Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace. ~ Confucius
Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre. ~ Gail Goldwin

Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be. ~ Rita Pierson

August 11, 2016

Dear Hampstead Hill Family,

Thank you for choosing to send your child to Hampstead Hill Academy (HHA)! HHA is proud to begin a 19th year of successful partnership with our charter operator, the Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP). The staff of HHA and BCP welcomes you and your family to our great school. We are excited to be a part of the BCP family, which includes City Springs Elem/Middle, Frederick Elementary (coming onboard 2017-2018), Govans Elementary, and Wolfe Street Academy.

HHA is a safe, nurturing, diverse, family-friendly neighborhood school with rigorous, effective academic programs and exciting, engaging, extracurricular activities. We believe all parents want the same thing for their children: more and better opportunities for college and career. We believe in the importance of the arts, and we want our students to be great communicators, listeners and writers. Our students will be leaders who are productive, persistent, responsible, caring, and healthy members of the greater community.

This year promises to be great as we set high expectations for learning and have some serious fun. Our test scores are among the highest in the state, but learning at our school means much more than test scores. We want our academic programs to come alive for students. Our students will move beyond the acquisition of knowledge to produce work that is unique and exciting; projects and papers that justify, persuade and convince. Ultimately, we want HHA girls and boys to become the thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders that our city and nation require. This year’s entering kindergarten students are the college class of 2033 – and we’re glad to be an important part of their path.

Our school culture aims to be nurturing and consistent. As a Restorative Practices school, we build community in each classroom and promote good citizenship and respect. Our middle school Leaders Go Places (LGP) program is outstanding at building strong relationships. Most importantly, we are ready to motivate and engage your child in their learning. We know that helping students learn how to synthesize information, problem solve, think critically and organize their materials are essential, lifelong skills. Teachers are busy planning project fairs, portfolios of student work and enrichment activities to expand our curriculum. There will be opportunities throughout the year to celebrate your child’s progress.

The metrics used to measure our performance include: (1) On-site effectiveness reviews conducted by outside experts; (2) in-house instructional consultants and coaches; (3) state and district standardized testing in reading, math and science; (4) participation in PARCC; (5) NWEA’s Measures of Academic Performance; (6) promotion, cohort retention, attendance/lateness, suspension, detention, office referral data; (7) student, parent and teacher climate surveys; (8) capital planning to accommodate growing enrollment; (9) budgeting for the short and long term; and (10) the charter renewal process.

As you may know, our students demonstrated significant academic growth over the course of last year on the NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). MAP offers pre and post-test data in reading and math to help us measure student growth from the beginning to the end of the year. With MAP, we can see whether our programs add value to student learning. A celebration of the growth our students showed on MAP last year is in order. Our students showed tremendous growth and that achievement is directly connected to the quality of our staff. You can learn more about this diagnostic assessment at:

City Schools has adopted a rigorous new Instructional Framework (IF) that is focused on best practices in teaching and learning. You can see the framework at This framework complements and extends what we do at HHA, and greatly helps in the implementation of the Common Core standards. You should make certain to review in detail the Common Core standards in your child’s grade and content areas. The standards can be found at

As we see in the Common Core, teaching and learning is now more complex. Students must show their work and explain how they developed their thinking. They write across content areas and have the opportunity to discuss and analyze their thinking and reasoning, especially in upper elementary and middle grades. The Maryland State PARCC assessment will be administered once this year in reading and math in grades 3-8. Science will be measured by the MSA in grades 5 and 8. As HHA’s Student Outcomes Committee (S.O.C.) states, our students should have the literacy and communication skills, analytical skills, practical life skills and social skills necessary to succeed in high school, college and their chosen career.

Toward this goal, teachers will develop individual portfolios that include at least 12 exemplary pieces of student work for the 2016-2017 school year demonstrating higher order thinking and the editing and revision process. The definition of higher order thinking will be determined by teachers and informed by the Common Core standards. Feel free to ask your child’s teacher what will be included in portfolios and why. Also, students in grades 1-8 will participate in at least two project fairs this year, including science fairs and, for 7th graders only, the National History Day project.

We hope you are finding time to enjoy summer – reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling and doing the things you like to do. Classroom assignments are not quite final and will be posted online ( and at school on the afternoon of Thursday, August 25, 2016. See you soon.


