Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Study: Youth exercise leads to cognitive development

Monday - 9/29/2014, 4:52am  ET
Paula Wolfson

WASHINGTON -- New research shows that when children exercise their bodies, they are exercising their brains as well.

Scientists at the University of Illinois followed 221 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds for nine months. Half were in an after-school fitness program; the others, on a wait list.  The scientists found that those in the exercise group not only became more physically fit, but also their cognitive skills improved -- most notably, their ability to stay focused and shift easily and accurately from one cognitive task to another.  Specialists in children's health see the findings as more evidence that exercise has an important role to play in boosting the overall health of children.  "I think exercise has a lot of different effects, and it is not just about getting your heart rate up or burning "X" number of calories," says Dr. Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician who works in the emergency room at Children's National Medical Center.

Read more HERE.

University system poised to establish stronger presence in Southern Maryland

Drone research is a ‘huge, unrealized opportunity in this region’
Staff writer
September 26, 2014
Southern Maryland News

William “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said Tuesday that a new unmanned aerial vehicle test site and plans for a research center in St. Mary’s herald a new era in the region for the state’s public colleges.

“We plan to substantially grow our presence in the region,” he said Tuesday during a keynote address at the annual Southern Maryland Navy Alliance dinner in Historic St. Mary’s City. The university is “already making this vision a reality.”

The university has agreed to gradually assume leadership of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, currently run by an independent board and located in California just across from the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.

Kirwan anticipates that a third building housing academic studies, business incubation and research could be open on the existing campus as soon as the spring of 2018. Even before that time, Kirwan said, university faculty will begin creating a hub advancing the development and use of unmanned systems, commonly called drones.

It is an effort he said could be as successful as the higher education center at Shady Grove in Montgomery County, where educators have helped build an academic and commercial bioscience culture around the existing National Institutes of Health. In Southern Maryland, Kirwan said, the higher education center could grow with the help of technology developed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and businesses looking to support that work’s application to commercial purposes.

Read more HERE.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Board wants staff, public to weigh in on facilities study

The Board of Education is hosting three public forums to provide information about a facilities report evaluating all Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) schools and centers as well as renovation and school construction recommendations for the next decade.

CCPS has scheduled the following sessions to present information to the public about the survey report, answer questions and accept comments:

  • Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, 6 p.m., Sept. 22, in the cafeteria;
  • La Plata High School, 6 p.m., Sept. 29, in the auditorium; and
  • Maurice J. McDonough High School, 6 p.m., Oct. 13, in the auditorium.
Last school year, the Charles County Commissioners approved payment for a comprehensive survey to assess the physical condition of each school building and site to determine its ability to provide students with a modern education program aligned with CCPS educational specifications. CCPS contracted GWWO Architects to compile and analyze data including school capacity, student enrollment, physical building conditions, staff survey responses, mechanical system conditions and site characteristics. The Board of Education, on Aug. 25, received the report from GWWO and the school system’s supporting services staff.

The next steps, according to Keith Hettel, assistant superintendent of supporting services, are to analyze the GWWO report, inform the public and solicit input; continue with current Capital Improvement Program (CIP) submissions; discuss affordability and forecasts with county government staff; revise CIP submissions at the county and state level; and work with the state on CCPS decisions on future renovations and new construction.

The complete report is located on the Board of Education’s Board Docs area at http://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/ccpsmd/Board.nsf/files/9NBNWZ61FB52/$file/GWWO-Study-DRAFT-description%20sheets_4102014.pdf.

Communications staff earns top school public relations awards

The Charles County Public Schools communications department recently received five top awards in the 2014 National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) National School Communications Awards program.

Department staff received two Golden Achievement Awards, which recognize exemplary work in all aspects of school public relations, communication, marketing and engagement. The awards highlight communications plans used for teacher retention efforts and developing an international language center.

Recognized with awards were the communications plans used to implement the New Teacher Bus Tour held in conjunction with new teacher orientation activities, and outreach tools used with the launch of the Secondary Academy for International Languages (SAIL) at Maurice J. McDonough High School. The two awards are among more than 90 Golden Achievement Awards distributed to school systems nationwide.

