March 2015: Vol. 6, No. 8

FCPS Achieves Excellence
State- and Nationwide

FCPS has a history of excellence state and nationwide. Here are achievements in areas where our leaders, teachers, other staff and students have placed first or won significant state or national recognition since the last school year.

Outstanding School System Leader in Gifted & Talented Education: Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban (2015, Maryland Advisory Council for Gifted & Talented Education)

Outstanding Teacher Leader in Gifted & Talented Education: Secondary teacher specialist for Advanced Academics Maureen Corio for her instrumental role in establishing the middle school Highly Able Learner (HAL) program (2015, Maryland Advisory Council for Gifted & Talented Education)

School of Character: Catoctin HS (2015, Maryland Center for Character Education) School counselor Dana Brashear spearheaded the school's positive character initiatives.

Maryland Blue Ribbon School Kemptown ES achieved one of six 2015 awards.

Outstanding Career and Technology Center Student Organization (2015, Maryland State Department of Education) Our Career & Technology Center's SkillsUSA program, with advisor Martha Lowry

*Maryland's only 2015 Milken Educator Award and a $25,000 cash prize: Yellow Springs ES 1st grade teacher Maggie Hawk

*The state-level 2015 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest and $20,000 in technology resources to protect the watershed:  Monocacy MS science teacher Andrea Maruskin

*The 2015 state-level Poetry Out Loud competition: a Tuscarora HS student in Linda Henry's English class

*Maryland Masters Awards for excellence in visual arts: Students in Beth McFarland's FCPS Arts & Communications Academy class; Karen VanKirk's West Frederick MS class; and Sarah Presnell's Lincoln ES class

*Maryland Thespian Festival's top awards for best lighting, best hair and makeup, and outstanding One-Act: Tuscarora HS; English teacher Dorothy DeLucci heads the program (Ten FCPS students were named 2015 All-State Thespians.)

*1st place in state-level 2015 Young Authors Contest short story categories: a 2nd grader in Spring Ridge ES Jennifer Knox's class and a 3rd grader in Oakdale ES Kelly Crum's class.

Maryland Sports Champions:  FCPS placed 1st in 29 fall and winter sports competitions.

On the NATIONAL scene...
College BoardAdvanced Placement (AP) and SAT 2014 scores for FCPS students continued to exceed those of national (and state) peers.

National SkillsUSA Among the top 10 in 2014: Ten FCPS Career & Technology Center (CTC) students. Their teachers: Philip Arnold, Adam Frank, Martha Lowry, Jenny Maher and Jo McGovern

ACE Exemplary Mentor Among 5 honorees nationwide in 2014: CTC's Computer-Aided Design teacher Philip Arnold

National Mini-Urban Challenge Walkersville HS Pre-Engineering instructor James Thuman's Engineering Club Dream Team students placed 2nd (2014)

Excellence in Financial Reporting For the 6th consecutive year, FCPS earned this Certificate of Achievement for accurate and full disclosure in governmental accounting, the highest form of recognition from the Government Finance Officers Association in 2015.

President’s Volunteer Service Award from the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community program for volunteering significant time: a Frederick HS senior

Employee Excellence
Fulfilling the Promise of Public Education

PhilBittnerWalkersville HS Principal Tracey Franklin says that custodian Phil Bittner has Walkersville Pride through and through:

"I can recall only a few days over the past two years when he has not worn something blue and gold to work! Phil holds himself personally accountable for the outside appearance of the school. The WHS landscape is only complete after Phil's work is finished outside on the mower, clearing the sidewalks, prepping the athletic fields, etc. Our grounds are well maintained and ready for use. Because of the work and commitment of Walkersville HS’s Custodial Team, WHS is open for business...and at the HEART of that crew is Phil Bittner! 

"Phil is beloved by students. Every day he mingles with the kids at lunch, speaks to all the teaching and administrative staff on lunch duty, and makes the lunch staff feel welcome. His personality simply makes us smile. Phil is truly one of the unsung heroes behind the scenes helping make our school welcoming and inviting to all!"

See what students said about Mr. Bittner.

Thank you to all custodial and maintenance staff who worked hard to keep our schools and offices running smoothly this winter, managing snow and ice, frozen pipes, leaks and more! 

Congratulations to all staff earning First-Class Employee awards since our last newsletter: Leigh Currens, Paula Lawton, Christopher Olsen, Eugenia Ropp, Jason Rubeling, Megan Travers and Sandy Truax.

Know someone who deserves a First-Class Employee award? Take a moment to nominate an outstanding employee!  If the person's a support employee, you may want to go for even bigger recognition as Support Employee of the Year!

How about a teacher who loves the Ravens? Nominate a teacher for the Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank's Touchdown for Teachers Award. The deadline is Friday, April 3:


WellnessAppleFLU FIGHTERS  FCPS earned a 2014 Flu Fighter Award from LifeWork Strategies for outstanding efforts to prevent influenza, thanks largely to the work of HR senior manager Colette Baker and benefits coordinator Tiana Haile. Offering at-work clinics and promoting good health habits are critical to helping stop the spread of flu. 

WELLNESS The winner of the systemwide New Year, New You challenge is Middletown MS, with an average 734 points per person!  See the photo, with math teachers Meagan Byrd and Linda Foster, art teacher Lynn Severn, social studies teacher Linda Caron, secretary Stacy Foland and benefits coordinator Tiana Haile in the back row, and assistant principal Judith Hale and science teacher Liz Martz in the front.

