April 2013: Vol. 4, No. 9

FCPS High Schools Rank in the Nation's Top 10%
All Make the 2013 Challenge Index!

All nine of our eligible* high schools placed in the top 10% of the nation's 22,000 public and private high schools, according to The Washington Post 2013 Challenge Index. This is at least the seventh consecutive year that all FCPS high schools have achieved among the nation's top on the Challenge Index.

According to The Washington Post reporter Jay Mathews, using data from the most recently completed (2011-2012) school year, the 2013 Index recognizes schools that challenge students, engaging not just academically advanced but also average students in college-level courses and tests.

Just "using test scores to compare schools gives too much weight to parental income--the key factor in student achievement--and too little weight to what educators are doing to raise the achievement of every child."  In contrast, Challenge Index schools have significant numbers of low-income students and challenge them as well, he says. 

This achievement is a strong example of how FCPS delivers on the promise of public education to reach, challenge and prepare every student for college and career readiness.

More about the 2013 Challenge Index

*Oakdale HS is not yet eligible as it did not have a graduating class in 2012.

Employee Excellence
Fulfilling the Promise of Public Education

Brent SmithDocument production specialist Brent Smith knows what it's like to work on a deadline. He manages over 1,000 jobs per year at a cost of over $400,000. In addition to handling everyday printing needs for schools and central office staff, he manages curriculum materials including tests and elementary report cards. In his 2nd year at FCPS, Brent provides exceptional customer service to the many schools and departments that rely on FCPS Communication Services for their printing needs. 

Brent's supervisor commends him for outstanding dedication in working to complete top-quality materials for this year's Superintendent and BOE budget meetings. Despite frequent last-minute updates and revisions to numerous tables, charts and text, Brent remained calm under pressure and supplied everything in time for the Rally Around the Promise, BOE public hearing and other community events. He went above and beyond his typesetting duties to catch and correct errors and to improve formatting without being asked.

FCPS is fortunate to retain first-class employees like Brent, who works diligently to prepare top-notch documents for printing, compares estimates to save us money, and then manages all outsourcing for completion with approved vendors.

Congratulations to other staff earning First-Class Employee awards since our last newsletter: Barbara Ferguson, Mardy Holt, Faith Hoover, Joan Ingraham, Roy McHaffa, Amy Murdoch and Albert (Butch) Remsburg.

Also commended for excellence as our 3 finalists for Teacher of the Year: Erin Doolittle, Karl Kidd and Kelly Merrbach; see photos and more!

See a message from Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Steve Lockard commending FCPS outstanding teachers!


Carnegie Hall LogoIt's not often that a teacher gets invited to accompany her award-winning student to Carnegie Hall. When Monocacy MS language arts teacher Julaine Nichols assigned an essay to her 8th graders and then recommended that Khloe Quill enter her essay, Hourglass, in a regional contest, she had no idea it would go on to win a national silver Scholastic Art & Writing Award. You can sign up to watch the May 31 ceremony via Webcast. Kudos to Ms. Nichols and other teachers who have helped Khloe learn to do "work demonstrating high honors at the national level" through the years: Andrea Baker, Jill DahlgrenSherrie HohnkeMichelle HunsbergerKay PhillipsJacci Rizzo, the late Allison Stitely and Deb Wilcox. Khloe's proud mom is Parkway ES school counselor Heather Quill.

PUBLISHED Based on his HIV research internship at the National Cancer Institute, Gov. Thomas Johnson HS senior Kelsey Canizales co-authored an article published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

SAVING US $$ Human Resources senior manager Colette Baker earned FCPS a $25,000 scholarship that allows 500 benefited employees (or family members) to take an online Financial Fitness Challenge free instead of paying the usual $50 tuition.

NATION'S BEST The Frederick ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) team of FCPS high school students is 1 of 3 national finalist teams in the seventh annual Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT)-ACE Design Competition. The students will compete against the other two finalist teams, from Iowa and Rhode Island, April 30. Our Career and Technology Center Architectural Computer-Aided Design (CAD) teacher Phil Arnold serves on the ACE Board of Directors and teaches several of the team members. The Frederick ACE Chapter won first place at the national level in 2008 and 2011.

