Friday, January 31, 2014

WYPR Sponsors "Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader?"

We would like to thank WYPR 88.1 FM for being a media partner for the Baltimore Curriculum Project’s 2014 gala, Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader?

Serving the metropolitan Baltimore area and the state of Maryland, the mission of Your Public Radio is to broadcast programs of intellectual integrity and cultural merit which enrich the minds and spirits of our listeners and ultimately strengthen the communities we serve.

For more information visit:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

City Springs Student Art Featured in Black History Month Exhibition at Creative Alliance

Playing the Saxophone
 By Kionna Allen

By Kasey Trudgeon, Art Teacher, City Springs Elementary/Middle School

Yesterday, twelve of our 7th and 8th grade Academy students from City Springs had their artwork entered into The Black History Month Art Exhibition presented by Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Community Affairs at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson. Their artwork will be on display from February 1st until February 8th. Their names are Kionna Allen, Dreyon Cooper, Dynasty Eggleston, Demetrius Ellis, Tyriq Elmore, Cameron Gilmore, Kaye Marie Lumayog, Dominic Rabey, Zion Rhodes, Dajana Spriggs, Anthony Webb, and Mackalya Williams.

Since the students were learning about WWI in their history and language arts classes, in art they were taught about the Harlem Renaissance, which stemmed from WWI. After learning about the Harlem Renaissance, the students studied the design principle of Movement. The students' artwork is an arrangement of twelve wire and plaster sculptures, made to look like Billie Holiday, her musicians, and the dancers at a nightclub. The way the students created their sculptures was deliberate; they wanted them to look like they were actually frozen in time: singing, playing music, and dancing during the Harlem Renaissance.

Playing the Saxophone by Kionna Allen
The following caption goes with the students' artwork:
Billie Holiday, although born in Philadelphia, spent many of her childhood years in Baltimore. It is said that she got a job running errands in a brothel so that she could listen to the jazz and blues that played in the parlor. After moving to New York, Holiday had a great influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style was unlike that of any other. One critic, John Bush, even wrote how Holiday “changed the art of American pop vocals forever.” She did so by making a great contribution to the “Harlem Renaissance,” a period in the 1920’s when achievements in art, music, and literature of African-Americans flourished. Without Holiday and her Baltimore roots, however, the Harlem Renaissance may not have been nearly as spectacular

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Behavior Management at City Springs Elementary/Middle School

City Springs Elementary/Middle School Principal Rhonda Richetta and Andrew Devos produced this video on behavior management at City Springs. The video premiered at the City Springs Professional Development Day on Saturday, January 11, 2014.

Thank you to the following stars of the Behavior Management video for their outstanding performances (In order of appearance):

Ms. Elena Gagnier
Ms. Mallory Shore
Ms. Elizabeth Bartholome
Ms. Nicole Lefrancois
Ms. Jodi Ann Jones
Ms. Meghan Pieters
Ms. Alicia Smith
Ms. Elani Odeyale
Ms. Tiffany Key
Ms. Anna Hanley
Ms. Nadine Jackson
{Jarvis Scott}
Ms. Emily Garrish
Mr. Zachary Carey
Mr. Nick West
Ms. S. Hughes
Ms. Ashlea Barry
Ms. Dorothy Glewwe
Mr. Andrew Frankel

Monday, January 27, 2014

Using Apologies to Build School Culture

Each week City Springs Elementary/Middle School Principal Rhonda Richetta sends a Monday Messenger to her staff members. In this week's Messenger, she talks about how apologies can be incorporated into restorative circles and morning assemblies:
Last Friday I visited Hampstead Hill Academy (HHA) to see the middle school morning assembly they started doing this year, and I was very impressed. Whenever I visit another school, especially HHA, I always see something new that I think we could use at City Springs, maybe not exactly as seen, but in some form that fits us.

One part of the HHA assembly that impressed me was “Apologies”. Students are asked if anyone has an apology for something that happened in that week. I witnessed two students stand and give an apology to a teacher. This was not rehearsed or forced and students also could have given an apology to another student. I thought how well this melded with restorative practices.

I would like you to talk at your team meetings this week about how you feel about incorporating a designated time for apologies as part of what we do at CS. I thought perhaps at the elementary level we could include apologies as part of your circle time on Fridays. We may want to move it to The Assembly at some time in the future. In middle school, I thought we should do it at the morning assembly.
Once you discuss this with your teams, you may come up with even better ideas. More heads together are always better than one. I do want to point out that an abundance of research has been done on apologizing that supports the notion that “apology is crucial to our mental and even physical health” and “an apology leads to empathy and empathy leads to forgiveness.” (Beverly Engel, The Power of Apology, Psychology Today, July 1, 2002).
Teaching empathy is a critical part of restorative practices. If we decide to implement this focus on apology, I will provide you with more information that will help you teach our students the how and why of meaningful apologies. Thank you for discussing this at your team meetings. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Congressional Bank Sponsors "Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader?"

We would like to thank Congressional Bank for their generous $1,000 sponsorship for Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader? on April 25, 2014 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum..

Congressional Bank is a community bank serving the greater Washington, DC area. For more information visit:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wolfe Street Academy Thanks DBFA, UrbanBuilt and the WSA Community

DBFA provided 140 WSA families
with gifts this Holiday season
Wolfe Street Academy would like to thank the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance (DBFA), UrbanBuilt and the parents, staff and community members who supported WSA this holiday season.

Members and friends of Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance adopted 140 Wolfe Street Academy families for the holidays this year, providing clothes, books, toys and other goodies. Many of the gifts were distributed on Sunday December 15th, as the PTO held its holiday party, broke some Piñatas and Santa visited with students and their brothers and sisters. On Friday December 20th, Pre-K held its party in conjunction with UrbanBuilt, which donated gifts for Pre-K students.

The entire DBFA Holiday Adopt-a-Family program is the creation of Alison Pendell-Jones, a DFBA Board Member and working Baltimore mom. Allison has become an important member of the WSA community, transforming our winter holidays through her hard work in linking our families with other Baltimore residents who care. Many thanks also to DBFA volunteers Amy Sheinin, Kate Williams, Erin Karpewicz and Craig Saville, as well as DBFA Director John Bullock.

UrbanBuilt adopted our Pre-K class, and joined students, staff and families for a holiday party and storytelling. UrbanBuilt, a general contractor based in Southeast Baltimore, are experts in commercial and residential construction and renovations. We give special thanks to UrbanBuilt's manager partner, Jason Watts and employee Alex Cheolas.

We give our deepest gratitude to our parents, staff and community members who made the holiday festive. Piñata makers Berta Galaviz, Lina Rojas, Maria Arellano, Rosa Cuba, Angelica Salpor, Gabina Alameda and Valbina Candia Hernandez. PTO officers and members Stephanie Given, Tanelle Schrock, Marivel Sanchez, Iveth Monterrosa, Claudia Goldsmith. Staff members Christine Fischel and Evelyn Gross. Social Work intern Claire Brachmann and community member Bud Carpenter.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

City Springs Students Engage in Annapolis

City Springs Students with State Delegate Keith E. Haynes
and Baltimore City Schools Interim CEO Tisha Edwards

By Maria Smith, BCP Program Intern

On Tuesday afternoon, twenty-five students from City Springs Elementary/Middle School attended the Maryland House Appropriations Committee briefing on the Baltimore City Public Schools Construction and Revitalization Act of 2013.

The field trip, sponsored by the Baltimore Education Coalition and led by ACLU Maryland Education Advocate Frank Patinella, gave students the opportunity to remind state legislators how important this Act is for Baltimore City Schools.

The field trip also gave students an inside perspective on the legislative process and helped them recognize the difference they can make.

Devon, a City Springs student, shared his vision for City Springs with the delegates towards the end of the briefing.

“The cafeteria needs to be bigger, more classrooms…and basically a better school,” said Devon.

“Thank you for helping us with that, we really appreciate it.”

After the briefing, students were greeted by Baltimore City Schools Interim CEO Tisha Edwards and Maryland State Delegate Keith E. Haynes. Both shared their appreciation for the students’ support.

“You helped me have confidence today. You reminded me why we are doing this work,” said Edwards.

Delegate Haynes emphasized that the Construction Revitalization and Act was passed “because of you…Baltimore City students stood up."

A special thank you to Frank Patinella, the Baltimore Education Coalition, City Springs Principal Rhonda Richetta, Tisha Edwards, Delegate Keith Haynes, Sharone Henderson, Donell Spedden and all those who made such an exciting learning opportunity possible!

The Baltimore Education Coalition will continue education advocacy work by hosting a Budget Review and Call to Action on Wednesday, January 29th from 5:30pm-8pm at Digital Harbor High School. Baltimore area students, teachers and community members are invited to come and learn how the governor’s budget will impact Baltimore City Schools. For more information or to RSVP please contact BCP Program Intern, Maria Smith, at

Principal Rhonda Richetta Featured in Article on New Fed School Discipline Guidelines

City Springs Middle/Elementary School Principal Rhonda Richetta talks about Restorative Practices and the new federal school discipline guidelines in a recent TakePart article by Suzi Parker:
Rhonda Richetta, principal of the City Springs K–8 school in Baltimore that is part of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, sees the new guidelines as the first step in changing the mind-set of educators about discipline. "Zero-tolerance policies are not effective in changing student behavior or creating environments that are conducive for learning but are still widely in place," she says. "The new federal guidelines should help to finally move us away from these ineffective policies."

Richetta said that her school started implementing restorative practices six years ago. "We experienced a dramatic decrease in suspensions and a steady increase in student achievement," she says. "With restorative practices, students are drawn into building a sense of community within their class and their school, and they begin to behave appropriately because of the relationships they have with each other and with teachers, not because of some severe consequence that is dangled over their heads."
The Baltimore Curriculum Project brought Restorative Practices to its schools in 2007 with training from the International Institute of Restorative Practices and generous support from the Open Society Institute - Baltimore and the Goldesker Foundation.

Read the full article at: International Institute for Restorative Practices

Baltimore Sun Features BCP Letter to the Editor on Classroom Management

We write to assure teachers that effective tools for managing students are available. This is important news since it seems that such tools are a bit of a secret ("Teachers colleges need to emphasize classroom management techniques, report finds," Jan 7).

Those interested in classroom management tools that work can find them at, and might be interested in training offered by the International Institute for Restorative Practices ( Closer to home, the Baltimore Curriculum Project (, trains teachers for the schools it operates (City Springs School, Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy) in the techniques offered by Safe and Civil Schools and by IIRP.

Effective management tools do not shame students. A student who has been shamed withdraws and is not available to learn. Also, when an adult focuses on what a student is doing wrong he or she is not teaching anybody anything because there are countless ways to not do what has been criticized but many of those options are no better than the mistake that the adult is highlighting. How much more effective for the adult to single out a student who is doing the right thing. That fortunate student enjoys a moment of praise, and every other student is offered a model of how to do what needs to be done.

Consider the common admonitions to students to "pay attention" or "listen to me when I am talking to you." It would not occur to the vast majority of inexperienced teachers that a student would not understand what "pay attention," or "listen to me when I am talking to you" means. Yet our classrooms have more than one Nathan. Nathan is a bright, active 4-year-old who is in school for the first time. He and his older and younger brothers and sisters have little verbal interaction with adults outside of school.

Nathan is accustomed to actively taking what he can find that he wants from his environment. He is not used to passively receiving what happens to come his way from adults. Nathan needs teachers who take the time to demonstrate to him what "pay attention" means, and praise him when he gets this behavior right (behavior that to him is at first awkward and uncomfortable).

For Nathan's teachers, the tasks of unraveling expectations that they take for granted is time-consuming. Once the expectations are laid out, there remains the challenging task of developing clear, unambiguous language to teach the behavior. The teachers then must be sure to use only the language that they have taught, not to substitute in synonyms that mean nothing to Nathan.

The task of effective behavior management is yet more complicated since Nathan interacts with more than one adult in school. He will be more successful in doing what those adults would like him to do if all the adults are consistent in their expectations of him and in the language that they use to express those expectations.

The Baltimore Curriculum Project helps teachers design and teach useful expectations, and so positively guide their students to behavior conducive to learning. Baltimore Curriculum Project trainers also help schools develop consistent school-wide codes of conduct with consistent language to help every student succeed.

Experienced educators know that good behavior management is what helps shape school culture. Strong, positive school cultures are the cornerstones for learning, just as strong and effective behavior guidance and management are the building blocks, along with content knowledge and instructional expertise, for excellent teaching.

Muriel Berkeley, Laura Doherty and Jon McGill

Monday, January 13, 2014

Community Supports Wolfe Street Academy Teachers

Blaise and Renee D'Ambrosio at the UFPIA
2013 Teacher Wish List Party in December
We would like to thank Blaise D'Ambrosio for making a generous donation of $200 to support Wolfe Street Academy teachers through the Upper Fells Point Improvement Association's (UPFIA) Teacher Wish List Project. We would also like to thank the T. Rowe Price Foundation for matching this gift.

Since many teachers pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets, each year UPFIA asks them to make a wish list of items needed. Then community members make those wishes come true by donating those items. A celebration party was held for the teachers and donors on December 7th."

We would also like to thank UPFIA, Barbara Moore and all of the other donors who support our teachers.

For a complete list of UPFIA 2013 Teacher's Wish List Project donors visit:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

NBS Sponsors 2014 “Are You Smarter than a BCP Fifth Grader?” Gala

 Thank you to Network Business Solutions (NBS) for supporting BCP's Are You Smarter Than a BCP 5th Grader? fundraising gala on Friday, April 25, 2014 with a $500 sponsorship. Network Business Solutions has been a proud, continued sponsor.

About NBS
NBS takes a unique, business-focused approach to network implementation and custom application development. It not only solves your current IT problems, but it prevents future ones, providing the long-term reliability and efficiency your business needs to succeed.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sylvan Laureate Foundation Supports Literacy at Wolfe Street Academy

We would like to thank the Sylvan Laureate Foundation and Sharon Morgenthaler for donating hundreds of new books, sports bags, board games, arts and crafts kits, and other reading incentives to Wolfe Street Academy. In October Sylvan Laureate provided over $1,000 in new books for Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy.

City Springs Uses Restorative Circles to Learn About Nelson Mandela

In this morning's weekly memo to staff at City Springs Elementary/Middle School, Principal Rhonda Richetta suggested using the following Restorative Practices circle topic about Nelson Mandela:
"Another circle topic I would like to suggest is something related to the life of Nelson Mandela. Perhaps one of Nelson Mandela’s most renowned quotes, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, would make an excellent circle topic or writing assignment. Age appropriate adjustments could be made to use the spirit of this quote for all of our students, regardless of grade. The principle of “forgiveness” could also be taught through teaching about the life of Nelson Mandela."
This is one example of how City Springs uses Restorative Practices every day to proactively build school culture and cohesion

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Turner Teaches City Springs Students about the Construction Industry

Turner Construction Community Affairs Director
Dexter L. Hendricks with City Springs Students
Since October, students at City Springs Elementary/Middle School have been learning about the construction industry, courtesy of Turner Construction Company's Youthforce 2020 program and Turner Construction Community Affairs Director Dexter L. Hendricks.

The Youthforce 2020 program adopts middle schools and high schools in Baltimore to educate students about the field of construction and engineering. Mr. Hendricks meets with middle grades students at City Springs once a month to explore a variety of topics including: estimating the cost of a construction project; green building and design; Building Information Modeling; and project management. As part of the course, students will visit a construction site and work in teams to complete a construction project from budgeting to final presentation.

Youthforce 2020 was created by Turner, first as a company-wide program in 1989 and then brought to the Baltimore business unit in 2006 to expose minority students to the construction industry and encourage them to attend college and study civil, electrical, mechanical engineering, construction management or architecture.

The program promotes diversity across race, gender, age, and leadership by encouraging K-12 students to stay in school while providing construction awareness, and increasing the number of minorities and women in the construction industry.

We would like to thank Turner Construction and Mr. Hendricks for providing this wonderful experience for our students. For more information about Youthforce 2020 visit: