• All County High Schools Make 2015 Challenge Index

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/21/2015
    Rank among Top U.S. High Schools

    All Frederick County high schools have once again achieved a designation among the most demanding public schools in the country. All are featured in the Washington Post 2015 Challenge Index list, reflecting the top 11 percent of the nation’s 22,000 high schools.

    “I am very proud of the hard work our students and teachers do taking on challenging courses. This is work that well prepares our graduates for success in college and greater career choices,” said FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban. “We always strive to provide the academic challenges that keep FCPS among America’s best schools and attract solid businesses to Frederick County.”

    Urbana High had the highest ranking of FCPS high schools on the national index that ranks challenging schools. Urbana scored 3.294, ranking 24th statewide and 492nd nationally. Last year, Urbana also ranked highest in Frederick County, scoring 3.463, ranking 18th statewide and 348th nationally.

    Challenge Index scores and rankings this year for other Frederick County public high schools are: Middletown (2.310) at 53rd statewide and 1,051st nationally; Frederick (1.939) at 67th statewide and 1,376th nationally; Linganore (1.858) at 75th statewide and 1,462nd nationally; Oakdale (1.716) at 82nd statewide and 1,597th nationally; Walkersville (1.579) at 93rd statewide and 1,741st nationally; Catoctin (1.549) at 94th statewide and 1,777th nationally; Tuscarora (1.346) at 104th statewide and 1,974th nationally; Brunswick (1.272) at 110th statewide and 2,058th nationally; and Gov. Thomas Johnson (1.129) at 119th statewide and 2,215th nationally.

    The Challenge Index measures high schools’ ability to challenge their students with Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and/or Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) exams. A school’s rank is determined by dividing the number of college-level tests given at the school that year divided by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June. The index is designed to identify schools that challenge average students.

    According to the Index’s author Jay Mathews, “1.00 is a modest standard. A school can reach that level if only half of its students take one AP, IB or AICE test in their junior year and one in their senior year. But this year, just 11 percent of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools managed to reach that standard and earn placement on our list." 

    Find out more. 

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  • FCPS Partners with Code.org

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/16/2015
    Frederick County Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban is pleased to announce a partnership with Code.org that aims to increase participation in computer science courses by females and underrepresented students of various ethnic backgrounds.
    Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding computer science education, making it available in more schools and increasing participation for girls and minorities. The group’s vision is that every student in every school will have the opportunity to access computer science education. The Code.org philosophy is that computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.
    “Computer science-related jobs are predicted to be among the fastest growing and highest paying over the next decade,” Dr. Alban says. “Critical thinking and problem solving are skills that benefit all students.”
    For their part, “Code.org is excited to partner with Frederick County Public Schools to expand access to computer science,” says Cameron Wilson of Code.org. “FCPS is among the handful of districts leading the nation in this movement. This partnership can help change the lives of the districts’ students by preparing them to think critically about real world problems and put them on a pathway toward the highest demand jobs in the U.S. economy.”
    Students at participating schools will have increased access to computer science courses, curriculum and resources. The partnership will also provide new opportunities for professional development and training for FCPS teachers.
    More information about Code.org including an informative video and fun tutorials are available at http://code.org.
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  • The 2015 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award Goes to…

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/14/2015
    Walkersville Elementary Principal Tess Blumenthal!

