Tracy Herald’s passion and commitment to family-school engagement recently earned the Kemptown Elementary mom the Maryland State Department of Education’s 2015 Parent Involvement Matters Award (PIMA) for Frederick County. The PIMA recognizes parents and legal guardians for their exceptional support of public education.
Active at the school since her fifth grader started there in kindergarten, Ms. Herald recently served two terms as PTA president. She consistently collaborated with school administrators and parents to provide outstanding opportunities for all students’ families to be involved at the school, achieving a near 100% PTA membership enrollment. Spearheading Kemptown’s first STEM Night, featuring hands-on science, technology, engineering and math projects in 2012, and building on its success in subsequent years with an afterschool STEM Club are activities many cite when describing positive differences Ms. Herald has made for students, families and staff.
“The club has created a scientific playground for experiencing science firsthand,” says one mom, whose son can’t wait to be a part of the program: “That kind of student enthusiasm for science is a parent’s dream.”
Ms. Herald is also a classroom volunteer and has served as PTA County Council representative and chair of the school’s Family Fun Night, Rebate Committee and Buzz Bookgroup.
The Board of Education will recognize Ms. Herald for this achievement at an upcoming meeting. The MSDE presented her the award at a special dinner celebration Friday, June 5 at Martin’s West in Woodlawn, Maryland.
Several schools in Frederick County will have new principals and assistant principals when schools re-open for students in August.
Effective July 1, the following promotions to principal will take effect, listed in alphabetic order by school. Patrick (Todd) Shaffer to Liberty Elementary from assistant principal at Twin Ridge Elementary Jana Strohmeyer to Yellow Springs Elementary from assistant principal there The following elementary principals will transfer: Angela Corrigan to Monocacy Elementary from Liberty Allie Watkins to Urbana Elementary from Monocacy Jan Hollenbeck to Waverley Elementary from Urbana Susan Kreiger to Wolfsville Elementary from Yellow Springs The following employees are promoted to assistant principal: Hannah Feldman to Centerville Elementary from acting assistant principal there LeRoy Hand to Frederick Classical Charter from teaching at Thurmont Middle Brianna Zeoli to Middletown Middle from acting assistant principal there Jay Corrigan to North Frederick Elementary from teacher specialist for professional learning Lindsey Donnally to Oakdale High from teaching at Frederick High Edward Hargreaves to Walkersville Elementary from school counselor at Myersville Elementary The following employees are transferring to elementary assistant principal positions: Molly Westermann to New Market from Spring Ridge Ellen Hanner to Oakdale from North Frederick Justin McConnaughey to Spring Ridge from Walkersville Janice O’Hara to Twin Ridge from New Market Lori Snowden to Whittier from acting assistant principal there Megan Stein to Yellow Springs from Oakdale The following employees are transferring to middle and high school assistant principal positions: Maggie Gilgallon to Middletown Middle from Walkersville Middle Gwendolyn Dorsey to Oakdale High, returning from leave Michael Hombach to Tuscarora High from pupil personnel worker Mark Smith to Tuscarora High from Gov. Thomas Johnson High Judith Hale to Urbana Middle from Middletown Middle Sherry Haydel to Walkersville Middle from West Frederick Tamara Lamberson to West Frederick Middle from Tuscarora High FCPS provides brief biographical information about employees new to principal positions. This year there are two: Todd Shaffer and Jana Strohmeyer. Todd Shaffer earned his Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2011, he completed his Master of Education degree in administration and supervision from Frostburg State University. He started his teaching career in Virginia, moved to Oakland, Maryland, and after teaching there was promoted to Dennett Road Elementary principal before coming to Frederick County. He has served as assistant principal at Twin Ridge Elementary since 2012. Jana Strohmeyer earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Towson University and Master of Education in administration and supervision from Loyola University in Baltimore. She began her teaching career in Carroll County, worked in Howard County and came to FCPS as a teacher at Twin Ridge Elementary in 2007. She was assistant principal at Thurmont Primary, North Frederick and Yellow Springs.
Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) has recently partnered with Seed of Life (SOL) Nurseries, Inc. in an initiative to reinforce vital curricula through the installation of My Plate gardens at every interested elementary school. The gardens will represent the recommendations from the USDA’s My Plate nutrition symbol and will be a valuable tool for opportunities in the areas of science, environmental literacy, social studies, health and more.
The FCPS Elementary Science Department, in collaboration with other curricular departments, will provide resources to assist teachers and students as they use the My Plate gardens to learn and reinforce essential standards. SOL Nurseries, Inc. will secure volunteers and financial sponsorships through local businesses.
An additional benefit of the My Plate garden initiative is the opportunity for our students, staff and community to give back to one another. Harvested items will be available for donation to the school community members, local food banks and other worthy causes.
Frederick County Public Schools’ students in the Career and Technology Center (CTC) are state champions for the fourth year in a row, winning the Governor’s Cup and placing first in the 2015 Real World Design Challenge. The team designed an unmanned coaxial-rotor helicopter for targeted application of pesticides. The goal, according to team advisor and CTC instructor Phil Arnold, was to ensure the health of crops while reducing the negative effects of blanketed, broad-based pesticide application.
Members on the winning CTC Engineering Team are Adrian Bobb—documentation expert, Mark Goff—scientist, Allan Hitchcock—mathematician, Casey Jung—project manager, Ryan Kinzie—systems engineer, Sean McGaughey—simulation test engineer and Brittainy Sechler—mechanical engineer. Next up, the Frederick team will compete at the national finals at Washington DC in November.
Students from West Frederick Middle School earned first place statewide Saturday, May 2 in the 2015 Maryland History Day Junior Website Division competition. With support from the school’s advanced academics specialist Amy Howser, the team of students Christopher Pondoc, Jamie Roan, Sydney Robinson, Nikolas Struntz and Hannah Whang chose Alan Turing: The Things No One Could Imagine as their topic. In addition, Brunswick Middle student Loretta Donoghue won a special award for the Juanita Jackson Mitchell: A Leader from Then to Now exhibit she created. Her social studies teacher is Scott Strait, who won his school’s 2015 Teacher of the Year award.
About 23,000 students across Maryland competed in this year’s event at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The theme was Leadership and Legacy in History. Students were judged on how well they tied the historical event, concept, or individual they selected with the day’s theme and on their presentation, research, bibliography and the knowledge and poise with which they answered judges’ questions.
“I am so excited that I can hardly stand it,” says Ms. Howser, “and we are so very proud of all of our kids who participated. The group going to Nationals consists of three boys and two girls—all 7th graders. One of the most exciting things they did was to conduct an interview via Skype with a mathematics professor from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, S. Barry Cooper. Professor Cooper is a computability theorist and author of the book Alan Turing: His Work and Impact.”
According to Ms. Howser, Professor Cooper told the students he was so proud of them for winning the state competition that he was going to talk about them to an audience in Russia. Ms. Howser has taught for 11 years in Frederick County. This is her sixth year at West Frederick Middle.
This year’s Maryland History Day District Teacher Award for Frederick County went to Michael Bunitsky, the FCPS secondary social studies curriculum specialist.
The National History Day competition is June 14-18 on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park. The History Channel® will webcast the NHD awards ceremony live from the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland between 8:30 AM – noon ET on June 18.
Bonitatibus Named Superintendent of Conejo Valley Unified School District
Frederick County Public Schools’ Chief Operating Officer Ann Bonitatibus is heading west! Yesterday evening, the Board of Education of the Conejo Valley Unified School District in Thousand Oaks, California, appointed Dr. Bonitatibus as the district’s new superintendent.