Matthew Hornbeck

Meet Your Teacher!
You and your child are cordially invited to Hampstead Hill’s “MEET YOUR TEACHER DAY” Friday, August 26th from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m. Come join us for an informal, get-acquainted morning with your child’s new teacher(s). There will be two surprise special guests (of the feathered variety) ready to take pictures with your child. The Food for Life program will provide light refreshments. A parent or guardian should accompany children attending the occasion. There will be an opportunity to purchase HHA uniform shirts at a reasonable cost.

Instrumental Music Recruitment
Mr. Garner is our Director of Instrumental Music. He is very excited to work with our talented and budding musicians. Returning band and orchestra members and any student interested in playing an instrument will have the chance to play. Mr. Garner will offer small group lessons to each student at least twice a week. Most lessons will be scheduled during a regular resource time so that students will not need to be pulled out of core content classes for practice, although that is unavoidable during the time just before performances.

Kindergarten Homeroom Assignments
Most kindergarten homeroom assignments will be made based on the brief assessment conducted over the summer. If your kindergarten child has not taken the brief placement tests, he or she needs to do so. Kindergarteners who need to be placed should come to school Monday, August 22nd at 1 p.m. You do not need an appointment for this special kindergarten testing.

PreK and 1-8 Homeroom Assignments
Homeroom teacher assignments for Prekindergarten and grades 1-8 will be posted at school beginning Thursday, August 25, 2016. Homeroom assignments will be simultaneously posted on our website at Based on an assessment of skills in the first weeks of the year, there may be a need to change a few homeroom assignments. If students are new, homeroom assignments will be temporary.

Transition to 5th Grade
All parents of incoming fifth grade students should know that instead of 45 minutes of lunch/recess and 45 minutes of resource class (physical education, art, drama, etc.) each day, the schedule for our older students includes 30 minutes for lunch/recess and 60 minutes for resource classes each day. We are among only a handful of schools in the City and the County that offer recess to our upper elementary and middle school students. Our experience is that 30 minutes provides enough time to eat and play. However, if you have individual concerns about your student, please see me to discuss.

Dismissal of 4th Graders
Fourth graders are dismissed directly outside from the stairwell door by the main office. They are no longer passed off directly to parents as is the case with PreK-3 grade students. Please plan to be on time and arrange for a place to meet your child.

Attendance is Critical
Students succeed when they attend school and are on time. All students who are absent receive a phone call home. Students who are signed out before 10:30 a.m. will be marked absent for the day. For those families that live outside of our zone, attendance is even more important because excessive absence, lateness, and signing your child out early will result in a transfer to your zoned school at the end of the school year. The district monitors the attendance of your child. If there are too many days missed, you will receive a letter from City Schools asking you to attend a hearing. Hearing Officers have the authority to levy fines of up to $50 per day. Again, attendance is required by law. More importantly, we can only teach the students who come to school.

Update on Expansion Possibility
HHA wants to expand to two campuses to provide high quality programming and a terrific education to more than 800 additional children, reduce overcrowding in southeast Baltimore City, and keep families in the wonderful neighborhoods surrounding our school. We have met twice with the former CEO and many times with elected officials and community organizations regarding the opportunity to expand Hampstead Hill Academy to the former Canton Middle School site at 801 S. Highland Ave. We have letters of support from elected officials, the Latino Providers Network (LPN,, hundreds of signed letters of support from our families and hundreds of signatures from a petition drive organized by community associations. The district does not currently have plans to renovate or use the building. Our nonprofit charter operator, the Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP) and HHA are considering conducting our own feasibility study to determine whether it might make sense to offer to renovate the facility ourselves or even to buy the building from City Schools. We will keep you posted.

