Class Notes Logo
Issue No. 14
Summer 2009

The Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) is a nonprofit organization that operates five public charter schools in East Baltimore. BCP transforms underperforming high-poverty schools into high-performing charter schools by implementing research-based instructional methods, customized professional development, performance monitoring, and other key program supports.

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In This Edition:




Interview: Educational Policy Expert Richard Rothstein
Interview by Elizabeth Kaiser, BCP Summer Intern

  spacerRichard Rothstein


Richard Rothstein, research associate of the Economic Policy Institute

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute. From 1999 to 2002 he was the national education columnist of The New York Times. He is the author of Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap.

What is wrong with the way we hold schools accountable?

There are several problems. The most important problem is that we distort curriculum when we hold schools accountable only for math and reading scores.

There are many things that schools should be doing in addition to improving students’ math and reading proficiency. Holding schools accountable only for math and reading scores gives schools no incentives to work on any of the other objectives that they have.

There is evidence that the test score pressure imposed by No Child Left Behind has led schools, particularly schools serving our most disadvantaged children, to reduce physical education, social studies, science, and the arts in order to spend more and more time on drills for math and reading.

Do you think that the problem comes mainly from the emphasis we place on test scores, or the way that the test is constructed, or both?

There are many problems with our current system of school accountability, but the primary one is that by focusing on only some of the schools’ goals, you give schools incentives to ignore others. Even if the tests were perfect, even if they were high quality tests, if they only tested math and reading, schools would have incentives not to deliver a balanced curriculum.

What do you think schools should be held accountable for?

There are a broad range of outcomes that schools should promote. Certain basic skills like those in math and reading are among them, but there are also other academic subjects: science, the arts, social studies, history, physical education, and health education.

There are also behavioral goals: work skills, social skills, cooperative problem solving, the ability to take responsibility for one’s actions, the ability to withstand peer pressure, and the ability to respect others, even those with whom one does not agree. There are many goals, both behavioral and cognitive, that a well-rounded curriculum should be promoting.

Would you agree that some of the outcomes you listed are harder to measure than reading and math skills, and may be subjective?

They’re not subjective but they are more difficult to measure. Our education system is state based. States can set standards in these areas and schools can be evaluated on their success in meeting those standards

How might a state measure social skills?

At one point in the early days of the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessors went into schools, gave students a problem to solve, and observed the extent to which they were able to cooperate, the extent to which they were able to resolve conflict, disagreement, and the extent to which they were able to stay on task. These are all observable, though not as easy to measure as 2+2=4.

If we want schools to develop these kinds of skills we’ve got to hold them accountable for doing so. You advocate that accountability should be largely a state rather than a federal role.

Under such a design, is there a way to assess comparability of measures and outcomes between states?

Of course, the same way we do now for math and reading. We have a national assessment based on state level samples in math and reading, it’s called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and the recommendation that our book makes and that the Broader, Bolder Approach accountability statement makes, is that NAEP be expanded to sample students at the state level on all of the measures that we’re talking about; then, you get comparability.

For example, if NAEP were to reinstate the exercise I just described, you would know how the percentage of 4th graders in New York were able to work together cooperatively to solve a problem compared to the percentage of 4th graders in Iowa who were able to work together cooperatively to solve a problem.

Should there be both national and state standards for all outcomes?

Grading Education book cover

The book does not suggest the establishment of national standards. What the book says is that NAEP should assess outcomes at a state level to provide comparative information on how students perform in different states on these measures. It is true that the NAEP frameworks are an implicit national standard, but they’re implicit, they’re not explicit.

These are not national standards. A state can develop its own standards as the states do now for math and reading. If states choose to develop standards that are not consistent with the NAEP frameworks, they can explain their relatively poor performance on NAEP by asserting that their standards are different from the NAEP frameworks.

The fact that we do a sample assessment of NAEP state-by-state does not require states to have an identical curriculum or identical standards. Today if a state wants to say that we don’t believe in teaching simple single digit addition in the fourth grade and that’s the reason our math scores in 4th grade are low, they’re perfectly entitled to do that. The NAEP is an implicit national standard, not a required national standard.

Do you think that NAEP is a more accurate assessment of our schools without cut scores than with cut scores?

NAEP has cut scores that we recommend be abandoned. The consensus of the entire scientific and psychometric community is that the cut scores, the proficiency levels, have no validity. So our recommendation is that those be abandoned and that NAEP scores be reported on a scale (as they are now, although the scales are not now well-publicized), or in some cases simply on percent proficient of students who performed particular tasks.

Should consequences for schools be linked to performance on NAEP?

No. NAEP would lose its validity if it became a high-stakes test. Its value is that it’s a low-stakes test, there are no consequences to it, and so it’s an independent monitor of how states are doing.

In your book, you advocate that states should employ a method of accreditation similar to England’s system of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. Can you talk about how this would work in a public school setting in the United States?

