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Middle school matters: Dumbarton Middle School
03/04/2016

In honor of national Middle Level Education Month, this March we are taking a closer look at Baltimore County Public Schools’ wonderful middle schools. Every day during March, one or two more school profiles will be posted. To see all that have been posted, please click here.

Spotlight
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Principal: Susan Harris (quoted below)
Feeder elementary schools: Hampton, Riderwood, Rodgers Forge, Stoneleigh, and West Towson

School website: http://dumbartonms.bcps.org/

Academic achievements

60% of students qualified for the honor roll that was posted second quarter.

50% of students take advanced academic classes.

The school has a 96% attendance rate.

80% of teachers have master’s degrees.

“All of our students are zoned to attend Towson High School. I like to point out that Towson High is recognized as one of the best high schools in the nation year after year. I think that Towson’s success reflects that Dumbarton does a great job of preparing students for high school success.”

Last year, Dumbarton was recognized by Superintendent Dance for the fact that every subgroup improved its performance on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment.

Recent awards and grants

Dumbarton is a National Blue Ribbon School.

Dan Sievers, a math teacher, recently received an award from the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for his efforts in challenging and supporting highly talented students.

In 2013, Principal Susan Harris was named a Distinguished Friend of MAHPERD (The Maryland Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance).

Four Dumbarton Grade 7 students just won the State’s Attorney’s Anti-Drug Poster Contest. Noureen Balwi is the grand prize winner receiving $750. Her poster as well as those of second place winners Abigail Davenport and Fiona Schwanke will be included in the state’s attorney’s 2017 calendar. They each receive $350 awards. Artwork by Chloe Simpson, who won a $200 award will be included in a poster collage.

Special academic programs

This school year, Dumbarton became a Lighthouse middle school. As a Lighthouse school, which is part of the S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) initiative, learner-centered instruction in Grade 6 is supported by the use of one-to-one digital learning devices. Next year that will expand to Grade 7 also.

French, Latin and Spanish have been offered as world language options for some time at Dumbarton Middle. Beginning next year, these classes will be offered to all Grade 6 students. “Parents are very supportive of our strong world language program, and they are pleased that Latin, French and Spanish instruction continues at Towson High School as well.”

“Our school features an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) center.  This center serves 150 students out of our 1,100 total student population. These students come to us from throughout the northwest and central areas of the county, and they represent more than 40 countries, including China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and many countries in Africa. Having the center in our school adds a richness to our learning environment that benefits all students. ”

“New this year is something we call ‘Take Two.’ Once a week, for 30 minutes in each subject, teachers pause to reteach or reinforce learning. It demonstrates that our goal is deep understanding of new learning. This not only serves students who are struggling but also those who need a concept clarified to improve their understanding and earn honor roll grades. Even students with As want to improve or understand more clearly. It is also a reserved time when students and their teachers can further explore a question or issue of interest. In one class, a teacher did a simple experiment with Skittles candy and water. A student asked how it might work with chocolate chips and water. Take Two is the time to experiment and find that out.”

Popular/unique extracurricular activities

“We have 30 afterschool clubs and lots of teams from sports to quiz bowl to Future Educators of America.”

“One unique group at our school is our Kindness Club. Students came up with this idea as a way to foster respectful interactions between peers. They didn’t want to take the approach of anti-bullying but rather being pro-kindness. The group does a number of activities to support the community. They just finished painting bowls for the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser that benefits St. Vincent de Paul programs. They even gave small plants to neighbors near the school. One fun activity, coming up this month, is ‘Smile, Tag, You Are It!’ Students are given smiley face stickers when they make a fellow student smile, and then they pass the sticker on…”

Also new at the school this year is an International Club, which allows students from other countries to highlight their history and culture. “Club members have used the morning announcements to teach the school community how to say ‘good morning’ in Urdu. We have added clocks in our hallways to show what time it is in our international students’ home countries. We want them to know that they are an important part of our school community.”

“The Radical Ropers are Baltimore County’s first and only Jump Rope Demonstration Team. The team has been promoting healthy living and regular exercise through Jump Rope performances for the past 18 years. They will be performing for our community show on March 18 at 7 p.m. at Dumbarton.”

Special school traditions

One school tradition is an annual talent show, open to students at all grade levels. Students audition to be included in the show, and the performance is held during the school day so that all students and staff members can see it.

“Our PTA sponsors social events each month for students. They poll the students to see what kinds of events they might be interested in, plan the event, sell tickets, and coordinate the activity. They do events like ice cream socials, movie nights, and black light dances, where everything glows in the dark.”

Bet you didn’t know…

That teacher Howard Miskimon has been a teacher at Dumbarton for 40 years, leading the school’s award-winning band and orchestra.

That swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, attended Dumbarton Middle. After he won his first Olympic medals, he came to visit the school and signed autographs. “The students went crazy!”

That Dumbarton is named for Dumbarton Farm, land which once was owned by Johns Hopkins, a businessman and philanthropist whose bequests founded institutions including Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University. The original Dumbarton House, built in 1820, still stands behind the school and is now home to the Baltimore Actors' Theatre Conservatory.  

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