• December, 2017
    From the Desk of Matt Hornbeck

    Principal Hornbeck’s testimony to the School Board in support of a 5 year charter renewal recommendation for HHA:

    Good evening.  I’m Matt Hornbeck and for 15 years I’ve had the best job in the world as the principal of Hampstead Hill Academy.  I want to recognize the hard, smart work of more than 100 HHA staff who believe in the power of Restorative Practices, truly know our students, plan and teach amazing lessons, and, based on actual student data, reflect and adjust their expert practice.  In particular, I thank my partner in the work, Laura Doherty and her colleagues at BCP, especially Jon McGill and Angela Scott, as well as the outstanding leadership team at HHA.  I also want to commend SER Manager Brianna Kaufmann and her team.  They provided the most credible, useful, formative, and summative analysis of the work taking place at schools.  Schools need more of that critical friend feedback.

    At HHA, we use Direct Instruction or DI to teach students how to read, as we have for more than 20 years, and we use other research-based programs including Core Knowledge, Singapore Math, IQWST, Dreambox and Springboard to give students the foundational and rich curriculum experiences they need to succeed in the best high schools as well as their chosen college and/or career.  To paraphrase a former Teacher of the Year, “DI is the meal students need every day.  Then I can make sure that they get the appetizers and desserts.”  There is no substitute for putting great, research-based curriculum in the hands of super teachers. 

    Our achievement highlights include being number one in the City on PARCC in reading for African-American students in grades 3-5 and number two for low-income students as well.  We are number one for Hispanic 8th grade students passing the PARCC Algebra test and outperformed the City average in every category in reading and math.  In terms of growth from 2015 to 17, we are number one overall in grades 3-8 reading and that’s just test scores.  The really interesting work is the writing in student portfolios, in drama class, in band and orchestra, in art, in cooking class, in the research taking place in the library, National History Day projects and in Nature Exploration class.        

    This last year has been tough.  The murders, violence, and shootings, talk of 1,000 teachers, guidance counselors and librarians being laid off, more than a dozen rallies to stem budget cuts, the undercounting of our poor immigrant students, the loss of a quarter million dollars in Title I funds, ICE targeting a law-abiding parent and deporting him, the false arrest and detention of a parent at our 8th  grade closing, the freeze on hiring assistant principals and paraprofessionals, and the drop in district wide enrollment of more than 800 students have left emotional, physical, financial and instructional holes in our community.  In spite of these challenges, challenges faced in intensely varying degrees by every school, every teacher and every principal in the City, there is great teaching and learning happening at HHA and inside every City School.  I’m grateful to work with such talented people who earn the trust of Baltimore’s students and their parents every day.   

    We are pleased with the district’s recommendation to renew BCP’s contract to operate HHA as a conversion charter school for another 5 year term.  HHA was the only charter to receive a “highly effective” rating in every renewal category.  In the not too distant future we hope to expand to the former Canton Middle School building, now empty for more than two years, and to serve a total of 1,500 students at a two-campus Hampstead Hill.  Thank you for your time, your attention, and we hope your vote.