One of the ways to measure hard-to-measure educational outcomes is to use qualitative evaluations. We recommend that states develop qualitative inspection systems. Teams of professional inspectors could go to schools on a regular basis, perhaps every three or four years, to evaluate curriculum.

They should certainly take into account the standardized test scores in as many subjects as it’s possible to have them but they shouldn’t make those the primary or exclusive basis of evaluation. They should observe the quality of teaching; they should be looking at student work; they should be interviewing teachers, parents, students, and administrators; and forming a judgment about the extent to which the school is a quality school.

As scores on state standardized tests continue to rise, writers including yourself and people like Daniel Koretz in his book Measuring Up talk about score inflation. The system that you propose is much more in depth. It would give us a lot more information about what is going on in our schools, but it would also be much more expensive. How do we develop the political will to move from a system where everyone appears to be performing well to one where we are spending a lot more money to find out that not all students are achieving at the same level?

There’s no doubt that a good accountability system is more expensive than the poor accountability system that we have now. I think that the accountability system that we have been using for the past eight years has become discredited because of wide spread revulsion against the way in which schools have turned into test prep factories.

There is a growing interest in alternatives but there is no doubt that the alternatives are more expensive. It’s much more expensive to get a team of highly trained professional inspectors to go into a school and spend three or four days there, than it is to administer a fill-in-the bubble test.

Do you think it’s possible that we will move to a better, more expensive school accountability system?

What do you think about the 2014 deadline by which time all students must score proficient in math and reading. The 2014 date is absurd. Everybody knows that the combination of demands for proficiency and the 2014 date are fanciful. I don’t think anybody takes the 2014 date seriously.

I think that the situation we’re in now politically is that virtually everybody realizes that NCLB is a flawed model, but few people have given much thought to what should replace it.

Do you think that will start to happen soon?

Well I’m hoping our book will help stimulate that discussion.


Leading Minds: High-Stakes Testing Forum

Leading Minds logo

Is high-stakes testing misleading the public? The emphasis placed on testing is higher than ever. Scores are rising, but at what cost? Are our children being shortchanged?

On Thursday, September 17, 2009 the Baltimore Curriculum Project and Urbanite Magazine will explore these and other questions with testing expert Dr. Daniel Koretz (Harvard University), economist Dr. Brian Jacob (University of Michigan), and Assistant Professor of Education Policy Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen (Michigan State University).

Dr. Daniel Koretz is a Harvard University education professor. His most recent book, Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us, describes the controversial issues surround standardized testing. Dr. Koretz founded and chairs the International Project for the Study of Educational Accountability.

Leading Minds lightbulb illustration

Dr. Brian Jacob is a University of Michigan professor of educational policy and economics. His recent work includes research into the impacts of testing on drop out rates and the creation of incentives for schools to retain low-performing students or place students in Special Education.

Dr. Rebecca Jacobsen is a Michigan State University assistant professor of teacher education and education policy. She is a co-author of the book Grading Education: Getting Accountability Right, which proposes a new accountability plan for public education.

The forum will be held at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park from 4:00PM - 6:00PM. DVD’s of the forum will be available. For more information visit, e-mail or call Larry Schugam at 410-675-7000.


Sponsored by:   Hosted by:
The Abell Foundation logo NWEA logo BCP logo Urbanite logo
OSI Baltimore logo    
Venable LLP logo    



BCP Schools Make Impressive Gains on MSA

The results from the 2009 Maryland State Assessment (MSA) are in and BCP schools have a lot to be proud of. Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy made AYP in reading and math and are still growing.

City Springs School improved in reading in all but 7th grade and barely missed AYP in reading by less than 1% in one sub-group. City Springs math scores demonstrated improvement in all grades except 7th and 8th.

Collington Square School improved in reading and math in all but 6th and 7th grade and almost met AYP in reading. Another 6 students scoring proficient in reading would have put the school over the top.

Understanding MSA Scores

Although MSA scores are a useful tool for measuring student achievement, there is much they cannot tell us.

MSA scores do not tell us how much students have learned or how far they have come this year. The MSA gives us a snapshot of how well students are achieving today. Students who are behind can make much larger-than-average achievement gains and still score below the proficiency bar for years.

Different MSA grade level tests and scores are not comparable; therefore, we do not know whether students are learning or whether the test is easier or harder when the percentage of students “passing” varies from one grade to the next.

Making Sense of the Data

To make sense of MSA data we have to look at the details; however, MSA data is reported by grade level and not by teacher. When students are not instructed in grade level groups the scores cannot be attributed to specific teachers or even grade level curriculum.

In order to identify the levers for improvement we need to ask:

  1. Does the curriculum used account for the difference in scores?
  2. Does the teacher account for the difference?
  3. Is the test easier at that grade level?
  4. Is the particular group more able than other groups?

Unfortunately, these questions cannot be answered by MSA data alone.

NWEA logo

NWEA’s MAP Assessment

BCP began testing students using the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) for reading and math in October 2007. MAP assessments are state-aligned computerized adaptive tests that accurately reflects the instructional level of each student and measure growth over time.

The assessment is unique in that it adapts to the student’s ability, accurately measuring what a child knows and needs to learn. MAP is calibrated across all grade levels so that scores can be compared year to year and grade to grade. Students are tested in the fall and spring so that we can identify the student growth attributable to a specific teacher.

Preliminary results from school year 2008/2009 demonstrate that teachers have a dramatic impact on student growth. Getting more of the teachers to the point where their students make more growth is the key to success. To do this we need to increase our focus on teacher observations, feedback, professional development and evaluation.

BCP Initiatives Underway

Four new BCP initiatives to improve instruction and student achievement are currently being implemented.

The BCP Testing Database is being developed and will allow us to collect and analyze data from the MAP, MSA, and Stanford assessments based on grade level, program placement, teacher, and other factors.

Strategic Deployment of Resources. This year BCP staff will begin holding weekly meetings at each school with the principal, assistant principals, and academic coaches to review achievement data, discuss coaching efforts, follow-up on school initiatives, plan professional development and review results.

The Principal’s evaluation toolkit will help principals set high expectations for teachers and provide them with objective and frequent feedback. The toolkit includes concrete, observable expectations and observation forms connected to an evaluation calculator.

Teacher Interim Data Reporting. Eight times a year teachers report to peers and administration on lesson progress and mastery success in all of their classes. They then create action plans for improvement. This initiative was piloted at Collington Square School during the 2008/2009 school year.

With the help of these new initiatives we expect to see continued improvement in student achievement in all BCP schools.


Getting School Accountability Right
By BCP President Muriel Berkeley
Reprinted with permission from OSI-Baltimore’s Audacious Ideas Blog

Muriel Berkeley

Let’s be audacious enough to get school accountability right. Let’s hold schools accountable for preparing children and youth for life instead of for tests.

Throughout American history, leaders have asked that schools help students develop: (1) the abilities to read, to write, and to compute, and basic knowledge of geography, history and science; (2) the abilities to analyze information and solve problems; (3) enthusiasm for the arts and literature; (4) qualifications for the workplace; (5) the abilities to communicate and get along with others from varied backgrounds and to take responsibility for one’s actions; (6) knowledge of how government works and of how to participate in community life; (7) good habits of nutrition and exercise, and (8) self-confidence, respect for others, and the ability to resist peer pressure.

If those are our goals then we will need more than one test in addition to measures of accountability other than tests.

We will need: (1) information on the academic growth of students on a variety of measures; (2) student work samples and/or observations of them solving problems; (3) samples of their art work and performances; (4) demonstrations of their workplace qualifications; (5) demonstrations that staff and students work together positively, and that adults use interventions to restore relationships when interactions become negative; (6) demonstrations of students’ participation in community life and of their knowledge of how government works; (7) observations of students’ food choices and exercising, and, (8) interviews with students to understand how they feel about themselves and others, and how independent they are in their decision-making.

Accountability done right is never simple, and accountability is too important to do on the cheap. The costs of doing education wrong are too high for us to continue to get accountability wrong.


BCP Real Talk 4 Girls Conference

Real Talk 4 Girls Conference group photo

On Saturday April 25, 2009 BCP hosted the first Real Talk 4 Girls Conference at Collington Square School. The conference addressed a range of issues that impact the self-esteem, behavior, interpersonal relationships and academic performance of young women.

Forty-five 6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls from City Springs School, Collington Square School, Dr. Rayner Browne Academy and Hampstead Hill Academy attended the event.

Kelia Murray (BCP Community School Coordinator), Alicia Thomas (BCP/City Springs After-School Program Director), and Tonya Featherston (BCP Director of Restorative Practices) organized the conference.

“We wanted to create a safe space for the girls to have an open dialogue with adult professionals,” says Ms. Featherston.

“The conference gave them the opportunity to talk honestly about the choices they make and to ask for help with different strategies they can use.”

The day began with breakfast, an ice-breaker activity, and a keynote address by City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The girls attended three breakout sessions on a variety of topics including: healthy relationships, self-esteem and personal appearance, images of women in the media, career development, dealing with gossip and bullying, managing stress, and fitness.

“The girls really valued the opportunity to come together with just girls and ask questions they might be reluctant to ask at school,” says Ms. Featherston.

“Before we reached lunch, they were already asking if we could have another gathering next weekend.”

The girls had time to practice their newly learned strategies during the breakout sessions. The hope is that they will take these skills back to the schools and share them with their peers.

“The young ladies today have so much intense pressure from the media and their surroundings,” says Alicia Thomas.

“These girls often resort to questioning their looks, thinking and self-image. Real Talk 4 Girls allowed them to dialogue with educators and each other about social and life skills issues. We hope they learned more about who they are and what they can do to become successful teens.”