Steve RaffBEST IN COUNTY  Linganore HS health and physical education teacher Barbara Ferguson (with flowers below and, left to right, Principal Dave Kehne, student Brooke Evans and Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban) earned Frederick County's 2013 Washington Post Outstanding Teacher Award. Centerville ES principal Stephen Raff (left) earned the county's 2013 Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award. Watch the videos!
Barbara Ferguson








News to Use

Wellness AppleLAST CHANCE Friday, April 19 is the deadline for up to 1,000 benefited employees to earn an extra $25 in a May paycheck by completing Benefits 101. It's quick and easy: Just read the information and complete the questionnaire at www.uhctogether.com/FCPS.

INVEST IN YOURSELF FCPS helps you take control of your finances to keep more of what you earn. The first 500 benefited employees who sign up may take the online Financial Fitness Challenge free. E-mail invitations have gone to benefited employees to take Personal Finance Management, Smart Saving & Investing or Best Retirement Planning Strategies, with a final reminder coming from campaigns@educatedinvestor.com to anyone who hasn't registered by April 21. You or a family member may register and learn at your own pace. Those registered will get an e-mail welcome on Monday, April 22 to begin the course. Participants are entered in raffles for prizes each time they complete a section!

NEGOTIATIONS The Frederick County Teachers Association (FCTA) and the Board of Education have reached a tentative agreement on salary and benefits language for the 2013-14 school year. The FCTA Board of Directors voted to send the new proposed contract language to its members for a ratification vote. The FCTA Board is recommending that teachers ratify the proposed agreement. Salary and benefits were the only items to be negotiated this year as the rest of the contract language is in place until July 1, 2014.  Features of the tentative agreement include a step increase for all eligible teachers, implemented on July 1, 2013, a 9% increase in insurance premiums for both the Board of Education and employees and $5 increases in employee co-pays for doctor visits and prescription medications. Ballots are due back to FCTA by Friday, May 3. If the Association receives a majority to ratify, final action comes before the Board of Education. Negotiations with the Frederick Association of School Support Employees (FASSE) and the Frederick County Administrative and Supervisory Association (FCASA) are ongoing. More

BUDGET  All are invited to share education funding priorities at the Board of County Commissioners public hearing Tuesday, May 7, 6 PM at Urbana HS. See the current budget booklet and budget handout.

EXCUSED?  Thursday, April 25 is national Take Your Child to Work Day. FCPS does not endorse the day, meaning that as a school system we neither discourage nor encourage participation; we do not list the date in our Calendar HandbookHowever, some schools have created structured educational programs for this day as part of their career-awareness efforts. FCPS will count students present for the day when they participate in a structured program and meet the requirements for satisfactory completion. Students who do not participate in such a structured program but still take the day to shadow their parent(s) at work--and who bring a note from the parent to that effect--will receive an excused absence.This applies to both boys and girls, although the program was originally created as a way for women to encourage their daughters to sample career opportunities outside the home.

Lily WherryNEW FACE COMING TO A KEY PLACE Frederick HS junior Lily Wherry (left) will take over as student member of the Board of Education July 1 when Brandon Wharton's term ends. Lily garnered the most middle and high school student votes among five candidates.

TV GraphicFCPS TV  Check out the newest programs, not listed elsewhere in this issue, available on demand.*

Bring Your Own Device 
Teach in Maryland's Premier System: Frederick County Public Schools

*The BACK arrow will return you to this page.

FCPS Factoid

Q:  Can you name the FCPS employee who designed the Frederick County Knucklers marble shown in the photo?

A:  Media artist Stephen Blickenstaff created the design for the countywide youth program dedicated to teaching kids about marbles. See the design at the Frederick Tourism Office. You will also find Steve's artwork and photography at the FCPS Earth and Space Science Lab and in logos and designs all across the school system!