ACADEMIC The Middletown HS team, with coaches John Kirkendall and David Thomas, won this year's county-level Academic Tournament.

EPIC SUCCESS Our Earth & Space Science Lab directors Lisa Bruck and Jeff Grills hosted the Most Epic Pi Day Ever on March 14, with 400 people registered for the Pi Day run! See a collage of Pi Day photos. Kudos to Steve Blickenstaff for a stellar logo design.

CARING At a recent talent show, the Linganore HS National Honor Society,with advisors Dan Lake and Beth Sands, raised $1,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Maryland.
BLOSSOM TIME For the past 3 years Monocacy MS art teacher Cheryl Banes has collaborated with the National Park Service and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Her students produce artwork displayed during the festival to encourage visitors to decorate a mural later sent to Japan. Our students' pictures are scanned and are also sent to Japan for display at a school in Mitaka, used on the park service's handouts, Facebook page and more. We, in turn, receive artwork from Japanese students.

INNOVATIVE  Ballenger Creek MS American Studies teachers Michele Goins and Joan Horman are featured in the Capital Gazette for participating in a seminar on Treaty of Paris.

YEAR'S BEST See each school's 2015 Teacher of the Year. Check back to see the countywide winner and finalists!

News to Use

CALENDAR  As of March 26, we have used 9 snow days. This is 4 beyond the 5 already built into the calendar. To make up the 4 days, students will attend school on April 1, June 16, 17 and 18.  The April 1 Teacher Work Day is moved to April 2.  The June 15 2-hour early dismissal is moved to June 18.  The last teacher day at this point is June 19.

IMPORTANT BUDGET UPDATE  After years of severe economic constraints and working to refrain from increasing class size, the BOE has budgeted an increase in class size formula for the 2015-2016 school year by one student at each level--elementary, middle and high. Even with that budget reduction, our funding outlook remains bleak. The County Council's public hearing on the BOE budget is Monday, April 20 at Oakdale HS. You'll find the full FY16 revised budget timeline, the BOE's recommendations, results of the BEACON report detailing the strong economic impact of public education in Frederick County and more at

HealthWellnessExpoLogoSAVE THE DATE  The FCPS Health and Wellness Expo for all employees is Thursday, April 30, 4:30-7 PM at Gov. TJ HS. Plan now to take advangage of free testing and learn helpful information about your health.

TAKING SUMMER CLASSES?  Support employees:  Check out new options for direct pay: The link is also a handy resource for all employee benefits.

SPREAD THE WORD  Elementary schools started accepting registration for Kindergarten and applications for PreK on March 16. Early registration helps schools plan adequate staffing. Please encourage everyone with children turning 5 by September 1 (or 4 for PreK) to register as soon as possible.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES March is National Social Work Month. According to Ann Hammond, supervisor of Psychological Services and School Therapists, FCPS has 18 school therapists and a number of social workers in other roles such as Pupil Personnel Workers, program specialists at Heather Ridge School, student support teachers, CASS coordinators and others. Their work is key in helping students overcome obstacles to their education.
FCPS Business Academy
IN BUSINESS Starting the 2015-16 school year, FCPS, in conjunction with Frederick Community College, will launch The Business Academy, offering our high school students the opportunity to enroll in a series of college-level courses to earn an FCC Business Management Certificate of Completion. Students will earn FCC and FCPS credits; with successful completion, they will earn 24 college credits. Though offered only at Gov. TJ HS, the Business Academy is available to ALL FCPS high school students.

CODE BLUE? Monday, January 26, held challenges for some support employees about who was required to report. As a result, FCPS will forgive the day for 10-month support employees who reported to work that day by adjusting their work year (whether on the 189, 190, 195 or 208 workdays calendar) to reflect ONE FEWER duty day (with no loss in pay). This means that 10-month support employees who reported to work on Monday, January 26, 2015, are not required to report to work for their last duty day in June 2015. 10-month support employees who DID NOT report to work on Monday, January 26, 2015, are required to work all remaining assigned duty days. Personal/annual leave WILL NOT BE CHARGED for January 26. If you have questions, please contact your immediate supervisor.

NEW FACE IN A KEY PLACE Following Ralene Damanti's retirement, please welcome Kathy Whitcomb as the new budget coordinator for Special Education.

REORGANIZATION See the newest FCPS Organization Charts.

OwlMOOD LIFTER  You have until Tuesday, March 31 to take in the free Youth Art Month show with hundreds of colorful student entries at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center!

DISTINGUISHED Nominations for Linganore HS Distinguished Graduate Awards are open until Wednesday, April 1. If you know a Linganore alum who has gone on to make a noteworthy contribution in academics, athletics, business, arts and humanities, public service or science, please send your nomination to Include the nominee's name, graduation year and a brief (2 or 3 sentence) description describing the nominee's achievements as well as contact information for the nominee:  mailing address, email address or phone number. Those already honored are listed here:
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Academic Tournament Championship Match

FCPS In a Minute Playlist

 FCPS All-Stars:  Rebecca Hageman   Sarah Alderman    Karine Ptak   Larry Dotson

Off the Cuff:  Favorite Teacher    Parallels to Golf    Elementary Math   Empowering Students   Excellent Weekend

FCPS Fast Fact

Q:  Where does the FCPS dropout percentage rank among Maryland's 24 school districts?

A:  2nd lowest: 3.91%

Neighboring county's rates are:
< or = 3.00 Carroll
5.59 Montgomery
6.54 Washington

Maryland's highest dropout rate:  16.75% Prince Georges