We would like to thank the following people for leading breakout sessions: Alayna Davenport (Owner, Dance N’ Motion Studio), Nicky Dupree (Guidance Counselor, Hampstead Hill Academy), Tonya Featherston, Dwauna Maura (The Mayor’s Young Women in Action Program), Kelia Murray, Janesa Simmons (Baltimore City Healthy Teens and Young Adults Clinic), Jennifer Sullivan (Intern, UMB School of Social Work), Alicia Thomas, Helen Thomas (Clinical Instructor, JHU School of Nursing), Krista Wible (Guidance Counselor, City Springs School).


Remembering Social Justice Champion Irona Pope

  spacerPeer Mediation class


Ms. Irona Pope and her 2006/2007 peer mediation class.

Longtime social advocate and former City Springs parent liaison Irona Pope passed away on July 7, 2009.

“The passing of Ms. Pope is a huge loss for City Springs School,” says City Springs Principal Rhonda Richetta.

“We have lost our biggest and loudest advocate. Over the years Ms. Pope has reached out to help a countless number of parents, children and staff members in numerous ways."

“Personally, I have learned a great deal from Ms. Pope and will carry those lessons with me forever. She was a champion and we were fortunate to have her as our champion! She will be missed so much, by so many.”

Below is a reprint of a fall 2006 Class Notes article about Ms. Pope.

Irona Pope Continues to Help City Springs Community

If you want to know anything about the City Springs neighborhood, ask Irona Pope. Ms. Pope has worked for the school system for 36 years - 34 as a parent liaison. In fact, it was Ms. Pope and five motivated parents who found the money to build City Springs.

At the time neighborhood children were attending school next to a police station on Bank Street. Ms. Pope discovered that the City had planned to build teachers’ apartments in City Springs Park and turn Lombard into an elementary/middle school. Instead, the money had been used to build Hartford Heights.

After three years of intense lobbying and City Council hearings, Ms. Pope’s group of motivated parents won their school.

Since that initial victory, Ms. Pope has gone on to score many more victories for the residents of City Springs. She has helped 44 people move out of Perkins Homes and into their own homes. She worked with residents to found a food co-op. And now she runs a weekly peer mediation group for City Springs students.

Peer Mediation Program

The peer mediation program has been an incredible success. The 10-year old after-school program teaches children and parents, mostly from Perkins Homes, how to resolve their differences without violence.

“In public housing there is one door in and one door out and sometimes the only way to survive is to fight,” says Ms. Pope. The peer mediation program strives to find another way.

The program is open to students in grades 3 through 8. Students learn techniques to resolve conflicts peacefully. They use role-playing and work through real-life situations. Ralph Green of the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center has been a great support to the program. Last year the program had 15 students.

Justin Ruffin likes the class because he gets “to know people who are doing good and have a good life.”

In addition to in-class activities, students take trips to observe the judicial system in action. On a recent field trip, Ms. Pope took her class to visit Chief Judge Robert Bell at the Court of Appeals in Annapolis so that they could witness and discuss how lawyers engage in debate.

“For all our hard work, we get rewarded,” says Markus Taylor, referring to the class field trips.

Ms. Pope also employs some of her students at the Juvenile Justice Center, where she works in the Community and Family Resource Center. Students must maintain high academic achievement in order to work there. Like everything Ms. Pope does, the peer mediation program helps students and parents to find the strength within to achieve their goals.

“I have always been a part of the school and social change,” says Ms. Pope. “My rule is to make the family strong and to work with them at their level, so you can break the cycle.”

Ms. Pope was a true champion for social justice in her commitment to improving the lives of Baltimore City’s children. She will be sorely missed.





Deron Cheatom & Destiny Jones to Attend School for the Arts
Interviews by Alicia Thomas, BCP After-School Program Director

Baltimore School for the Arts logo

Interview with Deron Cheatham

How did you first become interested in drama?
I’ve always had an interest in musical theater. I guess it came as a new found talent in middle school.

How long have you been acting?
Since the seventh grade. I realized I liked musical theater after seeing the play Hair Spray. It caught my attention.

Are there other actors in your family?
My grandmother, Stephanie Cook, who graduated in ‘73 was also accepted into the School for the Arts. At that time she said things were much different so she declined.

My Aunt Sherrie performed in the play Annie during her school days. Sam Cooke is my grandmother’s cousin. My great grandmother’s side of the family is related to Sisley Tyson.

How do you feel when you’re performing?
I come out of who I am and really get into the character. It also depends on the character development of who I have to play in that particular role.

Why do you want to attend to the School for the Arts?
I like to act, getting into the character and the show. This will help launch my career. Starting with plays, sitcoms, movies and coming back to doing plays.

Who inspires you to act?
My family and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Does acting help you deal with challenges in your life?
Yes. It shows different things that I could go through, like being a crazy person, being an over actor- just over the top.

What was the audition like for the School for the Arts?
When I first got there, I was a little nervous. After being there awhile it became easier. I first went into a room and played a game that helped me with getting into the acting mode. Once we finished playing the game I loosened up. Before I knew it, it was time for the monologue performance.


Interview with Destiny Jones

How long have you been involved with drama and music?
I just started playing the guitar this year. I started theater class in the seventh grade.

