WLMS Debate team defeated Patapsco Middle School on March 29
at the Spring Countywide Middle School Debate held at Murray Hill
Middle School. The debate team has spent may hours preparing to defend
the affirmative resolution, "Be it resolved that Howard County Public
Schools should institute single gender classes." The students did and
excellent job delivering the speeches, arguing head to head with their
opponents during the Crossfire questioning session and then provided a
convincing conclusion to impress the judges. The judges praised and
complimented the team on their thorough research of the resolution and
defense of their position. It was an excellent competition and great
learning opportunity for the students. As this was the last countywide
debate for the year, the eighth graders on the team are looking forward
to participating in debate in high school, and the returning members
are anxious to continue developing their debate skills next year. Students
interested in participating on the debate team next year should contact the GT Resource Teacher, Mrs. April Motaung.
Renee Foose was so "ecstatic and honored" to be named Howard County's next superintendent, she said she would have begun working months ahead of her start date if she could.
"I would have started at 8 a.m. (Tuesday) if they would have had me," she said.
a contract negotiation, an official vote and approval from the state
superintendent, Foose will become superintendent July 1, following the
retirement of current schools leader Sydney Cousin.
Foose, 45, was named the next
Howard superintendent Tuesday, March 27, about 24 hours after she was
first presented to the public as one of two finalists for the position.
The decision from the Board of Education, said Board Chairwoman
Sandra French, came at around midnight Monday, and was a unanimous vote,
made after several hours of board members poring over community
feedback behind closed doors.
"She is our first choice, and we are so thrilled she said yes," French said.
Foose is currently deputy superintendent of Baltimore County
schools — the 26th largest school system in the country, about twice
the size of Howard's 50,000-student system. She's held that position
since April 2011, and prior to that was associate superintendent for Montgomery County schools.
She will be the 16th superintendent in the county, and the first woman superintendent in the system's history.
other finalist for the position was S. Dallas Dance, chief middle
school officer for the Houston Independent School District in Texas. On
Tuesday morning, Dance was named as Baltimore County's next
superintendent. (See accompanying story).
was a principal in Washington County from 2003 to 2006, then started
her career in Montgomery County as principal for two years before being
promoted to Director of School Performance. In 2010, she earned an
master's degree in business administration from Loyola University.
know education, from driving a school bus, to being a school secretary,
to being a classroom teacher," Foose told members of the public Monday.
"My experience, my passion and my ability to move a great school system
even farther along (are my qualifications)."
Foose, who is single
and has no children, joined Baltimore County in 2011 — amid some uproar
over her salary, which at $214,000 was about $20,000 more than her
predecessor had earned — after serving as director of school
performance, director of shared accountability and associate
superintendent in Montgomery County.
Salary specifics have yet to
be discussed for the job here, Foose said. In December 2011, the Howard
board approved a pay scale "in the range of $265,000" for the position. Favorable reviews
Foose's experiences impressed local community leaders, who said they were pleased with the board's decision.
is a smart person who has obviously worked very hard and achieved a
lot," said Paul Lemle, Howard County Education Association president.
"My first impression is admiration; going from a school bus driver to a
state trooper to a teacher to a principal to, ultimately, a
superintendent in 15 years is a meteoric career path. It speaks to
someone having a lot of drive and a lot of skill."
Foose's work in Montgomery County was of particular interest to him, in
part because of that county's practice of interest-based bargaining and
also because of a program known as Peer Assistance and Review — a system
designed to provide frequent and helpful feedback for struggling
teachers. Howard County currently does not have a collaborative effort
between the union and school system to review employees, he said.
practice provides lots of feedback for improvement and working toward
the right goal, the goal of helping a person along to be the best
teacher they can be," Lemle said.
During public sessions, Foose
discussed ways to engage the community through social media and focus
groups to gain input on an array of subjects, including the capital and
operating budgets. That interest on parent and community involvement
impressed Chaun Hightower, president of the PTA Council of Howard County, who said Foose struck her as a warm, personable candidate.
