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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 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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  • FCPS Announces New Director and Principals

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/9/2014
    For Middletown and Tuscarora High

    Frederick, MD (July 9, 2014) – Frederick County Public Schools announces a new instructional director and new principals at two more schools. Kathleen Schlappal is promoted from Tuscarora High principal to director of high schools, a role she will take over fully when Larkin Hohnke retires in January. That leaves a vacancy at Tuscarora High, to which Andrew Kibler is promoted from assistant principal at Frederick High. In addition, Lee Jeffrey will become principal at Middletown High, replacing Denise Fargo-Devine, who retired.

    Ms. Schlappal holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts in history and social studies education from the University of Delaware in Newark. She has also completed post-graduate work in education at Iowa State University in Ames and in administration and supervision at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. She taught social studies for five years in Wisconsin before beginning her career with FCPS in 1993, teaching social studies at Windsor Knolls Middle. In 1998 she was promoted to assistant principal of Middletown Middle, later transferring to Brunswick High. In 2005, Ms. Schlappal was promoted to principal of Middletown High and then transferred in 2008 to Tuscarora High.

    Mr. Kibler earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York in 1995. He earned his Master of Science degree in educational leadership at McDaniel College, Westminster, Maryland, in 2005. He taught middle school in New York before relocating to teach history in Prince Georges and Howard counties in Maryland from 1998-2005. Mr. Kibler began his FCPS career as assistant principal at Governor Thomas Johnson High in 2005 and then transferred to Frederick High.

    Ms. Jeffrey earned her Bachelor of Science degree in math from West Virginia University in Morgantown in 1986, and Master of Leadership and Administration from Loyola University in Baltimore in 1996. She began her education career in Queen Anne’s County, where she taught math for eight years. She also served on the administrative staff at St. John’s Regional Catholic School from 1996-1998. In 1998, Ms. Jeffrey came to FCPS as assistant principal for New Market Middle. During the last 16 years she has worked as assistant principal for Catoctin, Tuscarora and Middletown high schools.

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  • Teacher Honored among 5 Nationwide

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/7/2014
    PhilArnold Arnold Named 2014 Exemplary Mentor

    Philip Arnold, who teaches Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in architecture and engineering at the Frederick County Public Schools’ Career and Technology Center, was recently named one of five nationwide 2014 ACE Exemplary Mentors. A jury of his peers across the country who earned awards in 2013 selected Mr. Arnold because of his significant contributions to students, fellow mentors and the Frederick ACE—Architecture, Construction, Engineering—affiliate.

    “There is no substitute for experience,” announces the ACE Mentor Program website, and Mr. Arnold has plenty of it to share with students. After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Virginia Tech in 1986 and pursuing graduate studies in systems engineering at the University of Maryland, he worked first in the field of water resources engineering throughout the U.S. and in China. Next, Mr. Arnold moved into software development and systems engineering for large-scale projects including an integrated e-mail system and satellite communications in North America as well as systems integration and information technology in the mobile communications and pharmaceutical industries. He was active in two start-up companies: one that established mobile communications in five U.S. markets and Puerto Rico, and one that launched Internet data centers in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, which, he says, carry 70% of the Internet traffic in South America today.

    “And then,” says Arnold, “the world of teaching presented the chance to help prepare students for even greater adventures than the many I've enjoyed...and I'm loving it.”


    This past year, 2,500 mentors worked with about 8,000 students nationwide. According to the ACE Mentor Program of America executive director John Strock and the program’s website, two-thirds of ACE students enter college with plans to study architecture, engineering or construction. Driven by the committed and enthusiastic participation of volunteer mentors, ACE provides high school students with role models and career advisors who are passionate about what they do. The right mix of knowledge, passion and rapport makes a great ACE mentor, one who experiences a profound sense of altruistic "giving back" when involved with ACE and its young participants — the gratification that comes with sharing knowledge and wisdom with eager students. As one of the five 2014 ENR/McGraw-Hill – ACE Exemplary Mentors, Mr. Arnold epitomizes the dedication and effectiveness of ACE’s several thousand other mentors.


