Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kimberly Parker Presents: The Beauty of Ownership

My daughter approached my bedroom a bit traumatized! You see, her eye was hurting and she just did not understand why. I so corroborated with her frustration! I know how it feels to need answers to the question “Why?” After making it perfectly clear that she did not bump her eye against an object, she blinked profusely in what appeared to be an attempt to stop what she described as “bleeping”. Throbbing was probably the actual effect.

I certainly did not want to dismiss her concern. While I don’t always hit the mark, I strive to render my undivided attention to my children when they seek me. Neglecting their 911 alarms typically adds to both their ache and their aggravation. Most empathetically, I suggested that we take a walk “back down memory lane”, tracing her steps along the way. If you’ve ever experienced a five year old little girl in indescribable pain, you know that I was praying to crack this unsolved mystery…and fast!
Seriously blinking her “bleeping” eye, she presented the following evidence:
1. She rolled over in bed.
2. She patted the bed to feel for her doll.
3. She felt the doll.
4. She opened her eyes to make sure it was the doll she wanted to play with.
5. She rubbed her eyes with her finger.
6. She felt something in her eye.
7. Her eye began to “bleep”.

Felling like a real sleuth and playing right into the role, I paused, rubbed my chin and said, “Mom…I got it! It seems to me that maybe your eye is ‘bleeping’ because you rubbed it with your finger and something from your finger is now inside your eye!” My daughter was obviously taken aback. I thought her expression was along the lines of, “Phew! Thank you, Momma, for your help!” Boy did I read her wrong! Instead, she maturely stated, “Momma, it’s not my finger’s fault! It’s mine. You tell me to not put my fingers in my eyes. I shouldn’t have done that.”

All of my sussing rolled out the room, down the stair, around the corner, and out the door! “Detective Daughter” finally figured it out but her answer now left me with questions:
1. Why do we blame others for our throbbing mistakes?
2. Why don’t we take ownership of our problems?
3. Why, exactly, do we not take the time to walk “back down memory lane” in an attempt to solve the mysteries?

Scenario after scenario began to roll in my motion picture mind as I took my daughter to the bathroom to clean her eye. Realizing I had to take a bit of ownership of a few unsolved mysteries, I was “bleeping” all over! Since I can’t just talk the talk, I began to walk…back down memory lane. Do you need to stroll with me?

Kimberly K. Parker is the owner of Writing Momma Publishing ( She is hosting “Isn’t She Lovely!” an elegant father and daughter event in March 2011 in hopes of promoting the importance of the relationship between little girls and their fathers.

Visit to purchase tickets and for more information. Kimberly is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gov. O'Malley Considering Cuts...Could Impact PGCPS


Gov. Martin O'Malley is considering a 5 percent across-the-board cut in state aid for public education. State Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster has proposed the cut, which the governor's office says would save more than $200 million. Maryland is facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year.

The possible 5 percent cut was revealed in a letter from Foster to Prince George's County Schools Superintendent William Hite, who has asked the state for an additional $139 million in funding. Foster notes that Prince George's receives more education funding than any other jurisdiction in Maryland.

O'Malley's spokesman says the possible cut is merely "an option presented to the governor" but that it speaks to the severity of the state's fiscal situation.Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Pointless finger-pointing at parents

"As the national debate on public school reform continues to loom large, with its inherent finger-pointing, a new enemy has recently emerged – parents. An Associated Press-Stanford University poll says 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what's wrong with the U.S. education system – more than teachers, administrators, the government or even the teachers' unions."

By Anne Foster

This new version of the blame game reminds me of people who get up in an airplane at 30,000 feet and then decide the pilot may be incompetent. It's useless and too late. Rather than blaming parents for what's wrong with education, we should instead be helping them and training them to hold their schools accountable for their children's education – and to be partners in the process.

Finding one group to blame reminds us that many people are looking for silver bullets – the one culprit to blame for bad schools and the one solution for successful schools. Truth is there are no silver bullets – for either blame or credit. Successful schools exist because of a combination of factors that work together – quality teaching, professional development, adequate financial resources, safe facilities, community support and parent engagement. Failing schools exist because of a lack of these things.

Certainly, parents have a part in successful schools. There are certain things that are just plain good parenting – making sure kids get enough sleep, proper nutrition, monitoring homework and reading daily with kids. When parents do these things, children go to school ready to learn. When they don't do these things, the challenge is much greater for the school, the children and the educators. We can all agree that there are parents who wouldn't win parenting awards, and our society needs to encourage positive parenting skills. Many schools already are doing this, but they can't do it alone. They need help from others in the community.

But to blame parents as a group for any failure in education is simplistic and untenable. In fact, writing off parents as a whole represents a woefully misinformed viewpoint. Some parents are considered suspect because they are poor or do not speak English. I have met a great variety of parents, and although they would express it in many different ways, they all have hopes and dreams for their children and want them to succeed in school and in life. Parents live along a spectrum, and the more educated parents are better able to assume their rightful role in their children's schools and education. But other parents are capable of being brought along and connected with schools as well. Many schools are reaching out to them with some notable success and bringing them into a partnership with the school that focuses on the academic success of their child and the entire school. These parents are proving able to be involved with school reform, school improvement and advocacy.

The poll also found that a majority of parents believe schools have improved since they were in school and that their children are getting a better education than they did. Schools that are succeeding are doing so in part because parents are a positive force. We need to build on that and take that message to all parents. Schools need to keep reaching out to parents, particularly those who need guidance on how to help their children in school.

But blame parents? No – they deserve better than that, and so do their kids. Parent engagement is an important part of quality schools, but it is only part of the whole. We must make sure all of the pieces are in place.

Anne Foster is a former school board member in Richardson ISD and is National Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools. Anne Foster can also be heard on, an educational podcast resource center for the engaged parent and dedicated educator

Sunday, December 26, 2010

PGCPS: FY 2012 Superintendent's Proposed Budget

Letter from the Superintendent of Prince George's County Public Schools Ms. Verjeana M. Jacobs, Esq. Chair, Board of Education

Dear Ms. Jacobs:

Pursuant to the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the Superintendent’s FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget for Prince George’s County Public Schools is herewith submitted. The proposed budget totals $1,688,112,606 covering the fiscal year July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. This amount is an increase of $54,586,065 or 3.3% over the FY 2011 operating budget originally approved. This proposed budget maintains core services essential to the Board of Education’s Theory of Action and the school system’s priorities. Revenues supporting school system operations in FY 2012 are expected to be severely limited, but without a substantial increase in revenues, the Board will need to consider increasing class sizes, continuing staff furloughs, and other actions to close the gap. The loss of federal stimulus funds in FY 2012 and potential actions taken by the state of Maryland to address its projected structural deficit, combined with minimum amounts required from the County are the primary basis for the limited revenues. The decline in growth for FY 2012 joined with the possibility of further decline in revenue has required that proposed expenditures reflect strategic reductions that will ensure services essential to preserving our core business. The chart below demonstrates the magnitude of the changes over the last several years compared with FY 2012.

