Margaret Brent Student Spotlight: Janae

You’ve seen her in our recent open house flyers, now here’s her story.  Janae, a middle school student at Margaret Brent, expands her verizon daily and rises to the occasion. A recent attendee of Baltimore’s Outward Bound Summer program (a summer program focusing on youth development and leadership in the outdoors), Janae talks about her love of teamwork, leadership, and her favorite 29th St Community Center afterschool program: Robotics!

1. Why did you participate in the Baltimore Outward Bound Summer program?

I was immediately interested in the program when I heard it had a strong focus on leadership development. I asked my mom more about it and whether or not I could participate, she seemed to agree that it would be a good experience. The Outward Bound program involved 10 days on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania without any access to showers/bathrooms. It was definitely a different experience for me and a bit out of my comfort zone.

How did you feel before leaving? Were you nervous or hesitant?

Yes, of course! I was totally nervous and hesitant because I had never done something like this before, but two days in I found my stride. It was the people, the other attendees, I was with that really helped me feel more at ease. I was a little homesick at first though.

3. How did you feel during the program? What did you learn?

During the program, I could feel my confidence growing and I felt more at ease getting to

know the other kids I was with. I felt really proud of myself for doing things outside of my comfort zone like climbing really, really big rocks or reaching the top of a mountain. It made me feel like if I can do this, I can do anything. I know this might seem small to someone else or “so what”, but it’s important to me. I also learned more about teamwork and just how important that is. Before I left for Outward Bound, I didn’t enjoy working in teams; I really preferred working on my own. After Outward Bound, I love working with other students. Also, I still wake up at the same time every morning since Outward Bound: 6:30am.

4. What advice would you give other students considering this program?

Bring deodorant! No, what I really recommend bringing is some sense of confidence, not“cockiness”, but enough confidence that will allow growth. Be comfortable with yourself.

5. What do you enjoy the most about the 29th Street Community Center Robotics Program?

I really enjoy creating things; starting something from scratch and making it real. I really like to express myself and the Robotics program at 29th Street allows me to do just that. It’s fun but also educational and allows for a space where we can teach each other. Outward Bound helped me be more suited to the teamwork/inclusive environment that exists within the Robotics Program.

6. What are the competitions like?

Oh, they are crazy. I still get the jitters every time before I go to one. I think I have been now to around 10 and they are all held at different schools or community centers.

7. How about the award you won?

I won the innovation award last year with the Robotics Program. You receive this award for maintaining your engineering book well and keeping notes that are understandable. I also built the only robot in my competition that could hang. It was suspended 2 feet in the air.

8. Finally, what do you hope to accomplish in your future?

My mom always tells me, “don’t bite off more than you can chew”. I try and do as much as I can to keep me motivated and happy even on top of school work and babysitting. I really just want to be like Beyonce. I am an expressive person and love pursuing the arts and singing.

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Arts Integration at GSCV

The faculty at Barclay and Margaret Brent are busy incorporating new learning programs with an emphasis on STEM and the arts.  These engaging learning opportunities not only enhance academic curriculum, but also cater to a variety of learning styles in the classroom!  Both schools are furthering Arts Integration into curriculum this year. The John F. Kennedy Center defines arts integration as “an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject and meets evolving objectives in both.”

Students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at Margaret Brent recently completed an integrated project on tessellations, which allowed them to integrate  fine arts with their regular math curriculum. Tessellations are patterns created by repeated, geometric shapes. Students did a fantastic job on these projects, demonstrating a clear knowledge of the concepts at hand. The staff at Greater Homewood Community Corporation interviewed the art teacher, Mrs. Prince, to discuss the importance and facets of Arts Integration.

Why do you think arts integration is valuable?
Arts Integration is valuable because it engages students to make personal connections to what they are learning in some form of expression.  Arts Integration generates more memorable learning experiences to elevate cognitive development.”

What other subjects do you plan on collaborating with? Can you give an example of a project you would like to see?
Along with Math, I enjoy integrating science and social studies in projects.  English, or Language Arts, go hand in hand with visual arts because language is developed by their visual literacy.  An example of a project I would like to see is the performing arts used within the classrooms.  As we expand Arts Integration, I look forward to seeing students engaged in even more drama and dance with their education.

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National Principals Month

In honor of National Principals Month celebrating the hard work of school principals nationwide, Great Schools Charles Village has taken the opportunity to showcase our very own community school principals at Margaret Brent and Barclay Elementary and Middle School. A students’ success signifies a great school, but the key to a great school truly is a great principal. Next month both our schools will be having their Fall Open House, so take this opportunity to read about our wonderful Principal Smith of Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School.

1. What led you to become principal of Margaret Brent Elementary Middle school?

After two years of service as the Facilitator for School Support Network 8 – that had me traveling to and supporting 11 different schools, I was ready for a more permanent home.  Margaret Brent was one of the schools that I worked with and when Dr. J. shared with me that she was contemplating retirement, I started thinking about the possibility of pursuing the principal-ship of Margaret Brent. The principal selection process was a very interesting experience. On July 30, 2013, the Board of Commissioners approved my appointment as principal, and the experiences have been instrumental to my continued growth and development as a leader.

2. What is something you have learned in your education that you still use and helps you as principal today?

One of the things that I learned in my education, as a little girl, that I still use as a principal is to treat others the way that I want to be treated. Every morning I give this message to the students via morning announcements. I think this is a good message for students, staff, parents, administrators, community partners and any other stakeholders – treat others the way that you want to be treated. The same level of respect, responsiveness, commitment, care and consideration that you would hope to receive from others, be sure that you are found giving that to others on a regular basis.

3. How do you best motivate your students, teachers, and parents?

I try to motivate through support. Regardless of whether I am working with students, staff or parents, I want to be sure that proper supports are in place. One of the things that I have said repeatedly since I have been here is that “the expectation is EXCELLENCE”. I have had discussions with students, staff and parents about what that means, and I have and continue to work to put the proper supports in place so that excellence can be realized by students, staff and parents. I believe that people are motivated to reach new level and achieve higher standards, if they know that they will be supported in the process.

4. How do they motivate you?

As an educator, my main motivation comes from my students. My first priority in the decisions that I make are my students and how they will be impacted by my decisions. From the time I was in the classroom, it has always been about my students first and foremost. I do not take lightly the influence that I carry as an educator and even more so now that I am an educational leader. I want to provide my students with a good example of a professional that cares about them, has high expectations of them, puts boundaries and structures in place for their safety, works with various stakeholders on their behalf and wants them to thoroughly enjoy their childhood and their time at Margaret Brent Elementary Middle School.

5. Do you have any surprising skills and/or special duties besides principal?

Surprising skills… I play the viola :)

Special duties – My favorite special duty is what my family has termed “Aunt Duty”. I have a niece and nephew that I absolutely adore. Aunt Duty sometimes means they are hanging out with me on the weekends. Sometimes Aunt Duty means that I have to use my educator skills to assist with projects or help to make sense of Julius Ceasar (now we are working on Macbeth). My other special duty is dog owner. I have a 2 year old chocolate brown Cockapoo named Hershey. He is my favorite dog ever – he is also the only dog I have ever had :) .

6. Who is your modern day hero?

I admire and respect anyone who operates with a high level of integrity and transparency. I like to know that people are loyal and trustworthy, and that whatever they are tasked with doing they do it to the very best of their ability.

7. If you were a school supply (crayons, pencil sharpener, piece of paper), what would you be and why?

If I were a school supply I would be an eraser. An eraser is used for correcting mistakes and sometimes in my role as an educator/principal, I have to correct mistakes that have been made by others or that I have made. Erasers are important because they provide a safeguard to let people know that you don’t have to be perfect and that if a mistake is made, it can be erased and corrected.

8. What’s the first thing you love to tell prospective parents about Margaret Brent?

I like to tell parents that Margaret Brent is a school that is in transition, we are going from being a good school to a great school. I encourage parents to join in the journey by having their child enrolled and by participating in the various opportunities for parents to be involved around the school.

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Fall Open House

Mark your calendars for the upcoming open houses at Margaret Brent and Barclay Elementary/Middle Schools on November 19th and 20th. Come learn more about your neighborhood school: meet parents, teachers, principals, and find out more information about our innovative work with Johns Hopkins University.

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