Board of Education honors Baltimore County's newest Blue Ribbon schools

(L to R): Dr. S. Dallas Dance, Board Vice President Valerie Roddy, Chadwick Principal Bonnie Hess, Charlesmont Principal Marsha Ayres, Assistant Superintendent Karen Blannard, Board President Larry Schmidt

Recognizing Baltimore County's growing cadre of Maryland Blue Ribbon schools, the school system's Board of Education on Tuesday, January 22, honored the two newest representatives of the club of high-flying schools – Chadwick and Charlesmont elementary schools.
Led by Board President Larry Schmidt, the Board presented citations to Chadwick Principal Bonnie Hess and Charlesmont Principal Marsha Ayres. Their schools were named in December 2012 as two of six schools statewide – and the only elementary schools – earning Maryland Blue Ribbon School honors.

Blue Ribbon School designation is a state and national program that recognizes schools that meet rigorous standards developed by the Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education. Now that they have been named Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools, Chadwick and Charlesmont elementary schools are candidates for national Blue Ribbon designation. National awardees will be announced by the U.S. Department of Education in September.

Schmidt, Board Vice President Valerie Roddy and Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance presented resolutions of congratulations to both principals during the Board's regular meeting, lauding the achievements by both schools that won them the state honor. They also applauded Assistant Superintendent Karen Blannard for her support of both schools.

Chadwick Principal Bonnie Hess receives her school's recognition from Larry Schmidt

President Larry Schmidt reads the resolutions presented from the Board of Education to Baltimore County's newest Blue Ribbon schools

Charlesmont Principal Marsha Ayres receives her school's plaque from Larry Schmidt

Chadwick Elementary School earned its Blue Ribbon designation through the strength of its  academic program as demonstrated by its performance in the Maryland School Assessment program. All of the school's students in Grades 3, 4, and 5 scored proficient or advanced in mathematics on the assessment, and 98.9 were proficient or advanced in reading.

From 2009–2011, Chadwick was recognized by MSDE as a Distinguished Highest Performing Reward School. In 2009, the school received the Maryland Title I Distinguished School Award.

In addition, an array of co-curricular activities – MESA Team, ELL Homework Helpers, Math Club, and Math 24 Challenge, among them – encourage students' intellectual curiosity at Chadwick, and a professional development school relationship with Loyola University enhances teacher effectiveness. At Chadwick, 78 percent of students are from economically disadvantaged families, and nearly 25 percent qualify for English Language Learning services. 

Charlesmont Elementary School also won plaudits as a high achiever on the Maryland School Assessments, with more than 97.5 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in reading and 98.7 percent in mathematics.  Monthly parent involvement activities promote collaborative learning at the school, and membership in the Alliance for Healthy Schools program encourages healthy habits and positive decision-making.
In addition, academic enrichment and acceleration take place through the 100 Book Challenge Reading, Research Lab Writing, FasttMath/Fraction Nation online Math, STEM Fair yearly competitions, and the afterschool Overachievers Program.

Support from the Friends of Fort McHenry/War of 1812 Maryland Bicentennial Commission and the Southeast Foundation for the Arts Program connects students to local historical institutions and cultural arts events. At Charlesmont Elementary School, 65 percent of the students are from economically disadvantaged families.

The schools became the 17th and 18th Baltimore County schools to achieve the Maryland Blue Ribbon designation since 1994. Of those, 14 have gone on to earn National Blue Ribbon status.

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, BCPS Communications Specialist
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