Class Notes Logo
Issue No. 16
Summer 2010

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:




Hampstead Hill Academy students

What is the Purpose of Public Education?

Over the next few issues of Class Notes we will be asking parents and community members to share their views on the purpose of public education. This series of interviews will be complemented by the next Leading Minds forum, to be held on September 30, 2010.

Jeanette Stewart
BCP Board Member and
Collington Square School of the Arts Parent

What is the purpose of public education and what should our children learn in school?
The purpose of a public education is to provide the citizens of the United States with an education that will afford them to be good citizens united in society and to prevent crime and poverty. Our children should learn how to become better citizens, strong communicators, and critical thinkers. That will prepare them for real life experiences.

What type of adults should our schools help shape?
Powerful leaders.

How should we hold schools accountable for successfully teaching our children?
We as parents can hold the school accountable by demanding professional or certified teachers, a supportive staff, well designed programs, and supplies that are needed to educate our children. We should insist that our children’s environment is a desirable place to learn.
Parents and community leaders should constantly be involved in the public school system.

Describe a person, class, or experience from your schooling that had a powerful impact on your life.
My 10th grade English teacher Ms. Hortense Brooks, now deceased, was a positive role model in my life. She showed me the importance of volunteering and making a difference in someone else’s life. For example, visiting the children’s burn unit at the Baltimore City Hospital; visiting nursing homes to read, sing and comb patients’ hair.

This wonderful experience has had a huge impact on my life. I am now a member of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization and Family Community Engagement Committee, a parent advocate, and a BCP Board member. In addition, I am an active church member at Southern Baptist Church.

Hampstead Hill Academy students

Sharone Henderson
City Springs School PTO President and Parent

What is the purpose of public education and what should our children learn in school?
The purpose of public education is to get them ready for our society. Our children need to start learning as soon as they get here. They should be reading by the time they are in PreK. As a parent you should investigate the school your child is going to and make sure he or she is getting the quality education he or she deserves.

What type of adults should our schools help shape?
They should be well-rounded adults. You have to mold them, shape them, and be a positive role model. If they need help you have to be there for them.

How should we hold schools accountable for successfully teaching our children?
I don’t think parents should hold schools accountable unless we are involved in the well-being and academics of our children, because if you are not there how can you be sure that it’s the school’s fault. If you are involved and you think your child is not getting the quality education he or she deserves you should meet with the principal and the teacher to discuss how to get them there.
We should also hold parents accountable for their children. The school can teach the child all day but if they don’t get the backing at home then it won’t work.

Describe a person, class, or experience from your schooling that had a powerful impact on your life.
It was my mother. My mother volunteered at City Springs School and she had close ties with the teachers. What she did back then she instilled in me and that’s why I’m here volunteering at the school and making sure kids have a quality education.
She made sure we were learning all the time. She fought for special education along with Ms. Irona Pope. She had two special needs children and one graduated. That had a powerful impact. She wouldn’t let anybody tell her that her kids couldn’t learn.

Hampstead Hill Academy students

Nancy Jagelka
Hampstead Hill Academy Parent

What is the purpose of public education and what should our children learn in school?
Public education should be a catalyst, foundation and nurturer of learning to be integrated with a student’s personal growth and development. It should be a safe place for expression, communication and understanding of the broader world and the natural environment as they are connected to the student and the community.
The students should learn the basics of everything possible in school, and then be given the opportunity to choose their own way of life based on the introduction to this information.

What type of adults should our schools help shape?
Schools should help shape adults who are connected to their family, community, natural environment and world, as well as their own sense of well-being. Specifically, this would include adults who discover and utilize their uniquely innate talents and interests as foundations for development and continued learning about life and the world they live in. With this strong personal development, the negative influence of issues that may distract and deter an individual can be deflected.

How should we hold schools accountable for successfully teaching our children?
Creating ‘standardized’ tests that gauge not only their math or language arts levels, but also outside the box items, such as how they would manage situations, relationships, or any life changes that may occur during their development. I do not believe that gauging a school’s success should be based on subject matter solely ‘educational’ in content. I believe it should be based on the success of students to go forward with their lives utilizing the skills, information and encouragement given to them by the school.

Describe a person, class, or experience from your schooling that had a powerful impact on your life.
My basketball coach provided a much needed structure and outlet for me during critical high school years, without which I would not have achieved the caliber of teamwork and play that made us champions. He was also a Vietnam Veteran who had seen combat as an infantryman and taught us to appreciate life outside the sports world.


BCP light bulb

BCP Celebrates Charter School Renewals

BCP would like to celebrate the recent charter renewals of City Springs School, Collington Square School, and Wolfe Street Academy.

The City School Board gave Wolfe Street Academy a 5-year renewal. City Springs School and Collington Square School of the Arts each received 2-year renewals. Dr. Rayner Browne Academy, which BCP has operated for three years, did not receive a renewal.

