Grantee Corner  |  Baltimore County Public Schools

A group of young students sit around a table and write
Woodmoor Elementary students learn to express themselves through writing

Two male students shake hands in front of Middle River banners
Middle River Middle School students find their "match" and demonstrate their IB Learner Profile trait by shaking hands with someone they have never met

Two female students work at a lab desk
Overlea High School students compare arteries and veins with xylem and phloem

A female student points to a world map
Overlea High School students, as CDC Disease Detectives, determine the location of the first Ebola outbreak

Two students draw a color-coded picture of the brain
Overlea High School students map the areas of a teenage brain associated with empathy on swim caps

Two students in high-visibility vests work outside with wood planks
Windsor Mill Middle School students construct an Adirondack chair during a field trip to Biztown

Two female students balance a stack of balloons
Windsor Mill Middle School students create a balloon tower using non-verbal communication skills

Students stand under banners in a hallway with words like Inquirers on them
Woodmoor Elementary students stand under the profile with which they most identify to help them learn about their peers

Three students look at a globe
Woodmoor Elementary students from El Salvador, Mexico, and Nigeria learn to appreciate their heritages and cultural contributions to our global society

Headshot of Bryan Stoll
Bryan Stoll, BCPS Project Director

Baltimore County, Maryland’s third largest county, spans almost 700 square miles of urban, suburban, and rural communities. Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) serves more than 113,200 students in 174 schools, centers, and programs. The student population is diverse: 38.7 percent of students are White, 39.1 percent are African American, 9.7 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 7.2 percent are Asian, 4.8 percent are Two or more races, and less than 1 percent are either American Indian or Pacific Islander. Almost half of BCPS students (43.8 percent) are eligible for free and reduced-price meals and 12 percent receive special education services. BCPS students represent more than 117 countries and speak 94 languages; 5.6 percent of students are English language learners. 

The BCPS Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant supports development of vertical magnet theme pathways in International Baccalaureate (IB) and health sciences. BCPS is converting six schools into whole-school magnet programs that provide unique curricula capable of attracting diverse student populations. The rigorous academic programs incorporate in-depth exploration of magnet themes through interdisciplinary curriculum units and enriched learning experiences, while providing evidence- and research-based instructional strategies to meet the needs of all students. Collectively, the six schools serve more than 4,500 students across grades K-12.  

At Golden Ring Middle School, students study health science topics through interdisciplinary thematic units, theme-based elective courses, a schoolwide emphasis on the traits and characteristics of health care professionals, and the integration of the National Health Science Standards into core content instruction. The interdisciplinary units engage students in inquiry and project-based learning by examining health science issues through core content areas. For example, an interdisciplinary unit focused on the opioid epidemic culminated in a day-long exposition of student work and guest presentations. This experience led to a partnership with the Baltimore County Department of Health and development of an informational pamphlet that is being distributed in medical offices across the county.

Middle River Middle School provides an IB Middle Years Program (MYP) that feeds into the existing IB Diploma Programme at Kenwood High School. In the summer, Middle River greets incoming 6th graders via a “Cub Camp” that introduces students to the IB Learner Profile through engaging activities; it culminates in students reflecting on how their IB Learner Profile traits can help them succeed. Middle River is located along a Chesapeake Bay tributary with a rich industrial history. The overarching magnet theme of global studies in science and technology is integrated into an authentic curriculum that draws on past and present industry, continuing environmental challenges, and the effects of these challenges on the local and global community. Through interdisciplinary units that embed inquiry and project-based learning and partnerships with Towson University’s SciTech Learning Laboratory and the BCPS Outdoor Education Program, students investigate factors affecting the local ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay area.  

With a global citizenship theme, the magnet program at New Town High School honors the values expressed by George Santayana, who noted that “a man’s feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.” The magnet program engages students in rigorous academics that include the IB MYP in grades 9-10 and the IB Diploma and Career-Related Programmes in grades 11-12. Students participate in theme-related authentic experiences, field trips, and hands-on extensions of interdisciplinary units. Partnerships with Baltimore County Department of Health and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center provide guest speakers who address local community issues, connect students with internships and service learning projects, and provide professional development for teachers. 

Overlea High School is significantly revising its existing magnet program into a whole-school health sciences magnet. The new magnet program integrates health sciences and biomedical technology content into core subject areas through interdisciplinary units with three new course pathways: dental assistant, physical therapy, and biomedical sciences. Students have opportunities to apply interpersonal and technical skills while participating in internships. Embedded, inquiry-based learning practices are used to transform teaching and learning. Overlea collaborates with Golden Ring Middle and partners with local health agencies, including Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Medial Simulation Center, and the Baltimore County Department of Health, to host annual interactive community health fairs.

Windsor Mill Middle School is developing the IB MYP with a global communications theme. Learning experiences have real-world contexts and expose students to global perspectives. Through interdisciplinary units, students engage in project-based independent and group learning. To cap each unit, students create and present a product to an authentic audience to demonstrate their research, understanding, and solutions to the global challenge and/or essential question. Magnet units on drones and aerial photography, TV production, entrepreneurship, and journalism help students become effective communicators. A partnership with Junior Achievement of Central Maryland helps students connect classroom learning to real-world experiences of global ethics and communication through a program called Biztown. In this simulated town, students spend a full day completing the requirements of their chosen jobs and practicing effective communications and negotiating skills. 

Woodmoor Elementary School is integrating the philosophies and approach of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) with a global communications and science theme. The school is transitioning to inquiry-based instruction across the curriculum, using thematic units of study and extensive professional development. Teachers help students guide their own learning by drawing on prior knowledge, participating in hands-on learning and experiences, and reflecting on what they have learned. By integrating the global communications and science magnet theme into the PYP curriculum framework, the magnet program engages students and teachers in the study of global ideas and concepts that teach “international mindedness” and help students develop global awareness. Students participate in culture-building experiences in partnership with the Walters Art Museum and other community-based organizations. 

Bryan Stoll is the Coordinator for BCPS Magnet Programs and serves as the MSAP Project Director. His work with magnet programs began in 1993 when BCPS received its first MSAP grant. Since then, he has served as a magnet classroom teacher and research coordinator; a magnet office resource teacher, supervisor and coordinator; and a Regional Director for Magnet Schools of America. Mr. Stoll is a passionate advocate for magnet education and believes magnet programs that align with students’ interests, talents, and abilities help empower all students to reach their potential.