Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wolfe Street Academy Featured in City Paper

Wolfe Street Academy is featured in a Baltimore City Paper article about the growing number of indigenous Mexican families in Southeast Baltimore:

"Connie Phelps, the Y of Central Maryland's community schools coordinator at Wolfe Street Academy, estimates that as many as 10 percent of the parents in the heavily Latino Fells Point elementary school speak an indigenous language, generally Mixteco. 'It seems to have happened quickly, in the last two to three years,' she says. Some of the parents speak enough Spanish to communicate with the school's Spanish-English interpreter, but others do not. In those cases, the school must pull in a parent who speaks both Spanish and Mixteco to translate."

Read the full article at:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hampstead Hill Academy Principal on WYPR

Hampstead Hill Academy Principal Matt Hornbeck talks about No Child Left Behind on WYPR 88.1FM (March 12, 2010)

Matt Hornbeck, principal at Hampstead Hill Academy, will never forget a few years ago when his school failed to meet "Adequate Yearly Progress" that's government lingo for determining which schools are failures.

"In 13 of 14 categories, we met every goal, but in that one category, we did not. Twelve students passed and 13 needed to and that resulted in the entire school being labeled a failing school."

Hornbeck says the difference of one student's score gave Hampstead Hill the label.

"The worst thing is you get your name in the paper. And that really hurts."

Hornbeck turned things around before Hampstead Hill had to shut its doors. But every year he worries about the No Child Left Behind stigma.

Listen to the segment at:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hampstead Hill Academy Teacher Shaves Head for Haiti

When the earthquake devastated Haiti, students and staff at Hampstead Hill Academy pledged to raise money for relief efforts. Fourth-grade teacher Jonathan Swann went further, vowing to shave his head if the school could raise $2,500. The school did better than that, raising $3,500 for the American Red Cross. Friday was the payoff, so to speak, as school secretary Cynthia Warner shaves Swann's head to the shouts and cheers of the children.

From The Baltimore Sun, March 6, 2010
(Photo by Jacqueline Watts)

View the video here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Give charter more time to succeed

Below is BCP Board Chairman George Hess' letter to the editor from today's Baltimore Sun.,0,2836886.story

The editorial "School board test," (Mar. 3) did not provide a complete picture of the issues related to the charter school renewal application for Dr. Rayner Browne Academy. Unlike most charter schools that are newly created, Rayner was an existing Baltimore City public school long before it became a charter school. The school was on the state's restructuring list because it was failing when the Board of School Commissioners approved the request of parents to convert the school to a charter school to be operated by the Baltimore Curriculum Project just two and a half years ago.

The conversion of existing, low performing schools is as difficult as it is unusual. While such turnaround schools are a primary focus of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top competition, he and many others in the education community recognize that there is limited capacity to do this work nationally. Across the country, there are few organizations willing to do this work both because of the difficulty of the task and the time it takes to accomplish such reform.

Baltimore is fortunate to have a local non-profit committed to the work of turning around some of the most difficult schools in the city. The Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) is not only committed to this work but has demonstrated success in doing it.

Rayner is one of five schools operated by BCP. Between 2007 and 2009, the share of students scoring advance or proficient on the state test at the other four BCP schools has increased from 55 percent to 78 percent in reading and from 45 percent to 71 percent in math. Since BCP began working with its original three schools (City Springs, Collington Square and Hampstead Hill) at least eight years ago, reading scores at those schools have increased by an average of 66 percentage points.

The Board of School Commissioners approved BCP's method of educational reform at Rayner through the approval of their original charter application in 2007. Since BCP has operated the school for less than three years, BCP and the Rayner Browne community respectfully request at least two more years to achieve significant improvement.

George Hess, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Baltimore Curriculum Project board.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

BCP Helps with AFP Funders Panel

On February 18th the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Maryland Chapter held an informative Meet the Funders panel discussion at the Junior League of Baltimore. The room was packed with development professionals eager to learn more about working with foundations.

Panelists included Brooke J. Hodges (Senior Vice President, Bank of America), Nancy R. Kutler (Vice President, The Center for Funds and Foundations at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore), and Melissa Warlow (Program Officer, Baltimore Community Foundation).

Betsy S. Nelson (Executive Director, The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers) gave an overview of the current funding climate and moderated the discussion. The panelists discussed how to develop long-term relationships and work most effectively with foundation staff before, during, and after grants are awarded.

Larry Schugam (Development Director, Baltimore Curriculum Project ), Jessica Schmidt-Bonifant (Development Director, Central Scholarship Bureau), and Kathleen Elliott (Philanthropic Services Officer, Baltimore Community Foundation) organized the event.

We'd like to thank Brooke Hodges, Nancy Kutler, Betsy Nelson, and Melissa Warlow for volunteering their time and sharing their expertise. We'd also like to thank Shelly Terranova (Director, The Junior League of Baltimore) and Stephanie Bartal (President, The Junior League of Baltimore) for graciously hosting the event.

About AFP-Maryland
AFP-Maryland's mission is to foster the growth and development of a culturally diverse population of fundraising professionals, enhance philanthropy by encouraging giving and volunteering, and promote ethics in fundraising and sound non-profit management throughout Maryland. To learn more and become a member visit:

About the Junior League of Baltimore
The Junior League of Baltimore is a volunteer organization for women interested in making a positive impact in their communities. Since 1912, the Junior League of Baltimore has been a driving force behind many of the initiatives and institutions that make our community strong.
To learn more visit: