Monday, August 30, 2010

County Executive, Superintendent and Other Dignitaries Visit WLMS

Today, County Executive, Ken Ulman; Superintendent of the HCPSS, Dr. Cousin; County Council Member, Mary Kay Sigaty and School Board Members, Ellen Giles and Janet Siddiqui stopped by WLMS to wish our students and staff a successful school year. In addition, State Delegate, Liz Bobo, came by to show her support of WLMS and wish our staff and students much success this year.

I want to thank each of them for taking time out of their busy schedules to visit our school and demonstrating their support of public education. I know our students and staff really appreciated having them in the building today.

Opening Day Goes Smoothly

More than 490 students entered today as we began another school year here at WLMS. The energy and enthusiasm from both students and staff were inspiring. Here are some pics from earlier today.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dove's Evolution Video - A Video Middle School Girls and Boys Should See!

Dove no longer just sells soap. The company is so much more than a set of commodity products. Dove sells real beauty; natural beauty; non-superficial beauty. The Campaign for Real Beauty website features a one-minute film that shows the transformation of an average-looking woman into a strikingly gorgeous supermodel. Only by seeing this process can we truly comprehend the illusion that the media has portrayed of these fabricated dream girls. The beauty of this site is that it doesn't end with just awareness of the problem. It launches immediately into an actionable item for eight to 12-year-old girls to sign up for Dove's real beauty workshops. These workshops teach girls about the importance of identifying beauty within themselves in the pre-teen years before the peer pressure to be like the mythical supermodel drives them to anorexia or bulimia.

This site has generated major buzz for good reason. It is authentic, genuine, and true to the Dove brand. It is an extension of the type of values that Dove has demonstrated for the past several years as one of the first major brands to feature larger women in their ads. It challenges convention and educates. As a viral website, "Campaign for Real Beauty" employs all of the right strategies and tactics. It's easy to send the website to a friend, it has a compelling call-to-action, and it positions the educational resources on the site as the main focus-- a testament to Dove's humanitarian reasons for creating the campaign. It is clear what is important here, and that isn't just selling product. It's helping women and girls redefine beauty to change their life in a positive way.

The website is clearly targeted towards women and girls, but us men and boys are a big part of the equation. As for me, I think my wife is stunningly beautiful whether she is getting out of the tent on an early morning of a camping trip or dressed up in an evening gown for a swanky date. However, I must say that the superficial, heavily-altered, Photoshopped supermodel in the advertisement at the end of the Dove film is straight-up HOT! Men are a simple breed. My question to Dove is, what's next? How can you break through to men?-- Ryan Buchanan, president, eROI

For more information about this video and the Self-Esteem Fund, visit

Thanks, Jeanette, for sharing this with me.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Awesome Video & Message - Stand By Me!

On Friday, I shared this video with my staff. To me, it really illustrates how important the arts are and how the world keeps getting smaller. As a result, the need for global understanding is more important today than ever before. Enjoy!

Several years ago, a small group of filmmakers set out with a dream to make a documentary film about street musicians from around the world. That dream has grown not only into a reality, but into a global sensation called Playing For Change, and has touched the lives of millions of people.

While traveling around the world to film and record these musicians, the crew became intimately involved with the music and people of each community they visited. Many of these people lived very modestly in communities with limited resources; nevertheless, they were full of generosity, warmth, and above all they were connected to each other by a common thread: music.

In an effort to ensure that anyone with the desire to receive a music education would have the opportunity to do so, the Playing For Change Foundation was born.

The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF) is dedicated to the fundamental idea that peace and change are possible through the universal language of music. Source: PFCF Website

For more information about these street musicians and the organization they have formed, visit:

Thanks, Martha, for sharing this with me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Open House Is a Big Success

This past Thursday evening, we held our annual Open House for students and parents to visit the school and get their class schedules. We had nearly 300 people attend this event. It was great to see so many students and families walking the halls of WLMS.

I want to thank all of our staff who attended this event and our PTSA for providing desserts. Here are some pics:

Mary Kay Sigaty (Howard County Council Member) and
Dr. Cousin (Superintendent of HCPSS)

Staff Pics From Week One

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy New Year!

This week, the WLMS staff reported back to prepare for the new school year. It is always an exciting time of year for me when I have the chance to welcome back our staff and introduce our newest faculty members. We have such a talented staff!

Each year, during the first week back for staff, Lisa and I share our school improvement focus.
This year, our school improvement focus will be to bring more rigor to each and every lesson we teach. Teachers will continue to use the HEAT (Higher order thinking skills, Engagement, Authentic problem solving, and the use of Technology) framework when designing lessons as well as working to implement selected strategies from the "Teach Like a Champion" book written by Doug Lemov. Through increased rigor and the implementation of HEAT, we believe our students will be more engaged and prepared to think and act like an emerging scholar.

