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Welcome back to a new school year!

Welcome back to a new school year!

More than 5,000 students and family members attended the Aug. 16 Back-to-School Fair.

“Going the extra mile” may sound like a cliché, but it’s a reality for MCPS staff members who do just that throughout the school year and beyond. As they worked during the summer teaching students, improving their professional skills, setting up their classrooms or filling many other roles, staff were doing what they always do—helping students learn and making students and families feel welcome.

Staff’s outstanding work is not going unnoticed. Take, for example, the first-ever Back-to-School Fair, which staff members pulled together for more than 5,000 participants on Aug.16. Parents commented on the warm welcome from MCPS staff and their availability to answer questions. "Parents just loved having an opportunity to come and learn information about the school system," said Eric Davis, acting director of Family and Community Partnerships in the Office of Communications and Family Outreach. “We want to continue this every single year.”

Parents agreed. “They had the information that I wanted to know,” parent Rita Harrell said. “It’s a great day of fun, it’s free, it’s wonderful.”

Staff showed the same dedication when it came to preparing for the opening of school. When schools opened their doors on Aug. 26, teachers and staff were ready to welcome more than 138,000 students—a number that may rise to more than 139,000 when the count is finished—to the new school year.

Who we are
MCPS has almost 22,500 employees, including about 12,000 teachers. About 630 new teachers were hired for the start of the school year. Nineteen percent of the newly contracted teachers are MCPS graduates, and 11 percent are graduates of the school system’s university partnerships. MCPS also filled 13 principal positions—seven elementary, three middle and three high—and more than 40 other school-based or related positions, including guidance counselors, pupil personnel workers and psychologists.

Preparing our students
Teachers and staff worked with students through a range of programs over the summer. By the end of summer school, 6,651 students had participated in regional elementary and high school classes, with 233 students earning their high school diplomas. More than 6,000 students attended the Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Adventures in Learning program at 28 Title I schools. Two high schools held a successful pilot program for the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation—a state-designated alternative to passing High School Assessments for some students.

Workforce excellence
More than 4,400 teachers, administrators and support professionals received a total of 32,000 hours of training during the summer. The Office of Organizational Development provided professional development to implement the middle school reform initiative; training for MCPS key data points including kindergarten benchmarks in reading and mathematics in middle school; co-teaching; and developing culturally competent schools. New educators received a weeklong orientation in August.

Building for the future
Staff worked hard to finish 14 major construction projects for the opening of school. They include eight classroom additions, four gymnasiums, one school-based health center and site work at Richard Montgomery High School. The completed projects add 226,000 square feet of new construction and include 37,500 square feet of interior renovation. Staff also worked on more than 200 other facility upgrade projects, ranging from restroom renovations and painting to roof replacements and energy management, and completed 7,500 maintenance and repair work orders.

Middle school reform
This year—the second of a three-year middle school reform initiative—six more middle schools join Benjamin Banneker, Roberto Clemente, Montgomery Village, Sligo and Earle B. Wood in moving forward with full implementation of all components of middle school reform. Participating in the second phase of middle school reform are Eastern, Newport Mill, Shady Grove, Silver Spring International, Tilden and White Oak middle schools. Four other middle schools—Gaithersburg, Martin Luther King, Jr., Col. E. Brooke Lee and Julius West—will receive partial implementation of the initiative.

The three schools in the middle School Magnet Consortium—Argyle, A. Mario Loiederman and Parkland—also have been an integral part of middle school reform and have played an important role in developing the curriculum and other elements of the initiative. Featured components are technology for interactive instruction: advanced courses that carry high school credit; engaging elective courses, many of them related to technology; parent communication and resources; and training for teachers and school administrators.

The 2008–2009 expansion will bring to 18 the number of schools currently implementing middle school reform—half of MCPS middle schools. Many of the remaining schools are already using elements of the curriculum developed through the initiative.

Other initiatives
Additional funding for hours-based staffing for middle school special education is designed to ensure equitable distribution of special education staff to support these students in the general education environment. Three more schools—Neelsville, Newport Mill and Gaithersburg middle schools—have been approved to receive hours-based staffing this year, bringing the total of hours-based staffing schools to 16.

John F. Kennedy and Seneca Valley high schools are beginning the process of becoming approved to offer the International Baccalaureate program, joining six high schools, five middle schools and one elementary school in MCPS that currently offer the International Baccalaureate.

Expanding classroom technology
Promethean interactive classrooms connect with today’s technology-savvy students. Teachers who have used the technology praise it for motivating students, addressing different learning styles and providing immediate feedback on student performance. The $3.3 million expansion of this technology into two-thirds of middle and high school classrooms and some elementary school classrooms this year has been financed largely through federal dollars provided by the eRate program and through a negotiated 17 percent reduction in the cost of the technology.

The interactive classroom consists of an adjustable interactive whiteboard, student response systems for assessing student understanding, wireless slates for student-teacher interaction and downloadable online teaching resources. 

In addition to installing the interactive classroom systems, Technology Modernization Program staff installed 7,927 new computers, reinstalled 1,707 refurbished computers and uninstalled 9,002 old computers over the summer.

Last Updated: 9/8/2008