Three videos produced by communications staff also received awards in the Publications and Electronic Media portion of the awards program. This area of the contest recognizes outstanding work in all types and forms of education communication, including print, electronic, video, audio, websites and social media.

A video titled “The Portfolio of James Richmond” received an Award of Merit, which is the second highest electronic media award given by NSPRA. The video features the longtime educational career of former CCPS Superintendent, James Richmond.

Two videos – “The Evolution of Telepresence in CCPS,” which highlights the use of Telepresence technology used in CCPS, and the “Port Tobacco One Room Schoolhouse,” which highlights how the school system uses the schoolhouse to teach students about history, each received Honorable Mention awards.

Communications department staff includes Katie O’Malley-Simpson, director of communications; Kyle Graves, video production specialist; Kara Gross, communications multimedia assistant; Shelley Mackey, communications specialist; and Gary Nagel, web developer.

This is the second consecutive year that the department has received awards through the NSPRA Communications Contest. Each year, NSPRA sponsors a national communications contest to recognize school districts for their efforts in school public relations. NSPRA was chartered in 1935 and provides school communication training and services to school system leaders throughout the United States, Canada, and the U.S. Dept. of Defense Dependents Schools worldwide. For more information on NSPRA, visit www.nspra.org.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

CCPS named to Maryland School Breakfast Hall of Fame

Charles County Public Schools has been named to the Maryland School Breakfast Hall of Fame for achieving more than 70 percent breakfast participation systemwide during the 2013-14 school year. A total of 17 schools and centers were also recognized for high breakfast participation rates last school year. According to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Charles County Public Schools had the third highest breakfast participation rate of 71 percent across Maryland counties.

Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School topped the list in Charles County with a participation rate of 104 percent. Gale-Bailey Elementary School had the second highest participation rate, with 103 percent, followed by J.P. Ryon Elementary School with nearly 101 percent. Participation rates include reported meal totals for November 2013 and April 2014.

Additionally, the following schools and centers were named to the Maryland School Breakfast Hall of Fame:

·         Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School, 100 percent;

·         Mary B. Neal Elementary School, 99 percent;

·         F.B. Gwynn Educational Center, 98 percent;

·         Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, 97 percent;

·         J.C. Parks Elementary School, 94 percent;

·         Indian Head Elementary School, 94 percent;

·         Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, 89 percent;

·         C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, 86 percent;

·         Henry E. Lackey High School, 85 percent;

·         Eva Turner Elementary School, 84 percent;

·         Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, 83 percent;

·         Arthur Middleton Elementary School, 76 percent;

·         Piccowaxen Middle School, 74 percent; and

·         General Smallwood Middle School, 72 percent.

As an overall school system Hall of Fame inductee, Charles County Public Schools will receive a Governor’s citation and each school and center will receive a recognition certificate for their participation in the school breakfast program. A recognition ceremony will be held later this fall to honor schools and school systems for their Hall of Fame selection. Staff from Neal and Lackey was asked to represent CCPS at the ceremony.

The recognition program is part of the 2014 Maryland School Breakfast Initiative, which focuses on providing children with a healthy school breakfast. The initiative is a statewide effort launched through Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, with support from Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, MSDE, the Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.

The initiative also includes the Maryland Breakfast Challenge, which seeks to expand the state’s school breakfast program to 10,000 additional students through challenge prizes and incentives and by emphasizing the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast, which can raise academic performance and reduce absenteeism. Principals can enroll their schools in the challenge – and interested parties can find more information about the program – at www.MarylandBreakfastChallenge.org.

The 2014 Maryland School Breakfast Challenge partners include the No Kid Hungry campaign, the Maryland State Department of Education, Action for Healthy Kids, Family League of Baltimore, Maryland Hunger Solutions, Maryland State Education Association and the Mid Atlantic Dairy Association.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This 17-Year-Old's Brilliant Invention May Lower Accidental Gun Deaths In America

Huffington Post

Seventeen-year-old Kai Kloepfer's idea for a finger-print sensitive smart gun came to him in a dream. This week, the Colorado teen won a $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation with the hopes of bringing that vision to life.

