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Pride of Baltimore names Drs. Grasmick and Alonso 2010 Persons of the Year

The Pride of Baltimore, Inc. (PoB), the nonprofit organization that manages Baltimore's famed tall ship, Pride of Baltimore II, named Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools and Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools as the 2010 PRIDE Persons of the Year.

The two educators were chosen as part of the PoB's decision to reprioritize and focus on education, "In light of the upcoming War of 1812 bicentennial in a few years, and we have entered into a partnership with the Maritime Industries Academy High School to work on enhancing their STEM -- science, technoloy, engineering and math -- curriculum. We have also recently begun a partnership with the Johns Hopkins School of Education to help us with that. We're going to have 'Teach the Teachers' and 'Train the Trainers' programs onboard Pride II for STEM programs," says Linda Christenson, executive director of PoB.

The goal is to increase learning opportunities for area students, she adds. One local aspect, is the PoB's partnership with the Port of Baltimore through which the two entities will work to increase awareness among Baltimore City students, including those at the Maritime Academy, about career opportunities at the Port.

"A more far-reaching [facet] is to use the ship in terms of windspeed and currents to enhance the curriculum and make it more fun frankly for students to learn science, technology, engineering and math. And these programs won't just be limited to Maryland. We will use these at all ports of call as the ship sails internationally," says Christenson.

Dr. Grasmick and Dr. Alonso were selected as a result of their unwavering commitment to educating Maryland's future leaders. As the State Superintendent since 1991, the organization cited Dr. Grasmick's strong focus on student achievement, teacher quality, parent involvement and early childhood education. Under her leadership, Maryland is nationally recognized for its many educational achievements. For the second straight year, Education Week's 2010 Quality Counts report ranked Maryland's public school system as first in the nation, showing that Maryland consistently placed at the top of its class in the report's six determining categories, receiving the nation's only B+ average, according to the non-profit. 

It is Dr. Alonso long career that has been defined by his fervent commitment to students and their families. During his tenure as CEO, Dr. Alonso has reshaped the organization of Baltimore City's Public School System, empowering principals and revolutionizing the way education in the city is funded. Dr. Alonso's achievements have been recognized throughout the community. In 2009, he was named as only the third recipient of the "Howard Pete Rawlings Courage in Public Service" Award by the Greater Baltimore Committee, and also was appointed to the prestigious No Child Left Behind Committee for the Aspen Institute, a bipartisan effort to improve federal education policy to spur academic progress and close the achievement gap.

"I'm always slightly surprised by these awards. Superintendent is a tough job and you're always getting thrown to the wolves. It's surprising to get moments of appreciation. I work unbelievably hard and I think people know it. It helps alot to know that people feel like I've done some good for the city. I'm honest about what needs to be done, and I think that's why the work I'm doing is appreciated. It's never about the work I've done, but the work that needs to be done. I try very hard to give credit to the work our teachers and administrators are doing and the need for parents to be a part of what we do. There are huge challenges, but there's no reason we should not be trying to overcome those challenges," says Dr. Alonso.

Source: Linda Christenson, Pride of Baltimore, Inc.; Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Public Schools
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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