The publisher is ditching its weighty tomes to concentrate on an internet
version, after recognising that knowledge was changing so quickly that the
they were becoming obsolete as soon as they were issued. Its handsomely-presented volumes have been in print since they were first
published in Edinburgh in 1768.
They will stop being available when the current stock of 2010 editions runs
out, the Chicago-based company said. Executives said the end of the printed,
32-volume set had been foreseen for some time.
Jorge Cauz, president of the Encyclopaedia Britannica company said: "This
has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google. This has to do with the fact
that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people."
The top year for the printed encyclopedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were
sold, Cauz said. That number fell to 40,000 just six years later in 1996, he
said. The company started exploring digital publishing the 1970s. The first
CD-ROM version was published in 1989 and a version went online in 1994.
Just 8,500 volumes of the 2010 edition have been shipped. The final hardcover
encyclopedia set remains available for sale at Britannica's website for
$1,395. Online access to Britannica will be available for $70 a year.
"The sales of printed encyclopedias have been negligible for several
years," Cauz said. "We knew this was going to come."
The company plans to mark the end of the print version by making the contents
of its website available free for one week.
Online versions of the encyclopedia now serve more than 100 million people
around the world, the company said, and are available on mobile devices. The
encyclopedia has become increasingly social as well, Cauz said, because
users can send comments to editors. "A printed encyclopedia is obsolete the minute that you print it,"
Mr Cauz said. "Whereas our online edition is updated continuously."
Britannica has thousands of experts' contributors from around the world,
including Nobel laureates and world leaders such as former President Bill
Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It also has a staff of more than 100
Mr Cauz said: "To me, the most important message is that the printed
edition was not what made Britannica. "The most important thing about Britannica is that Britannica is relevant
and vibrant because it brings scholarly knowledge to an editorial process to
as many knowledge seekers as possible."
Lynne Kobayashi of the Language of the Hawaii State Library said: "While
Wikipedia has become ubiquitous, the Britannica remains a consistently more
A.J. Jacobs, who read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica for his book, The
Know-It-All, told the Financial Times: "I am a bit heartbroken. "There was something so wonderfully concrete about the print version, and
I loved the idea that all the world's knowledge could be contained in those
Explorer Ernest Shackleton took a volume on his doomed Antarctic expedition
and is said to have burnt it page by page to keep warm.
"You can't do that with the internet," said Mr Jacobs.
Someday, members of this year's seventh-grade class at Wilde Lake Middle
School might be at the forefront of efforts to eradicate such social
ills as genocide, animal cruelty, homelessness and deforestation.
The students are learning about social problems both at home and abroad,
and on Wednesday night, they presented speeches about causes that have
piqued their interest as part of Voices of Youth, a charity fundraiser.
The event comes on the heels of the students learning about the conflict in the Sudanese region of Darfur. According to United Nations
reports, more than 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2
million have been displaced since 2003 as a result of the conflict
between Sudanese government forces and armed rebel groups.
Jeanette Swank, Wilde Lake seventh-grade English teacher and
team leader, said the event raised $225, all of which will be donated to
the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools project, a nonprofit organization
that educates Sudanese refugees living in Chad. Swank said the children have partnered with fellow student at Darfur Refugee Camp Djabal in Chad.
The students say learning about Darfur has made them passionate about social issues.
"This year, I've been so open to what's happening," said Wilde Lake
seventh-grader Camden Gilreath. "I was so closed-minded, but now I can
kind of see what's happening in the world. I feel completely different
to know that there are horrible things happening."
Gilreath presented a speech on "Teacher Salaries." Other speeches
included "Animal Testing" by Emme Rose Krasnick and "Negative Effects of
Music," by Taylor Thomas. Students had earlier read their speeches in
class and were selected by their peers to make presentations at the
"We were told by the English office that we needed to implement argument
writing into the seventh-grade curriculum," Swank said. "I thought that
it would be a good idea for students not just to write on something
contrived but to write on something they cared about and were passionate
Students also gave speeches on such topics as health care, obesity,
violent video games, bullying and celebrities. Swank said students'
interests were so varied that it took a while to decide which charity to
"A lot of the students were into animal rights, and they wanted to give to that," said Swank.