The revenue view reflects the impact of the major challenges that the State and County are facing in the next year. This situation is largely marked by a loss in revenues associated with the housing market, including rising foreclosures and the continued decline in housing sales. These real property tax revenue losses, combined with a recession in the national economy along with anticipated lower student enrollment, translate into limited available revenue to support the FY 2012 Proposed Operating Budget. In spite of this, this proposed budget requests additional support from the State and the County in order to avoid continued furloughing of employees and the potential elimination of successful programs.

Due to the ending of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and Targeted Stimulus funds in FY 2012, federal revenue sources are expected to decrease by $71.4 million from the FY 2011 Approved budget. These funds were used to pay system wide utilities and school supplies, and supported Title I and Special Education programs. When the additional federal Education Jobs funding is factored in FY 2011, the federal funding cliff is projected to be $103.1 million. State funds are projected to increase by $49.2 million primarily due to the assumption that the Governor would have to include, and the General Assembly would have to approve, funding for the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) component in the FY 2012 State budget and a projected increase in Compensatory Education funding due to a projected increase in the FARMS population. The County contribution is projected to decrease by $2.7 million due to a drop in student enrollment but still meets state Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding levels. Revenues from Prior Year Fund Balance are reduced 100.0%, which represents $6.0 million less than the FY 2011 approved budget and Board Sources are projected to decrease by $4.2 million primarily because of reduced tuition rates.

Additionally, changes to the State and County funding amounts may occur as updated State-wide wealth, enrollment and other information is received during the budget development process. Moreover, a key area that the State may consider in reducing the structural deficit that it faces is the potential redirection of the State Retirement funding from the State to the Board of Education, and this will necessitate further adjustments to the FY 2012 proposed budget. Similarly, changes in requested and/or approved County funding levels will require revisions to amounts shown in the proposed budget.

As a result of the limited revenue growth, compounded by the loss of federal revenue resources the FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget requests $64.7 million in additional state aid and $25 million in additional funding from the County in order to address its revenue gap. The proposed budget continues prior year reductions such as not funding COLA, no step increases, stipends and differentials and maintaining position reclassifications but funds the restoration of teacher and staff salaries from the furlough reduction in FY 2011. The proposed budget focuses spending on the maintenance of core services directly related to improvement in teaching and learning within classroom instruction in support of high student achievement. Priorities under high student achievement include the Advanced Placement Program, IB, AVID, Special Education Reform, Secondary School Reform, Middle College, Charter Schools, Pre-k, and HSA Reform. The continued funding of these priorities is critical to meet the goals of the Master Plan and support our vision for all students to graduate college-ready.

The process for developing and adopting a budget includes public input. Public forums were held in October to receive community input on budget priorities to ensure all available resources are effectively and efficiently used. This Proposed budget has considered the community’s input in preserving programs and services supporting classroom instruction, within projected available revenues, consistent with the Master Plan.

The Board of Education will hold three budget public hearings between January and February, as well as public work sessions on the budget in January and February, as it considers, adopts and submits its budget request to the County Executive by March 1, 2011.

Despite the severely limited resources available this year, the FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget maintains our best efforts to achieve school system goals and fulfill our mission to ensure our students, teachers and support staff have tools and resources needed to help children learn and achieve. Funding provided in prior years, combined with efforts to distribute resources equitably with a focus on effective programs and services that produce meaningful results enabled the school system to attain record levels of achievement on State tests. Unprecedented student participation and remarkable levels of success in all subgroups occurred both this year and in the past year.

While the economic outlook remains bleak, full funding of the FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget will maintain the core instructional programs and services needed to support teaching and learning and support the critical strides made in achievement by the students of Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bullying is everyone's problem. If you do not think it is your problem, just ask Brenda High

The most horrible consequences of bulling, shootings and suicides, regularly make news, and seem like isolated incidents; but all schools and communities are impacted and damaged by bullying every day. Bullying research shows that 160,000 students miss school each day because they fear being bullied. Is bullying your problem, if you don't have a child in school? Is it your problem if you work in a school, and bullying doesn't seem to be a problem there? (Bell, 2005)

Brenda High is a passionate crusader, a mom on a mission to stop school bullying and peer abuse. She driven to see an end to bullying by the memory of her son Jared, who was the victim of severe bullying and teasing.

Jared's story

Jared High was 12 years old when older students bullied him in his middle school. The bullying came to a head when a well known bully assaulted Jared inside his middle school gym. Because of the bullying and the assault, Jared began to show signs of depression, which included lack of sleep and emotional outbursts. On the morning of September 29, 1998, just six days after his 13th birthday, Jared called his father at work to say good-bye. While on the phone with him, Jared shot himself, dying instantly.

Forest Of The Rain Productions spoke with Brenda and discussed the impact of bullying on families, communities and more importantly children. It is a fascinating discussion that we encourage all to hear.

An Exclusive Interview with Brenda High: Founder of Bullying Police USA

Mike Robinson: What do you say to those who suggest bullying or teasing is a phase that all children go through?

Brenda High: “Well, in all honesty. If someone would have said that to me after I reported a bullying incident, I would turn to them and say, and so what you are trying to say to me is you are too lazy to deal with this. That’s a lazy man’s response. If a child comes to an adult and complains about bullying, it is the responsibility of the adults to do something. The boys will be boys or girls will be girls is just an excuse and are just pure laziness by adults.

Kids are kids and adults are adults and when something happens to kids, the adults are in charge. The adults are the ones who have the problem at this point. Adults take charge, parents take charge. Schools need to know that bullying is not a child’s problem it is an adult problem and if bullying is happening in school some adult is not doing their job, it is as simple as that.”

As a healing project, Brenda began to write Jared's story. Since 1999, Jared Story has attracted over two million visitors looking for information on bullying, depression, suicide and needing healing from the loss of a loved one.

Parents and PGCPS encourage all engaged parents and dedicated educators to listen to this Brenda’s story and to join her fight to end school house bullying.

To hear Brenda’s interview with Mike Robinson, host of Parent Talk and Educational Gateway, click on the link below.

Stop Bullying Now!

Mayor and Sac City schools target parent engagement in new project

By Melody Gutierrez

Sacramento City Unified School District is partnering with Mayor Kevin Johnson's education nonprofit to promote parent engagement in city schools.

Stand Up for Sacramento Schools will focus on six schools identified by Sacramento City Unified as "priority schools." Those include Oak Ridge Elementary, Father Keith B. Kenny Elementary, Jedediah Smith Elementary, Fern Bacon Basic Middle, Will C. Wood Middle and Hiram W. Johnson High.

Read more:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Parent Talk...Talks with Eileen Collins An Engage Parent and 2010 Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Semifinalist

Parent Talk discusses community engagement with Eileen Collins, President of Laurel PTA and the 2010 Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Semifinalist.

Two things Eileen Collins takes seriously-play and the power of positive thinking. You may wonder how serious can a person can be if they live by those two things” Well, just ask the community of Laurel Elementary School and the city of Laurel. When Eileen took it upon herself to spearhead an effort to replace the outdated playground equipment at the school, she took on a roller coaster ride of challenges and obstacles. But rather than close her eyes and wish the ride was over, she took every turn and dip in stride and at the end- KaBOOM!- To everyone’s delight, the long hours of meetings and grant writing, raising funds, and coordinating volunteers turned into a playground!

Always one to keep the play going and getting others in the game, Eileen went back to the city of Laurel to encourage them to apply as a KaBOOM! Playful City USA. And when the city won the award, she chaired the celebration planning committee. In September 2009, the Celebration of Play Day was attended by over 300 people and included Raven LeRon McCain, outdoor games and, of course, Eileen, who was right in the thick of it, which has resulted in events like the Popcorn Fridays fundraiser to support an after school arts program and the school’s spring musical “We Haz Jazz,” with Eileen at the lead, there’s a never a rainy day where she’s not signing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.”


Time: 8:30pm-9:30pm (EST)

Call in number: 1 (914) 803-4591

The Hidden Treasures of Our Communities

Hidden Treasures.....Is a family owned and operated cafe in the historic Highland community of Howard County Maryland.

Our business philosophy caters to family and community oriented values. We pride ourselves on our warm and welcoming view of customer service and our strong desire to showcase our uniquely styled food.

Our products are locally made and produced by vendors like Moorenko's all natural Ice cream and Greenberry's locally roasted coffees,
along with other local markets for guaranteed freshness. Our unique style of food is complimented by our wide array of cheesecakes, brownies, and cupcakes along with other delicious desserts.

Our food is passionately prepared by Chef Gerald Joseph whose many years of experience in the culinary arts coupled with local and international restaurants will bring a bit of Americana to the cafe. With Chef Gerald you will definitely not taste the traditional commercial style food many are accustomed to. He truly puts his heart and love in every bite.

It is through this vision that we invite you to explore the hidden treasures that we offer at Hidden Treasure Café. You won’t be disappointed!

Our address:

13380 Clarksville Pike

Highland, MD 20777


Hours of operation:

M-F 6am-8pm

Sat. 8am-5pm

Sun. - closed.

Hidden Treasure

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

Welcome to our newest segment on the Parental Engagement with PGCPS Blog. We are calling this our Hidden Treasure posting. In this posting we will spotlight individuals, businesses and community landmarks that are some of the hidden Gems of our communities.

Additionally, you are welcome to provide us your list of Hidden Treasures, by simply emailing us at
We would love to more about those special places that makes your community unique.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Music

We have the spirit! We know the reason for the season! We want you to join us as we usher in the most joyful time of the year with timeless Christmas songs sung by some of the greatest singers and musicians of our time. Tune in this Friday, December 3rd starting at 9am to 12pm to hear Christmas music we promise will put you in the mood.

To join us click on the link below

The Journey Begins, Internet Radio for the Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators

Here is a sample of what you will hear:

This Christmas (Donny Hathaway)
What the World Needs Now (Luther Vandross)
Please Come Home for Christmas (Luther Vandross)
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (The Jackson Five)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Raindeer (The Temptations)
This Christmas (The Temptations)
Little Drummer Boy (The Temptations)
Hey Santa (Ashanti)
Christmas Morn (Chante Moore)
Christmas At My House (Rahsaan Patterson)
I’ll Be Home For Christmas (The Isley Brothers)
8 Days of Christmas (Destiny’s Child)
White Christmas (The Platters)
Christmas Time is Here (Diane Crall)
Deck The Halls (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kimberly K. Parker Talks About A Better Savings Plan

A Better Savings Plan

Often, I find my children engaged in conversations about toys and games they plan to acquire…one day. With various methods and means of advertising, they are bound to eventually make the acquaintance of an item that captures their undivided attention. Unless it truly serves an educational need, my husband and I purchase out of necessity and do not over indulge our children in the latest “this” or the most advanced “that”. Instead, we strategically invest in a game or activity here and there while closely monitoring its use.

For several months, my sons had hoped to get an Xbox®. In spite of their many requests, it has not been honored. In 2008 they pooled together money they saved for a year and, with a little extra help from extended family, purchased a Wii®. As far as I was concerned, if I could hold onto my Atari® for over ten years…and like it…then they had no room to even think about upgrading their two-year old console!

Recently, my older son made haste to get to me while in the kitchen. His face was all aglow as he planted himself just a few steps beyond where I stood. It was obvious that he had a brilliant idea and he was most anxious to hurl it my way! I could hardly wait to hear his sure-fire plan that, apparently, he already surmised would be readily accepted. Knowing well my system of saving money, he suggested that in order for he and my son to get the Xbox® they long desired, I should put aside a little bit of money every week. Once I’ve saved enough, together we would go shopping for this just-gotta-have-one game and, finally, it would be theirs for years to come!

Stroking my chin while pausing briefly, I gently smiled at this beautiful tween-child of mine. For a moment, I got stuck on his most handsome face and the keenest of his mind. With the daze lifting, I applauded him for his ingenuity! It was most apparent that he invested a bit of thought into how he could help me find a way to help him. In essence, should I adopt his plan then he could actually receive credit for contributing to the ultimate acquisition of the console.

Now, I’d like to consider myself as a promoter of self-sufficiency. You know: “God bless the child’s that got his own, that’s got his own!” Through a plethora of personal experiences, I adopted this mindset early on in my life. If beyond food, shelter, and clothing it was to be, it was clearly up to me. So, I countered his proposal and suggested that he and my son do what they did two years before: save their monies and pool it together whereby they will be able to purchase the Xbox®. Additionally, I encouraged him to develop this better savings plan in writing, outlining all of the particulars of earning the money.

Of course this route would prolong the purchase a bit, but it would be well worth the wait! To be gleaned are lessons in self-sufficiency, patience, saving, and investing all of which would certainly yield a lifetime of positive results. It is far too easy to just hand our children life and all therein on a platter. If our mission as parents is to groom them into productive contributors of our society and the world at large, we must employ various rites of passage and teach them how. I hope to do them justice.

Kimberly K. Parker is the owner of Writing Momma Publishing ( She is hosting “Isn’t She Lovely!”, an elegant father and daughter event in March 2011 in hopes of promoting the importance of the relationship between little girls and their fathers.

Visit to purchase tickets and for more information. Kimberly is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Very Good Holiday Snack

Mrs. Kim Carrington and the United Health Heroes Presents :
A Very Good Holiday Snack

10 apples (different varieties such as Stayman, Fugii, Gala, Granny Smith and Honey Crisp and whatever else you like)1 pineapple (peeled and cut)1/2 red onion1 or 2 limes garlic powder kosher salt1 jalepeno pepper cilantro mint.

First, wash and dry apples and herbs. Rough cut the apples with the skins into bite-sized pieces. Cut half of the pineapple into pieces half the size of the apples. Dice up the onions. Mince the pepper. So, the apples are the largest ingredient in size, then the pineapples, then onions, then pepper. This matters because the onions and peppers should not overwhelm the apples and pineapples, just season the salsa. Don't omit them though. The pineapples could actually be cut the same size, larger or smaller than the apples.

