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Middle school matters: General John Stricker Middle School
03/08/2016

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: Brian T. Wagner (quoted below)
Feeder elementary schools:  Bear Creek, Charlesmont, Grange, and Sandy Plains

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

Academic achievements

“We have made tremendous progress in raising our Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scores. Our English language arts score is now 74%, and math is 75%. This is up from 41.3% and 43.9% last year.

Engagement

Student attendance is 93.2%, up 2.5% from last year.

Teacher attendance is up, and as a result, we have saved $4,790 on substitute teachers.“

Suspensions are down by 68% compared to last year.

The PTA has tripled in size since last year. “We have wonderful PTA leaders, very active and outgoing. One project they organized this year was a Cookie and Paint Night. It was a real community event with 67 people in attendance including neighbors and relatives of our students.”

One hundred people have signed up for a community spaghetti night.

 “Our number of Twitter followers has increased by 150 people. That shows that people are interested in what we are doing.”

“I met with teachers and families over the summer to learn more about needs and interests and begin planning the school year.”

The school’s engagement with the community includes a recent student art sale to benefit the SPCA and an upcoming cleanup of nearby Bread and Butter Creek.

Promoting positive student behavior

“The school has a comprehensive, streamlined schoolwide behavior management plan that includes bringing back PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support), establishing a Behavioral Action Team, implementing monthly character education activities, and monthly professional development breakout sessions based on issues going on in the school.”

Enhancing instruction

“Teachers and administrators do learning walks where they can observe other educators. We started by having teachers observe in their own content areas, then other content areas, and then by visiting other schools. We set up specific things to look for, and when we debrief, we talk about what we have learned that we can use in our school, our classrooms.”

Recent awards and grants

Principal Brian Wagner was a nominee for Baltimore County Principal of the Year.

“We received a $5,000 grant from the Education Foundation of BCPS to support PBIS with monthly incentives and an afterschool dance.”

Special academic programs offered

The school worked with the Baltimore Ravens and participated in the Play 60 Challenge, which encourages students to be active for at least 60 minutes each day. One student winner was recognized during halftime at a Ravens game.   


Through a partnership with Towson University, the school gains student teachers and interns.

Chick-fil-A helps sponsor a Straight A breakfast for the school’s outstanding students.

Popular/unique extracurricular activities

“Our drama club is new this year. In addition to working on a production, they assist the students at Battle Monument with drama projects, and the students at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts help our students.”

The school is preparing to offer its first musical in more than 20 years. In May, students will present “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

The school has just started a 22-member pep squad. (Editor’s note: While I was on the phone interviewing Principal Wagner, the pep squad stopped by his office to bring him “thank you” cookies for their new uniforms.)

The school has a popular steel band. To welcome students, they performed on the first day of the school year.

“The school now has a yearbook committee, which includes student photographers.”

The school also has a popular Future Educators of America club.

Special school traditions

A renewed tradition for the school is that students earn stars for good behavior.

“One of our new traditions will be an annual high school magnet fair held at the school. We held our first one on Sept. 30, 2015. BCPS has a systemwide magnet fair in Timonium every September, but that is too far away for a lot of our families to attend. Every high school magnet program sent a representative to our fair. They made presentations and gave out promotional materials and swag. We also invited Dundalk and Holabird middle schools’ parents to participate.”

Bet you didn’t know…

“That the school property is surrounded by former battlefields and the land that the school is built on was once a battlefield. Some people say that the school is haunted and that late at night you can smell pipe smoke… I’ve never smelled it.”

“That we have revived an old school motto: ‘Don’t hide your Stricker pride” to help reflect that we have some the best kids and families in the county.”

 

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