    In Mr. Arnold’s honor, the Frederick ACE affiliate will receive a $2,500 student scholarship to be named after him. The Engineering News-Record (ENR) sponsors the national awards with McGraw Hill and the ACE Mentor Program of America.


    For more information about the award and ACE Mentor Program of America, please visit www.acementor.org.

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  • Help Stuff the Bus!

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/7/2014
    School Supply Drive Underway
     
    Each year generous Frederick County businesses and citizens help students start school with the necessary supplies that some families cannot provide. This year is no exception, and the school supply drives in all Frederick communities are underway.
     
    The Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) Community Agency School Services(CASS) Program is partnering with community agencies and the United Way of Frederick County (UWFC) in the sixth annual Stuff the Bus campaign to collect school supplies for students, now through Friday, August 15. Many Frederick businesses and organizations are participating.
     
    On Wednesday, August 20, a big yellow FCPS bus will make stops at several businesses to pick up collected school supplies. Before then, the Stuff the Bus campaign will assist community partner agencies in their local school-supply distributions.
     
    The public may drop off supplies at the FCPS Central Office, 191 S. East Street, Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., or to the UWFC office at the Bernard W. Brown Community Center, 629 N. Market Street, in downtown Frederick.
     
    Other drop-off locations are New Hope United Methodist Church, 7 South Maryland Avenue, Brunswick; Graceham Moravian Church, 8231-A Rocky Road, Thurmont; Trinity United Methodist Church, 703 W. Patrick Street, Frederick; Middletown United Methodist Church, 7108 Fern Circle, Middletown; and the Glade Valley Food Bank, Town Hall basement, Walkersville.
     
    Employees of the Battelle National Biodefense Institute, LLC (BNBI) have already donated 1,000 backpacks for the school system’s CASS coordinators to distribute to students in need. Other community partners are the Brunswick Ecumenical Assistance Committee, the Catoctin Community School Supply Committee, Glade Valley Community Services, Middletown Valley People Helping People, the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, and the Urbana Food Pantry.
     
    Items needed range from loose-leaf paper, pens, notebooks, flash drives and binders to pocket folders. Also, needed are boxes of tissues, bottles of hand sanitizer and zippered storage bags of various sizes.
     
    For more information, please call 301-644-5238.
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  • CTC Students in Nation's Top 10

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/1/2014
    Ten students from the Frederick County Public Schools’ Career and Technology Center (CTC) recently placed in the nation’s top ten in the 50th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and Championships in Kansas City, MO. They competed against more than 6,000 students from across the nation and U.S. territories.
     
    Amanda Ponce placed fourth nationwide in Basic Health Care Skills; the team of David Green, Alondra Herrera and Esther Shafer placed fifth nationwide for Outstanding Chapter; Nicholas Rakowski placed sixth nationwide in Architectural Drafting; Erin Hessong placed seventh nationwide in Employment Application Process; and the team of Sophia Eureka, Eric Myers, Maria Olney and Benjamin Wetzel placed tenth nationwide in Broadcast News Production.
     
    Also recognized for outstanding achievement were Cearrah Sherman for placing 12th nationwide in Job Interview; Alex Kravchenko and Kyle Lokey for placing 15th in Web Design; and Louis Bell, Sprio Millios and Ben Olson for placing 27th in the Welding Fabrication Team competition.
     
    To be eligible to compete at the national level, each of the 16 students had already won at the local, regional and state levels. At the national level of this $35 million event, there were technical competitions and written-test competencies that representatives from the technical professions designed and administered. These included professionals from trade associations and labor organizations as well as instructors from colleges and post-secondary technical institutes. Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in one of 99 occupational areas.
     
    For more information about the FCPS CTC, please contact Principal Michael.Concepcion@fcps.org or Advisor Martha.Lowry@fcps.org, 240-236-8500. For more about the competition please visit http://www.skillsusa.org/.