Second, mix all the fruit, onions and pepper and squeeze the lime juice over the mixture to keep the apples looking fresh. You don't want them to turn brown. The pineapples also help keep the apples looking fresh.

Last, lightly sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder (not garlic salt) over the fruit mixture, a light sprinkle of the kosher salt, and add about a handful of each roughly chopped fresh cilantro and mint. Adjust seasoning to your personal taste and serve with hot or cold corn tortilla chips. People who like strong flavors can use fresh or minced garlic and add a little more as well as the red onion to the recipe.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parent Talk and Joe Murchison of Side By Side Discuss Community Engagement

Parent Talk discusses community engagement with Joe Murchison, Side by Side executive director. In 2004, the Laurel Clergy Association launched an initiative to help Laurel children and families by supporting the area’s Prince George’s County public schools. It paired individual schools and churches with the idea that the churches could furnish the schools with volunteers and other aid. In 2007 that initiative took on a more formal shape as a nonprofit organization, Side by Side, Inc. The group obtained tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) status in 2009


Joe Murchison was a journalist for almost three decades, the last 17 of them as editor of the Laurel Leader newspaper. After leaving journalism in 2007, he wrote a book and worked for a marketing firm. In 2009 he helped found and became executive director of Side by Side, Inc., a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to strengthening Prince George's County public schools and their families in the Laurel area. Side by Side hosts a monthly Family Academy for families from seven elementary schools, with parent workshops in English and Spanish, enrichment activities for children and a free meal for the families. It also runs a homework club three afternoons a week at a Laurel apartment complex and has a tutoring program in which adult volunteers work one-on-one with elementary students in need of extra help.

Sunday, November 14, 2010




Maryland’s education is on the cusp of metamorphosing once again into yet an even stronger system; giving every public school student an opportunity to realize academic success that will better prepare them for college, career, and life.As we celebrate the 89th annual American Education Week (November 14-20), we highlight the importance of providing every child in America with a quality public education.

In Maryland, we have achieved success on the national level – a feat that makes us tremendously proud. It was the hard work of our students, educators, and leadership that saw Maryland achieve a number one national ranking two years straight for our overall education system, for our Advanced Placement performance, and for having the most rigorous high schools. Now, as we take a glimpse into the future, we know we have to offer an education system that raises the education floor and provides every student with a world class education.

In August, Maryland was one of nine states and the District of Columbia to receive a Race to the Top (RTTT) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. We are thrilled that Maryland received $250 million to continue building upon its already solid record of school reform. So, what exactly does that mean?

It means Maryland will adopt new Common Core State Standards, Curriculum, and Assessments to ensure students – kindergarten through grade 12 – have the knowledge and skills for global competition and success in college and the world of work.Our new reform efforts also mean that Maryland will build a statewide student information system providing parents, teachers, and administrators with better data about their students, schools, and school systems. We will provide additional resources and support to ensure that every classroom and school is led by highly-effective teachers and leaders. We will be working hard to improve low-achieving schools, and we will increase Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) resources starting at the elementary level through high school.

This is a tremendous task, but our new reform efforts will lift our students well beyond the basics – with the expectation that all students and educators will have the tools to be successful for life.During American Education week, our schools invite everyone to visit during their open houses to observe first-hand the high-quality learning that already takes place and to observe the commitment and dedication of our students, teachers, and leaders.

I am confident that, working together, we will move Maryland’s education from national leader to world class leader.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There Is No Letter “I” In The Word Success

I recently had the opportunity to view a re-broadcast of the November 11, 2010 Board of Education meeting. It was interesting to hear the farewell comments from Board members. I was disappointed that none of the current Board members thanked former employees who have lost their jobs or those remaining employees who were furloughed over the past two years for their hard work and dedication. According to a member of the BOE, PGCPS has become a leader in education reform. Such a lofty accomplishment did not come without the sacrifices of former and current employees and their families.

It is because of the work of many of those who are no longer in the system that the reforms have moved forward. The work of those men and women were ignored by members of the Board. I am ashamed that the amazing work of hundreds of people who were forced to leave their jobs due to reasons out of their control were not acknowledged by one single Board member. The failure of the BOE to recognize these individuals may not symbolize a sense of superiority on behalf of the BOE or the current school administration, but supposes a sense of aloofness or worst a disdain for those who do not have a voice.

Whatever successes this administration or BOE champions it did not come without the support and hard work of parents and families. Parents in this system have lost avenues to become engaged. Parents have seen doors closed in their faces. Attempts to silence their voices have reached epic proportions ranging from the lost of Parent Liaisons to the elimination of parental engagement programs and services. However, parents continued to push for an active role in the educational process. Parents and members of the community have respectfully demanded their concerns are addressed. As payment for their support parents only expect a high performing school district with academic rigor and sustainable student achievement through all grade levels.

Finally, parents want a responsive BOE and not one that practices what I call "The Tin Ear Approach". During what I can best describe as an “I” party, the BOE and this current administration failed to acknowledge any role in the successes of Prince George's County Public Schools other than their own.

Please consider joining me and my guest panel on a special Parent Talk, as we examine some of the challenges confronting our school system and how the new BOE will tackle these issues.

Parental Engagement and Prince George's County Public Schools?

While schools are striving to prepare our students for the 21st century, many are doing so without aligned parent and community engagement practices”
(Arne Duncan, 2010).

Just two short years ago Prince George's County Public Schools was on the cusp of becoming a national model in the area of parental engagement. PGCPS was recognized by the Harvard Family Research Project for its innovative approaches to parental engagement. The efforts of Prince George's County Public Schools according to the Harvard Family Research Project identified the school system as an exemplar in family involvement and community outreach.

The parental engagement programs and services implemented in the system by the defunct Department of Family and Community Outreach ushered some amazing levels of parent and community engagement. In a two year span parents and community members supported the schools with nearly three million dollars in volunteer hours. This number far exceeds any similar data reported by other school districts in Maryland. One would be hard press to find any data on the number of volunteers in the schools.

In the year 2008, the Department of Family and Community Outreach created Men Make A Difference Day. This remarkable one day invitation to men and significant male role models resulted in over 10,000 fathers and other male role models visiting schools. The successful first year of the program was followed by another successful outpouring of dads and male role models visiting our schools and meeting teachers. The significance of this event cannot be measured simply by the numbers on that day, but by the continued involvement of these men throughout the school year and beyond. Fathers and overall male engagement increased significantly. In many cases their involvement increased by as much as an 80%. The example of increased male engagement represents a desire of parents in Prince George's County to be actively involved in the academic lives of their children.

