in Leadership at City Springs School
Dr. Muriel Berkeley
Whelchel, Principal of City Springs
School from 1995 to 2006, turned
over responsibility for the school
to Rhonda Richetta effective January
on City Springs School was monumental.
The parents of the children who attend
City Springs School want their children
to learn the skills of leadership.
They want their children to score well
on tests, to earn places in successful
high schools, to enjoy learning. From
the first moment that Bernice Whelchel
entered City Springs as a new principal
in 1995, she knew what the parents
wanted for their children and she shared
Springs is a childhood memory for
Ms. Whelchel. She remembers her father
reading to her as they sat beside
the spring for which the school was
named. Her childhood memory of the
place, however, did not prepare her
for what she found in the school
when she arrived.
behavior of the children was not
allowing them to acquire the skills
or learn the knowledge that all leaders
share. The students’ test
scores were the lowest in the city,
and successful middle and high schools
were not accepting them. Students were
not learning so they certainly were
not enjoying learning.
surprise, when she attempted to enforce
school rules that would have established
the order necessary for learning, some
parents fought her as actively as their
Whelchel looked for help, found Direct
Instruction, and brought it to City
Springs School. She asked the Baltimore
Curriculum Project to partner with
City Springs as one of the original
New School Initiative partnerships.
late 1996, a Maryland Department
of Education report described City
Springs as “a phoenix rising
from the ashes.” The Baltimore
Sun published a year long series about
reading instruction at City Springs
as part of its “Reading by Nine” collection.
Producer and director Jon Palfreman
was inspired to create “The Battle
of City Springs” documentary.
many City Springs graduates attend
some of the most successful high schools
in the State of Maryland, and are college
too often when a “larger
than life” principal like Bernice
Whelchel moves on, the successor does
not realize the commitment that brought
success and lacks the dedication to
maintain it. Ms. Whelchel, however,
was determined to leave the City Springs
community with the high level of education
that she had established with them
and for them.
she thought about retirement, Ms.
Whelchel asked Rhonda Richetta, a
long time colleague, to return to
City Springs as assistant principal.
Seeing how effectively Ms. Richetta
settled in to the role of school
leader, Ms. Whelchel began easing
herself out of the school. Ms. Richetta
was essentially serving as principal
of City Springs a month before Ms.
Whelchel technically retired.
Richetta’s first months as principal
demonstrate that she realizes that
a school must move on to retain excellence.
While reinvigorating City Springs’ thorough
implementation of Direct Instruction,
she is also actively developing the
school’s use of restorative practice.
Teachers are having the opportunity
to rethink how they want to fit in
with the school’s mission. Ms.
Richetta has invited the entire community
to come to the school on Saturday,
May 19 from 10:00 to 2:00 to craft
the school’s vision.
effect is never more visible than in
an emergency. On the morning of April
27 as a kindergarten class was lined
up in the kitchen to receive their
lunches, an accident at the corner
of Lombard and Caroline Streets propelled
a dump truck through a City Springs’ wall
into the kitchen.
one was hurt, but a ruptured gas
line and concerns about structural
damage made it necessary for the
building to be evacuated and for
the staff to keep the students outside
until their parents came for them,
in many cases hours later. The entire
student body and faculty were cooperative
and cheerful throughout the entire
Springs has awesome students, an
awesome faculty, awesome parents
and a new awesome principal who has
replaced the previous awesome principal.
a Shared Vision Workshop
hugs Kindergarten teacher Ms.
Springs will hold a "Building a Shared
Vision" workshop on Saturday May
19, 2007 from 10:00AM - 2:00PM in
the City Springs cafeteria. Lunch
will be provided.
parents, students in grades 6-8,
partners, school staff, BCP staff,
school officials, and community members
are welcome to attend.
vision for City Springs is that "all
stakeholders will join together in
common goals and themes that will
guide all of our behaviors and help
us to be united on what is best for
Springs Celebrates Black History
Amanda Boone displays her Black
History Month poster.
February 27 students, parents, teachers,
and staff were treated to a rewarding
educational experience during City
Black History Month Celebration.
included presentations of research
projects on Ancient Egypt, student-designed
informational posters on famous
African Americans, oral presentations
on the 1960s to present, creative
student-authored plays, and a class
play on Martin Luther King,
From a Birmingham Jail.”
to City Springs' students on their