    SkillsUSATeam2014
    Left to right, front row: Kyle Lokey and Amanda Ponce
    Second row: Cearrah Sherman, Alondra Herrera and Maria Olney
    Third row: Erin Hessong, Esther Shafer, Ben Wetzel, Sophia Eureka and Nicholas Rakowski
    Last row: David Green, Sprio Millios, Ben Olson, Alex Kravchenko, Louis Bell and Eric Myers
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  • Back-to-School Community Night

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 7/1/2014
    Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Eliminating Achievement Gaps (EAG) organization announce a back-to-school community night scheduled for Monday, September 15 from 7-9 p.m. at Governor Thomas Johnson High School.

    The event will offer an opportunity to talk to teachers one-on-one about the FCPS curriculum and to learn more about a wide range of FCPS programs and resources for families. Ten specific information sessions are being offered including a special focus on minority achievement and ongoing work to close achievement gaps that exist for minority student groups. Everyone who has an interest in education in Frederick County or who wants to learn more about FCPS is invited to attend. Child care will be provided at the event. For more information on the sessions and to reserve a spot, go to http://education.fcps.org/business/node/416.
     
    “This is going to be an amazing event for families,” said FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban. “The purpose of the night is to equip families with all the information and resources they need to help their children succeed in school. Nothing could be more important or more powerful.”
     
    “We are so pleased to sponsor this event with FCPS,” remarked EAG President Jay Mason. “Sometimes we, as parents, are afraid to ask questions about what we can do to make sure our children excel in school. That’s what this community night is all about – empowering parents and families. There’s so much for parents to know. Having all the resources parents need in one place at this event will make things easier.”
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  • Parent Re-Energizes School Community

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 6/30/2014
    OsbornePIMA Margaret Osborne Earns Parent-Involvement Award

    When connections between home and school were declining at Whittier Elementary due to reorganization within the school’s PTA, parent Margaret Osborne stepped in to create opportunities to re-engage families and rebuild a sense of community at the school. Her dedication to student success and passion for family-school partnerships recently earned her the 2014 Maryland State Department of Education’s Parent Involvement Matters Award (PIMA) for Frederick County. The PIMA recognizes parents and legal guardians for their exceptional support of public education.

    In the photo, left to right: Whittier Elementary Principal Amy Schwiegerath, 2014 PIMA winner Margaret Osborne, FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban and Board of Education President Joy Schaefer

    In her first year as PTA president, Ms. Osborne has worked to re-energize the PTA and re-establish a positive connection between families and the school. Successful on both fronts, she manages the PTA’s Facebook page, creates a monthly newsletter, and coordinates numerous family and community events. Ms. Osborne continues to collaborate with school administrators to provide more opportunities for all parents to be involved at the school.

    “She takes all feedback from the community and truly listens to what people are saying,” says Whittier Elementary Principal Amy Schwiegerath, who nominated Ms. Osborne for the award. “Our PTA attendance has been the best ever.”

    In addition to serving as PTA president, Ms. Osborne volunteers in the classroom. She also serves as a parent representative to the student council, where she has helped students organize several charity events focused on school improvement and the community.


    According to Krista Maughan, a fifth grade teacher at Whittier Elementary, “Throughout her involvement, Margaret has supported programs which advocate for responsible system or policy changes, and she has truly served as a vital representative for our school, teachers, students, families and the community at large.”


    In a letter supporting Ms. Osborne’s nomination, Whittier Elementary Assistant Principal Lorcan O hEithir wrote, “Without Margaret Osborne’s active involvement, we would not have made nearly as much progress in the past 18 months as we have done. The school is an open, welcoming and community-oriented environment where parents are frequently involved and engaged in the efforts for continuous improvement.”


    The Board of Education recognized Ms. Osborne for this achievement at their meeting on Wednesday, June 25, after the MSDE recognized her and 23 other semifinalists at a special celebration on Friday, May 16.

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