Opportunity to walk into new life chapter thrills graduates

Celebrations held in Baltimore, Denton & Martinsburg

Graduation season is afoot and the Board of Child Care had much to celebrate in June!

In total, BCC congratulated 20 seniors across its Maryland and West Virginia residential programs and from its Baltimore-based Strawbridge school.

The festivities kicked off in Martinsburg, WV. Just down the street from the residential campus are three of BCC’s group homes called Campolina Way. BCC’s staff honored Sabrina L., who graduated with honors from the local Spring Mills High School.

Sabrina has been involved in the Work Exploration program for the last two years and looks forward to obtaining full time employment this summer. When she leaves BCC she will be transitioning to a semi-independent living group home.

In Baltimore, back-to-back ceremonies provided plenty of cheer and smiles. On June 8, Baltimore residential program graduates celebrated with staff, family and friends. A variety of scholarships and awards were distributed to the 11 seniors, three of which graduated from the Strawbridge School on campus while the remainder received their diplomas from the local public school they attended.

The celebration included a visit from the Mathis family and Rear Admiral (retired) William Mathis, the brother of former BCC Board Member, Jim Mathis. Both brothers are alumni from the United Methodist Strawbridge orphanage (which would later merge with two other orphanages to form the Board of Child Care).

Tim H., who attended Smithsburg More School and gave the class address, and Robert R., a Strawbridge student, won the James and Lois Mathis Award for Community Service. The Alice G. Seymour Award for Academic Achievement, presented by Rear Admiral (retired) William Mathis, went to Tim H. and Dejon L., who earned his GED on his own while living on the Baltimore campus.

Justin B., a Strawbridge graduate, earned the $1,000 Chase United Methodist Church Award, while Jason L., a graduate from Randallstown High School, and Meaghan S. from Pikesville High School, each won a $250 award of the same name. Many thanks go to Chase United Methodist Church (Middle River, MD) and to their pastor, Rev. Cynthia Burkert, for their incredible partnership and support of our graduates and their future educational plans.

Blaine A., a Strawbridge School graduate, won the Board of Child Care Award for best representing the values of BCC.

The next evening, commencement exercises for Strawbridge School recognized its nine graduating seniors. Laurie Anne Spagnola, BCC’s President and CEO, told the Strawbridge graduates that life is not to be stressed over but rather to be enjoyed and savored.

“Be kind, be silly and most of all, be honest,” Spagnola said in explaining why striking a balance between being too serious or not serious enough is important to success in life.

The annual highlight of the Strawbridge ceremony is the rose presentation. Each graduate singles out someone within the assembly who was significant to their success, walks down off the stage and hands them a single, white rose in an emotional, heartfelt thank you. Recipients this year included foster care brothers, grandmothers, extended family, BCC social workers, and Strawbridge teachers.

The star of 2016’s class was Miranda Webb, a Baltimore County resident student who attended Strawbridge and was one of 70 students statewide awarded the Michael Cardin scholarship from the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF).

During her address to classmates, she said, “My success is because you gave me the support and encouragement to become the person I am today.” Webb will be using her scholarship for tuition to attend the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) to obtain a nursing certificate.

BCC’s final graduation celebration was at our Denton, MD campus. Jacob C. graduated from North Caroline High School, celebrated in a small ceremony June 15 on the Eastern Shore campus.

Karen McGee, Director of Operations in Denton, called Jacob, “one of the most socially conscious residents we’ve ever had – he was so concerned about the environment he started a cottage composting station for other residents and staff.”

Jacob is busy with driver’s education classes, seeking a summer job and exploring classes to take at Chesapeake Community College in the fall. Jacob is known on the Denton Campus as an avid gardener and an animal lover.

The Treatment Foster Care department also had a graduate, Brandy H., from the Academy for College and Career Exploration in Baltimore.

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Thank You to Jan Hayden and Terry Sawyer!

Both individuals have served on BCC’s Board of Directors for a number of years. Their terms conclude at the end of June.

Jan Hayden: 2001-2016

Jan Hayden PhotoBCC’s chairperson of the Board of Directors since July 1, 2013, Jan Hayden has been one of the most visible faces of the board and on campus during her 16-year tenure.

Notable during her tenure is the leadership transition Hayden oversaw when current President and CEO, Laurie Anne Spagnola, came onboard July 1, 2014.

“I’ve had the pleasure and honor to serve this organization under her leadership. She’s a big part of the progress we’ve already made and will continue to make going forward,” Spagnola said at the Strawbridge School commencement exercises at Loyola University Maryland June 9.