How do you feel when you’re performing?
Music makes me feel like myself. I can do anything I want and still go with any flow. If I tried to do things on my own, I might sound a mess. For theater I can step outside myself and be someone I’m not. It’s interesting seeing how the character personalities change to other people.

Why do you want to attend the School for the Arts?
Because the School for the Arts has two of my favorite content areas, acting and music. This will allow me to build my skills. Typically, other schools show you how to follow their own curriculum but the School for the Arts teaches how to maximize your own gifts.

What inspires you to act?
The inspiration behind the music and drama is to build up my self-esteem. I have a laid back personality but in a low self esteem approach. The music and acting helps me break out of my shell. Instead of watching the action, I want to be the action.

Who inspires you to play music and act?
My musical inspirations include the Jonas Brothers, Beyonce and Rascal Flatts. People who inspire me to act would be my teachers at City Springs, Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana. Also my friends, when they expose me to different music outside my community.

Does acting help you deal with challenges in your life?
Yes, a lot. Acting supports me standing outside my comfort zone and helps me to deal with other obstacles. It’s my motivating force to help my drive. As far as music, it heightens my curiosity to wander outside my community to learn more.

What was the audition like for the School for the Arts?
It was scary. The judges kept a blank face and never showed emotions. Once I got more into the audition, I calmed down and everything flowed well.

What do you want to do after High School?
After High School, my plan is to go to a four year college. My concentration would be music and acting. As a backup job I would be a forensic scientist. I want to stick with music and acting for my career.

We would like to congratulate Mr. Cheatom and Ms. Jones on their acceptance into the School for the Arts. We wish them great success in their future careers.





Collington Students Protect Turtles in Costa Rica


In June, eight students and three staff members from Collington Square School traveled to Costa Rica to engage in a week-long turtle conservation project. The trip was the culmination of the Baobab International Service Learning Program, a year-long social entrepreneurship program.

The program’s goal was to expose the students to a world larger than their immediate community and prepare them for global citizenship. BCP Community School Coordinator Kelia Murray and Collington Square teachers Anthony McKinney and Nicole Humphreys led the program.

Turtle Conservation Project

From May 30th through June 6th students worked in the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, which was created in 1984 to protect one of the world’s most important nesting sites of the olive ridley sea turtle.

Students assisted with daily and nightly beach patrols, checked nest temperatures, and measured and tagged turtles. The Wildlife Refuge depends heavily upon volunteers to help with these duties.

Protecting Turtles/Local Economy

Ostional is a small community of approximately 150 families whose subsistence and livelihood depend primarily upon the Olive Ridley Green Turtles’ nesting seasons.

The Wildlife Refuge has created a partnership with the local village to allow villagers two days of harvesting turtle eggs during each nesting season so that they may sell the eggs to local licensed bars.

Students Learn and Earn

In order to earn the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, students spent much of the school year learning about entrepreneurship and raising funds for the trip. Students learned about market analysis, marketing, record keeping, and reinvestment. They also analyzed the differences between developing countries and developed countries.

To raise money for the trip students developed and operated three student-run businesses. The school store provided school supplies; the Teacher Lunch Counter provided hot meals for school staff; and the MSA Care Package business provided students with essential supplies for taking the Maryland State Assessment, including a nutritious snack.

Ms. Murray and Mr. McKinney performed the laborious task of running the concessions at several Ravens games to raise additional money for the trip.

Expanding Their Horizons

Collington Square offered its entrepreneurship class for the first time during the 2007/2008 school year. The curriculum was provided by the National Federation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

During the year teachers began to recognize that, while students benefited from learning the fundamentals of business, they would further benefit from the opportunity to understand philanthropy and the global issues that affect our economy and other regions.

“International service learning provides an opportunity for students to look outside their immediate surroundings to develop a broader perspective, giving them a context to better understand their relationship to their neighborhood and the world beyond,” says Kelia Murray.

Students on Costa Rica trip

“By linking social enterprise to international service learning, Baobab students learned firsthand that their capacity to improve and empower themselves directly relates to their power to improve the world around them.”

Thank You

We would like to thank Kelia Murray, Anthony McKinney, and Nicole Humphreys for making this program possible. We’d also like to thank Saundria Zomalt for serving as a volunteer chaperone. Congratulations to the following students for all of their hard work: Starshema Brown, Ericka Burgess, Darian Dorsey, Rovaughn Eggleston, Ikyea Long, Shada Phillips, Khadja Robinson, and Kendrick Washington.

Special thanks to East Baltimore Development, Inc., Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Family League of Baltimore City for supporting this program.


Collington Feature Film: Represent!

Represent movie image

Last spring Collington Square School produced its first feature film entitled Represent! The film tells the story of Collington Square students as they compete with other city schools in a Maryland State Assessment (MSA) challenge.

Written and directed by Collington Square Theater Arts teacher, Koli Tengella, Represent! takes a hard look at the challenges these students must face growing up in the Collington Square neighborhood.