However, over the past year and half we have witness a systematic dismantling of the core of parental engagement in Prince George's County Public Schools. The system has moved away from a more centralized approach to parental engagement to one that is de-centralized. This approach has resulted in a haphazard method of parental involvement. Parents no longer have a central office to contact as it relates to parental engagement, instead parents are expected to contact their neighborhood school’s principal, who have now been charged with the overall aspects of parental engagement. While this appears like a wonderful concept, it only served to add an additional expectation onto a workforce that is already in the opinion of many over tasked. Traditionally, principals have served as the parental involvement gatekeeper for their schools, however, they were not charged with the expectations of managing systemic goals and objectives for parental engagement that exist in all other schools districts in Maryland.

When one examines the efforts of Prince George's County Public Schools to have a real partnership with parents, one only need to look at the organizational structure of the system. There is no centralized office were parents can seek support for issues or concerns. There is no designated parent and community web page designed to support their inquiries. Recently, the Department of Student Services has been re-named the Department of Student Engagement and Parent Support. What does this mean? How was the public notified of this change? Does this now mean there are those within the department specifically assigned to support parents? Has a unit within the department been created with an objective to increase parent involvement?

As an individual who has studied and been involved in parental engagement and student services for over 25 years, I concur with research that suggest when parents are informed they have a higher level of engagement.

Currently, in the Prince George's County Public Schools there is little evidence of a willingness to keep parents informed beyond the superficial. Given what appears to be a reluctance of Prince George's County Public Schools to offer authentic opportunities for parents to engage and become informed, beyond a few community sessions with the superintendent what are parents to do? Perhaps the answer lies in the questions proposed to a panel of experts and the United States Secretary of Education Mr. Arne Duncan at a recent National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement, held in Washington, DC.

These questions represent an excellent starting point for the newly elected Board of Education to begin its work on establishing a better working relationship with parents and members of the community.

  • What does the future of family and community engagement look like in Prince George's County Public Schools?
  • How will you incorporate federal, state, and local policies to create systemic family engagement Prince George's County Public Schools?
  • How can student performance data be used to connect families and schools in a significant way?
  • What roles can families play in transforming low-performing schools?

This is my opinion....what is yours?

National Anti-Bullying Week

Anti-Bullying Week sends a clear and positive message that bullying is neither acceptable or inevitable in our schools and communities. Anti-Bullying Week 2010 will take place from 15-19 November. This year we are looking at the importance of Taking action together.

Taking action to stop bullying

Bullying will only stop if we take action together but we know that significant numbers of children and young people who witness bulling still don’t tell anyone or take action to stop it. It might also be parents and carers, other adults and schools and communities who turn a blind eye or don’t take action to stop bullying.

What really works?

We think the majority of children, adults, schools and communities do want to do something to tackle bullying. The problem is that sometimes it can be hard to know who to tell, who can help and what strategies really work.

This year’s Anti-Bullying Week resources pack is packed with information and advice about who to approach and what works in different situations. The pack is free to download and includes guidance for parents, teachers, school leaders, youth workers and those working with children and young people in a range of settings.

Get your school ready for Anti-Bullying Week

Anti-Bullying Alliance supports schools and other settings to plan and deliver their Anti-Bullying Week in the following ways:

For the latest news about Anti-Bullying Week and tips on how you can help tackle bullying keep checking our website. To receive email updates send an email with the subject 'ABW updates' to

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Parent Talks Discusses Financial Literacy and Fatherhood

Parent Talk is a weekly radio show for families and members of the community who aspire to become an integral part of their children’s academic success. Parent Talk is hosted by Michael A. Robinson. Parent Talk is a live interactive broadcast, were listeners have the opportunity to call in and ask questions of the host, guest or to simply comment on the topic of the day. Parent Talk can be heard every other Sunday evening from 8:30pm to 9:30pm (EST).

Our first guest Carmen Johnson Katie Founder/CEO will discuss Financial Literacy Over a decade ago Carmen R. Johnson, President and CEO of the Katie Able Foundation, wrote these famous words: "Do something to justify your existence. Together we can create the future.” With these words in mind, Ms. Johnson decided to pursue her mission of empowerment through financial freedom by first creating her for-profit business Able Estate & Co., and now with the establishment of Katie Able Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to commemorate her grandmother, for whom the Foundation is named. With her experience working in Corporate America and armed with her background in accounting, Ms. Johnson has a wealth of experience in credit counseling, debt elimination and debt relief, and thus has become an expert in debt negotiation and creating wealth.

Our second guest is Dr. Jeffery M. Johnson President and CEO of the National Partnership for Community Leadership(NPCL). Dr. Johnson and host Michael Robinson will discuss Effective Ways To Engage Fathers

Jeffery M. Johnson is President and CEO of the National Partnership for Community Leadership (NPCL). As a national nonprofit intermediary organization, the mission of NPCL is to strengthen the service capacity of nonprofit and community-based agencies to empower youth and families. Prior to his work at NPCL, Dr. Johnson spent nearly two decades as a senior manager and management consultant in the private and public sector. Dr. Johnson is a nationally recognized authority in the areas of leadership, employment and training, urban poverty and youth employment. A particular focus of Dr. Johnson’s work has been on the plight of African-American men and families. He is regularly invited to testify before the United States Congress on matters pertaining to low-income fathers and strengthening families.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kimberly K. Parker: Process vs. Product: The Joys of the Means to an End

Process vs. Product: The Joys of the Means to an End

Parents are the most goal-minded individuals I have ever encountered. But, of course! We must ensure schedules and plans are in place to help us effectively govern our day-to-day activities. I dare not exhaust the “things-to-do list” filled with household management items, J-O-B deadlines, and children activities. It seems to never cease! Typically, moms and dads wake up with a clear picture of how the day will end…before it begins!

Spontaneity, which is not my “friend”, backed me into a corner one evening as I extended the invitation to play Scrabble® with my son…on a school night! Merely seconds away from hyperventilating after coming to my senses (a school night?), I grabbed the game with haste, removed it from the box, and positioned myself comfortably on my living room floor. My son was thrilled, to say the least. Guardedly he stated, “Momma, but it’s a school night. This is cool!”
Our game commenced and for the next fifteen minutes the flow was quite nice. Suddenly, in the midst thereof, I felt an overwhelming urge to read the rules. I just had to be certain that we were honoring the intentions of its creator precisely. While my objective was to win, attaining victory properly was my true purpose! My son, who was waiting patiently to resume playing, turned to me and said, “Momma, can we please just have fun?”

It does not take much for me to pump my breaks! Such a simple request from one who was in this Scrabble® competition for the sheer love of playing with his Momma! Then, it dawned on me: I was operating with a perfectionist mentality and was missing out on the joys of spending time with him in this manner. I was focused on the product (playing and winning the game as designed) and not the process (the loads of fun I could have with my son).

Once I dropped the paper and pushed it to the side, I was able to relax and have a ball! Now, some of the words we created surely did not exist, but who cared? Sore stomachs, tussling over a letter or two, and praying for a chance to use the letter “Q” filled the remainder of our evening. LOL! What a great, spontaneous, non-hyperventilating moment from that point forward! And, I totally became “one cool Momma!”

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your comments with me. Thank you.

