Spotlights
School Showcase: Old Court Middle School
08/27/2013

Spotlight

School Showcase is a recurring feature that highlights special programs, unique activities and worthwhile opportunities available at schools throughout Baltimore County. In this School Showcase, Old Court Middle School and its Minority Male Initiative are explored.

At Old Court Middle School, administrators and educators are teaming up to raise student achievement through implementation of a Minority Male Initiative (MMI) for the 2013-2014 school year.

The school already had a mentoring program, which addressed students' emotional and social needs through activities and motivational speakers. Seeking to build on the success of the mentoring program, staff created and instituted MMI, a structured program that combines the support of the mentoring program with opportunities to refine academic skill sets, receive tutoring and realize leadership potential.

To prepare for the launch of MMI, Kyria Joseph, OCMS principal, and Rosalie White, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) coordinator, received training offered by BCPS offices, focusing on topics such as culturally-relevant teaching strategies. Joseph also conducted observations of AVID classes at Woodlawn High School, where select students participate in a similar African-American Male Initiative program. Inspired by the success of the WHS program, Joseph established a partnership with the high school to guide the development of the OCMS program.

Spotlight

For the 2013-2014 school year, 25 Grade 8 male students, joined periodically by members of the Grade 7 AVID class, comprise the first MMI class. At 10:30 a.m. each school day, the Grade 8 students meet for instruction. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in-class tutorials target enhancement of collaboration, inquiry, organization, reading and writing skills. On Thursdays and Fridays, students participate in activities geared toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) exploration. Two long-term STEM projects and twice-weekly visits from a college professor will supplement instruction, further preparing the students to be college- and career-ready.

Aligning its goals for MMI to those of Blueprint 2.0, BCPS' five-year strategic plan, OCMS anticipates an increase in the academic achievement – namely, receipt of a "B" as a final grade in mathematics and greater proficiency in a second language – of its students after the first year of institution of MMI. Over the course of the school year, OCMS also aspires to instill in its students a stronger sense of leadership and civic duty to the school and community.

"We foresee a continuation of [the Minority Male] Initiative for years to come," said Joseph. "By allowing the Grade 7 AVID class to participate in the initiatives of the current class, we are molding the upcoming Grade 8 MMI class for the following year. Members of the leadership team will monitor future candidates for the next set of classes as we look to expand this program to Grade 7."

For its Grade 8 female students, OCMS offers an 18-member class called Girls Empowerment Movement (GEM). The structure and instruction of the GEM class mirrors that of the MMI class; however, the GEM class includes added emphasis on exposure to women in science.

"We are excited about these two new initiatives and grateful for the support that has already been garnered," said Joseph on behalf of the OCMS community. "We are anticipating great shifts for our students, which will provide 21st-century learning opportunities for them and help prepare our young people to be globally-competitive."

Story by Blake Lubinski, Intern, Department of Communications and Community Outreach
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