Despite a variety of obstacles including poverty, abuse, and low expectations, the students embrace academic achievement and ultimately succeed by relying on one another for support. The film aims to dispel the myth that children from high-poverty urban schools cannot excel academically.

The 30-minute film includes a cast of over 30 students in principle roles and over 60 in supporting roles. Janks Morton plays the role of Quiz Master for the MSA Academic Challenge. Mr. Morton is director of the film What Black Men Think.

Marc Clarke plays the role of host for the Academic Challenge. Mr. Clarke hosts the Mark Clarke show on My24, Monday through Friday from 7:00am-8:00am.

Tonya Featherston, BCP’s Director of Restorative Practices, plays herself in the movie. She demonstrates how Collington uses Restorative Practices to resolve conflict and strengthen the school community.

Represent! will premiere at the Charles Theater on September 3rd. Mr. Tengella will be submitting the film to over 30 film festivals across the U.S. To view the trailer for Represent! visit or To learn more email Mr. Koli Tengella (


Thank you to the following businesses and organizations their support:

Ziger/Snead Architects has provided over $6,400 in pro-bono services. They have developed a few options for renovating the Collington Square auditorium in order to expand the stage, add storage space, and improve the acoustics.

Southern Baptist Church, led by Pastor Donte’ L. Hickman, Sr., donated $1,000 to Collington Square School in February 2009.

Barnes and Noble at the Power Plant donated over 600 books for grades PreK through eight.

Barnes and Noble logo Southern Baptist Church logo Ziger/Snead logo





Dr. Rayner Browne and Collington Square to Participate in Elev8

Elev8 logo

The Atlantic Philanthropies has awarded East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI) a $12 million grant over four years to fund the implementation of Elev8 Baltimore.

Elev8 is a national initiative dedicated to providing middle-school age youth and their families with a coordinated array of services to support student success in school and life.

Schools, local nonprofits and community partners are currently working together through Elev8 initiatives in New Mexico, Chicago and Oakland.

The Baltimore initiative will include five schools: Collington Square School, Dr. Rayner Browne Academy, East Baltimore Community School, Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School, and Tench Tilghman School.

Elev8 offers high-quality out-of-school time learning opportunities as well as comprehensive, age-appropriate school-based health care. The initiative also connects parents with economic resources for their families and engages them in schools and communities.

By delivering these supports in a carefully coordinated way, Elev8 aims to ensure that by the time students reach eighth grade, they are prepared for high school and go on to graduate.

Elev8 was developed by the Disadvantaged Children & Youth Program of The Atlantic Philanthropies, which has made a substantial investment in the development and initial four-year implementation period for each local initiative. Elev8 Baltimore is a project of EBDI, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Baltimore Community Foundation.

We would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for making Elev8 Baltimore a reality: The Atlantic Philanthropies, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation, Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore Medical Systems, Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Goldseker Foundation, Nicole Johnson (Director of East Baltimore Educational Initiative, EBDI) and Lisa Kane (Program Associate, The Annie E. Casey Foundation).

The Atlantic Philanthropies logo EBDI logo
Baltimore Community Foundation logo Annie E. Casey Foundation logo
Baltimore City Public Schools logo
Goldseker Foundation logo Baltimore Medical System logo Baltimore City Health Department logo Johns Hopkins Medicine logo



The Rayner Browne family would like to thank the following people and organizations for their support during the 2008/2009 school year:

  • The parents of Rayner Browne– it can not be done without you.
  • Teachers and staff for making the Community Schools initiative a true partnership.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters and Legg Mason for the Bigs in School mentoring program.
  • Associated Catholic Charities’ Senior Community Service Employment Program for providing classroom assistance.
  • Community Conferencing Center’s Daily Rap training for improving classroom management.
  • Baltimore City Police’s Community Officers for helping with school events, the community garden, and reading to students.
  • Department of Social Services’ Employment Exchange Program for providing school-based work experience for parents.
  • Maryland Agriculture Educational Foundation for always providing engaging activities for all grade levels.
  • Art with A Heart for bringing out the innate talents of students and creating some wonderful displays.
  • JROTC and the Poly Cadets for inspiring discipline and rigor.
  • The 21st Century/Boost After School program for providing a safe place for students and additional academic support.
  • The A+ Asthma Club for providing asthma education.
  • University of Maryland Department of Physical Therapy for screening students in grades 1-8 for scoliosis.
  • The Maryland Food Bank for serving over 75 families a month.
  • Councilman Warren Branch for always being responsive to school concerns.
  • Johns Hopkins/Connection – The time spent shopping for the right gift for every child at Rayner is an example of true love and dedication.
  • Girls Scouts’ Reading Lunch Bunch for 2nd and 3rd grade girls.
  • American Legion of Baltimore – The school can wave the flag proudly. The spaghetti lunch was a big hit!
  • Battelle Technology for their generous science lab donation.
  • The Center for Community Technology Services’ L@TCH program for providing computers and training for families.
  • Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition for uniting residents and providing student service learning opportunities.
  • Business Volunteers Unlimited MD for coordinating several volunteers service days at the school and in the community.
  • Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity for giving families the opportunity for home ownership.
  • East Baltimore Technology Resource Center for the continued computer programming training and free computers for students.
  • East Baltimore Development Inc. for funding the East Baltimore Drama Group.
  • The Creative Alliance for funding and providing instructors for the music production course.
  • 4-H Maryland for presenting a program on wind engineering.
  • Angel Tree Organization for making the holiday special for over fifteen families.
  • New Pilgrim Baptist Church for providing needed resources throughout the year.
  • Greater Gethsemane Church for support throughout the year and for hosting the first 8th grade celebration at Rayner Browne.
  • Lions Club/Lens Crafters for continuing to provide vision screening and free eye wear for students.
Big Brothers logo Legg Mason logo EBDI logo
Catholic Charities logo Community Conferencing Center logo Baltimore City Police logo
BCDSS logo Art with a Heart logo Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation logo
21st Century Community Learning Centers logo BOOST logo University of Maryland School of Medicine logo Habitat for Humanity logo
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health logo Maryland Food Bank logo Girl Scouts logo
American Legion Emblem Battelle Technology logo HEBCAC logo Lions Club International logo
Center for Community Technology Services logo BVU Maryland
JROTC logo Creative Alliance at the Patterson logo 4 H Salvation Army logo Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church
Lens Crafters logo