Perhaps her greatest asset to the Board was her visibility and grace. Hayden was a regular attendee at graduations, holiday celebrations and other special events. She afforded every program participant respect, the occasional sweet treat, or tickets to an Orioles game.

Close at hand and heart, there was Jan Hayden.

Terry Sawyer: 2007-2016

Terry Sawyer Headshot for Board article - TightCropJoining BCC’s Board of Directors was initially driven by a chance referral from one of Terry’s professional peers (who was at the time a current BCC board member).

BCC’s mission moved Sawyer to accept the challenge, saying, “I’m convinced BCC is a place the world needs.”

Sawyer chaired the personnel committee and even delivered the commencement address to Strawbridge School graduates in 2015 when the scheduled speaker failed to appear.

“That was the thrill of a lifetime, to be able to speak to the kids and be part of one of the most memorable nights of their lives,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer points to the friends and colleagues he has made during his time on the board as another fond memory and hopes they last well beyond his service. He points to a deeper, more intimate understanding of what it truly takes to care for a child whom society and circumstances have not been either fair or kind to.

“It has been an honor to be a part of this organization and will always remain a firm believer in its mission,” Sawyer said.

Read more from Thank You to Jan Hayden and Terry Sawyer!

BCC Spotlight: LYNETTE SEAY, Strawbridge Reading Specialist

Lynette Seay 021Lynette Seay (pronounced ‘see’) has taught reading and writing at Strawbridge School for the past six years. A native of Brooklyn, NY – Seay graduated from Notre Dame of Maryland (undergrad) and Loyola University (master’s degree). She previously worked at Children’s Guild, Kennedy Krieger, Baltimore City’s Lyndhurst Elementary school and was a stay-at-home mom before jumping back into her teaching career. Seay lives in Overlea, MD, with her husband and three children.

Q: Unlike public schools, where tenure most often applies, six years is a good stretch of time at a non-public school. What keeps the fire burning for you at Strawbridge?

A: When you are new to any school, it can be daunting not knowing the kids or staff. As I got to know the students and staff, I saw that the school is the best, most therapeutic place for them. Seeing the achievements of our students and building relationships with my coworkers has made the transition to the non-public arena worth it.

In addition, the energy around the school, the campus setting, and the organization itself under Laurie Anne Spagnola’s leadership make a big difference. While you do sometimes hear teachers talking about not being invigorated or valued within the education industry as a whole, I feel quite the opposite about teaching at Strawbridge.

Q: You said the school invigorates you. What makes Strawbridge different from other schools in public and non-public sectors?

A: We utilize a team concept to every student’s education within our population so we have many different, qualified individuals to lean on. No one teacher carries the entire load. Because we have been in the trenches with each other, we know strengths of every teacher and student.

That is the main reason the school has such an outstanding graduation rate as well as a high retention rate for students and staff. We have kids who travel almost two hours one-way to attend school here – we must be doing something right!

Q: Your role is changing next year – what has you excited about this new position? Does this change your goals as a teacher and for the school?

A: I am joining the staff development team. I will still be in the classrooms, but with a focus of training the teachers more so than the kids.

What excites me about this role is I get to support my peers and ensure consistency within the programs. The school’s Director of Professional Development and Curriculum, and I share this excitement about building the school up, building the resources up, and getting the school to be a more dynamic place to learn and teach.

Raising reading and comprehension levels is always a challenge, but over the last six years, the school has been compiling data focused on these outcomes. This summer we’re taking this collection a step further and plotting our metrics against those of the research-based curriculums we purchased. This is definitely an exciting direction and a project that excites me as an educator.

Q: Reading and writing sound like a basic skill, but you see it as so much more. Can you expand on why this is such an important aspect of teaching to you?

A: Texting and social media have really put some challenges in front of teaching reading and composition. Common Core standards say we are supposed to deliver a student who can communicate effectively with the written word.

Being able to apply for a job, respond to professional communications, and have a chance to succeed in adulthood does matter. However, it is more than learning a useful skill. For the student population, we serve, reading and writing is joyful. It is a coping skill. It is a way to identify with different aspects of themselves as they seek out who they are and what they want to be.

I have a student dealing with some serious transgender issues, and he is asking for books that might adequately reflect who he is and who he is trying to be. These are real issues; to have the ability to read and write – and use reading and writing as an outlet to express their feelings – is important and therapeutic.