Swank said the class is reading the Jane Yolen book "The Devil's
Arithmetic," about a girl who is transported back to 1940s Poland, where
she experiences the horrors of the Holocaust.
"We had been doing the Holocaust for so long, and they said we want to
do something with people who are suffering and being persecuted," Swank
said. "We looked into it and became a part of this Darfur Dream Team."
"Once you hear about all the terrible things that have been happening,"
said seventh-grader Emme-Rose Krasnic, "and learning about the
Holocaust, it almost gives you that drive and that motivation where you
want to speak out and you want people to know what's happening."
The students said that it has been eye-opening to learn about such
issues in the classroom, and that lessons about Darfur have been unlike
anything they've learned in school. They say that they are eager to
learn more as well as to do more to be part of the solution.
Said student Taylor Thomas: "Due to Mrs. Swank and all the other English
teachers teaching us about something that's actually happened, or
happening in the real world, and not just textbook things, it makes me
want to go out and do more speeches and raise money for more charities."
Just like the rest of the nation, here at Wilde Lake Middle we love March Madness. As a result of our love of basketball, four years ago, we began the tradition of holding a 3 on 3 basketball tournament to showcase our ball playing skills and to raise money for our media center.
Last Friday evening, the tradition continued. This year, we had the largest field of teams enter the tournament. 33 teams registered to play. We had 29 student teams, a police officer team, two teacher teams and one principal team made-up of some of WLMS's feeder schools and me. It was a great event which raised money to support our media center and brought our community together to celebrate basketball, wellness and school pride.
I want to extend a huge thank you to those people who made this year's event so special - Ms. McNeill, Mrs. Todd and Mr. Spicher for working to organize this event along with parent volunteers from the WLMS PTSA.
Mr. Walsh, Mr. Helms, Mr. Spicher, Mr. Rankin, and Mr.Doherty for doing such a magnificent job refereeing and managing all of the games.
Ms. Berla for being our MC & Mr. Messick for providing the entertainment for event - you guys are awesome!
Ms. Middleton and Ms. McNeill for helping to maintain the bracketology!
Mrs. Ward, Ms. Hughes, Mrs. Todd and Mrs. Motaung for setting-up the book fair and running it.
Ms. Hughes, Ms. Ryan, Mrs. Ward, Mr. Douherty, Ms. Drakes, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Spicher, Mr. Ortega, Mr. Larner, Mr. Todd and Officer Littlefield for showing us your basketball skills.
Officer Littlefield, Ms. Creamer, Ms. Drakes, Ms. Nelson and Ms. Corbett for helping to monitor our hallways and provide student support.
To all the staff and parents who came to support the kid!
To our wonderful student-athletes who participated!
To our amazing PTSA for their help with refereeing, concessions, crowd control and all of theother little details.
On Friday, we had our annual MSA Assembly to share data from the previous year and get the students pumped for doing their very best on the tests this year. We shared motivational videos (WLMS Rappers http://youtu.be/RcT_ovElwGw) and we held a competition between the girls and the boys to see which gender would reign supreme. The competition, a balloon blowing contest, served as a metaphor for taking the test. How, you might ask? Well...here are some of the answers our students came up with...
There is a strategy to blowing-up a balloon...the same as taking a high stakes test.
You have to get pumped-up to perform at your highest levels.
The test is a competition.
Every balloon counts...so does every answer.
You have to be quiet during the competition...and when taking the test.
You have to concentrate to do well.
Congratulation to all of our girls. They beat the boys at each grade level. In particular, they were most successful in the 8th grade! Our boys really blew it this year. : ( While it was close, the girls proved to be better this year!
“By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.” David McCandless
Our staff is working very hard to prepare our students to be successful on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) this month. Here are some of the ways we are helping our students prepare: math and reading teachers have been meeting with all students to share their 2011 scores, Ms. Kelley and Ms. Warner have created “MSA Gauges” to help students visualize their performance from last year on the MSA, students are setting goals for their MSA achievement this year, and during extended homeroom time we have provided specific test taking strategies for students to consider.
