ACT-SO Program in Full Swing

The NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

ACT-SO includes 26 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, business, and performing and visual arts. More than 260,000 young people have participated from the program since its inception.

March is Women’s History Month

Each year, March is designated as National Women’s History Month to ensure that the history of American women will be recognized and celebrated in schools, workplaces, and communities throughout the country. There are several activities being offered at the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center. Every event is geared toward women.

This year’s theme, Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment, honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come. They have demonstrated their character, courage and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political and community leaders, relief workers, women religious, and CEOs. Their lives and their work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women’s experience.

The lives and work of the 2014 Women of Character, Courage and Commitment Honorees span the centuries of American history and come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  National Women’s History Month 2014 provides an excellent opportunity to honor women and their accomplishments.

How to drive safely when the weather is bad

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared and that you know how to handle road conditions.

It’s helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you’re familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner’s manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads

1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists. *Maryland Law requires that when you are driving with your windshield wipers, your headlights must be on.”

4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.

5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads. Be careful and drive safely in this weather.

        Hilton Worldwide Teacher Treks Program

A Scholarship Opportunity for K-12 Teachers!

Announcing the launch of the Hilton Worldwide Teacher Treks Program 2014 for K-12 teachers! The Hilton Worldwide Teacher Treks Program is meant to bring people together and foster greater understanding between the U.S. and other countries. The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the Hilton Worldwide Teacher Treks Program on behalf of Hilton Worldwide.  For the 2014 year of the program, teachers will be asked to choose one of the following two tracks as a focus for their program: Teach Abroad Grant or Travel Grant.  Teach Abroad GrantThe Teacher Treks Program “Teach Abroad” track was established to allow ESL/ELL teachers the opportunity to teach abroad for 2-3 weeks to provide educational workshops to Hilton employees in key emerging hotel markets. The purpose of Teach Abroad is to increase Hilton employees’ knowledge of American culture and customs in hotel markets that will see an influx of American tourists. Selected Teach Abroad awardees will be placed at a Hilton hotel for 2-3 weeks. The timeline for this track of the program is during the 2014 summer months (June-August).
Travel GrantThe Hilton Teacher Treks “Travel Grant” track was established to recognize teachers who build awareness of cultural diversity within the classroom and to provide an opportunity for them to further their commitment to acting as cultural curators and molding the future generation of travelers. Travel Grant awardees are offered the opportunity to go abroad for 2-3 weeks to travel, explore and experience culture firsthand with an itinerary of their own design. The timeline for this track of the program is during the 2014 summer months (June-August).
  • Be a U.S. citizen living in the U.S., District of Columbia or a U.S. territory or protectorate
  • Be fluent in English
  • Be a K-12 classroom teacher of any subject* currently employed full-time at an accredited school in the U.S., District of Columbia or a U.S. territory or protectorate
  • 3 years minimum teaching experience at the time of application

*Applicants to the Teach Abroad track of the program must be ESL/ELL teachers

Participating Countries

  • The participating countries for the Teach Abroad Grant are still being developed by IIE and Hilton Worldwide. Teachers who apply to this option of the Hilton Teacher Treks Program must be willing to go abroad to any country designated by Hilton Worldwide. The priority of the program is to place teachers on this track in a country where their skills are most needed, so we encourage teachers to be flexible if offered an assignment.
  • Teachers applying to the Travel Grant track may apply to the program in any of the countries where Hilton properties are located, including all affiliate brands. Teachers can browse locations on Hilton’s website.


Apply online today!

Application deadline: February 26, 2014

Questions? Contact

 This program is sponsored by Hilton Worldwide and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE)

Edmondson-Westside wins $5,000 grant

According to Carla McCoy, Executive Board Member, BR and teacher at the school, Edmondson-Westside plans to use the money they received from the AFL-CIO grant to enhance awareness of the union. Every student at the school is involved in a trade, such as, Media Production, Carpentry, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts and several others. Ms. McCoy says the grant will help the school to bring the union to the forefront in those programs.

  “Most of the students here will have the opportunity to join a union when they are working in their trade,” McCoy said. “So we want to expose them to it now and let them know the benefits of joining and being a part of the union.”

McCoy says they plan to start the implementation of this program in January. Part of the program will include the students and teachers in the trades to work closely with the union they would be affiliated with.

“The programs at Edmondson-Westside are wonderful,” Marietta English, President Baltimore Teachers Union said. This grant will help the school to further their involvement in the unions and gain great knowledge of how unions work.”

First Book gives one millionth free book to Baltimore student

Volunteers from AFT, City Union of Baltimore (CUB), AFSCME and BTU are gathering at a warehouse on Kane Street in Baltimore this week to  distribute more than 160,000 free books for students in Baltimore City. Volunteers helped to open boxes, move boxes and label boxes with books to be shipped. Baltimore teachers and PSRPs can pick up the books they ordered during the registration last month, on Thursday and Friday of this week.