Here are some of the slides we shared during our opening faculty meetings.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Visiting Bucheon Middle School in Iksan, South Korea

Sean and I meeting the Bucheon Middle School Principal
and Assistant Principal

While in Korea, Sean Martin and I had an opportunity to visit the newly constructed Bucheon Middle School in Iksan. The middle school had just completed its second year of service and it was an absolute joy to tour. The building was built through a unique private/public funding plan. The school was built by a private construction company that maintains ownership of the building until the school system pays the company back within 15 years of completion. Once the school is paid for, the building becomes the property of the Iksan City Public Schools.

Bucheon Middle School has nearly 1000 students enrolled and has an amazing multi-level structure with indoor gardens, spacious classrooms, large planning areas and a wonderful gymnasium. I was very impressed with the design and attention to details.

I am hoping to establish a connection with the students and staff at this middle school during this coming school year. More details will follow as we work to make this happen.

Here are some pics from this beautiful school building:

The school's interior 4 story view

Sitting in a Bucheon Middle School classroom

One of the computer Labs

The Health Room Suite

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Native Speakers Flock to Korea to Teach

It seems that speaking and writing English is the commodity of the century in Korea. According to the Koreans I spoke with during my visit there this month, one of the keys to success is English, and most Koreans want to learn it, write it and use it.

Consequently, as a result of the Korean desire to learn English, finding a job teaching English as a "native speaker" is rather easy. All you need is a college degree and a willingness to live abroad. There is no requirement that "native speakers" be trained teachers...and most are not. Because learning English is a priority in Korea, "native speakers" are compensated very well. Most compensation packages include: free airfare to Korea, $30-40,ooo annual salary that is tax-free, a free apartment to live in and free lunches at the school where they work. Not too shabby!

While in Korea, we had the privilege of working with some talented "Native Speakers" of English who work in the Iksan City Public Schools along side Korean English teachers. The "Native Speakers" we worked with were from various English speaking countries from around the world, including: England, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the U.S.

Since most "Native Speakers" are not trained teachers, the Iksan Education Ministry requested that our delegation share effective teaching strategies and pedagogy with these English teachers. The HCPSS teachers shared various cooperative learning strategies, classroom management techniques and ways to better work as a member of a co-teaching team. In addition, we learned a lot from interacting with these teachers as well. It was great to hear how they have adapted to their unique teaching assignments and how much they love Korean students.

We really enjoyed working with this wonderful group of international teachers and we truly appreciated the opportunity that was given to us by the Iksan Education Ministry. Here are some photos taken during our professional development sessions.

Delegation Visits Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul

This past week, we had an opportunity to visit Changdeokgung, also known as Changdeokgung Palace which is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Because of its location east of Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeokgung is also referred to as the East Palace(東闕, Donggwol). The literal meaning of Changdeokgung(昌德宮) is "Palace of Prospering Virtue".

Changdeokgung was the most favored palace of many princes of the Joseon Dynasty and retained many original elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period. One such element is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the topography of the site instead of imposing upon nature.

Changdeokgung, like the other Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, was heavily destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Currently, only 30% of the Palace structures remain. [1] Wikipedia

Here are some pics from our visit:

HCPSS Staff Meet Ms. Bae Sook Cho, South Korean National Assembly Member

On Monday, the HCPSS delegation to South Korea had the honor of meeting the National Assembly Member that represents the City of Iksan in the national parliament - Ms. Cho. She invited our entire delegation to the National Assembly building where we were given a special tour and then we were given the wonderful opportunity to eat lunch with Ms. Cho in the National Assembly building.

Ms. Cho is the person credited with having the vision to forge a partnership between the Howard County Public Schools and the Iksan City Public Schools. Five years ago, during one of Ms. Cho's visits to the U.S., she came to Howard County and began the process of developing a partnership between our two school systems. Her goals were to help rural Korean students and teachers have an opportunity to learn how American teachers teach English and provide opportunities for a cultural exchange between the two countries. Since her visit in 2005, Ms. Cho has helped to fund the cost of visits by both system's superintendents, central office staff and now for the past 2 years selected principal and teachers.

Ms. Cho was an absolute joy to meet. She was so kind to spend over 90 minutes talking to us about a wide-range of subjects including education, reunification of Korea, food and her vision of how the partnership can expand in the future. She is clearly passionate about her work and her commitment to the people of Iksan is admirable. We found out during our visit yesterday that she may soon become the leader of the South Korean Democratic Party. Good luck Ms. Cho!

In the picture above, I am giving Ms. Cho a collage that we created of pictures of each of the groups of teachers we worked with during this summer's professional development and cultural exchange program.

Here are some pics from the National Assembly visit:

Mr. Martin gives Ms. Cho a taste of Maryland - Old Bay seasoning!