Attendees and school board members alike praised BCP and BCP’s schools during the school board meetings leading up to the vote.

School Board Commissioner George VanHook said, “I think one thing that’s really important and really has been demonstrated here but not explicitly mentioned is the commitment the Baltimore Curriculum Project has made to the school system.”

“I just wanted it to be out there and say I, as a Board member, really appreciate the work that you do. You’re one of only two providers in the whole system that has taken an existing school and tried to turn it around.”

“All of the Baltimore Curriculum Project schools, in fact, none of them are new charters. They’re all schools that were unsuccessful before and they are doing their best to turn them around while maintaining the same student body. So, I really applaud the work that you do.”

Johns Hopkins Institutions Community Relations Coordinator Christine Kavanagh said: “It is a privilege to work with City Springs. I am honored to work with these people and their community of parents, students, faculty, and administration. The Baltimore Curriculum Project has just blown me away and my colleagues at Johns Hopkins and we hope to continue to work with them.”

City Springs middle school teacher and parent Rodney Tolson said: “I’d like to thank Dr. Berkeley of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, without whom we defi nitely couldn’t have succeeded as much as we have.”

“They bring tons of resources, professional development, teacher training, coaching, a presence and a genuineness that allows us to do a lot of things that we have not been able to do.”

Charter School Accountability

BCP is deeply committed to accountability and we utilize a variety of strategies to improve and assess student achievement. These include in-class coaching, customized professional development, and weekly student data review meetings.

Two years ago we implemented a computerized, adaptive assessment that allows us to measure individual student growth over time and adjust instruction accordingly. This test is a wonderful complement to the MSA.

Conversion Charter Schools

What we do is different from most charter schools. Instead of starting from scratch, we convert existing schools into charters and serve all children in our neighborhood attendance zones.

Conversions are a collaborative process. We work closely with current staff and leadership to improve achievement. We start off with a school at full enrollment that has all of the strengths and challenges from the previous year.

Research shows that in most cases it takes at least three years to turn a school around. It takes time to evaluate staff, implement new strategies, and assess their effectiveness. We use continuous assessment and research-based curricula to ensure that our students receive the highest quality education possible.

Impressive Results

BCP schools have made impressive gains. From 2007 to 2009, BCP schools averaged a 20 percentage point increase in reading (or 37%) and a 19 percentage point increase in math (or 40%). Hampstead Hill Academy’s average 2009 MSA reading and math scores for grades 6-8 ranked fourth in the City.

We are proud to work with such outstanding schools and look forward to supporting even greater success through our partnership with City Schools.sdf





Johns Hopkins Community Services Office Supports BCP Schools

Glass Blowing

The Johns Hopkins Health System Offi ce of Community Services continues to expand upon the exciting programs and support it offers to students at City Springs School.


In May 2009 City Springs School counselor Krista Wible began working with Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Community Relations Coordinator Christine Kavanagh to provide Hopkins mentors for children in grades three through eight.

The mentors and mentees go on group trips and have the opportunity to meet with their mentees one-on-one as often as they like.

Science Outreach Program

In October 2009 Hopkins launched the City Springs Science Outreach Program Every other month students and faculty from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering visit City Springs to give science presentations and conduct experiments.

Science Education Program

Hopkins also offers City Springs students the opportunity to participate in the Community Science Education Program (CSEP). The program promotes science education among students that attend City Schools within the local community.

During “Science Days” students from two local elementary schools are invited to spend a day at the Basic Science Institute or Cancer Research Center. They are rotated between several laboratories, receiving hands-on experience with various scientifi c experiments, and attend science presentations requiring student interaction.

LEAD Program

Hopkins has also offered all BCP schools the opportunity to participate in their LEAD program. LEAD (Learn Explore Advance Develop) provides an opportunity for middle school students to work with a mentor who is esteemed in his or her given field. The mentors guide students through exploration and discovery geared toward each student’s individual interests.

Twice a week students are picked up at their school and transported to the Hopkins Homewood campus. There they work with a graduate student on two projects, which are showcased at the end of the semester.

Annually, elementary schools that have participated in Community Science Days are invited to Johns Hopkins to participate in a Science Fair.

Hopkins also offers a free Science Camp. Twenty-four students from eight local elementary schools are selected to attend a daily, week-long science camp at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus. Students receive fi rst hand knowledge of basic science through interaction with Johns Hopkins faculty and staff.

Tutorial Project

BCP students can also participate in the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, which is overseen by the University’s Center for Social Concern. The Tutorial Project is an afterschool tutoring program that provides academic support for elementary school students.

The program has been helping city school students with their studies since 1958, making it the longest-running program of its kind in Baltimore. Through this program, children are paired with Johns Hopkins University students to receive one-on-one help in reading and math.