Kimberly K. Parker is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children. Visit her website at to read more about her and the work she is doing in her community.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Special Educational Journal

Greetings Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

This is an Educational Journal discussion you do not want to miss. Mothers and daughters are encouraged to participate in this incredible night of conversation.

Parents and PGCPS is proud to announce a special edition of Educational Journal this Wednesday, October 27, 2010 from 7:00pm-8:00pm. This special edition of Educational Journal will focus on African American women.

Our first guest is Shirley Henderson, Associate Editor of Ebony Magazine. In its September edition, Ebony saluted the amazing royalty of African American women with its annual feature of the Campus Queens of HBCUs. Ebony showcased 35 Queens of HBCUs in its Campus Queens Online poll. Ebony wanted to make this a very unique and memorable salute to the Majesties of HBCUs and thus allowed its readers to vote on their favorite queens. In a close, but exciting race, the top ten vote getters were profiled in style with photos taken by celebrity photographer Derek Blanks. What we saw and read was a mosaic of beauty, brains, charisma and hopefulness for the future. Ms. Henderson will share the vision behind her amazing article and the photos of the remarkable Campus Queens of HBCUs with host Michel Davis-Robinson.

In part two of this special educational Journal, we have invited Judge Mary Terrell to discuss the importance of engaging young African American women early with regards to education, life goals and career aspirations. Judge Terrell is an educator and youth advocate. She has spent over 20 years training teachers, administrators and developing educational programs for inner city youth to deter them from the criminal justice system. Her experiences and deep concern for our youth led her to create The High Tea Society, Inc., a non-profit organization for inner city girls ages 9-18 who attend the District of Columbia Public Schools and live in economically challenged communities. The goal of the High Tea Society is to increase the economic and social mobility of inner-city girls from economically disadvantaged areas through exposure to music, literature, poetry, history, career planning, self-esteem workshops, etiquette, and alternative lifestyles. Through various programs, the HTS promotes civility and the development of the social skills needed to be successful in a civil society and in the global community.

Be sure to join us for a remarkable night as we discuss the uniqueness of African American women.

When: October 27, 2010
Time: 8:00pm-9:00pm (EST)
Call in number: 1 (914) 803-4591

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parent Talk

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Parent Talk is a weekly radio show for families and members of the community who aspire to become an integral part of their children’s academic success. Parent Talk is hosted by Michael A. Robinson. Parent Talk is a live interactive broadcast, were listeners have the opportunity to call in and ask questions of the host, guest or to simply comment on the topic of the day. Parent Talk can be heard every other Sunday evening from 8:30pm to 9:30pm (EST).

Our guest Ms. Kim Armstrong will talk with us regarding gang violence and education. She will share how a personal tradgey has impacted her life and how she is now empowering other parents to confront violence.

Show Date: October 21, 2010
Show Time: 7:30pm-8:30pm
Call In Number: 1 (914) 803-4591

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kimberly K. Parker Talks About The Chore Challenges

Chore Challenges

Instilling a true sense of responsibility within our children is a goal my husband and I embrace. Initially, I assigned my children the task of cleaning their respective bedrooms. From there, I moved onto other household chores like assistance with the dishes, laundry, lawn, and the bathrooms. Considering the extent of my “to-do” list, I never reject helping matter how small.

On occasion, my beckoning for assistance was met with resistance. The children quickly asked to be pardoned because, “There’s only five minutes left of the show, Momma!” Then there were times when they reluctantly obliged the request. The deep sighing, overdramatized body language, and slight mumbling clearly indicated that the interruption was inopportune.

Eventually, their frustration was beginning to be met with ours! The lectures (“How many times have we…?”), warnings (“OK! I’m going to conduct a spot check!”), and even idle threats (“You won’t see an after-school dance if...!) were beginning to take its toll. Frankly, I had gotten tired of hearing myself fuss!
Instituting change in my children’s behavior started with changing my behavior. The old adage “If it is to be, it’s up to me!” addresses an often dismissed truth. While it is very easy to point a finger at them, the three fingers pointing back at me reveals who is the most responsible party. So I pondered a way to achieve the results I desired while annihilating the aggravation.

As is my custom, I awaken my family daily. One particular morning, I added a twist: I announced that I had an important announcement to make in thirty minutes. Rapidly, all three children were out of the bed and making their way to the bathroom. Twenty minutes later they were dressed and sitting in their seats asking, “What’s the news, Momma? Tell us!”

I took my time and chose my words carefully in an attempt to build the excitement...and it worked! After side-barring a time or two, I finally said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner of the Cleanest Bedroom Award is…

With dropping draws and widened eyes, my children looked as if they had seen their favorite TV star! As the winner claimed his token of appreciation, my other two children were positioning themselves to win the next time. But, there was a twist: the next announcement would not be about bedrooms, but another category just as important. This way, they will focus their attention completely on the tasks assigned and work hard to complete them all!

Since that day, I’ve given out the “Initiates Homework” award to the child that does her homework without being asked, “Do you have homework?” and the “Yes, Ma’am” award to the child who responds to my requests without debate. I love the change I see in myself and my children! I have minimized my frustration and they have maximized their accountability.

If you find your situation mirrors mine, consider using this “system”. I sure hope it works for you, too.

Kimberly K. Parker is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children. Visit her website at to read more about her and the work she is doing in her community.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parental Engagement with PGCPS Welcomes Mrs. Kimberly K. Parker as it's First Guest Blogger

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

Parents and PGCPS is proud to announce the addition of our first guest Blogger, Mrs. Kimberly Kay Parker. Mrs. Parker will share her views on subjects germane to family, community and education. Her blog postings will appear monthly initially, but will soon become a bi-weekly staple for all engaged parents and dedicated educators to read and enjoy. To read Kimberly's work visit Parental Engagement with PGCPS.


Kimberly is a published author and the owner of Writing Momma Publishing ( She embraces the notion that “writing renews the mind and liberates the soul!” Before Kimberly became an author, she worked as a manager for a very reputable Washington, DC based non-profit organization. With the birth of her first child, she resigned to become a Stay-at-Home Mother and for over nine years she basked in the joy of raising four beautiful children. In 2007, Kimberly returned to the workforce in the field of education. Kimberly is dedicated to a life of service! She understands the importance of charity and models her life accordingly. In 2006, she established the DeBraux Parker Foundation, a non-profit organization on a mission to stimulate, build, and sustain a diverse community of young writers who find commonalities in a shared passion for ideas. Kimberly is married to Reverend Kenneth Anthony Parker who, she attests, " the epitome of beauty and compliments my life beautifully." Together, they lovingly nurture and train their four children: Bricen Anthony, Khalil DeBraux, Kalonji Ameer, and Kalani Kay, who are all gifts from God!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NASA Awards Grants For High School Science Education

NASA will award about $4 million in grants to public school districts, state-based education leadership, and not-for-profit education organizations to support academic excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

The first round of awards is valued at $3.1 million. Each award is expected to leverage NASA's unique contributions in STEM education, enhance secondary students' academic experiences, and improve educators' abilities to engage their students.

