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July 6, 2009
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

Maryland State Board Member Blair Ewing, a passionate advocate for children in Montgomery County and throughout the State, died last week after a courageous battle against cancer. He has worked tirelessly to improve education for minority students, and his contributions will be felt for decades to come.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

* * *

Maryland has been well served by the state residents like Mr. Ewing who have given countless hours of services to education through the State Board. Our Board is losing a number of members, and each of them deserves our profound gratitude.

Dunbar Brooks from Baltimore County was first appointed by Governor Parris Glendenning in 2002 and reappointed by Governor Robert Erhlich in 2005.

Richard Goodall from Kent County was appointed by Governor Ehrlich in 2005.

Dr. Karabelle Pizzigati from Montgomery County was appointed by Governor Glendenning in 2001 and reappointed by Governor Ehrlich in 2005.

Derek Wu from Wicomico County was appointed the student member of the State Board by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2008.

Rosa Garcia from Montgomery County was appointed by Governor O’Malley in 2007. She is resigning from the Board for personal reasons prior to the end of her term.

Each of these members brought a passion for student success, plus important personal insights, to their role as board members. They have helped fashion the educational policies that have made Maryland public schools the envy of the nation. We cannot thank them enough.

* * *

One of the great joys of working in Maryland education is to serve alongside many top administrators. Two of our best were honored last month before the State Board of Education.

James Richardson and Dana McCauley

James Richardson and
Dana McCauley

Dana McCauley from Crellin Elementary in Garrett County is the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) Principal of the Year, while James Richardson of Highland Park Elementary in Prince George’s County is the MAESP Assistant Principal. Both of these administrators are strong instructional leaders and have helped improve their schools in countless ways. I’ve always said that I’ve never seen a great school without great leadership, and these two individuals exemplify this notion.


July 21 – State Board Meeting

July 29-31 – Maryland Principals Academy

In the News

State Education Leaders Seek to Help Autism Families

Students Look to the Future
Southern Maryland News Online

Why High School Students Drop Out of School
Baltimore Sun

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More than 500 Maryland educators, community leaders, and students came to Randallstown High School in Baltimore County last month to begin constructing new ideas to stem the dropout problem.

Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown helped to open the conference.

Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown helped to open the conference.

“Brighter Futures: Maryland’s Dropout Prevention Leadership Summit,” cosponsored by America’s Promise, attracted participants from all 24 schools systems.

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown said that Maryland’s leadership in education has helped the state reduce its dropout rate over time, but he added that the current economic situation facing the nation requires that more be done.  “Every child needs the benefit of a high school diploma,” he said.  “We have a lot of work left to do.”

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said a lack of a high school diploma can be felt by both the individual, in terms of lost income over a lifetime, and the state in terms of lost tax revenue. 

“Dropping out is a process that does not begin in high school,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “It begins very early on.”  She noted that signs of a potential dropout emerge through poor attendance, improper behavior, and insufficient work in class.

Dr. Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, agreed that absenteeism and poor grades are indicators of potential dropouts.  He said that effective models exist to stem the dropout problem, and urged local school systems to develop variations that meet individual needs of students in their communities.

Attendees during the afternoon broke into local teams to begin work on solutions to the dropout situation in their communities.  A follow-up meeting is being planned for early 2010, with local plans to be integrated into each system’s 2010-2011 Master Plans.

Dropout Prevention Leadership Summit

June 22, 2009
MSDE joins with the America's Promise to co-sponsor a statewide Dropout Prevention Leadership Summit. The event at Randallstown High School in Baltimore County features representatives from all Maryland jurisdictions, in an effort to find new solutions to the problem.


Students at the SEED School of Maryland, the statewide public residential program, have made great strides according to a report last month to the State Board of Education.

For example, 67 percent of students entering the school this past fall scored below grade in reading.  By the end of the school year, only 25 percent were below grade level.  Similar progress took place in mathematics.

The SEED School of Maryland is a publicly funded residential education program for at-risk students.  Drawing from students throughout the state, it opened in Baltimore last August with 80 sixth graders.

SEED administrators, who run a similar school in Washington, DC, will open for their second year this fall, expanding to 7th grade and serving up to 160 Maryland students.  Meanwhile, last year’s sixth graders will have a busy summer.  Each of them have been given homework for the summer designed to help them maintain their progress.

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