Q: You have some serious sports diversity – and intense rivalries – in your family. That must make Thanksgiving interesting! Tell us about that.

A: I grew up in New York City – my mother once met the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson in the subway – but because I went to school in Maryland and raised my family in Maryland I’ve really become more of a Ravens fan than I ever was a Giants fan. Just to make the rivalry even worse my son has become a fan of the Patriots!

However, in the spring it becomes harmonic in our home because we are all big fans of the Orioles. My New York family does not understand how this happened, but I cannot help it – the Ravens are so scrappy! It seems people either love or hate the Ravens…and I love them!

Do you know of someone worth spotlighting at BCC? Email that recommendation to communications@boardofchildcare.org.

Read more from BCC Spotlight: LYNETTE SEAY, Strawbridge Reading Specialist

TFC preps for respite care on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Year-long effort to offer service closer to reality with $25,000 grant

FCPKC logo PNGIt took a year of vision and the stress of writing a winning proposal, but the good news is here!

The Board of Child Care has received word the grant to expand its Treatment Foster Care (TFC) program to include respite care on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has been approved. The award comes from the Family and Community Partnership of Kent County Grant (FCPKC).

Board of Child Care’s TFC license with the state of Maryland includes a respite care license, making BCC eligible to apply for the grant. BCC’s response to the request for a proposal highlighted BCC’s assets already in place on the Eastern Shore, giving it the edge needed to win the grant.

Respite care affords a current TFC parent a break from the children they are stewarding. As any parent knows, getting a break from your kids, even for a few hours, can be a lifesaver. When it comes to TFC children who often have medical or behavioral issues, a break from the caregiving routine can mean the difference between a successful, stable foster home and foster parent burnout and placement disruption.

BCC will now provide respite care on the Eastern Shore without requiring kids to travel across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to afford such a break. Allowing a foster care child to remain on the eastern shore even during this short break from their regular foster parents means they can stay connected with their school, friends, local family members, and normal activities.

“This partnership is about showing the Eastern Shore that the Board of Child Care is a high quality provider that will be an asset to the communities we serve,” said Karen McGee, Director of Eastern Shore Operations. “There’s a common culture of treating the Western Shore and Eastern Shore of Maryland as almost two different states. This expansion is an opportunity to break down that barrier and keep families together.”

TFC hosted a luncheon May 29 on BCC’s Eastern Shore campus (Denton, MD) to both celebrate the collaboration and convene a work group to discuss how recruited families would provide respite care within targeted counties on the Eastern Shore.

“We have an urgency to start recruiting families and individuals from Eastern Shore communities who desire to serve the children and families who need them most,” said Pat Wilson, BCC’s Director of Treatment Foster Care. “We know this all seems like short notice, but our urgency comes from our mission to prevent out-of-home placements and the breakup of families.”

Read more from TFC preps for respite care on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

DC ELP earns NAEYC accreditation through 2021

Five perfect marks and three more above 90 percent highlight scores

NAEYC Cropped 2016-6-14The Board of Child Care’s Early Learning Program (ELP) has earned its first time accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.

Conferred June 6, the NAEYC certificate is valid through July 1, 2021. To earn NAEYC accreditation, the Board of Child Care went through an extensive self-study process, measuring the program and its services against 10 NAEYC early childhood program standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria.

Additionally, NAEYC assessors conducted an on-site visit. NAEYC-accredited programs are also subject to unannounced visits during their five-year accreditation.

“NAEYC is the gold standard and recognized nationally for quality early learning programs like ours,” said Cora Jackson, Assistant Program Director of the DC ELP. “It says that our program is a place where all children can learn, grow and thrive, because of our exciting and rich learning environments, nurturing, engaging, and knowledgeable teaching staff, and committed families.”

BCC REPORT CARD W MEAN SCORE NAEYCBCC earned outstanding scores within the 10 NAEYC program standards the ELP was judged and evaluated upon. NAEYC awarded BCC 100 percent marks in five categories, 96 percent or better in two other standards, giving BCC a mean score of 95.8!

“What these numbers tell me is we’re very successful at what we do and justifies why we have a waiting list to get into the program,” said Laurie Anne Spagnola, BCC’s President & CEO. “It also means we have some outstanding programming in place to enrich the children and families we serve, and that is most important.”

In the 25 years since NAEYC Accreditation was established, it has become a widely recognized sign of high-quality early childhood education. NAEYC validates 7,000 programs, or just approximately eight percent of all preschools and other early childhood programs.

