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April Newsletter

Save the Date! Join Us for the May 25th Heart of the School Awards

It’s time to commemorate the commitment and dedication of our Baltimore City Public School principals! Join hundreds of community leaders, educators and families in celebrating City Schools principals for the 2023 Heart of the School Awards on Thursday, May 25th at the Hippodrome Theatre. The festive evening will highlight 10 exceptional principals as Heart of the School Award finalists, with five being honored as winners for demonstrating exemplary innovation, execution, and leadership in building strong school cultures.

Get Your Tickets Here

Congratulations once again to this year’s Heart of the School Award Winners and Honorees! Each of the 10 are fantastic school leaders doing amazing things on behalf of their students. Read more about these outstanding principal here.

2023 Winners:

Mark Bongiovanni – Curtis Bay Elementary School
Tiffany Etheridge – Belmont Elementary School
Peter Kannam – Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School
Brandon Pinkney – Walter P. Carter Elementary Middle School
Jacqueline Williams – Director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

2023 Honorees:

Kelly Casagrande – Charm City Virtual/Virtual Learning Program East
Venus Jackson – Harlem Park Elementary School
Nichelle Johnson-Walker – Morrell Park Elementary Middle School
Aleesha Manning – Cecil Elementary School
Cheyanne Zahrt – City Neighbors High School

Share Some Love for Your City Schools Teachers and Staff!

The Heart of the Schools Share Some Love campaigns are back! Last year, in partnership with principals, the Heart of the Schools – the Fund for Educational Excellence’s principal-centered program – created school-level Share Some Love campaigns that facilitated notes of appreciation for school staff members. Principals thought of creative ways to share the messages with teachers – printing them to cover classroom doors, presenting at end of year events, reading them during staff meeting, just to name a few. In total, school communities sent over 7,000 notes of positivity to school staff at 40 participating schools! Following the success of last year’s school-wide campaigns, the Heart of the Schools has relaunched an improved version of the initiative!

Visit to write a heartfelt message to your favorite Baltimore City Public Schools staff member letting them know how much you appreciate all they do to support our students. All notes will be shared with the person you select before the end of the school year!

If your school isn’t listed, reach out to your principal and ask them to opt in to this campaign! All they have to do is send their staff list to Kevin Leary ( to get started.

Share Some Love

Chicago Parent Program (ChiPP) Update

The Chicago Parent Program (ChiPP) is an early-childhood development program for parents of pre-school aged children. The 12-session program provides parents with effective strategies to reduce behavioral challenges, solve common parenting problems, and foster their children’s learning. ChiPP has worked with more than 700 Baltimore parents since the program’s implementation in 2014.

This year, we implemented ChiPP in five new schools:

  • Abbottston Elementary School—this is their first year offering a Judy Center Early Learning Hub so the Chicago Parent Program complements that work
  • Leith Walk Elementary School
  • Holabird Academy—combined the English and Spanish speaking groups, using headsets that translate in real time, so that all parents can participate together
  • Westport Academy
  • William S. Baer School – successfully tailored the program to meet the schools’ unique needs serving parents with children with disabilities

Learn more about the Chicago Parent Program at

Under Armour’s Student Athlete Leadership Council Meeting

The Under Armour Student Athlete Leadership Council – an initiative that convenes three student-athlete representatives from every City Schools high school – held their final monthly meeting of the school year at the UA House on Friday, April 14th. Sixty student representatives, from nearly every Baltimore City high school, led forty City Springs middle schoolers through the day’s activities, sharing their insights and enhancing their leadership skills. This was part of the Council’s annual service project, which was planned by the student-athletes during prior meetings.

The character development and leadership programming, led by the Travis Manion Foundation, delivers inspiring mentorship to student-athletes with advice from former professional and collegiate athletes, military veterans, and professionals in a variety of industries. Check out WMAR’s coverage from the day:

Veterans in Baltimore helping student-athletes become better leaders

To learn more about the Under Armour Student Athlete Coalition, the multi-faceted program that includes this Leadership Council, click here.

Of Note:

Additional insights, updates and resources.

  • The Fund’s Kwane Wyatt, Program Director of Analysis & Engagement, and Ruth Farfel, Program Manager of Analysis & Engagement, are featured speakers at the next Transit Choices meeting! Thursday, April 27, 2023 from 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM. Mark your calendars and save the Zoom link for the meeting, here.
  • Charm City Virtual School’s Principal Kelly Casagrande and 2023 Heart of the School Award Honoree joined host Mike Haynie for this week’s Wake Up Baltimore episode. Watch it, here. Tune in Monday April 24th to Wake Up Baltimore from 7:30-8:30 am to hear from Principal Cheyanne Zahrt of City Neighbors High School and 2023 Heart of the School Award Honoree.
  • City Schools’ BMore Me Speaker Series, which is supported through a grant secured by the Fund, is sparking conversation, fueling goals and encouraging growth in students. Check out this Progress Report story to learn more.
  • Thanks to Great Kids Farm, educators across the district are planning school gardens that will get students outside and expand their learning. Learn more in the district’s Progress Report, here.

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