Join in the Fitness, Fun and Games!
Candace Croston is our site Director for Fitness, Fun and Games, a terrific before and afterschool childcare program serving more than 115 HHA families. FFG staff is excited to work with students as a new school year begins. There are so many possibilities for fitness, enrichment clubs and lasting friendships! Returning students and parents will receive updates on staffing, fun activities and special events for the coming year. For families seeking enrollment in the FFG program before school, after school or during school holidays, contact FFG at 410-732-8778 or email

Monthly Newsletters
Look for an important parent newsletter to be sent home with your child Thursday, September 1, 2016. It will contain useful information for you and your family. Newsletters are printed monthly and will be sent home the first school day of each month. Archived newsletters in both English and Spanish are available online at

Breakfast and Lunch Program
Thanks to a federal initiative called the Community Eligibility Program (CEP), breakfast AND lunch are free for all City Schools students regardless of income. Meals begin the first day of school for students, Monday, August 29, 2016. For safety reasons, all students coming to breakfast must enter the cafeteria using the Streeper Street entrance between 7:40-7:55. Please do not send your child to school before 7:40 unless they are signed up to participate with FFG. Also, at lunchtime, our tasty salad bar returns stocked with fresh salad, fruit and vegetables.

Arrival and dismissal procedures
The 2016-2017 school year begins Monday, August 29, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. Once school begins, we expect students to get back into a routine for learning - plenty of sleep on school nights, a good breakfast each morning, and coming to school on time ready to learn. Being on time means entering the building promptly at 8:00 a.m. Students will line up by numbered homeroom on the blacktop. Depending on the grade, your child should prepare to enter school each day by:

PreK lining up by the PreK classroom doors on the courtyard
K-4 lining up on the greentop and entering through the stairwell entrance by main office.
5-8 gathering in front of the building, north of the ramp and entering through the Eastern and Linwood stairwell entrance.

School will dismiss each day at 2:40 p.m. For safety’s sake, teachers of our youngest children will walk their classes onto the blacktop for dismissal. PreK will dismiss from their rooms. Parents must wait until students line up and check in with the teacher before leaving with their child. Be sure your child follows dismissal procedures outlined by his/her teacher. Please make certain your child knows where and when he/she will be picked up after school. If your child walks, he/she should go directly home at dismissal. Please note that unless there is an emergency, the office will not sign out students from 2:20 until 2:40. Parents arriving early for pickup should let their children finish the academic school day.

Uniform Policy
HHA is a uniform school. ALL STUDENTS MUST WEAR A COLLARED NAVY TOP WITH KHAKI BOTTOM. No other color of blue is acceptable, only navy blue. Boys should have their shirt tucked in neatly. We sell high quality polo shirts embroidered with our logo for $12 each, but you are welcome to purchase different brands. Students out of uniform will be asked to call home for a change of clothes. Please make sure your child is in uniform every day.

Supply List
Supply lists are included with this letter and are available for all grades at the main office and online at Please clearly label all supplies, clothing, lunch boxes, etc. with the name of your child. Please note that all book bags must fit inside a locker. Rolling-style backpacks do not fit. Depending on the class, teachers may add an item or two to this supply list during the first days of school.

Playground Rules
Our wonderful playground is available to the community whenever school is not in session. Please note that the playground is closed in the morning before school starts. Students supervised by a parent or adult family member may play on our playground after school. Only supervised children up to age 10 are allowed on the playground. Littering or misuse of the playground will result in the loss of playground privileges. Please let the office know if you see anyone misusing the playground. Our security cameras keep a watchful eye of the playground as well. Absolutely no dogs or pets are permitted on school property, which includes the sidewalks around our building.

Your 2016-2017 Leadership Team includes Matt Hornbeck (Principal), Arleen Proto (Assistant Principal), John Paz (Assistant Principal), Nora Hogan (Staff Developer), Steven Plunk (Director of Restorative Practices), Laura Guitian (Director of Enrichment), Emma MacLean (PreK/K Team Leader), Marybeth Smith (1st/2nd Team Leader), Katie Johnson (3rd/4th Team Leader), Lyle Nesse (5th/6th Team Leader and S.O.C. Chair), Allegra Thomas (7th/8th Team Leader), Melissa Riorda (Resource Team Leader), Jason LaBarr (ESOL Team Leader), Jennifer Shaffer (Special Education Team Leader), and Geri Swann (Director of Community Outreach).

