick County high schools have once again achieved a designation among the most demanding public schools in the country. All are featured in the Washington Post 2015 Challenge Index list, reflecting the top 11 percent of the nation’s 22,000 high schools.
“I am very proud of the hard work our students and teachers do taking on challenging courses. This is work that well prepares our graduates for success in college and greater career choices,” said FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban. “We always strive to provide the academic challenges that keep FCPS among America’s best schools and attract solid businesses to Frederick County.” Urbana High had the highest ranking of FCPS high schools on the national index that ranks challenging schools. Urbana scored 3.294, ranking 24th statewide and 492nd nationally. Last year, Urbana also ranked highest in Frederick County, scoring 3.463, ranking 18th statewide and 348th nationally. Challenge Index scores and rankings this year for other Frederick County public high schools are: Middletown (2.310) at 53rd statewide and 1,051st nationally; Frederick (1.939) at 67th statewide and 1,376th nationally; Linganore (1.858) at 75th statewide and 1,462nd nationally; Oakdale (1.716) at 82nd statewide and 1,597th nationally; Walkersville (1.579) at 93rd statewide and 1,741st nationally; Catoctin (1.549) at 94th statewide and 1,777th nationally; Tuscarora (1.346) at 104th statewide and 1,974th nationally; Brunswick (1.272) at 110th statewide and 2,058th nationally; and Gov. Thomas Johnson (1.129) at 119th statewide and 2,215th nationally. The Challenge Index measures high schools’ ability to challenge their students with Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and/or Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) exams. A school’s rank is determined by dividing the number of college-level tests given at the school that year divided by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. The index is designed to identify schools that challenge average students. According to the Index’s author Jay Mathews, “1.00 is a modest standard. A school can reach that level if only half of its students take one AP, IB or AICE test in their junior year and one in their senior year. But this year, just 11 percent of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools managed to reach that standard and earn placement on our list."
Frederick County Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban is pleased to announce a partnership with Code.org that aims to increase participation in computer science courses by females and underrepresented students of various ethnic backgrounds.
Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding computer science education, making it available in more schools and increasing participation for girls and minorities. The group’s vision is that every student in every school will have the opportunity to access computer science education. The Code.org philosophy is that computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.
“Computer science-related jobs are predicted to be among the fastest growing and highest paying over the next decade,” Dr. Alban says. “Critical thinking and problem solving are skills that benefit all students.”
For their part, “Code.org is excited to partner with Frederick County Public Schools to expand access to computer science,” says Cameron Wilson of Code.org. “FCPS is among the handful of districts leading the nation in this movement. This partnership can help change the lives of the districts’ students by preparing them to think critically about real world problems and put them on a pathway toward the highest demand jobs in the U.S. economy.”
Students at participating schools will have increased access to computer science courses, curriculum and resources. The partnership will also provide new opportunities for professional development and training for FCPS teachers.
More information about Code.org including an informative video and fun tutorials are available at http://code.org.
The 2015 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award Goes to…
Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/14/2015
Walkersville Elementary Principal Tess Blumenthal!
Walkersville Elementary Principal Tess Blumenthal is Frederick County’s winner of the 2015 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award (DELA). The Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) selection committee chose Principal Blumenthal for her excellent leadership and strong commitment to creating an exceptional educational environment.
Many people--from PTA leaders to students, colleagues, supervisors and community members--wrote letters recommending that Blumenthal receive this year’s award. Here are some of the reasons they gave.
“Mrs. Blumenthal is a visionary leader who seeks to empower others and maximize their potential. She continually models a service-oriented approach with an impeccable work ethic.”—a colleague
Another appreciated the ways the principal provides opportunities for parents, staff and community members to intermingle, learn from and learn about each other. Under her tutelage, many teachers have moved on to leadership roles, said this colleague, adding that “Mrs. Blumenthal also helps to develop leadership skills in children. She initiated a service program where students adopted a cause and were taught how to promote their ideas in the community, raise awareness, and complete a project that made a difference locally or globally.”
As a leader, Blumenthal “promotes ingenuity and creativity by attempting new ideas herself and by encouraging students and staff to do likewise,” wrote a kindergarten teacher. Another teacher values the ways Principal Blumenthal “fosters cooperation and collaboration among teams rather than competition.”
FCPS elementary directors commended how Blumenthal has established “a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and high expectations for staff and student success. She is a partner with the entire school community and its stakeholders. Committed to the success of each child, Mrs. Blumenthal promotes purposeful learning designed to meet individual needs.”
A fifth grader shared this accolade from a student perspective: “Mrs. Blumenthal made me and my brother feel comfortable and welcome when we came to WES. She is always helping kids when they need it.”
The PTA president appreciates that “Mrs. Blumenthal always shares fresh ideas from meetings and seminars she attends and regularly reaches out to experts outside of our school to find the best way we can help support our students and community.”
