Providing a strong voice for Maryland's nonpublic school community
Maryland Education Leaders Gather for Annual Breakfast Event With State Officials
On Tuesday, the Maryland chapter of the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), held its 2015 Spring Breakfast. The annual event, hosted this year at the Weinberg Jewish Community Center in Baltimore, drew an impressive crowd of educators and leaders from across the spectrum of faith-based and independent schools. The event merged together excellent networking and information sharing opportunities along with a chance to interact with Maryland's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian Lowery, several state legislators, and other state education officials. Additionally, the event included the presentation of awards to individuals who have been vital to the success of nonpublic education in Maryland.
The program commenced with words of introduction by Rabbi Larry Ziffer, CEO of the Center for Jewish Education, who served as the event co-host. Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Agudath Israel’s Mid-Atlantic regional director and president of Maryland CAPE, was the event’s chair and welcomed the gathering thanking the many people who traveled from a long distance to attend, especially those who “braved - not one, but two beltways”. In his “State of the CAPE” address, he shared a thought on one of the prevailing themes in Sefer Bamidbar/Book of Numbers - G-d’s repeated counting of the Jewish people, as signifying His great love for each individual. “Each person is a world of its own”, he exclaimed, “and so is each and every child in Maryland. We must do whatever we can to make sure each Maryland child has the best and most appropriate educational options available to him or her, to ensure they will succeed in life and create their own world.”
Mr. Joe McTighe, the national executive director of CAPE was introduced by Maryland CAPE committee member, Mr. P. George Tryfiates of the Association of Christian School International (ACSI). Mr. McTighe talked about the role school choice programs play in areas where the demographics present challenges to many children and families. “Giving parents the ability to choose where they educate their children enables them to be in control of the direction of their lives and how they will end up”, he said.
Eleventh grade students from Bnos Yisroel of Baltimore make a special presenation to Dr. Lillian Lowery, Maryland's Superintendent of Schools
An extensive legislative report on education issues that were addressed during the recently completed legislative session in Annapolis was delivered by Rabbi Sadwin and Mr. Garrett J. O'Day Esq., of the Maryland Catholic Conference, who also chairs Maryland CAPE’s steering committee. They recounted the highs and lows of the session – much of which revolved around the Maryland Education Credit (BOAST) bill which received unprecedented attention in 2015 due to the emphasis placed by newly elected Governor Larry Hogan on education reform. Other items highlighted in the report included the continued level funding for nonpublic school textbooks and technology purchases and the renewed allocation for nonpublic aging facilities grants, as well as policy modifications that were made to anti-discrimination protocols and upgrades to contracting requirements to ensure student safety.
That was followed by a brief update delivered by Maryland CAPE vice president, Dr. Mary Ellen Hrutka, on the 2015 Summer Institute for teacher recertification. This annual seminar, funded by Title II funds, has registered over 600 nonpublic school teachers for the upcoming program who seek to hone their skills and update their credentials to be ready for the next school year.
Senator Nathaniel McFadden receives the Champion of Education award from Rev. Curtis Turner, Dr. Barbara Edmondson, and Rabbi Ariel Sadwin
Next on the agenda was the presentation of the 2015 Civic Achievement Award. Mrs. Zipora Schorr, Director of Education at the Beth Tfiloh Community School was called upon to make the presentation to Mr. Ron Goldblatt, the retiring executive director of AIMS - the Association of Independent Maryland Schools. An attorney by trade, Mr. Goldblatt gave up the practice of law to be an educator. After many years in the classroom, he served as a principal in the independent schools, before becoming the head of the network of Maryland independent schools. Along the way, he served a term as president of Maryland CAPE and maintained an active role in education related legislation. Mrs. Schorr lauded Mr. Goldblatt’s excellent leadership of the independent school network and his deft ability to problem solve in an even-keeled manner.
Rabbi Sadwin then introduced Dr. Lillian Lowery, the State Superintendent of Education to address the gathering. He shared a recent experience with Dr. Lowery having joined her as she made a visit to Bais Yaakov Elementary School to meet and interact with students and staff. She clearly demonstrated a feeling of responsibility to ensure the success of all Maryland children. Dr. Lowery was greeted at the podium by four Bnos Yisroel of Baltimore juniors who made a special gift presentation to her on behalf of all nonpublic school students across Maryland. Dr. Lowery expressed her appreciation for the work of Maryland CAPE on behalf of the nonpublic schools and the strong relationship it has fostered with MSDE throughout the years, especially notable during the tenure of her predecessor, Dr. Nancy Grasmick. She firmly acknowledged the vital role played by Maryland’s nonpublic schools in giving increased options to the children of Maryland.