    Walkersville EleTess Blumenthal mentary Principal Tess Blumenthal is Frederick County’s winner of the 2015 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award (DELA). The Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) selection committee chose Principal Blumenthal for her excellent leadership and strong commitment to creating an exceptional educational environment.
    Many people--from PTA leaders to students, colleagues, supervisors and community members--wrote letters recommending that Blumenthal receive this year’s award. Here are some of the reasons they gave.
    “Mrs. Blumenthal is a visionary leader who seeks to empower others and maximize their potential. She continually models a service-oriented approach with an impeccable work ethic.”—a colleague
    Another appreciated the ways the principal provides opportunities for parents, staff and community members to intermingle, learn from and learn about each other. Under her tutelage, many teachers have moved on to leadership roles, said this colleague, adding that “Mrs. Blumenthal also helps to develop leadership skills in children. She initiated a service program where students adopted a cause and were taught how to promote their ideas in the community, raise awareness, and complete a project that made a difference locally or globally.”
    As a leader, Blumenthal “promotes ingenuity and creativity by attempting new ideas herself and by encouraging students and staff to do likewise,” wrote a kindergarten teacher. Another teacher values the ways Principal Blumenthal “fosters cooperation and collaboration among teams rather than competition.”
    FCPS elementary directors commended how Blumenthal has established “a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and high expectations for staff and student success. She is a partner with the entire school community and its stakeholders. Committed to the success of each child, Mrs. Blumenthal promotes purposeful learning designed to meet individual needs.”
    A fifth grader shared this accolade from a student perspective: “Mrs. Blumenthal made me and my brother feel comfortable and welcome when we came to WES. She is always helping kids when they need it.”
    The PTA president appreciates that “Mrs. Blumenthal always shares fresh ideas from meetings and seminars she attends and regularly reaches out to experts outside of our school to find the best way we can help support our students and community.”
    Not only does she reach out for ideas, she also shares her expertise with others. Blumenthal has served as past president of the Maryland Association for Elementary School Principals, former board member of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, Inc., Race to the Top executive advisory committee member, elementary principal representative of the FCPS Education Reform Council, Frederick County representative of the Maryland Association for Elementary Principals, and a Principal Advisory Council member.
    Starting her FCPS career teaching special education at Myersville Elementary in 1990, Blumenthal was promoted to assistant principal at Middletown Elementary in 1997. She was also assistant principal at Spring Ridge Elementary before promotion to principal at Lewistown Elementary, later serving as principal at Valley and now at Walkersville.
    She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from James Madison University, master’s in special education/inclusion from Johns Hopkins University and educational leadership certificate from Hood College.
    Blumenthal will receive honors with 19 other metropolitan-area recipients during a May 5 awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The Washington Post established DELA in 1987 to honor principals who go beyond the daily responsibilities of their position. The goal is to encourage excellence in school leadership and to contribute to the improvement of education in the Washington metropolitan area.
    FCPS has posted video on YouTube of Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban surprising Principal Blumenthal with news of her award:

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  • The 2015 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award Goes to…

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/13/2015
    Charlie Zachmann Frederick High School Culinary Arts Teacher Charlie Zachmann

    To those who know him at Frederick High School, where he teaches culinary arts and chairs the Career and Technology Education Department, it’s no surprise that Charlie Zachmann has earned the 2015 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award for educational excellence.

    “If I could, I would take his class all over again,” said senior Sarah Schwenger. “His classes are known for being incredibly fun while providing knowledge that can be used in everyday life,” she adds.

    Another student, who met Mr. Zachmann through the school’s Ice Hockey Club, said, “I never had a fascination for food and certainly not the processes of cooking it. However soon after starting the program I found myself so immersed in the culinary world, I even went out and bought a cook book--Who does that?”

    Principal Kathy Campagnoli describes Mr. Zachmann as “a truly gifted teacher who exhibits great expertise and a passionate commitment to teaching the Commercial Foods Program…able to more than double the program’s enrollment in just four years. He also transformed the third and final level of the program into an internship in which the students earn high school credits while integrating their classroom knowledge with real-life cooking experiences at local restaurants….Once you have tasted the food it is not surprising to learn how so many of his students have won an array of awards while participating in local culinary competitions; others have worked in world-class restaurants or have created their own commercial foods-based business. He is truly expert at managing, motivating and coaching students to grow and achieve.”

    Colleague Beth Strakonsky explains that Mr. Zachmann “leads by example. I know that I can depend on Charlie to support student activities, interdepartmental activities, and staff-development initiatives. Charles almost always has a smile on, and you can depend on his positive attitude.”

    Mr. Zachmann is in his 11th year teaching at Frederick High. He also advises the Ice Hockey Club and plays student-faculty basketball. He serves as an FFA Food Science resource, homecoming chaperone and graduation project mentor and participates in bocce ball, active with the local Unified Sports Bocce Ball Tournament.

    He earned his Maryland Advanced Professional Teaching Certificate in Culinary Arts and his bachelor’s degree in culinary arts management at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

    See Mr. Zachmann when Superintendent Alban presents his award! 
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  • FCPS Superintendent Answers Your Questions

    Posted by Lisa Newcomer at 4/8/2015
    Do you have questions or thoughts about Frederick County Public Schools? Have some feedback for Superintendent Alban?