A total of eight proposals were selected for funding to school districts and organizations in California, Maine, New York (2), North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. The selected proposals illustrate innovative approaches to using NASA-themed content in support of secondary-level teaching and learning, with a particular emphasis on high school education.
The proposals were selected through a two-step process, merit-based, peer-reviewed competition. The awards have a two-year period of performance, and range in value from $350,000 to $400,000.

The Summer of Innovation Capacity Building Awards are valued at $1 million. They will be shared among institutions that showed student participation in summer learning experiences helped academic performances in the following school year. The Summer of Innovation Capacity Building effort also looked for programs with the potential to be a model for middle school education.

Each funding proposal leverages NASA content in STEM education to build successful programs with a special interest in reaching underserved students and strengthening the bridge between out-of-school and in-school learning programs.

There were 16 proposals selected for funding representing the District of Columbia and these 13 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia (2), Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Virginia (2), Washington and Wisconsin.

For a list of selected proposals in both of these award categories, visit:

Bullying, Harassment and Intimidation

If you saw the recent footage of a father storming a school bus to confront students he claims have been bullying his daughter then you have been made aware of just one of the many horrifying aspects of bullying.

As I have written in the past, the act of bullying is no longer confined to the gravel filled play grounds and hallways of school houses. The act of bullying has moved into cyber space or in another more popular term, it has gone viral. What are parents to do? Where can they turn for support when their children are being bullied? These questions and thousands more like them have parents and families struggling to find ways to protect their children from students who prey on them daily.

The action of that irate father is extreme and undoubtedly represents a fringe form of parent behavior. However, whatever it represented, his behavior captured and displayed a level of anxiety many parents feel as it relates to their children being bullied, harassed and intimidated. When one speaks with parents of children who have been subjected to bullying, it is apparent many families are more than upset they are frighten. Parents I have spoken with have asked why their children are are not protected on playgrounds, school houses and buses, especially when there is adult supervision. My response is simply, I have no idea how excessive and dangerous forms of bullying can take place during adult supervision, as later revealed in a video taped released about the father’s daughter. The video clip shows students throwing items at the young lady. It was reported that one item was a condom. It has been alleged that several of the young men on the bus were seen placing the condom on her head, while others pulled her ears. These unspeakable forms of mistreatment (bullying) were occurring on the bus in the presence of a paid school bus driver. I doubt the driver reported the behavior to school officials. If this is the case and perhaps the norm, I plainly see why parents are frighten.

During my research on bullying, harassment and intimidation in the state Maryland, I came across some startling data. According to the Maryland’s Model Policy To Address Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation released in 2009, the number of student suspensions/expulsions in 2007-2008 were 118,834. A look at the number shows that nearly 4,000 of those suspensions/expulsions were for bullying, harassment or intimidation of students. The report also posited that more than 24 percent of Maryland school districts reported that bullying was a daily or weekly problem. A higher percentage of middle schools reported daily or weekly occurrences of student bullying and student sexual harassment of other students.

What can parents of bullying victims do and what should they know? First, it is important that parents of Prince George's County Public Schools understand the definition of bullying, harassment, and intimidation are anti-social behaviors that are conducted with the intent to cause harm and are characterized by an imbalance of power.

Bullying, harassment, and intimidation is intentional conduct, including verbal, physical, or written conduct, or an intentional electronic communication, that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, or with a student’s physical or psychological well-being and is motivated by an actual or a perceived personal characteristic including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socio-economic status, familial status, or physical or mental ability or disability or is threatening or seriously intimidating; and, occurs on school property, at a school activity or event, or on a school bus; or, substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school. Who should a parent contact regarding as bullying? Dr. Diane Powell, Director Student Services, 301.567.5702.

Next Step: An official from Maryland State Department of Education will be on an upcoming Parent Talk

Visit Parents and PGCPS at:

Take The "Dad's Pledge of Engagement"

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

Please talk to the men, dads, fathters, unciles and other significant male role models in the lives of children to take the "Dad's Pledge of Engagement"

Forest Of The Rain Productions recognizes that fathers and significant male role models have a considerable role in the academic success of children. Forest Of The Rain Productions acknowledges parents are their children's first and most influential teachers.

We are also acknowledging the successes of students are enhanced when an unbreakable partnership between home and school is created. To solidify this partnership; Forest Of The Rain Productions are asking DADS and significant male role models in the lives of Public Schools students to join us in pledging to remain engaged in the academic lives of students. We are asking DADS to pledge to:

  • Observe my child’s classroom at least twice a year
  • Attend a non-sports related school event
  • Visit my child’s school website for information
  • Join and participate in a school’s formal parent organization
  • Volunteer in my child’s school
  • Attend an informational workshop held at my child’s school
  • Attend a school board meeting
  • Assist my child with homework assignments
  • Review and understand requirements for High School graduation
  • Review and understand the role and expectations of an incoming 9th grader
  • Participate in at least one Parent Teacher Conference

Visit the Men Make A Difference Day website:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Men Make A Difference Day is October 11, 2010

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

Do not forget Monday, October 11, 2010 is Men Make A Difference Day (MMDD). MMDD has gone National, several organizations in Chicago, Kentucky, Missouri and other state community based organizations have taken up the cause to get more men actively involved in the academic lives of their children..

Please encourage fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, sons and significant male role models to participate in the 2010 Men Make A Difference Day on 10.11. 10. Visit our website at and find out more about this year's Men Make A Difference Day. Please ask the men to take our Dad's Pledge of Engagement.

Coming soon the Male Summit. This event will bring men from Baltimore, Washington, DC, Virginia and Prince George's County together to discuss the importance of their engagement in the academic lives of children. Stay tune for more information.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Show Title: Parent Talk
Date: September 19, 2010
Time: 7:30pm-9:00pm

Do not miss our next Parent Talk. This special Parent Talk will examine the importance of male teachers in the academic success of African American Males. The lack of African American male teachers has been defined as a nationwide problem (Tate-Billingsley, 2010). Data indicates that only two percent of the American five million teachers are African American males. United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suggested that if America is to reduce the number of African American young men who fail to graduate, it becomes imperative that men of color are teaching (Tate-Billingsley, 2010). During this amazing conversation we will discuss the reasons behind the African American male teacher shortage and its impact on minority students.

In the 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males a study conducted by the Schott Foundation it was reported that the graduation rate for African American Males in the United State has become so dismal that an African American male has a better chance of being incarcerated than they have at earning a high school diploma. According to the report the national graduation rate for African Americans males is 47% compared to 78% of white male students. This represents an achievement gap of 31%. Maryland has a graduation rate of 55% which is 8% higher than the national average and places the state in the top of states with a large minority population. Baltimore County is also making great strives in the number of African American males earning a high school diploma. According to the report, Baltimore County African American male students graduate at a rate of 67% compared to 74% for white male students creating an achievement gap of only 7%.