In an interview with FOX's Denver news channel KDVR, Kloepfer said that he believes his invention could improve America's gun safety and reduce accidental gun deaths. He describes a design that is simple and user-friendly.

"All you have to do is pick the firearm up and the way you naturally rest your hand on the firearm unlocks it," he says. "So you don't have to swipe or anything like that."

The design uses fingerprint sensors to prevent anybody but the gun's owner from firing a bullet. Because the gun can be programmed to store an unlimited number of owners, Kloepfer's invention could even be used by police forces and military units.

Previously, Kloepfer entered his design in the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where he was ranked in the top 34 out of 7 million high school students.

Read more HERE

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Board increases GPA, attendance rules for sports, clubs

The Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously voted to increase grade and attendance requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities and athletics.

The new requirements take effect next school year, but students’ grades the second semester of this school year will impact their eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities in the fall of 2015. The new rules require students to maintain a 2.25 grade-point average with no failing “F” grades to participate in any extracurricular activity, including sports. Additionally, students may not be absent more than 9.5 days in the previous semester.

The change raises the standards from a 2.0 grade-point average and takes effect with the 2015-16 school year. Incoming ninth graders are no longer automatically eligible to participate in fall sports or clubs the first semester; the student’s second semester grades in eighth grade will determine eligibility. Students promoted from fifth to sixth grade are automatically eligible to participate the first semester.

Currently, students must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 and receive no more than one failing grade per quarter in order to participate in extracurricular activities.
The Board also approved the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Eligibility for fall extracurricular activities will be based on a student’s second semester grade-point average at the end of the previous year.
  • Eligibility for winter extracurricular activities will be based on a student’s second semester grade-point average at the end of the previous year.
  • Eligibility for spring extracurricular activities will be based on a student’s first semester grade-point average.
  • If a student receives a failing grade in any quarter, they are ineligible for the remainder of the season and semester. Students cannot gain eligibility at interim.
  • Any student who receives a failing grade for the semester is ineligible for participation for the following semester.
  • Students academically ineligible at the end of the second semester cannot regain eligibility by enrolling in summer school.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 9/9/14

The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, August 12 will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at http://www.ccboe.com/ . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.

Executive Session – 12 p.m.

Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance – Westlake High School
Superintendent’s update to the Board - See report

Correspondence/board member updates
  • Bowie - timely notice for PK families regarding notification process; calendar - 2 hour early dismissal days, reevaluation; Common Core math challenge the board to take the math sheets.
  • Pedersen - Hunger in the county is an issue; Tri-County Food Pantry.
  • Lukas - 5K race at Thomas Stone; St. Charles High School Saturday night fascinating.
Education Association of Charles County update - See Report

Student board member’s update - See report

Oral Update on Opening of schools
  • 5 new Principals; 8 new Vice Principals
  • New vaccine requirements; health department providing

Oral Update on Summer School
  • 92 Middle School; 409 High School; 614 credits; 31 different classes;
  • Financial Literacy

Visitor Mangement System - See report
  • New Security Sign-In Procedure

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) update - See report
  • Pedersen - Relocateables at Somers?
  • Abell - Update relocateables on report
  • Abell - need for Feasibility Study

FY 2014 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan - See report

Instruction Update Computer Science - See report
  • Coding K-12
Unfinished business

New business

Future agenda items

Public Forum – 6 p.m.
  • Ron Wade - Athletic Eligibility proposal.  Concerned about the "F" especially for AP students.