For nine to ten weeks each semester, approximately 100 children come to the Homewood campus twice a week, transported by either the program’s bus or by their families. Trained tutors plan an hour of activities and educational games that are specifi cally selected to meet each child’s needs, based on assessments conducted at the beginning of the semester.

Thank you We would like to thank Christine Kavanagh, Krista Wible, and the Johns Hopkins Health System Community Services Offi ce for providing these wonderful opportunities for our students. To learn more visit:





Collington Square Student Ta'Shawn Miles Meets President

Ta'Shawn Miles at the White House spacer
Collington Square student Ta'Shawn Miles at the White House (front row, second from left)  

On January 20th Ta’Shawn Miles, a 6th grader at BCP’s Collington Square School of the Arts, had the experience of a life time. He visited the White House and met the President and First lady as part of a National Mentoring Month celebration.

Ta’Shawn participates in the Higher Achievement Program at Collington Square School, which provides mentoring in addition to an after-school academy, summer academy, and a high-school placement program for middle school children.

Sarah Pitcock, Director of Program Quality for the National Summer Learning Association, is Ta’Shawn’s mentor. Below is a post from Ms. Pitcock about Ta’Shawn from the Higher Achievement Program Blog at higherachievementlearning.blogspot. com:

Memoirs of a Mentor - Shared by Sarah Pitcock, of Higher Achievement Baltimore

I have mentioned a few times Collington Square Student Ta’Shawn Miles Meets President my love for mentoring at Higher Achievement and for my mentees. They have really brought so much joy into my life in such a short time.

I am very blessed to spend time each week with Ta’Shawn Miles, a sixth grader at Collington Square with hopes and dreams that far exceed the small radius of East Baltimore he knows. Since the fi rst day I met him, Ta’Shawn has been talking about President Barack Obama (he always calls him by his full title).

Seeing an African American man become President has truly changed Ta’Shawn’s concept of what he can do with his life. He talks about him ALL the time!

When I went to mentoring on Tuesday, the Center Director told me that Ta’Shawn’s mom had picked him up early that day to go buy him a suit because he was going to the White House to represent Higher Achievement and United Way for a National Mentoring Month event the next day.

I nearly fell over, and I’ve had chills ever since just thinking about what the experience would be like for him. I wasn’t sure if the President would actually be there or if Ta’Shawn would have any contact with him, but I got the full update this morning and the picture above says it all.

Ta’Shawn is front row, second from left. I am just bursting with pride today and wanted to share. Here is Ta’Shawn’s offi cial quote about the experience, for historical record:

It was so exciting. I never thought a day in my life I’d get to meet the fi rst Black President of the United States. It was an honor for me to walk into the White House, because so many people will never have that experience.

We would like to congratulate Ta’Shawn on this honor and thank Ms. Pitcock, Collington Square Principal D’Andrea Chapman, Higher Achievement Program, and EBDI’s Elev8 Initiative for making opportunities like this possible for our students.

About Higher Achievement Program

Higher Achievement’s mission is to develop academic skills, behaviors, and attitudes in academically motivated and underserved middle school children to improve their grades, test scores, attendance, and opportunities – resulting in acceptance to college preparatory high schools.

We close the achievement gap by offering motivated middle school students from under-served areas an opportunity-rich, nationally recognized year-round educational and high school preparatory program.

For more information visit:





spacer spacerFirst Lady
  Hampstead Hill student Kameron Venable shakes hands with the First Lady.

Hampstead Hill Students Visit First Lady at White House

Hampstead Hill sets the standard for integrating food education and nutrition programming in school.

We have full-time Food Educator Chrissa Carlson, daily Food for Life classes in a kitchen classroom, an organic gardening club, culinary arts club, community dinners prepared by guest chefs working with our kids, and healthy food at every staff and parent meeting.

In recognition of our commitment to healthy eating, First Lady Michelle Obama invited 30 Hampstead Hill students to the White House for a Let’s Move! Town Hall meeting on April 8th. The event was broadcast live to more than 35,000 classrooms nationwide.

Let’s Move! is an initiative started by the First Lady to help raise a healthier generation of kids and solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.



Hampstead Hill Rallies in Annapolis
By Geri Swann, Hampstead Hill Academy Community Outreach Coordinator

Hampstead Hill students, parents and staff participated in a rally in Annapolis on March 1st to support adequate funding for City Schools. The Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC) organized more than 500 people from 28 schools to come out in support of restricting cuts to City Schools.

Nearly a dozen delegates, including Pete Hammen, joined in to voice their support. Hampstead Hill Principal Matt Hornbeck was among the many speakers who addressed the crowd. Below is an excerpt from Principal Hornbeck’s remarks:

It doesn’t matter that we are in a recession or coming out of a recession or whether times are good or bad. Nothing is more important to our collective future, our neighborhoods and our national security than strong public schools.

