Thursday, March 3, 2016

Restorative Circles Offer A Daily "Recharge" for Govans After School Students


By Sarah Ceponis, Director, BCP 21st Century Community Learning Center at Govans Elementary

Every day at 4:15pm, students at Govans Elementary hear an announcement over the loud speaker, "Time to clean up whatever you're working on. The restorative circle topic to start thinking about today is....", followed by a hint about the day's discussion question. 

Students and staff of the Baltimore Curriculum Project's 21st Century Community Learning Center at Govans Elementary -- a program made possible by the Maryland State Department of Education -- have come to expect and enjoy their ten minutes to recharge and check in with one another between after-school academics and enrichment time.

In November, all after-school staff members received training in the fundamentals of Restorative Practices, a positive approach to conflict resolution that proactively builds relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing. Training was provided by Chella Drew, a Restorative Practices consultant and former Director of Restorative Practices at Hampstead Hill Academy.

Restorative Circles can be used proactively to develop relationships and build community or reactively to respond to wrongdoing, conflicts and problems. With everyone now used to the daily restorative circle, it is a habit that students look forward to. Circles provide a a time to think about and share whatever comes to mind around the daily question or "circle starter". They are a time to learn from and listen to one another. 

Questions of the day can range from why animals hibernate to standing up to a bully; from what type of person would make a good mayor to what you might do if you won the lottery, from how to be a good teammate to traveling the world.

Based on the day of the week, topics rotate among being community-themed, learning-themed, conflict resolution-themed, or simply "Fun Thursday"-themed.

All 90 students, from K through 5, tune in and talk about the same topic in their classrooms, and sometimes, conversations carry over to enrichment, the hallways, or dinner.

Using restorative circles daily, in a fun and structured way, allows after school students to get used to the goal of circles: everyone having their voice heard.

Regularly practicing their circle etiquette and skills with the whole class means that when circles are needed for other reasons-- mediation, misbehavior, or bullying-- students are prepared and ready to, again, make their voice heard, and listen to the voices of their classmates.

BCP and IIRP

BCP brought Restorative Practices to its schools in 2006 through the generous support of OSI-Baltimore and the Goldsmith Family Foundation. All administrators and staff members were trained by the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), which continues to be a strong BCP partner.

For more information about IIRP visit: http://www.iirp.edu/

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Career Day 2015 at Govans Elementary

Govans Elementary hosted a Career Day on November 18, 2015 as part of the National Education Association's American Education Week.

We would like to thank the following guest speakers for participating:
  • Nick Alexopulos, Associate Director of Media Relations and Social Media at Loyola University Maryland
  • Muriel Berkeley, Member of the Baltimore City School Board of Commissioners and Founder/Former President of the Baltimore Curriculum Project
  • Michael Bell, Military Pilot/Engineer
  • Brandon Crowder, Area Leader at Procter & Gamble
  • Matt Facchine, System Architect at Northrop Grumman Corporation and Baltimore Curriculum Project Board Member
  • Councilman Bill Henry, Baltimore City Council
  • Clarence Jeffers, Pharmacist
  • Maggie Richard, Director of Professional Practice, Research, and Education for LifeBridge Health’s Sinai Hospital
  • Lamonte Tyler, Senior IT Support Analyst at Fox News Channel
  • Thiru Vignarajah, Deputy Attorney General, Maryland Office of the Attorney General and Baltimore Curriculum Project Board Member
  • David Walsh-Little, Chief Attorney, Felony Trial Division, Baltimore City Office of the Public Defender 
  • Marcus Washington, Anchor and Reporter, WJZ Eyewitness News

Monday, November 30, 2015

Nancy Grasmick Visits Govans Elementary for Ben Carson Reading Day


BCP and Govans Elementary​ would like to thank former Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Nancy Grasmick​ for serving as the guest reader at Govans Elementary School for the Ben Carson Reading Day on November 16, 2015.

Ben Carson Reading Day is an annual literacy event designed to raise awareness of the importance of everyday leisure reading.

Special thanks to the Carson Scholars Fund​ and Bank of America​ for creating the Carson Reading Room at Govans Elementary, which opened in 2011.

View the video at: http://www.abc2news.com/news/education/baltimore-schools-celebrate-reading-with-ben-carson-reading-day

For more information about the Carson Scholars Fund visit: http://carsonscholars.org/

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Open Society Foundations Global Board Visits City Springs Elementary/Middle School



A group from the Open Society Foundations Global Board visited City Springs Elementary/Middle School on October 8, 2015.

The school was included on the tour because, in addition to being a BCP conversion charter school, City Springs is a Community School and the Open Society Foundations support Community Schools.

Child First Authority serves as City Springs' lead Community School Agency and Child First Community School Coordinator Abby Baldwin oversees the implementation of the Community School strategy at the City Springs. The strategy is supported by a generous grant from the Family League of Baltimore.

Joining Karen Webber from the Open Society Institute-Baltimore office for the tour was Director Diana Morris, who organized the site visit for Open Society Foundation’s regional Global Directors, who were in Baltimore for a senior management subcommittee meeting.

The group included Kenneth Zimmerman, Director of U.S. Programs, under which OSI-Baltimore falls. The other directors in attendance were from initiatives in Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. Each director manages a vast breadth of social justice related initiatives specific to the region, education included.

BCP and City Springs would like to thank the Open Society Foundation for visiting our school. For more information about the Open Society Foundations visit: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon Visits Hampstead Hill Academy

Under Secretary Concannon chats with an HHA student giving
visitors a tour of the school's organic garden

Hampstead Hill Academy hosted a visit with Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, on September 25, 2015.

Undersecretary Concannon, Delegate Keith E. Haynes, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Gregory Thornton and other attendees toured the school's organic garden and sampled food prepared by students in HHA's Food for Life Program.

Food for Life is run by HHA Food Educator Ariel Demas and is regarded as a national model for food education in public schools. Food for Life uses the Food is Elementary curriculum, which was developed by the Food Studies Institute (http://www.foodstudies.org/)

House Ways & Means Committee Visits Wolfe Street Academy


Thank you to Chair Sheila E. Hixson and the rest of the House Ways & Means Committee members who visited Wolfe Street Academy (WSA) on September 29, 2015 to learn about the Community Schools Strategy and Out-of-School-Time program at WSA.

Thank you also to the University of Maryland Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS), Family League of Baltimore, The After-School Corporation (TASC) and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation for supporting WSA.

Educators from Bosnia and Herzegovina Visit City Springs


A delegation of educators and government officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina visited City Springs Middle/Elementary School to learn about the BCP education model on October 1, 2015.

The World Trade Center Institute coordinated the visit and the delegation was invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program.

The Department of State wanted to introduce the delegation to the Baltimore Curriculum Project’s objectives and mission as well as its efforts to incorporate student-focused learning. The delegates learned about the various programs that BCP engages in during the school year in order to maintain student progress, address teacher challenges, and encourage an overall school improvement. They also learned about BCP’s education a model of providing an exceptional learning experience for all children.

BCP would like to thank World Trade Center Institute and the State Department for always bringing such wonderful educators from around the world to visit our schools.