Six Maryland public schools last week were selected as
2016-17 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools.
Educators filled the State Board of Education meeting room this week as the latest Blue Ribbon Schools were announced.
The schools are:
Choice Elementary School, Anne Arundel County
Elementary School, Calvert County
Elementary School, Frederick County
- Manor Woods
Elementary School, Howard County
McNair Elementary School, Montgomery County
Elementary School, Montgomery County
“The Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools represent the thoughtful
work taking place at public schools throughout our State, as they prepare
students for the next grade or the next step in life,” said Dr. Karen Salmon,
State Superintendent of Schools. “When schools succeed at this level it is a
tribute to all: students, teachers, administrators, and community members. They
all deserve our congratulations and admiration.”
The schools are recognized on the basis of rigorous State and national requirements for high achievement and significant improvement. The students in each of these schools are high achievers in reading and mathematics, and several of these schools also have a significant number of economically disadvantaged students and students for whom English is a second language.
The schools will be invited by the U.S. Department of
Education to apply to be National Blue Ribbon Schools. With underwriting and gift sponsor support,
each school will receive a Maryland Blue Ribbon Flag, a monetary prize, $1000
of office supplies, interactive technology equipment, and a school
Congratulations Party. A dinner in
Annapolis will be held in honor of the winning schools on March 13, 2017. On that date, each Blue Ribbon School will be
honored by the Maryland House of Delegates and the Senate.
Maryland underwriting sponsors are BGE, Comcast, and NTA
Life. Gift sponsors are: Dimension U, Lifetouch Studios, Mrs. Fields/Joe Corbis
Pizza; Rudolph’s Office Supply; and SMART Technologies, Inc.
Grade school education isn’t rocket science—except when it
is. That’s just one of the out-of-the-box lessons fifth-graders learn in Thomas
Dennison’s classroom. But Dennison had his own instructional surprise this
month during a school assembly at Havre de Grace Elementary in Harford
Thomas Dennison and his students react to the Milken news
Dennison was presented with the prestigious Milken Educator
Award. He was recognized for his
commitment to students, colleagues, and the community as the newest recipient
of the $25,000 cash award, hailed by Teacher
magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching.”
Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken presented
Dennison with the Award, joined by Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Karen
Salmon and Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara P. Canavan.
“The earlier an investment is made into a child’s education,
the greater an impact it will have,” said Milken. “Teachers who help elementary
school students – particularly those battling learning disabilities, poverty
and other challenges – can change the course of individual lives and
communities. That’s why we’re so pleased to recognize Thomas Dennison for his
extraordinary efforts to engage all students and help them find meaning and
pride in their work.”
“Thomas Dennison is a classroom scientist, taking the time
and doing the research necessary to understand how best to connect with his
students and ensure their academic success,” said Salmon. “His work is a joyful
and creative mission, and the beneficiaries are the students and the community
at Havre de Grace Elementary.”
“Mr. Dennison’s commitment and dedication to the students at
Havre de Grace Elementary is apparent from the moment you walk into his
classroom,” said Canavan. “Students are engaged and there is an actual ‘buzz’
in the room; the excitement is contagious and you know that you are
experiencing the commitment and dedication of a truly special teacher. I am
thrilled that Mr. Dennison is receiving this well-deserved recognition.”
In Thomas Dennison’s class at Havre de Grace Elementary
School, students learn to tap into their most powerful resource: their
imagination. They may learn Revolutionary War history by reenacting the battles
of Lexington and Concord with water balloons in the schoolyard. That is when
they’re not exploring rocketry on the playground or collaborating with other
classes in massive math-oriented scavenger hunts.
Celebrating the student body while simultaneously spurring
class involvement, Dennison once staged a celebrity-themed event on the first
day of school, in which he hired a news crew and interviewed each student who
strolled the red carpet he had unrolled outside the school’s front doors.
Inside Dennison’s class, however, learning and decorum are the true superstars,
where the teacher sets high expectations for both. Students greet visitors at the
door with a handshake, small groups debate and analyze the day’s reading while
others solve problems on chalkboard-covered tabletops as Dennison floats among
groups as a facilitator, empowering students to develop their interpersonal
skills through active involvement.
Dennison believes in transformation and welcomes all
students into his class. Using an energetic, positive atmosphere to inspire
learning, he uses music during transitions or to boost student excitement.
Throughout the day, kids high-five, clap, and bang drums when classmates offer
correct answers, showing their appreciation for each other and recognizing
their peers’ successes.
The approach garners impressive results. Last year,
Dennison’s class scored in the proficient or advanced range on Scholastic
Reading Inventory (SRI) assessments—and Havre de Grace Elementary ranks in the
top 1% for reading and top 10% for math among Maryland’s Title I schools.
Dennison also encourages qualitative measures of success in his students:
persistence, curiosity, compassion, creativity, motivation, leadership and
Unflaggingly positive, Dennison praises students and reminds
them that they are unique, special and a gift to the world.
The 2016-17 season marks the 30th year of the Milken
Educator Awards. Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what
they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In
addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Dennison’s honor includes
membership in the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700
top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.
State Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Karen B. Salmon
week posted on MarylandPublicSchools.org for public review its draft plan for
the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), MSDE also has launched a survey about the
plan, and will soon announce a series of listening events across the State. Our goal is to gather as much input as
possible on this plan that will affect every school in the State.
is the next step in our process to develop Maryland’s new accountability
program. MSDE has been working with a variety of
stakeholders over the past year on the plan, and will continue to reach out
through next summer when our plan is finalized.
schools aren’t waiting around for the plan be made final. Our educators and
leaders are hard at work, improving instruction with the goal of strengthening
academic achievement for all students.
We need our graduates to leave high school prepared for employment or
additional education. Our new ESSA plan
is simply the roadmap for where we are headed next.
* * *
Welcome to Dr. Rose Maria Li appointed last month
to the Maryland State Board of Education. Governor Hogan appointed Dr. Li to
fill the unexpired term of Dr. S. James Gates, who resigned in October. Her
term ends June 30, 2017.
Dr. Li is president and CEO of Rose
Li and Associates (RLA), and has more than 20 years of experience as a health
professional with primary experience in demography, economics, and population
epidemiology. Prior to founding RLA, Dr. Li held leadership positions at the
National Institutes of Health, including work at the National Institute of
Aging and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and
Also, congratulations to Dr. Chester
Finn, elected Vice President of the Maryland State Board of Education last
A distinguished scholar, educator
and public servant, Dr. Finn has devoted his career to improving education in
the United States. He is the Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus
at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He is also a Senior Fellow at Stanford's
Maryland Milken Educator Award Winner
5th grade teacher Thomas Dennison of Havre de Grace Elementary in Harford County wins a $25,000 Milken Educator Award. See the award as it happened December 1, 2016.
2016 Fall Student Artwork Exhibition
Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan celebrates the work of student artists at the House of Delegates building in Annapolis. See some of the work, hear the Madrigal Singers, and the First Lady talk about the importance of the arts.
15 - MSDE ESSA External Committee Meeting, Baltimore.
24 - Maryland State Board of Education Meeting, Baltimore
A+ Achievement for Six Maryland Schools
Maryland Getting $15 Million in PreK Funding
Education Secretary Visits Baltimore
Harford County Teacher Surprised with $25K Award
Promising Principals Academy Prepares New Leaders