Not only does she reach out for ideas, she also shares her expertise with others. Blumenthal has served as past president of the Maryland Association for Elementary School Principals, former board member of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, Inc., Race to the Top executive advisory committee member, elementary principal representative of the FCPS Education Reform Council, Frederick County representative of the Maryland Association for Elementary Principals, and a Principal Advisory Council member.
Starting her FCPS career teaching special education at Myersville Elementary in 1990, Blumenthal was promoted to assistant principal at Middletown Elementary in 1997. She was also assistant principal at Spring Ridge Elementary before promotion to principal at Lewistown Elementary, later serving as principal at Valley and now at Walkersville.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from James Madison University, master’s in special education/inclusion from Johns Hopkins University and educational leadership certificate from Hood College.
Blumenthal will receive honors with 19 other metropolitan-area recipients during a May 5 awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The Washington Post established DELA in 1987 to honor principals who go beyond the daily responsibilities of their position. The goal is to encourage excellence in school leadership and to contribute to the improvement of education in the Washington metropolitan area.
FCPS has posted video on YouTube of Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban surprising Principal Blumenthal with news of her award: https://youtu.be/9SeHmtTNc7I
The 2015 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award Goes to…
Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/13/2015
Frederick High School Culinary Arts Teacher Charlie Zachmann
To those who know him at Frederick High School, where he teaches culinary arts and chairs the Career and Technology Education Department, it’s no surprise that Charlie Zachmann has earned the 2015 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award for educational excellence.
“If I could, I would take his class all over again,” said senior Sarah Schwenger. “His classes are known for being incredibly fun while providing knowledge that can be used in everyday life,” she adds.
Another student, who met Mr. Zachmann through the school’s Ice Hockey Club, said, “I never had a fascination for food and certainly not the processes of cooking it. However soon after starting the program I found myself so immersed in the culinary world, I even went out and bought a cook book--Who does that?”
Principal Kathy Campagnoli describes Mr. Zachmann as “a truly gifted teacher who exhibits great expertise and a passionate commitment to teaching the Commercial Foods Program…able to more than double the program’s enrollment in just four years. He also transformed the third and final level of the program into an internship in which the students earn high school credits while integrating their classroom knowledge with real-life cooking experiences at local restaurants….Once you have tasted the food it is not surprising to learn how so many of his students have won an array of awards while participating in local culinary competitions; others have worked in world-class restaurants or have created their own commercial foods-based business. He is truly expert at managing, motivating and coaching students to grow and achieve.”
Colleague Beth Strakonsky explains that Mr. Zachmann “leads by example. I know that I can depend on Charlie to support student activities, interdepartmental activities, and staff-development initiatives. Charles almost always has a smile on, and you can depend on his positive attitude.” Mr. Zachmann is in his 11th year teaching at Frederick High. He also advises the Ice Hockey Club and plays student-faculty basketball. He serves as an FFA Food Science resource, homecoming chaperone and graduation project mentor and participates in bocce ball, active with the local Unified Sports Bocce Ball Tournament. He earned his Maryland Advanced Professional Teaching Certificate in Culinary Arts and his bachelor’s degree in culinary arts management at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Do you have questions or thoughts about Frederick County Public Schools? Have some feedback for Superintendent Alban?
FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban invites the public to the PTA-sponsored Superintendent’s Chat on Tuesday, April 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Twin Ridge Elementary.
This is the fourth in a series of four PTA-sponsored Superintendent Chats this school year. Others were held in September at Carroll Manor Elementary, February at Middletown Middle and March at Thurmont Middle.
“I’m looking forward to this opportunity to talk with members of the community,” Alban said. “We’re using every vehicle available to us to engage our community and hear what people have to say.”
The Superintendent won’t be able to address specific personnel issues or questions about specific students, but all other issues are on the table.
Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Unit Moves to Governor Thomas Johnson High School
Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/8/2015
The U.S. Navy has officially approved Frederick County Public Schools' request to relocate the NJROTC program from Linganore High School to Governor Thomas Johnson High School beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.
Although the program has been active and a great source of pride for LHS and FCPS since 2003, it has continued to struggle with low enrollment resulting in probationary standing two of the last three years. Despite being on probation, a recent inspection of the LHS unit found the following:
• The unit is in “excellent condition due to the dedicated efforts of the instructors and their interaction with the cadets.” • The “program is well run with oversight from the instructors.” • The “cadets were very motivated to participate.” • The “retention rate is 73 percent which is an indicator that those who do belong to their unit are committed to excellence and, although there has been a decrease in cadets, there has been an increase in participation.” • “Although this unit receives an automatic grade of Unsatisfactory due to their low enrollment numbers, it is a very solid performing unit with highly dedicated instructors, motivated and committed cadets and strong community and school administration support.”
FCPS is strongly committed to maintaining the NJROTC and recognizes that a more centralized location and institutionalized transportation for students (via the CTC route) are key factors in attracting and retaining NJROTC Cadets.
Students interested in applying to participate in the NJROTC Program may do so through May 1, 2015. For more information visit www.patriotnjrotc.com.