Invited guest for the first show includes:

Dr. Roy Jones is lecturer and executive director for the Eugene T. Moore School of Education's Call Me MISTER Program at Clemson University. The mission of the Call Me MISTER (acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role-models) Initiative is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader more diverse background particularly among the lowest performing elementary schools.

Mr. Bryan G. Nelson
is the Executive Director of MenTeach. He understood the importance of teaching and wondered, "If teaching is so important, then where are all the men?" He began by developing a brochure, Real Men, Real Teachers. He was joined by Bruce Sheppard and other men (and backed by supportive women) to offer a workshop at a state professional conference to find more men (and women) who believed that it is important to have men teachers.

Dr. Wayne A. Beckles
is an Assistant Professor for Human, Public and Legal Services at Baltimore City Community College in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a Licensed Certified Social Worker with a clinical specialization. Mr. Beckles has twenty years of experience in the field of social work and his clinical practice focuses on working with men on issues of anger, aggression, depression, identity and loss.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An exclusive interview with Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Maryland's State Superintendent of Schools

An exclusive interview with Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Maryland's State Superintendent of Schools can be heard on The Journey Begins Internet Radio for the engaged parent and dedicated educator.
For the second straight year, Maryland’s public education system received number one rankings in 2010 from Education Week; the College Board for Advanced Placement performance; and, once again, Newsweek for the highest percentage of rigorous high schools in America. We should all be truly proud for these consistent and remarkable accomplishments.


First Lady of Education A woman of courage who dared to make a difference. A tireless advocate for education These are just a few of the phrases Maryland’s media and civic leaders have used to describe Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland’s first female state superintendent and the U.S.’s longest serving appointed schools chief. Dr. Grasmick is known for her strong focus on student achievement, teacher quality, parent involvement, public school funding, and early childhood education.

Under Dr. Grasmick’s leadership, Maryland is nationally recognized for its many achievements. In January 2008, Education Week—the U.S.’s leading education newspaper—ranked Maryland’s public school system 3rd–best in the nation and said that Maryland is the country’s mostconsistently high–performing state.

The ranking is based on more than 150 indicators, including scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); high school graduation rates; Advanced Placement performance (an indicator on which Maryland ranks #2 nationwide); and the alignment of preK–12 education with early learning, college, and work place expectations. Many of the pioneering policies enacted over Dr. Grasmick’s 17–year tenure—instituting an explicit preK–12 curriculum; developing statewide assessments and holding schools and school systems accountable for their results; disaggregating performance data by race, poverty, disability, and English fluency—have become commonplace in American classrooms.

Dr. Grasmick’s career in education began as a teacher of deaf children at the William S. Baer School in Baltimore City. She subsequently served as a classroom and resource teacher, principal, supervisor, assistant superintendent, and associate superintendent in the Baltimore County Public Schools. In 1989, Governor William Donald Schaeffer appointed her Special Secretary for Children, Youth, and Families and, in 1991, the Maryland State Board of Education appointed her State Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Grasmick received her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, her master’s degree from Gallaudet University, and her bachelor’s degree from Towson University. Her numerous board and commission appointments include the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, the U.S. Army War College Board of Visitors, the Towson University Board of Visitors, and the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education. In 2005, she was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences committee responsible for Rising Above the Gathering Storm, the landmark report on U.S. economic competitiveness.

Dr. Grasmick has received many awards for her visionary leadership, including the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education. In 2007, Loyola College in Maryland awarded Dr. Grasmick its President’s Medal in honor of her professional accomplishments and service to the community. She was also named a 2007 Influential Marylander by The Daily Record.

Dr. Grasmick is the 2006 recipient of the prestigious Education Commission of the States’ James Bryant Conant Award for her outstanding contributions to American education. In 2005, Maryland’s education head quarters was renamed the Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Building. In 2004, Dr. Grasmick was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. She also received the Johns Hopkins Woodrow Wilson Award for Government Service. In 2003, the Education Commission of the States gave Maryland its State Innovation Award for excellence in education policy development.

That same year, Dr. Grasmick was inducted into The Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence, an honor bestowed only on those named to the newspaper’s Top 100 Women list more than three times. In 2001, Dr. Grasmick was presented the Ronald McDonald Foundation’s Spirit of Children Award for her advocacy and support of young children. Dr. Grasmick is a frequent guest columnist in such journals as Education Week, Educational Leadership, and School Administrator. Her innovative ideas and proven successes have been featured in such media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the BBC.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Message From Baron Howard, CEO of Entrepreneurs Success Business Network (ESBN)

Entrepreneurs Success Business Network (ESBN) specializing in creating and delivering Youth and Adult Empowerment programs. ESBN provides a number of programs based on the 12 Successful Life Principles, designed to provide a basis for sound and solid decision making and build future business owners and community leaders.Asbury Economic Development Corporation and ESBN have planned an event Saturday, October 9, 2010 “The Power of Thought” at the Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington DC, with Keynote Speaker Mr. George Curry, to raise funds for the Leaders of Today (LOT) Mentoring Program for Youth.

We are asking for ticket sponsorship for youth and adults to attend this worthwhile event. Tickets are $5 for each youth (17 & under) and $10 for each adult. We are requesting you sponsor a block of 5 tickets @ $25.00 for Youth and @ $50 for Adults. Your effort in ticket sponsoring could make the difference in someone missing an opportunity to partake of this valuable information.

In return for your ticket sponsorship, your company will be included in all promotional materials leading up to the event as well as listed in our program for the day. In addition, 2 of your company representatives are encouraged to attend the event, and will be admitted at no charge.

Our goal is to sponsor at least 100 Youth and 100 Adults. Therefore, any contribution you’re able to provide for this event is welcomed. Please complete the attached Ticket Sponsorship and return by September 15th, along with your tax deductible check made payable to: Asbury Economic Development Corp.For more information on the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Mentoring Program and other programs facilitated by ESBN, we invite you to visit our website, Your consideration in complying with this proposal is greatly appreciated.

Baron J. HowardCEO ESBN – Entrepreneurs Success Business Network

Parent Involvement through PTA Helps to Make Great Schools for All Children

According to the Maryland PTA website:

Parent Involvement through PTA Helps to Make Great Schools for All Children

How often is you school PTA communicating with parents? Do parents know what your PTA does on behalf of children each and everyday in school communities?

Parent involvement spans a broad range, from the parent who makes sure that their child is dressed and fed, to the parent who comes into school to volunteer, to the parent who takes it upon himself to learn all of the school system’s initiatives and programs. Research has shown that when parents are involved in their children’s schools their child is more successful in school. Schools benefit by partnering with parents to have needed support for all children. It is a win-win situation for all.

PTAs should encourage and support all parents in volunteer efforts for children in their school communities each and every day. Each day make it your PTA goal to ask at least one person to join and support your PTA advocacy efforts on behalf of all children. Parent involvement encourages children to be more engaged in their school communities as well as to support the academic success of children.

Photos of the 2010 Parental Engagement Conference

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The Middle School Years

Visits From Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators