Baltimore County Now
To Dr. Dance and his administrative team: Thank you for creating such a positive school climate all across Baltimore County. Team BCPS is a reality, and it’s making a difference in our children’s lives.
To all of the administrators, teachers and support staff: Thank you for all you do for Baltimore County’s students each and every day. I know that many of you worked all summer preparing for the 2013-2014 school year, and as I drove by schools this weekend, I saw the parked cars of many educators who were putting the finishing touches on classrooms and getting ready for the most exciting day of the school year.
To our students: I know that many of you are very nervous, particularly our kindergarten students, 6th and 9th graders. Thank you for taking school so seriously. As I go from school to school, I’m always incredibly impressed by how hard students are working. Keep up the good work!
And finally, to our parents: I want to thank you most of all. You have been there from the beginning. You were the first to teach your sons and daughters their numbers and letters. You read them their first books. You take them to band practice and pick them up from student council. You take them to the zoo, science center and aquarium. You make them do their homework, make sure they have a good breakfast, and you work hard to teach them the difference between right and wrong. You are the foundation upon which BPCS rests.
I hope all of you have a wonderful year, and let’s continue to make the Baltimore County Public School System one of the best in the nation.
Intern, Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences
It’s August which means that the summer season is coming to a close. For many Baltimore County residents, this means the time has finally come to see their victorious Ravens on the field again. For me, August means it is time to buckle up for nine months away at school. Come August 31, I will be making the trek down I-95 to my temporary home at the University of Maryland in College Park.
While I bid “adieu” to the 410 area code, thousands of other students will be pouring into Baltimore County, home to five of the fifteen colleges in the Baltimore metro region.
This includes the Community College of Baltimore County, which educates a whopping 74,000 students each year and accounts for half of all Baltimore County residents who are undergraduates. Towson will once again be bustling with Goucher and Towson students. Owings Mills will be welcoming back Stevenson University scholars and UMBC sweatshirts will be popping up all around Catonsville.
Many college graduates call Baltimore County home. With great proximity to Baltimore City and Washington D.C., what college grad wouldn’t want to live here? The Baltimore-Towson area landed a spot on The Atlantic’s 25 Best Places to Live for Recent Graduates in 2012. It isn’t just recent graduates that are drawn to Baltimore County. An impressive 35.2% of county residents over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Baltimore County Public Schools excels in preparing students for college. According to a recent study in Education Week, BCPS has the second-highest graduation rate among the nation’s fifty-largest school districts. Additionally, 52% of Baltimore County traditional and magnet high schools earned a place on national “Best Schools” lists. Many of these impressive graduates will be making their college debut this fall.
Here are a few words of advice for the soon-to-be college freshmen. As a rising sophomore, I am well-versed in surviving the back-to-school chaos. These three tips will help you start on the right foot this school year.
- Join the Facebook group.
Social media has revolutionized college orientation. Students are now getting acquainted with their fellow classmates in school-specific “class of 2017” groups. Students have the opportunity to get to know floor mates, ask for advice, and even find a roommate.
- Know what not to buy.
Before you go and buy tons of fun décor for your room, keep in mind the amount of space that you have. I am only packing half of what I brought last year! Consider making another shopping trip after move-in day so you don’t overbuy.
- Don’t run right to the bookstore.
The cost of textbooks adds up quickly, but a couple strategies can help to cut the cost. Try comparing prices. You might even want to wait until after the first week of classes to buy books. There could be a more cost-effective online book, or you might not even need the book at all.
Remember this August that Baltimore County is more than Ravens nation. It is home to an impressive network of colleges and universities and a central hub for the countless college students who will attend them this fall. And, for me and thousands of others travelling beyond the county borders, Baltimore County will always be home.
Baltimore County Executive
What will the schools of tomorrow look like? I would guess that each student would use smartphones and tablets in class, with textbooks relegated to a study of ancient history. The entire school building would be wi-fi enabled, allowing students to access the Internet for problem solving and research at a moment's whim. Why, I think that students and teachers could interact via Twitter feeds, both inside the classroom and even at home!
Well, guess what? The world of tomorrow land is here today - at the very special Patapsco High School Center for the Arts in Dundalk. Earlier this month I joined School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance for a tour of Patapsco where we met with the students and faculty for a jaw-dropping view of how technology can be used as an integral part of the learning process.
Principal Ryan Imbriale has created an amazing community of learners in eastern Baltimore County. It is no wonder that Dr. Dance is eager to spread this magic system wide. What happens at Patapsco? Well, here is just a small sample of what took place the day I visited.
It is a school where the principal's daily update isn't done over a traditional public address system, but on the internet via a You Tube video that is also available to parents. It is a school where students are using a variety of social media to enhance learning. It is a school where students are encouraged to bring smart phones and tablets to school so that they may be used as part of the learning process. Classroom Twitter feeds are displayed on white boards encouraging students to react to classroom discussions immediately. In Spanish class, the Spanish tweets were being posted fast and furiously. In science labs, students were using their phones to connect to links to QR codes posted around the room leading to problems that must be solved. Students worked in groups, actively engaging and supporting one another to solve these complex problems. Teachers worked hand-in-hand with students as guides in the learning process.
As my staff would tell you, I haven't been able to stop talking about the teachers and students at Patapsco. I am so excited about what is taking place there and even more excited that Dr. Dance firmly believes that this type of instruction can become the model for Baltimore County. I look forward to making that journey together.