First Book holds eight to 10 National Book Drives per year and the last one for 2013 is here in Baltimore. Most of the books will be going to Baltimore Students. On Wednesday, BTU President, Marietta English, AFT President, Randi Weingarten, AFT Secretary-Treasurer and President Emeritus of the BTU PSRP Chapter, AFT Executive Vice-President, Fran Lawrence, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and First Book Chief Operating Officer Chandler Arnold were in Baltimore to commemorate the one millionth book given out and to celebrate reading in Baltimore.

“I want to thank First Book and the mayor for getting these books here,” Ms. English said. “The mayor secured the warehouse for us and First Book brought us the book.”

During a Press Conference on Wednesday and after reading a book called “Bamboozeled” to a group of Pre-K Students, Mayor Rawlings-Blake said events like this just make everyone want to read more.

“I am so happy to see this in Baltimore,” she said. “Reading is so important and this gives our students a head start.”

The Mayor, Ms. English, Randi Weingarten, Dr. Johnson and BCPSS Chief of Staff Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger gave out books and read to Pre-K through 2nd Grade students at Bernard Harris Elementary School.

“This collaboration is so important,” Weingarten said. “Reading is vital to the future of these students.”

After First Book gave its one millionth book to a Baltimore student earlier this month, it gave the left over books back to Baltimore teachers. . .for free!

 Those left over books were at a warehouse on Kane Street on Saturday, December 7th. Several teachers and PSRPs came from all over the city to collect free books for their students. Stephanie Dagenhart and Christine Overstreet, both 5th grade Math and Science Teachers at Monarch Academy came to collect books and said 90 percent of the books they collected will go into the school’s library, the rest will help to build up their Middle School curriculum and be given as gifts to students.

 “Free books are awesome,” said Dagenhart. “As soon as we heard about it, we volunteered to come and get the books.”

 Ms. Compton who teaches at Samuel F. B. Morse Elementary School said she was getting all types of books for her students. “Activity books, chapter books, everything,” she said. “My school is in a poor area and a lot of my students don’t have books at home, so most of these will go to my students as gifts.”

 Sarah Smilkstine and Chanel Traboldt both third grade teachers at Harford Heights, agree that their students will appreciate the books as gifts. “This is so wonderful,” Smilkstine said.


AFT President Visits Two Baltimore Schools

AFT President Randi Weingarten along with BTU President, Marietta English and AFT Secretary-Treasurer and President Emeritus of the BTU PSRP Chapter, Dr. Lorretta Johnson were in Baltimore on Friday, Nov. 1st visiting teachers and students at Violetville Elementary/Middle and Lakeland Elementary/Middle. Ms. Weingarten, Ms. English and Dr. Johnson were visiting with several teachers who are participating in the AFT’s Innovation Grant where teachers work into their curriculum lessons on healthy eating, the atmosphere and certain technology.

At Violetville, Ms. Weingarten and Ms. English met with James Triebwasser who teachers 6th and 7th grade science. His lesson was about precipitation, condensation and how weather works. His students were making small books on how weather works and conducting an experiment. Mr. Triebwasser, a former banker, who decided to become a teacher in 2008 said he loves what he’s doing. “I think it’s great,” he said. “This program with the innovation fun is really getting the kids to learn and they are enjoying it.”

Ms. Weingarten and Ms. English also met with Keri Ensor, a third grade teacher at Violetville who is the facilitator of the STEM and Innovation Fund program, she was teaching her students about a food journal and getting them to think about food choices and who makes those choices. “This program is great,” Ms. Ensor said. “It really makes our students think about where their food is coming from.”

Next, Ms. Weingarten and Ms. English went to Lakeland Elementary/Middle School, where they spoke with a few more teachers participating in the Innovation Fund grant. Lakeland is also a community school and has a garden growing in the back of the school. They met with Ashley Smith facilitator of the program at Lakeland, Katie Poist, Marissa Knaus, and Caryn Horrigan all fourth grade teachers participating in the program.  Lakeland is a community School and they were able to meet with Community Liaison, Jessica Baker as well. 

While at Lakeland, Ms. Weingarten and Ms. English learned from Ms. Smith, Ms. Poist, Ms. Knaus and Ms. Horrigan that they really like the innovation fund program. “It has given us time to work together and really put together some great programs,” Ms. Knaus said. She said the fourth grade team gets the opportunity, through the grant, to meet and come up with new ideas together. “The students love this,” Ms. Smith said. “They love the garden too, sunflowers and peppers have been their favorite so far and some students have even had the chance to eat raw red beats.”

The fourth grade team said they would like to continue with the grant, and they need more time to come up with new ideas. “Forty-Five minutes a day isn’t enough for us to collaborate and come up with some good ideas, it takes hours and days,” Ms. Poist said. In addition, the team needs the funds to make sure their ideas can actually take place.

“We don’t want to do anything to hold you back,” BTU President, Marietta English said. “I’ll do everything in my power to help you.”

Weingarten added that once the team knows what they want to do, to let her know, she wants to help them get funds for their ideas.