An educated population is a magnet for businesses and jobs. Maryland is number one in education and we need it to stay that way.

Educator Ron Edmonds said “We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose education is of interest to us.”

We are here tonight to ask if all of Maryland’s children – but especially those in its poorest and most vulnerable urban district – our district, are “of interest to us.”

Tonight we ask a very important question – how are the children? I can tell you at Hampstead Hill and in Baltimore City, they are rising. Many of our students will be fi rst generation college students. Let me tell you, in their own words, why school matters to them.

Stephanie says “The economy today is very bad. Jobs are being lost and people can’t keep their homes. Education is so important because in five or ten years we expect to have great artists, musicians, teachers, and lawyers. Our schools need to have all of the tools for students to succeed.

Scott says “What is life if not hard work, determination and education. Maybe the economy is so bad because there isn’t anyone educated enough to fi x it. We need good schools.”


Thank You to The Jean & Sidney Silber Foundation and The David L. Holder Education Foundation

spacer Hampstead Hill Academy girls soccer team
  Hampstead Hill Hornets Girls Soccer Team (2009/2010)

We would like to thank the Jean & Sidney Silber Foundation for their gift of $7,500 in support of the 2010 summer program at Hampstead Hill Academy.

The summer program provided academic instruction, enrichment activities, and physical education for Hampstead Hill students.

We would also like to thank the David L. Holder Education Foundation for their grant of $8,000. The grant supported the Hampstead Hill Hornets Girls Soccer Team and Boys Basketball Programs, as well as an outdoor leadership experience at Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center.

Genesee Valley provides groups experiences in the fields, woods and lakes on their 300+-acre property.





Soccer League Brings Together Schools and Community
By Tim Almaguer, Executive Director, Friends of Patterson Park

spacer Hampstead Hill Soccer Team
  Coach Lamont "Wes" Harvey poses with the Hampstead Hill Academy soccer team, from left: Anthony, Kameron, Zoe, Eric, Christopher and Brooke. (photo by Jeannette Belliveau -

Fourth grader Colby Johnson summed it all up when he told everyone at school about his experience playing soccer in his Patterson Park after-school league: “I like being out in the park for soccer. I learned how to keep the ball away from people on the other team, and I had fun.”

It is just that simple—playing outside in a public park, challenging oneself to learn, building skills and having fun doing it.

This fall, three neighboring schools—Patterson Park Public Charter School, Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy— developed their own soccer league where 66 students in grades two through five learned to play the beautiful game of soccer. More importantly, they learned to play as a team and respect themselves and others.

The Patterson Park inter-school league was developed to address a need in the community to provide meaningful organized recreation for our local school children. During this eight-week afterschool program, each school practiced as a team in Patterson Park, learning specifi c skills such as dribbling, shooting, juggling and passing.

These skills were then translated to the soccer fi eld, when the schools played each other in a series of “round-robin” games every week. Our games stressed teamwork, sportsmanship and were only for fun—thus scores were not recorded.

The Patterson Park inter-school league is the result of a collaboration among the three local schools, the Ravens All Community Team Foundation (which provided the primary funding), Crystal Palace Football Club, the Baltimore Curriculum Project, Friends of Patterson Park and the Y of Central Maryland.

Each of these schools benefi ts from having a community school coordinator responsible for facilitating partnerships and donations that enhance the opportunities available to students and their families. Community school coordinators organized their school’s team and were critical to the program’s success.

This “team” of partners made it possible to provide each school with its own coach, new equipment and access to community soccer fields in Patterson Park, the anchoring “green-space” and best “backyard” of Baltimore.

The goal of the league was not only to teach our students to play soccer but, more importantly, to get our students out in the fresh air, to promote healthy choices and provide an opportunity for everyone to play with one another in a safe, educational and nurturing environment.

Considerable attention has been given to the increased rates of childhood obesity, the decreased exposure to the natural world— what experts call the “nature deficit disordered”—and the increasingly deleterious effects of sedentary lifestyle and poor self-esteem.

Several studies have shown that urban recreational programming has a dramatically positive impact on many factors related to childhood obesity—and is fundamental to youth gang prevention. Such enriching programs build character and skills, promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles and are fun.

Looking ahead, our hope is to further nurture such leagues and build their capacity, allowing for more students and potentially new athletic sports and skills. Once again, it takes a great team of partners to build up an even better team for our students and children.

Thank You

We would like to thank the following partners for making the soccer league possible:The Baltimore Ravens All Team Community Foundation, Crystal Palace, Friends of Patterson Park, Patterson Park Public Charter School, and the Y of Central Maryland.


Questions or comments? Email
Newsletter Editor: Larry Schugam

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