All, welcome back! As we rise to the flow of full-swing – testing, grading, planning, and communicating with parents as the quarter ends – my message this week is the defining characteristics that make OM a fantastic selection as a lighthouse school. Our Lighthouse application required completions of three parts: demonstration of commitment, demonstration of innovation, and supporting signatures from our assistant superintendent, Dr. Bedell, and our PTSA President, Mrs. Harriet Schuster. As part of our demonstration of innovation, we were required to describe unique circumstances and/or characteristics about our school that will make use an excellent Lighthouse School.
Of course, one of the main reasons OMHS is such an exceptional candidate is because of the fantastically dedicated teachers and staff. In hitting submit this afternoon, I was proud to tout our staff and our readiness and willingness to take on this new challenge. I’ll keep you posted on our status:
You will find that distinctive demographics of our student body, our unique position in the community, and the need, desire, and readiness of staff to transform instruction are all defining characteristics that make Owings Mills High School an exceptional candidate to be a Lighthouse High School.
Owings Mills High School is a diverse microcosm of Baltimore County with 59% African American students, 21% Hispanic students, 21% White and Multi-racial students, and 6% Asian students; 58% of students receive Free and Reduced Meals, including a number of homeless students and students served in nearby group homes. A growing ESOL population, with English Language Learners now making up 24% of the student body, will be well-served by the personalization and access to technology a Lighthouse School provides. Many ESOL students come to us with varied educational backgrounds making it near impossible to meet such diverse needs with current resources. Leveraging technology to personalize learning for students in a one-to-one environment will change the lives of our students. The transformation of instruction at Owings Mills High School will bring to fruition the vision and mission to engage these diverse students with 21st Century Skills necessary to achieve and succeed in an ever-changing global landscape.
With five feeder middle schools, staff at OMHS work diligently to shape and maintain a reputation of excellence within the feeder schools and greater community. Teams of teachers and students visit schools and represent OMHS in the community to bring students and community members together and unite them with our story of excellence, diversity, and success. Becoming a Lighthouse School will provide the opportunity for OMHS and its students and staff to become leaders and innovators in modeling high quality, blended and personalized instruction for teachers and administrators in BCPS and around the world. Becoming a Lighthouse School will help Owings Mills High School tell its story of innovation, excellence, diversity, and success.
More important than our diversity or unique position in the community is the desire of our instructional staff to transform their instruction. As secondary teachers, staff teach content well; becoming a Lighthouse School will provide professional development and a sense of urgency to empower teachers to metamorphose instruction and teach children well. Teachers recognize and embrace the need to innovate, change, and improve what we do in classrooms everyday if we are to exceed student achievement expectations and prepare all of our students for solving problems in a world we cannot foresee.
I do not envy the decision you have in determining the next BCPS Lighthouse Schools, as the decision is substantial in changing the landscape of teaching and learning, not just in BCPS, but in our state and nation. Demographics analogous to BCPS, including service to high needs students in our 24% ELL population, as well as our distinct locus in the community, and the heartfelt aspirations of the administration, teachers, and stakeholders make Owings Mills High School a brilliant selection as one of Baltimore County Public Schools’ next Lighthouse Schools.