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March Newsletter

Celebrating Project Rampart

The Fund for Educational Excellence is proud to help facilitate Project Rampart, a partnership between Under Armour and Baltimore City Public Schools. In late February, the partners came together at Edmondson-Westside High School to share highlights from the project, and featured Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, and City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises. They discussed successes from the 6-year partnership to renovate high school gyms, outfit athletes and coaches, and provide coaching and academic development opportunities. The event also championed the power of sports and the positive impact they can have on student athletes and communities, highlighting the dramatically increased graduation rates for students who participate in athletics all four years (98.5%) vs. those who do not (63%).

Learn More Here

Announcing the 2023 Heart of the School Award Winners!

The Heart of the Schools is excited to announce the 2023 Heart of the School Award Winners! After reviewing 770 nominations for 105 principals, we’ve selected our final five. We’re thrilled to shine a light on their exceptional work, as each has built exemplary school cultures where students are excited to attend school every day, teachers are inspired and valued, and parents feel welcome and included. The Winners will be honored at the Heart of the School Awards on Thursday, May 25th at the Hippodrome Theatre (more details below) and will will receive $2,500 to support needs at their schools as they see fit.

Read below for a brief overview of what makes each so special:

    • Mark Bongiovanni of Curtis Bay Elementary School: “Mr. B,” as he’s universally known, is in his sixth year as principal. Reinforcing the school’s core value of kindness, Mr. B creates a loving environment with his students by creating daily video announcements starring his dog, Jack, that started during COVID and continue now that school is open.
    • Tiffany Etheridge of Belmont Elementary School: In her eighth year as principal, Ms. Etheridge takes a family approach to leading, which makes sense as she grew up in the neighborhood and her grandmother was the school librarian. She emphasizes mental and physical health schoolwide with regular mindfulness activities, staff and community fitness classes and healthy food options which resulted in Belmont being named one of the Healthiest Schools in America and a decrease in office referrals!
    • Peter Kannam of Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School: For the last five years as principal, Mr. Kannam has propelled his students to academic excellence while focusing on their joy and passion. Under his leadership, the school has served its students and the surrounding East Baltimore community by distributing over one million pounds of food since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Brandon Pinkney of Walter P. Carter Elementary Middle School: With five years as principal under his belt, Mr. Pinkney never forgets what it was like to be a teacher and prides himself on promoting staff wholeness while creating space for teachers to thrive. The high teacher morale shows up in their 97% attendance rate and school achievement data, having exceeded their 2022-2023 end-of-year goals in English Language Arts (ELA) in just half a year!
    • Jacqueline Williams, Director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute: Ms. Williams, a distinguished alumna of Poly, has served as Director for the last twelve years. Prior to her starting, Poly was ranked outside of the top 1000 STEM high schools in the nation and now, because of her leadership and vision, the school was ranked number 36 by Newsweek in 2020!

Learn more about the selection process, the Heart of the School Awards & Celebration, and the award criteria here.

Tickets On Sale: Join Us for the Heart of the School Awards

Get your tickets today and join us Thursday, May 25th at the Hippodrome to celebrate and thank Baltimore City School Principals for their incredible leadership and impact on Baltimore’s students.

The festive evening will highlight the exceptional work of the five Winners listed above as well as their fellow Top 10 Principals for 2023:

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

Get Your Tickets Here

Of Note: 

Additional insights, updates and resources.

  • Kwane Wyatt and Ruth Farfel were featured on a WYPR Maryland Curiosity Bureau story answering the question “Why don’t Baltimore City Schools have school busses?”, here.
  • ICYMI: A year-and-a-half since the release of our report, Not in Service: Why Public Transit Must Aim to Serve Students, learn where progress has been made toward transit equity for Baltimore City students and where it has stalled in our latest blog post, here.
  • Each month, Baltimore City Public Schools recognizes two high school student-athletes with a special Under Armour medal for their leadership and athleticism. Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the school year. Recognize a fantastic City Schools student-athlete, here.

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