Action items
  • Minutes
Motion to accept the minutes Abell; Second by Cook
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Personnel
Motion to accept the personnel Cook; Second by Abell
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise

  • FY 2015 CIP state and local CIP program
Motion to accept the CIP Lukas; Second by Cook
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • CIP Amendment
Motion to accept the CIP Amendment Cook; Second by Pedersen
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Policies 5161.1
Motion to accept Policy 5161.1 Cook; Second by Pedersen

Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Academic eligibility grade-point average
Motion to accept the Academic Eligibility GPA Cook; Second by Pedersen
Yes = Abell, Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise
  • Recurring resolutions: American Education Week; American Freedom Week; African-American History Month; Career and Technology Education Month; Gifted and Talented Education Month; National School Counseling Week; Read Across America; Women’s History Month; Fine and Performing Arts Month; Month of the Young Child; National Student Leadership Week; Teacher Appreciation Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week; National Physical Education and Sport Week; Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader; Charles County Teacher of the Year; Employees Retirement; and Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.
Motion to accept the Recurring Resolutions Cook; Second by Pedersen
Yes = Bowie, Cook, Lukas, Pedersen, Wise; Abstain = Abell

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 9/9/14

The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12, and is rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system website www.ccboe.com. Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab.

Executive session – 12 p.m.
Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance – Westlake High School

Superintendent’s update to the Board

Reports of officers/boards/committees
·         Correspondence/board member updates
·         Education Association of Charles County update
·         Student board member’s update
·         Opening of schools
·         Capital Improvement Program (CIP) update
·         Report item: FY 2014 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan
·         Legislative update

Unfinished business
New business and Future agenda items

·         New business
·         Future agenda items

Public Forum – 6 p.m.
Action items
·         Minutes
·         Personnel
·         FY 2015 CIP state and local CIP program
·         Policies 5161.1
·         Athletic eligibility grade-point average
·         Recurring resolutions: American Education Week; American Freedom Week; African-American History Month; Career and Technology Education Month; Gifted and Talented Education Month; National School Counseling Week; Read Across America; Women’s History Month; Fine and Performing Arts Month; Month of the Young Child; National Student Leadership Week; Teacher Appreciation Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week; National Physical Education and Sport Week; Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leader; Charles County Teacher of the Year; Employees Retirement; and Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Vaccination requirement deadline is Sept. 15; clinics available

The state health department is requiring kindergarten and seventh-grade students to get additional vaccinations this school year. Failure to receive the immunizations or provide proof of updated shot records by Sept. 15 could lead to the exclusion of students from school.

Charles County Public Schools kindergarten students are now required to have two doses of the Varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine and seventh graders must have one dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis/whooping cough) and one dose of the Meningitis (MCV4/Meningococcal) vaccine. These are new requirements for the 2014-15 school year from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and updated shot records for these students must be provided to the school within the first 20 calendar days of the school year.

The 20-day calendar rule is required by law under the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). By law, if proof of immunization (an updated shot record) is not provided to the school by Monday, Sept. 15, students will be suspended. Students will be reinstated once proof of the new vaccinations is received.

Students can receive the new vaccinations from their physician. The Charles County Department of Health is also hosting vaccination clinics on Thursday, Sept. 4 and Thursday, Sept. 11, both from 3 to 7 p.m., to provide students in kindergarten and seventh grades with new vaccinations required this school year.

The Charles County Department of Health is located at 4545 Crain Highway, White Plains, Md., 20695. Appointments for either clinic are preferred and can be made by calling the Health Department at 301-609-6900, ext. 6018. Parents attending the clinics should bring a copy of their child’s shot record.

These are in addition to the already required vaccines of DTaP, polio, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), chickenpox (Varicella), hepatitis B, Hib and prevnar.

The MCV4 vaccination protects students from certain meningococcal bacteria that can lead to meningitis or sepsis. After students are initially vaccinated before seventh grade, an additional booster shot is recommended at age 16. Typically, MCV4 is a required vaccination for college/university students; however the State Department of Health has found it necessary for students age eleven and older to receive these vaccinations.

As for Tdap, the original vaccination received in early childhood for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (DTaP) wears off; therefore a supplemental booster shot is suggested at age eleven for continued protection against the bacteria that causes these diseases.

Parents with questions about the vaccinations should contact their child’s physician or the nurse at their child’s school.