Wayne Larrivey Wins Howie for Outstanding Arts Educator
By Geri Swann, Hampstead Hill Academy Community Outreach Coordinator

Wayne Larrivey

Each year, the Howard County Arts Council honors individuals and businesses who have made an outstanding contribution to arts education in Howard County. This year, our very own Wayne Larrivey was presented with the Howie Award for Outstanding Arts Educator.

For the past 10 years, Mr. Larrivey has worked after school teaching drama to people with developmental disabilities through the No Boundaries Musical Theater Program, a partnership between Howard County Recreation and Parks Therapeutic Department and the Howard County Arts Council.

The program allows those with developmental disabilities to share in the joys and stimulation of producing live theater. Mr. Larrivey has led this program from the beginning and its success is due in large part to his efforts.

His dedication to the program, his patience, energy, enthusiasm, and creative adaptations motivate the actors to perform. He inspires them to reach new heights.

We congratulate Mr. Larrivey and wish him continued success with the No Boundaries program.


Girls, Inc. Mother-Daughter Breakfast
By BCP Academic Coach Marvelyn Johnson & Hampstead Hill Teacher Denise McKizzie

Girls Incorporated members

On Saturday, April 18th, Girls Inc. hosted over 150 guests at their first Mother Daughter Breakfast.

Girls, Inc. empowers middle grades girls through relationship-building circles, community service, and leadership development. This year the students learned to tell their stories through the art of scrapbooking. Girls, Inc. is led by BCP Academic Coach Marvelyn Johnson and Hampstead Hill Teacher Denise McKizzie.

It was wonderful to see current HHA students, as well as former HHA students in attendance at the breakfast. There were also a number of HHA staff members in attendance, too.

Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts and friends were able to celebrate their bond through activities and fellowship with one another throughout the morning. Dr Muriel Berkeley gave an inspiring speech complete with a story about love, diversity, and friendship.

The members from Girls Inc. did an amazing job, hosting and facilitating the events for the day.

Special thanks to the following people for whom the breakfast would not have been possible: Mr. Hornbeck, the HHA PTO, Ms. Chris Kotchenreuther, Dr. Berkeley, Brittany and Tatyana Moore, Ms. Rebekah, Paulette Palmer, Arleen Proto, Rhonda Spence, Gwendolyn Moore, Nancy Branagan, Ariel Demas, Lisa Free, The HHA Steppers, Deborah Smith, The HHA Choir, Frank Hoey, Mary Howell, Ronald Rucker, Geri Swann, Lothar Schoenfliess, Cynthia Varner, Girls Inc., Members Kerstin Banaskiewicz, Christina Koester, Kaitlyn Maser, Sierria Morales, Iteria Noble, Deboreah Ross, Diamond Thomas, Brittany Wisniewski, Marvelyn Johnson (Group Leader), Denise McKizzie (Group Leader), and all of the wonderful young ladies, women, and men in attendance.


Hampstead Hill Community Service Project
By Geri Swann, Hampstead Hill Academy Community Outreach Coordinator

Builders Club logo

The Hampstead Hill Community Service Project, the volunteer group made-up of approximately 25 middle school students, has accomplished so much this year that they have been recognized by the Kiwanis International as a Builders Club.

The Kiwanis Club of East Baltimore is sponsoring the club. So far this year, the club has volunteered with the Baltimore Animal Rescue Center’s annual fundraiser, visited Future Care Nursing Home once a month to make a small craft with the residents, helped with decorations for the HHA spring musical, held two candygram sales to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation, participated in a 4 Mile March of Dimes Walk and helped out at Hampstead Hill Nights celebrations.