Dr. Bonitatibus has been with FCPS for 28 years. She began her career at FCPS in 1987, teaching English at Middletown High. During her tenure there, she also taught math, was the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Teacher Excellence county winner and chaired the English Department. She was promoted to assistant principal at Frederick High in 1995 and transferred to Gov. Thomas Johnson High in 1999. In 2000, she was promoted to principal at New Market Middle and then to principal at Catoctin High in 2001. She then was promoted to instructional director of high schools in 2005, associate superintendent of secondary schools in 2007, and chief operating officer in 2012. As COO, she has overseen the FCPS Business Services Group: Communication Services, Facilities Services, Fiscal Services (which includes Food Service and Transportation), Human Resources and Security. Under her leadership, FCPS has been repeatedly recognized at state and national levels for exceptional performance in several areas, including school security, fiscal transparency and community engagement. “The students and families of Conejo Valley will undoubtedly benefit from the skills and expertise Dr. Bonitatibus gained and demonstrated during her many years with FCPS,” said Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban. “She is an exceptional leader in every respect. The students, families, and staff of FCPS benefited in so many ways from her dedication and stewardship. We will miss her very much. But I know this is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for her.” Her new district, Dr. Bonitatibus notes, is “in many respects, like FCPS--a high achieving district that puts its students first.” Dr. Bonitatibus will assume her new role effective July 1. In the coming weeks, FCPS will determine how best to fill the organization gap left by Dr. Bonitatibus’s departure.
from the Frederick County Public Schools’ Urbana High School team
earned second place nationwide in the 2015 Euro Challenge. With expert guidance from their advisor,
social studies teacher Nathan Kachur (far right in photo), the team of Urbana students (left to right) Akhil Kapoor, Jinghan Sun, Katherine Li
and Rishub Nahar came in second only to defending champions from
Princeton High School. More than 100 schools from 15 states competed in
In the challenge students demonstrated their knowledge about the European Union (EU) and the euro. They made presentations answering questions about the European economy and the single currency, the euro. They were also asked to pick one member country of the “euro area” to examine an economic problem at the country level, and to identify policies for responding to that problem.
The Urbana team chose Spain and focused on the Spanish labor market. The team presented a 15-minute speech on the economic state of the EU, then answered questions that the judges posed. Judges were Wall Street bankers, Federal Reserve Bank economists and the EU ambassador to the United States. For their excellent performance, the students each received scholarships.
Goals of the Euro Challenge are to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of the European Union and the euro, promote an understanding of economic challenges facing European Union member states, support local learning standards related to global studies and economics, foster economic and financial literacy and understanding of economic policy issues, and develop communication, critical thinking and cooperative skills.
In addition, for the last three years, Urbana students won first place in the regional Econ Challenge held at Mount St. Mary’s University. The Econ Challenge is similar to the former Fed Challenge. It is a mock 15-minute speech to the President about the state of the economy and their recommendations for the future, followed by a 15-minute Q and A.
The Euro Challenge is a program that the Delegation of the European Union to the United States launched in partnership with The Moody’s Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York serving as program advisor. The program has wide support from BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, the University of North Carolina, Florida International University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois, the University of Texas at Austin, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin, the Learning Economics and Finance Network, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, the DC World Affairs Council, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Pittsburgh Branch), the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Detroit Branch.
Hood College to Acknowledge Him with Tressler Award
Tony Miller, a social studies teacher at Linganore High, will receive the 2015 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award. Sponsored by Hood College, this award is presented each May to a Frederick County Public Schools’ (FCPS) teacher who has had a significant impact on young people.