This coming week, we will conduct MSA assemblies for each grade level to encourage all students to try hard and to do their very best when taking the tests on March 13, 14, 20 and 21.
You might be asking, how can I help my child be ready to perform to the best of their ability? Well, here are some simple things that will have a huge impact. Please keep the testing dates in mind when scheduling appointments. We will begin to administer the tests promptly at 8:10 a.m. and they will continue until 11:00 a.m. each day. It would be extremely helpful if parents do everything they can to see that their child is in school on time on these days since it is very difficult for students to have to make up these tests during other class times. A good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast are the best ways to help ensure your child’s success on these exams. Also, it is important to take time to talk with your child and reinforce the importance of doing their very best on the MSA.
Of course, this is not the first weather balloon trip to "space", but this is a pretty cool video none the less. It's important to remember that this is edited footage, the ascent alone probably took an hour. I also appreciate that you can hear and see the bursting of the weather balloon at the end of the video. Finally, as a huge Lego fan, I loved the use of the figurine to put this flight into perspective.
I continue to learn many lessons in the middle! I have learned that middle school teachers are some of the most amazing people I know. I have learned that despite the widely held belief that public schools in America are not succeeding, I see children working hard and meeting rigorous academic standards on a daily basis. I have learned that if I were to be accused of a crime (I hope this will never be the case), I want a jury comprised of 7th and 8th graders. Without question, students in these two grades believe deeply in fairness and justice for all. I have learned that creating positive relationships with students, staff and parents is the key to success. I have learned that being a middle school educator allows me to have a front row seat to witness some pretty hilarious situations as well as those issues that are very sensitive and often life altering.
As a veteran middle level leader, I can say that I have the best job in the world. I have the opportunity to touch lives, teach valuable life lessons, plant seeds of hope, develop innovative programs and sip from the fountain of youth on a daily basis. Often, I have been told by my friends that I should write a book about my experiences. Since I don't have a lot of spare time these days, I have decided to BLOG instead. I hope to share various experiences, opinions and beliefs on a regular basis (probably less than regular basis).
If my writings should be of interest to you, I hope you will drop me a comment or two in the appropriate place. In this era of being able to reach the entire world through the world wide web, I am counting on the fact that I will attract a few comments.
I am the Instructional Director of Middle Schools in Frederick County Maryland. From 1987-2012, I served in various roles in the Howard County Public School System, including: teacher, team leader, assistant principal and Principal. In 2007, I was awarded the Washington Post’s Distinguished Educational Leadership Award/Howard County Principal of the Year and most recently I received the 2008 Howard County Outstanding Technology Leader in Education Award. I am a member of two boards: Past President of the University of Maryland’s College of Education Alumni Board and the McDaniel College’s Teacher Education Advisory Board. In 2008, I started teaching one of the Intro to School Administration classes at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.
I am a life-long Washington Redskin fan and I love to root against the Cowboys. I am also an avid blogger.
But most importantly, I am the proud father of two wonderful and amazing kids! I am also fortunate to have a very supportive wife who also happens to be my best friend.
I am always excited to share and collaborate! I have been asked to present to students, teachers, parents and leaders in the educational world and beyond. As both a trainer and a keynote presenter, I have had the opportunity to deliver workshops on topics like:
Leadership Engaging the Millennial Learner Leading from the Middle School Improvement Made Easy (Well Sort Of…) High Impact PD
Some of the organizations I have had the privilege to work with are: Iksan City Public Schools, South Korea University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland McDaniel College, Westminster, Maryland Michigan City Public Schools, Michigan City, Indiana National Middle School Association MSET/MICCA NECC/ISTE Montgomery County Department of Recreation, Rockville, Maryland Maryland Association of Student Councils
For more information about these programs and others I can offer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a personal blog. The views represented herein are that of the blogger, and do not represent the views of the blogger's employer(s). Furthermore, the views expressed herein should not be imputed to any volunteer boards or other community associations to which the blogger may belong. Comments presented on these pages may be attributable to outside users. If you have questions or concerns about this blog, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Thank you!