    FCPS Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban invites the public to the PTA-sponsored Superintendent’s Chat on Tuesday, April 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Twin Ridge Elementary.

    This is the fourth in a series of four PTA-sponsored Superintendent Chats this school year. Others were held in September at Carroll Manor Elementary, February at Middletown Middle and March at Thurmont Middle.
    “I’m looking forward to this opportunity to talk with members of the community,” Alban said. “We’re using every vehicle available to us to engage our community and hear what people have to say.”

    The Superintendent won’t be able to address specific personnel issues or questions about specific students, but all other issues are on the table.
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  • Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Unit Moves to Governor Thomas Johnson High School

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/8/2015
    The U.S. Navy has officially approved Frederick County Public Schools' request to relocate the NJROTC program from Linganore High School to Governor Thomas Johnson High School beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

    Although the program has been active and a great source of pride for LHS and FCPS since 2003, it has continued to struggle with low enrollment resulting in probationary standing two of the last three years. Despite being on probation, a recent inspection of the LHS unit found the following:

    • The unit is in “excellent condition due to the dedicated efforts of the instructors and their interaction with the cadets.”
    • The “program is well run with oversight from the instructors.”
    • The “cadets were very motivated to participate.”
    • The “retention rate is 73 percent which is an indicator that those who do belong to their unit are committed to excellence and, although there has been a decrease in cadets, there has been an increase in participation.”
    • “Although this unit receives an automatic grade of Unsatisfactory due to their low enrollment numbers, it is a very solid performing unit with highly dedicated instructors, motivated and committed cadets and strong community and school administration support.”

    FCPS is strongly committed to maintaining the NJROTC and recognizes that a more centralized location and institutionalized transportation for students (via the CTC route) are key factors in attracting and retaining NJROTC Cadets.

    Students interested in applying to participate in the NJROTC Program may do so through May 1, 2015. For more information visit www.patriotnjrotc.com.

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  • FCPS Ensemble Wins Championship

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 4/8/2015
    In the recent 2015 Keystone Indoor Drill Association (KIDA) competition, the collaborative Brunswick and Tuscarora Indoor Percussion Ensemble earned the first-place gold medal, winning this year’s championship.
    When the Western Frederick Indoor Percussion and Color Guard units took the floor in competition at Chambersburg High School, more than 50 students from both schools participated. Both groups had excellent performances. In the White Moving Percussion Division, the Indoor Percussion Ensemble achieved first-place gold, making them the KIDA Championship winners. The FCPS Indoor Color Guard group earned the second-place silver medal in the Gold Division Championship.
    “This is a tremendous accomplishment for both programs and reflects the hard work and dedication they have put in this season,” says John D. Karos, Instrumental Music Director at Tuscarora High School. “I know that Brunswick High School Instrumental Music Director Matthew Fowle agrees.”
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  • FCPS Earns Award of Excellence

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 3/30/2015
    Frederick County Public Schools’ Career and Technology Education Supervisor Kristine Pearl has received great news. The FCPS Career and Technology Center (CTC) SkillsUSA program she nominated won Maryland’s 2015 Career and Technology Education Outstanding Student Organization Award of Excellence.
    CTC Principal Michael Concepcion commended the group’s advisor, Martha Lowry, for guiding student success in achieving the award. On behalf of the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Career and College Readiness, assistant state superintendent Katharine Oliver wrote that the Division “is delighted to recognize this organization for its work in providing leadership and professional development to its members.”
    The FCPS CTC is a total participation program chapter with 749 registered SkillsUSA members. Community service opportunities are an integral part of the group’s work. Examples have included Construction Trades students leading construction of small houses for donation to Habitat for Humanity’s collection boxes project and Academy of Health Profession students leading a blood drive. SkillsUSA also sponsors a well-attended yearly 9-11 Flag Raising Ceremony that Criminal Justice students lead with Fire, Rescue and Police representatives and guests including elected officials.
    All CTC students are encouraged to attend the annual Maryland SkillsUSA fall leadership conference. The chapter sponsors over 400 competitors in local championships. The Frederick SkillsUSA chapter averages 95 students moving on to state competition and 20-30 local students advancing to the SkillsUSA National Technical and Leadership Conference each year.
    Public outreach is a key component of the local chapter, as students and their advisor submit articles for publication and use social media to recognize student accomplishments and promote SkillsUSA activities. The Board of Education of Frederick County annually recognizes the group’s achievements. Finally, the chapter sponsors a door-decorating contest in conjunction with the CTC’s Open House to provide visual connections to the programs and SkillsUSA to over 1,200 visitors from the community.
    Five CTC students served as State SkillsUSA officers from 2006-2011. Alumni support is substantial. The chapter is one of the most active in Maryland, and members garner national recognition.
    Award presentations will take place Tuesday, April 28 at the Holiday Inn Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore. The ceremony will begin with an afternoon reception at 4:30, followed by the award presentation at 5:30.
    The CTC welcomes all local support to help students attend competitions state- and nationwide. For more information, please contact Principal Michael Concepcion, 240-236-8500 or Kristine Pearl, 301-644-5121.
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  • Nominate a Support Employee

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 3/30/2015
    Frederick County Public Schools is accepting nominations for the school system’s 2015 Support Employee of the Year Award. This award recognizes outstanding members of FCPS support staff.
    Nomination eligibility, criteria and process information are available at www.fcps.org/awards. Nomination packets are due to the FCPS Communication Services Office, 191 S. East Street, Frederick, MD, 21701 by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.
    FCPS will recognize one finalist from each of eight broad job classifications at the June 10 Board of Education meeting. The job classifications are:

    *Bus Drivers
    *Business Support (which includes Food Service, Transportation Office/Garage staff, Technology Services)
    *Non-school-based Custodian/Maintenance/Warehouse
    *School-based Custodian/Maintenance
    *Food and Nutrition Services
    *Instructional and Mainstream Assistant/Community Liaison/User Support Specialist
    *Non-school-based Secretary
    *School-based Secretary
    During the recognition, Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban will name two of the eight finalists―one school-based and one non-school-based―the 2015 Support Employees of the Year.
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  • National Finalists in MIT Project

    Posted by Dian Nelson at 3/30/2015
    The Frederick County Public Schools’ Career and Technology Center (CTC) announces that its Computer-Aided Design (CAD) engineering team qualified as national finalists for the Lemelson-MIT Program’s 2015-2016 InvenTeam grant. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Engineering administers the Lemelson-MIT Program, which became a national STEM initiative in 2003.
    On average, 15 schools are selected to participate each year. Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams include high school students, educators and mentors. They receive up to $10,000 to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.
    Educators for the national finalist teams are Excite Award recipients. FCPS CAD engineering teacher Philip Arnold will travel to MIT in June to attend MIT's EurekaFest 2014, meet the current InvenTeams, see their inventions and attend workshops in preparation for FCPS CTC students to have a team in the coming school year.
    To qualify as finalists, the CTC team submitted a proposal for a stand-alone water conservation system to function with shallow and low-flow wells. Students recognized that population growth and climate change are two issues that will continue to place pressure on worldwide water supply and food production. They researched drought and water supply conditions around the globe and found the following:
    • In Africa and Asia, over 741 million people lack daily access to fresh water.
    • Brazil is experiencing the country’s worst drought in 80 years. More than 40 million people there, in 96 cities, are having to ration water.
    • 93% of California is in a stage of severe drought, one of the worst North American droughts in history.
    Students tried to imagine the plight of rural families in Frederick County and around the world whose survival and independence are tied to their land. After several brainstorming sessions the students developed a simple solution that families can manage independently to increase reliability of their crop production and improve their quality of life. The students proposed manual-pump and solar-powered options for their system. They plan to work throughout the summer and submit a final proposal in September, hoping to be among the 15 InvenTeams announced in October from the pool of 35 national finalists.
    The CTC CAD engineering students involved in the initial proposal are: Brunswick junior Ryan Kinzie, Catoctin juniors Ricky Adkins, Noah Dell and Mark Goff, Frederick senior Noah Parker and junior Brittainy Sechler, Gov. Thomas Johnson senior Nathan Eschback, Middletown senior Paige Bussard and junior Nathan Fox, Oakdale juniors Allan Hitchcock and Sean McGaughey, and Tuscarora senior Adrian Bobb.
    For more information about this national STEM program, see MIT's website: http://lemelson.mit.edu/inventeams
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