Mr. Miller learned today that he is this year’s honoree when the FCPS “Prize Patrol,” led by Deputy Superintendent Michael Markoe, visited him at Linganore High School. Central office and school administrators, staff and students were present to congratulate him. Social Studies teacher Aaron Burch nominated Mr. Miller for the award on behalf of Linganore High. He cited Mr. Miller’s 36 years “positively impacting students’ lives,” adding that Mr. Miller’s “rapport with students is unparalleled. With comic book themed lunch pails, action figures, student work, inspirational quotes, field hockey sticks and stacks of AP textbooks, his room is a testament to his role as teacher and coach,” wrote Mr. Burch. “It’s obvious why an entire class of seniors voted for him to speak at Senior Awards Night and why ninth and tenth grade students cannot wait to take his classes.” Linganore Principal Dave Kehne agreed that Mr. Miller is an extraordinary teacher: “Abiding respect for each student and the joy he takes in student success in its many varied forms are but two of the hallmark qualities that Tony shares with his students and colleagues every day…Tony is passionate about teaching the whole child, and his classes are always filled with students who have sought him as a teacher.” Mr. Miller has spent his entire teaching career since 1979 at Linganore High, where he has taught every social studies class for every grade level throughout the years until 1984. At present he teaches Advanced Placement U.S. History, Advanced Placement Psychology and American Studies II (Honors). He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary social studies from Shepherd College in 1979 and completed his master’s in secondary education curriculum and instruction in 1987 and earned 30 credits beyond his master’s degree at Hood College. He has coached field hockey, softball and lacrosse and received a senior class Golden Lance Award as the person who had the most impact on their school lives. Mr. Miller’s leadership activities have included chairing the Social Studies Department, advising the Psychology Club and membership on the School Improvement Team, among others. The United States Capital Historical Society named him the Frederick County Teacher of the Year. From 1979-2010, Mr. Miller wrote and revised FCPS social studies curricula. The late Samuel Eig of Gaithersburg, MD, established the Tressler Award to recognize Dr. Tressler, a Giles professor emeritus of early childhood education who taught at the college from 1964 to 1990. Dr. Tressler chaired Hood’s Education Department for 18 years and served on the school’s graduate school council for 12 years. Hood College will formally present Mr. Miller the award during its graduate school commencement on May 16.
Amanda Portner, Thurmont Middle School literacy specialist, was surprised to learn today that she is the Frederick County Public Schools 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year. The school system’s most prestigious award recognizes outstanding representatives of the teaching profession. Ms. Portner joined Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) in 1996 to teach English/language arts. In 2005 she became a secondary literacy specialist. In 2008 she was teacher specialist for secondary English/language arts, and in 2012 she returned to the role of secondary literacy specialist. Since 2000, she has served as an FCPS curriculum writer and teacher trainer. She’s co-directed the Maryland Writing Project for Frederick since 2008, and since 2014, she has also taught English for the FCPS Virtual School. Principal Jennifer Powell says, “Amanda’s enthusiasm is contagious, and she is a master at inspiring others. Teachers flock to her professional development offerings, finding Amanda to be an expert in what she shares and full of ‘no nonsense’ examples and strategies that they can use in the classroom the next day. Teachers also appreciate her wonderfully warm sense of humor and presentation style.” “While I realize a literacy specialist is not typical of the vision for Teacher of the Year, Amanda meets the criteria by far, and then some,” said Principal Powell. “Countless numbers of students are so much better off due to her direct work with them, with teachers and the larger community.” Ms. Portner earned her master’s degree in English Curriculum and Instruction in 2009 at Hood College. She has served in school-based leadership positions too numerous to list; some are Frederick County Reading Council treasurer, English Department Chair and Maryland Writing Project Satellite Committee Chair. She is also a member of the International Reading Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Writing Project and many other professional organizations. She even serves as a reader and member of the selection committee for Maryland’s Black Eyed Susan books. “This year, we had 64 outstanding Teacher of the Year nominees. Ms. Portner stood out in an exceptional group of candidates,” said Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban. “Ms. Portner’s dedication makes me proud that she is representing the many excellent teachers who serve children in Frederick County public schools.” The Board of Education of Frederick County will honor Ms. Portner and all the school district nominees at its regular 6 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, May 13. The Maryland Board of Education will honor Ms. Portner along with the winners from Maryland’s 23 other school districts at a luncheon and state board meeting on Tuesday, May 19 and at the 25th Annual Maryland Teacher of the Year Awards Gala on Friday, October 9 when the state-level winner is announced. Maryland’s Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year award.