For three Baltimore County high schools this week, Monday was – literally – a banner day.
That was the day each received its colorful “S.T.A.T.” (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) banner from a “prize patrol” led by Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance. The banner – emblazoned with each school’s name on a light blue background and the S.T.A.T. logo – officially designated each school as one of the first three high schools to become official Lighthouse Schools.
At Chesapeake, Owings Mills, and Pikesville high schools, they couldn’t be more excited.
“We had to get dressed up for this!” said Pikesville Principal Sandra Reid, who greeted Dr. Dance and guests decked out in a Pikesville t-shirt and Pikesville purple jacket. “This is a big day!”
The three high schools join elementary and middle schools across the county that are serving as pilot locations for S.T.A.T. This multi-year initiative is designed to create 21st century learning environments in every classroom in the county and is centered on shifting teaching and learning through methods including the integration of technology.
Monday’s caravan was similar to the one that first brought the news that the high schools had been chosen as Lighthouse Schools. This time, however, it was not a surprise; administrators were ready for Dr. Dance and his team – Dr. Nardos King, assistant superintendent for high schools, Ryan Imbriale, executive director for the Department of Innovative Learning, and David Robb, supervisor for Innovative Learning Projects.
At each stop, students and teachers greeted the presenters and posed for pictures with the new banners. Often as students headed back to class, chatter centered around where to hang each banner. One student at Chesapeake High School joked that the banner should be displayed in his home.
“And we could all come over to see it?” Principal Jess Grim responded, laughing.
Each of the three schools was identified through a process that began earlier in the school year when high school principals were asked if they were interested in participating in the Lighthouse pilot. Once interest was determined, school instructional staff members were surveyed about their level of commitment. Schools with high levels of staff interest and commitment were asked to complete applications, which were reviewed and approved by a special committee.
Since the shift in teaching and learning was introduced by Dr. Dance in his 2012 State of the Schools address, S.T.A.T. has since won attention both from national and international observers, including recognition through two national Digital Innovation in Learning Awards, a $1.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, being named the sole “Showcase" school system by Microsoft in 2015, being admitted to the League of Innovative Schools, receiving a Digital Content and Curriculum Achievement Award from the Center for Digital Education, and earning a grant through Maryland’s 2014 Digital Learning Innovation Fund. Dr. Dance also has discussed S.T.A.T. before audiences including the Federal Communications Commission and a technology symposium in the Republic of Korea.
For more photos of the Lighthouse Schools’ banner day, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157667978308041.