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Troop 509 rocks foster fair to benefit BCC

girl scouts group shotHoward County pack scores 25 blankets, 65 duffles for our youth

When most people think of the Girl Scouts, they think about cookies. So what do Girl Scouts think about? Thankfully, for their Bronze Star project, Girl Scout Troop 509 thought about the Board of Child Care!

girl_scout_ginger_snap_by_ced75With a focus on the foster care community, Troop 509 organized a foster fair to raise awareness about foster care and to collect donations to benefit the children at BCC. During the event, Troop 509 collected over 65 duffle bags and over 25 blankets were created for BCC’s youth.

Jennifer Rankin, an attorney representing one of our youth at BCC’s Hagerstown group home with a daughter in Troop 509, and Libby Palumbo, a senior childcare worker, were instrumental in organizing the event. On the backend of the event, Rankin and Chad Bikle, Unit Supervisor for the Hagerstown Group Home, joined Palumbo to wrap up the donation process and make sure BCC received the items collected.

“Engaging with our communities is important, and this story highlights the kind of core values we’re seeking from our employees and stakeholders,” BCC President and CEO Laurie Anne Spagnola said.

The troop is from Howard County and is comprised of middle school-aged girls, or Cadets, in the language of Girl Scouts. The youngest girls begin as Daisies or Brownies and later graduate into Junior and Cadet programs. For high school girls, Senior and Ambassador programs are available.

Palumbo, a recent recipient of BCC’s Core Values Awardee for Impact, met with the young ladies prior to the event, educating them about BCC, the organization’s purpose, and the challenges BCC’s youth face.

“Being able to share with these young ladies the challenges our youth face was a privilege,” Palumbo said. “To see the outpouring from the community – in response to the effort these girls put forth – and be an ambassador for the Board of Child Care was nothing short of wonderful.”

Girl Scout donation 01

Read more from Troop 509 rocks foster fair to benefit BCC

Strawbridge School Fun Day : A Petting Zoo!

Provided by Ferrets and Friends, Kelly and Lina brought snakes, birds, reptiles, and ferrets to let the kids hold. The snakes were particularly popular with the boys. (go figure!)


With 25 animal friends available for educational programs, most animals have been socialized since a young age and enjoy interacting with people, which makes for an engaging and interactive presentation.















Have you donated to support the students for the 2018 – 2019 school year?


Thank you so much for your contribution in support of our Back to School appeal! While we appreciate online contributions, if you are having any trouble using our online form you are also welcome to mail a check to:

Board of Child Care
Attn: Back to School
3300 Gaither Road
Baltimore, MD 21244

You may also call (410) 922-2100 x5430 to make a contribution over the phone during regular business hours.

Read more from Strawbridge School Fun Day : A Petting Zoo!

Mathis posthumously receives MANSEF award June 6

DSC_6080Jim Mathis, who served on the Board of Directors for the Board of Child Care for 19 years, will be honored June 6 with the 2016 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF).

Mathis died July 15, 2015 at age 78 and grew up in the Strawbridge home in Eldersburg, MD. His widow, Lois Mathis will accept the award on his behalf. Two of Mathis’s brothers and his daughter, Amy, plan to attend the ceremony.

Mathis was profiled May 24 in the Carroll County Times by reporter Jon Kelvey. Read the entire article here. Mathis was featured on Page 19 of the Board of Child Care’s 2015 Annual Report, which is available for download here.

Described as “the ultimate advocate and volunteer for BCC during his lifetime,” in that 2015 annual report, Mathis led several committees and served a term as chairman, and was the driving force behind the Strawbridge alumni program.

A residential cottage was named in Mathis’s honor in 2012 and the Jim and Lois Mathis Award For Service and Community Scholarship is given annually to a current program participant.

Mathis believed in education above all else and would often visit the campus and encourage BCC’s children to persevere and to seek a diploma despite the difficulties they experience, his own life serving as a sterling example. He gifted plenty of financial resources to BCC over the years, none greater than a kind and gentle spirit to all he encountered, especially the children who are part of the Strawbridge School, the namesake of his childhood home with BCC.

Mathis was a regular at events or graduations, reminding all of us that commitment to our children sends a clear message of love and respect.

MANSEF is a professional association of publicly-funded private schools. The Distinguished Citizen Award is given annually and has traditionally recognized a board member, stakeholder or volunteer at one of the member schools within the association who has demonstrated a willingness to exceed expectations in fulfilling the mission of the organization he or she represents.

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