The final item of the program was the presentation of the 2015 Champion of Education award. Rev. Curtis Turner, the principal of Saint Francis Academy in Baltimore City was called upon together with Dr. Barbara Edmonson, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to present Senator Nathaniel McFadden with the award. Senator McFadden, a career public school educator and administrator, has served in the Maryland Senate since 1995, and is its current President Pro Tem. He has used his position on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to help secure vital funds for the use of nonpublic schools and to defend the invaluable role of nonpublic education in the state. In accepting his award, the senator shared with the assembled his deep passion for education and working to help all children - regardless of the type of school they attend - receive education benefits from the state. Senator McFadden lamented the failure to pass the Maryland Education Credit bill this year and called upon House Speaker Michael Busch to step up and rally the bill’s opponents in the House to do what’s best for Maryland’s children and allow this bill to pass.
The 2014 Annual Spring Breakfast Event
(L-R) Dr. Lillian Lowery, Del. Jim Proctor, Mrs. Ruthy Wolman, and Rabbi Ariel Sadwin
On Thursday, May 15, the Maryland chapter of the Council for American Private Education (Maryland CAPE), held its annual Spring Breakfast, gathering the leaders of Maryland’s nonpublic schools and state education officials. The annual event, hosted this year at Forcey Christian School (a member of ACSI – the Association of Christian Schools International) in Silver Spring, drew close 100 educators and school leaders from across the spectrum of faith-based and independent schools. The event merged together excellent networking and information-sharing opportunities with a chance to interact with Maryland's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian Lowery, and other leading state education officials. Following what began with last year’s breakfast event, the 2014 event also included the presentation of awards to individuals who have been vital to the success of Maryland's nonpublic schools.
The program began with welcoming remarks delivered by Mr. P. George Tryfiates, ACSI’s director of government affairs and member of the Maryland CAPE steering committee, who then introduced Rev. Zeke Wharton, the administrator at Forcey Christian School. Rev. Wharton greeted the gathering and spoke briefly about the history of the school and his community. He then introduced Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Agudath Israel’s Mid-Atlantic Regional director and the president of Maryland CAPE, to begin the program.
Rabbi Sadwin began by lauding the graciousness of the host school for helping facilitate the event and acknowledged the many new faces joining in for a Maryland CAPE event for the first time. He then acknowledged the presence and participation of CAPE’s national leader and executive director, Mr. Joe McTighe, and called up Mr. McTighe to offer greetings to the gathering.
Rabbi Sadwin then delivered the annual “State of the (MD) CAPE” report, bringing the assembled up to speed with the continuous progress made by Maryland CAPE over the last year and mentioned some of the nonpublic school legislative highlights of the recently completed 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly. That provided the appropriate segue to call upon Mr. Garrett O’Day Esq., the associate director of the Maryland Catholic Conference and chair of the Maryland CAPE steering committee, to deliver a more comprehensive legislative report. Mr. O’Day went through in detail the status of the nonpublic school benefit items in the state budget, the potential opportunities for pre-K students as a result of the passing of the Pre-K expansion pilot program, and discussed the scholarship tax credit legislation, the Maryland Education Credit bill, which did not pass this year. He emphasized the vital role that all schools can take in the advocacy process by staying informed and engaged in all of the relevant issues and being in touch with elected officials.
The program continued with Deacon Bert L’Homme, superintendent of Catholic Schools at the Archdiocese of Washington, who gave greetings and then called up Maryland's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian Lowery. Dr. Lowery, began her words by acknowledging the excellent work of Maryland CAPE representing the needs of Maryland’s nonpublic schools. She further lauded the terrific partnership that exists between her staff and Maryland CAPE, and their joint efforts that make up a large part of MSDE’s nonpublic workgroup that has been a tremendous asset to the nonpublic schools over the years. She presented her perspectives on the legislative session – especially the items that were beneficial to nonpublic schools – and praised the MSDE staff members who have dedicated so much time and effort to carry out these programs.
After Dr. Lowery concluded her remarks, a sixth grader at Forcey, Amy Mishra, presented the superintendent with a beautiful floral arrangement and shared with the gathering a potpourri of classic education poetry and witticisms.
Proceeding with the awards portion of the program, Rabbi Sadwin called upon the executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, Mrs. Mary Ellen Russell, to address the gathering and present the Champion of Education award to State Delegate Jim Proctor. Mrs. Russell reminisced with the assembled about her many legislative sessions working on education measures with Delegate Proctor and how he truly championed the cause of nonpublic schools time and again despite opposition. In his response, Delegate Proctor, a career educator and longtime member of the Maryland House of Delegates, was visibly moved by the presentation and warm reception. He deflected the terms “hero” and “champion” away from himself, and stated, "I'm just doing what I think is right and just for these deserving children”.
The next award presented, and new for 2014, was the Civic Achievement Award which went to Mrs. Ruthy Wolman. Mrs. Wolman has spent her entire career in the field of education, serving for many years in the Jewish day schools of Baltimore in various capacities. More recently she served as the day school liaison for the education arm of Baltimore's Associated Jewish Federation, the Center for Jewish Education (CJE). She also served as a vice president of Maryland CAPE and a co-chair of the MSDE Nonpublic Workgroup. In those capacities, she was able to help all nonpublic schools in Maryland receive increased access to vital resources and services through many of the federally funded Title programs. The award was presented by Mrs. Julia Rogers, the director of government funded programs for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, a longtime friend and colleague of Mrs. Wolman, who praised her leadership and guidance.
To round out the breakfast, Dr. Mary Ellen Hrutka, the vice president of Maryland CAPE and executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Catholic Schools Consortium, delivered parting words reminding all of the participants to stay engaged and informed of all Maryland CAPE happenings – especially the soon-to-be-available guidelines for the funding programs that will provide great benefit to the schools.
The 2013 Annual Spring Breakfast
Maryland Private Schools Welcome New State Superintendent, Present Education Award to State Senator
State Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery receiving a welcoming gift from students of the Bais Yaakov School at the Maryland CAPE Breakfast (Photo Credit: Opa Parazzi)
On Wednesday May 22, the Maryland chapter of the Council for American Private Education (Maryland CAPE), held its annual Spring Breakfast, gathering the leaders of Maryland’s nonpublic schools and state education officials. The event, held in the Straus Auditorium at the Weinberg Jewish Community Center in Baltimore, drew an impressive crowd of faith-based education leaders and marked the nonpublic school community’s first formal introduction to Maryland’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian Lowery, since she began her tenure last July.
The program began with welcoming remarks by the event co-hostess, Mrs. Amian Kelemer, Associate Executive Vice President at the Center for Jewish Education, who then introduced Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, Agudath Israel’s Mid-Atlantic Regional director and the president of Maryland CAPE, to begin the program. Rabbi Sadwin shared with the gathering some of the efforts and accomplishments of CAPE – on both the state and national level. He spoke about the strong interaction that exists between the nonpublic schools and MSDE (Maryland State Department of Education) – with numerous areas of education and school operation enhanced as a direct result of the relationship. He took a moment to pay respect and acknowledge the passing of Mr. Andrew Topps, a longtime MSDE official, who oversaw the Nonpublic School Textbook Program since its inception. The program has provided tens of millions of dollars to the nonpublic schools for the purchase of textbooks, curriculum, and technology components – since its inception more than a decade ago.
Before introducing Dr. Lowery, Rabbi Sadwin called up a quartet of students from Bais Yaakov of Baltimore who shared a thoughtful poem to honor the Superintendent and a then presented her with a beautifully decorated vase and floral arrangement as a welcoming gift. Dr. Lowery was taken by the warm and gracious reception she received and commented that she was thrilled to be able to work with the nonpublic schools in her role as superintendent, something for which she had not had the opportunity in the leadership positions she held previously in other states. She thanked her predecessor, longtime Superintendent, Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, for creating a rich environment at MSDE for which she hopes to benefit all students in Maryland – in all types of schools.
Photo caption: (L) Dr. Barbara Edmondson, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Baltimore; and (R) Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, director of Agudath Israel of Maryland and president of Maryland CAPE presenting Maryland CAPE’s “Champion of Education” award to Senator Ed DeGrange
After Dr. Lowery’s informative and inspiring words, Rabbi Sadwin directed his remarks to the annual event’s new item, the awarding of the inaugural Maryland CAPE “Champion of Education” award. The award, which was founded to honor an elected official in Maryland who displays dedication and support for the educational opportunities of students attending nonpublic schools, was presented to Senator James “Ed” DeGrange, Sr., a state senator from Anne Arundel County.
Senator DeGrange has had a long record of working to provide all students in Maryland with the maximum of educational options regardless of the kind of school they attend - public or nonpublic. He has been the sponsor of the well-known BOAST scholarship tax credit legislation since its inception and has always worked hard to successfully secure the allocations for the programs that benefit nonpublic schools via his role in leadership of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Just last month in the waning days of the legislative session, Sen. DeGrange secured an additional $3.5 million allocation for the nonpublic schools to be used to update aging school buildings and to improve building security.
Rabbi Sadwin called upon Dr. Barbara Edmondson, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to present Senator DeGrange with the award.
In his accepting of the award, the Senator expressed how touched he is by the honor and thanked the gathered folks for selecting him as the inaugural awardee and commented, “While we have done a lot to help the students of nonpublic schools, our work is not done and we won’t rest until the needs of the students – especially those less fortunate – are properly addressed.”
Rabbi Sadwin observed that the impressive gathering was an indication that all of the faith-based and independent schools are working together as a team to serve the collective needs of their school populations. He commented, “We will continue to cultivate these vital relationships to ensure that the nonpublic schools are truly valued by the State of Maryland as a worthy counterpart to the public schools. Both Dr. Lowery and Senator DeGrange are supportive of that and we hope to see endless benefit from these partnerships.”