Miss Howell and Ms. Jackson are honored to work with this tremendous group of students.

Builders Club is an international student-led program providing members with opportunities to perform service, build character, and develop leadership open to middle and junior high school students. Clubs are chartered in partnership with a Kiwanis club and a school or community-based organization





Wolfe Street Academy would like to thank the following partners for their support:.

  • Wolfe Street Academy (WSA) Parent Organization held several fundraisers including the Wolfest street festival in May.
  • University of Maryland Dental School donated over $10,000 in free dental care and provided oral hygiene education.
  • Maryland Food Bank / Department of Social Services participated in the Coalition for a Healthy Maryland, which held a Hunger Action Day at WSA in September. Volunteers distributed over 100 bags of food and registered 44 families for food stamps. The school food bank distributed 350 bags of food this year.
  • St. John’s Church donated $20,000 over the past two years to fund after-school tutoring for over half the students at WSA.
  • Y of Central Maryland runs the after-school BOOST program, which provides 80 students with arts and sports enrichment and tutoring. The Y also oversees the Community School program at Wolfe.
  • Wolfe Street Workforce, a volunteer program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, provided after-school tutoring, a Saturday Sports Program, and an after-school gardening club.
  • Johns Hopkins School of Nursing students provided WSA families with in-home support, education and referrals.
  • The Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra Bridges Program provided after school string instruction for 25 students. Three students were selected for TWIGS, a free Saturday after-school arts program at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
  • Sports4Kids put physical education back into our school day.
  • Julie Community Center, under the leadership of Sister Barbara Ann English, provides free adult English classes at WSA and volunteer recruitment, which brings health education, drama and knitting classes, emergency food, and classroom incentives.
  • Upper Fells Point Improvement Association’s involvement at WSA includes a teacher wish list program providing materials to the classrooms, volunteers to help with special projects and community representation on school committees.
  • Fells Point Corner Theater hosted a first grade after-school drama club,the annual student art show, and the fifth grade closing drama presentation.
  • Beth Tfiloh Community School has held a clothing drive for WSA for three years. Each November over 80 families receive winter clothing for children and adults.
  • The Creative Alliance provided photography classes for all after-school students.
  • Baltimore City Community College taught a free bilingual adult computer class in the Fall of 2008.
  • Johns Hopkins’ East Baltimore Mental Health Partnership provides WSA with a full-time therapist, at a reduced cost.
  • The Ravens Foundation has funded an after-school soccer program for two years and, this year, supported a new Mexican folkloric dance group.
  • The Goldsmith Family Foundation donated $4,500 over two years to support dental care and eyeglasses for students.
  • Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance gave 100 WSA families toys, clothing, and food through their “Holiday Adopt-A-Family” program.
  • Patterson Park Audubon Center provides natural sciences education.
  • The Baltimore Orioles donated 150 tickets, shirts, hot dogs, pop corn and soda.
  • Planned Parenthood of Maryland provided a family health course for 5th graders.
  • Living Classrooms Foundation donated $25,000 for the WSA summer program.
BCCC logo University of Maryland Baltimore seal Upper Fells Point Improvement Association logo Sports for Kids logo
Saint Johns logo Ravens Act Foundation logo
Planned Parenthood logo Maryland Food Bank logo Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
Goldsmith Family Foundation logo Baltimore School for the Arts logo
Johns Hopkins Medicine logo Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance logo Beth Tfiloh Community School logo Creative Alliance at the Patterson logo
BCDSS logo Audubon logo YMCA logo
Orioles logo Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra logo Living Classrooms Foundation logo
Fells Point Corner Theatre



Owner’s Representative Robert Proutt Helps Wolfe Street

Proutt Consulting

A few months ago BCP asked Owner’s Representative Robert Proutt if he would advise Wolfe Street Principal Mark Gaither on hiring contractors to renovate the school’s front entrance.

Instead of just firing off a quick e-mail, Mr. Proutt volunteered to help with the project. Since then he has provided approximately $3,000 in pro-bono services assembling the team, coordinating their work, and communicating with Principal Gaither.

Mr. Proutt also serves as Owner’s Representative for the Hampstead Hill Academy Early Learning Wing renovation, which took place this summer. He was hired in May 2008 and has been an indispensable member of the planning team.

“Bob Proutt is a detail person,” says Hampstead Hill Principal Matt Hornbeck. “As our Owner’s Rep. in the construction process, Bob sweats the small stuff to make our lives easier.”

“He is always available to meet, troubleshoots inevitable problems with contractors, and keeps everything running on schedule. We highly recommend him.”

We would like to thank Mr. Proutt for all of his help.

About Robert Proutt
Robert J. Proutt is the owner and founder of Proutt Consulting, LLC. He utilizes thirty-three years of experience in commercial construction and the practice of law to help owners manage the design/construction process. For more information visit:


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Newsletter Editor: Larry Schugam

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