We have a stellar group of new staff joining our talented ranks. We welcome Morgan Hammett (PreK Teacher), Jacqueline Clary (1st Grade Teacher), Liz Kaplan (3rd Grade Language/Science/SS), Katie Vincent (3rd Grade Math), Kelsey Schultz (4th Grade Reading), Kat Locke (7th Grade ELA/History), Jazmin Ricks (8th Grade Algebra/Math), Kenya Davis (Social Worker), Daniel Goolsby (Hopkins/Bayview Family Therapist), Jabari Lyles (Mathematics Specialist), Alexa White (STEAM Enrichment Tutor), Christina Luthers (Urban Teacher Resident), and Malachi Drummer (K Assistant Teacher with Ms. Douglas). In addition, we continue to partner with Experience Corps to bring about 10 trained volunteers into our classrooms to assist with everything from grading to editing student writing to working on projects. Mr. Paz will be coordinating the Experience Corps members. When you see a new face, please make staff feel welcome.

Spring Musical Dates Announced!
The Annual HHA Spring Musical dates will be Friday, February 24th, Saturday, February 25th and Sunday, February 26th. Make sure to get your tickets early as the show will sell out!

Staff in New Roles
Congratulations to the following members of our talented staff as they transition into new roles – Kathi Sexton (Coaching support only at the beginning and end of the school year), Colleen Hicks (ESOL Teacher), Nancy Dannenfelser (PreK Assistant Teacher with Ms. Hammett), Lindsay Knudsen (PreK Assistant Teacher with Ms. MacLean), Angela Atkins (1st Grade Assistant Teacher with Ms. Clary), Rebecca Adams (4th Grade Language/Science/SS), Katie Steinhardt (5th Grade Reading), and Megan Trainer (5th Grade Language/Science/SS).

Thank you to our Super Summer Team!
We all need to thank Ms. Melanie, Ms. Rasheed, Ms. Davis, Ms. Olivia, Ms. Sarah, Ms. Jessica, Ms. Carmen, Ms. Rebekah, and Ms. Chris for their commitment to getting the building ready and making everything shine. Special thanks to many former and present students for their help putting new tennis balls on chairs and desks, including Arely Martinez, Angel Lopez, Kim Leonard, Katie Chenoweth, Eduardo Rosa, Tyler Mandel, Brayden Geleta, and Chris Geleta.

Please note these important dates on your calendar

• Friday, August 26, 2016 – Meet Your Teacher Day, 9:00-11 a.m.

• Monday, August 29, 2016 – First day of school. School starts at 8:00 a.m.

• Monday, September 5, 2016 – Labor Day, School Closed

• Thursday, September 22, 2016 - Back to School Night

• September 18-22, 2016 – Scholastic Book Fair Week in Library

• Thursday, October 6, 2016 - Fall Family Academic Night 5:30-7:30 p.m.

• Thursday and Friday, October 20 & 21, 2016 – PD Days, School Closed

• Monday, November 7, 2016 - Professional Development Day, School Closed

• Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - Election Day, School Closed

• Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 – Am. Ed. Week Open House 8:20-10:30 a.m.

• Wednesday, November 23, 2016 – Math Rumble

• Thursday, Nov. 24-Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 - Thanksgiving, School Closed

• Thursday, January 26, 2017 – Student Celebration Night 5:30-7:30 p.m.

• December 23, 2016–Jan. 2, 2017 - Winter Break, School Closed

• Monday, January 16, 2017 - Martin Luther King Day, School Closed

• Friday, January 27, 2017 – Professional Development Day, School Closed

• Monday, February 20, 2017 – Presidents’ Day, School Closed

• TBD – Spring Family Academic Night 5:30-7:30 pm

• Friday, February 17, 2017 – Professional Development Day (BCP-led)

• March 13-31, 2017 – MSA SCIENCE for grades 5 and 8.

• Monday, April 10 - Monday, April 17, 2017 - Spring Break, School Closed

• Thursday, April 27, 2017 – Student Celebration Night 5:30-7:30 pm

• April 18-June 5, 2017 – PARCC, READING and MATH for grades 3-8

• Monday, May 29, 2017 – Memorial Day, School Closed

• Monday, June 12, 2017 – Last Day of School (If zero snow days.)

A complete calendar will be sent home the first day of school. The first newsletter will be sent home Thursday, September 1st. We have dozens of clubs and activities that you will learn more about at the beginning of the school year as well.