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Park School of Baltimore

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The Park School of Baltimore
Park gymnasium.jpg
Park's Athletic Center
2425 Old Court Rd


United States
Coordinates39°23′34″N 76°40′34″W / 39.3929°N 76.676°W / 39.3929; -76.676Coordinates: 39°23′34″N 76°40′34″W / 39.3929°N 76.676°W / 39.3929; -76.676
PrincipalMalika DeLancey (Lower School)
Joshua Wolf (Middle School)
Nancy Dickson (Upper School)
Head of schoolDaniel Paradis
Age range4-18
Average class size15
Campus sizeOver 100 acres
School color(s)Brown and white
SloganLearn to Think
SongPark School
NewspaperThe Postscript
YearbookThe Brownie
MottoStrive On!

The Park School of Baltimore, known as Park, is an independent, coeducational, non-sectarian, progressive day school for children in Pre-Kindergarten (age 4) through grade twelve. Located on a 100-acre campus in Brooklandville, Maryland, just north of the city of Baltimore, Park's current enrollment is approximately 823 students.


The school was founded in 1912 by a group of parents, primarily social and educational progressives in Baltimore's German Jewish community. It was determined that there was a need to provide a private school option, one that was nonsectarian, to accommodate Jewish students, who were either subject to a quota system or unwelcome at other private schools. They sought the counsel of noted educator Dr. Hans Froelicher, a professor of German languages at Goucher College, who advised them, "The school you want to found, to be a success, must be a better school, better than any now in existence. It must offer a superior type of education, so superior that... [no one] can ignore it."[1] A strong proponent of progressive education, Dr. Froelicher enlisted Eugene Randolph Smith, a well-known progressive educator and associate of philosopher John Dewey, to become the first headmaster.

The Park School opened its doors September 30, 1912 on Auchentoroly Terrace across from Druid Hill Park. The city's public park provided students with outdoor experiences and hands-on learning activities espoused by leading progressives of the era. In 1917, the school moved to Liberty Heights Avenue, now the site of the Community College of Baltimore City. In June 1954, Park became the first independent school in the area to accept African American students. The school moved to its current home on Old Court Road in 1959, but the opening of the new campus was just the beginning of decades of expansion, renovation, and new construction.[2] More recent renovations include a new wing for science, mathematics, and technology in 1997; a state-of-the-art Athletic Center in 2001; and a new visual and dramatic arts wing in 2003.[3]

Philosophy and Academics[edit]

The school's core values are rooted in the progressive educational philosophy of John Dewey. A fundamental commitment to inclusiveness and equity guides all programs and activities.

The Park School embodies both in its tradition and in its daily practice three assumptions. First, human beings are capable and desirous of rational self-discipline and of acting towards others with respect, kindness, concern, open-mindedness, and moral conviction. Second, the activity of learning is an expression of positive energies, fulfills natural impulse, and enriches life. Third, authentic learning flourishes when people work, think, and collaborate within a diverse community.[4]

The emphasis for younger students is on experiential learning (hands-on learning) and significant individualized instruction within an integrated curriculum. At upper grade levels, students pursue required courses and a broad range of electives, with advanced courses in all disciplines, independent study options, and a special Senior Term program. Park students work in a climate of intellectual debate and discussion, and are encouraged to question and challenge.

The average class size is 15 students. Park's faculty members have an average of 20 years of teaching experience, the highest of any independent Baltimore school, with an average of 11 years. Over 73 percent hold advanced degrees.[5]

Ninety-two percent of Advanced Placement test-takers from the Class of 2018 scored a three or better, even though the school does not "teach to the test." Over the course of the last 10 years, Park has had more National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists than any other co-ed independent school in Maryland.[6]

Special Programs[edit]

  • Every eighth grade student at Park participates in the Advoc8 program, a multi-disciplinary project designed for students to use skills and knowledge developed during Middle School in order to take on roles as advocates for change. During Advoc8, students choose a topic about which they are passionate and, with faculty and peer collaboration, create an individual or group project, which culminates in the creation of authentic, innovative, solution-oriented advocacy. Recent projects have included students supporting immigrant youth in the federal DACA program, visiting legislators or testifying at hearings in Annapolis to support bills focused on addressing hunger and child abuse, and building a rain garden to address pollution concerns.
  • Appalachian Challenge® is Park's nationally recognized outdoor education program. A major component of the program is the Challenge Course (sometimes called a high and low ropes course). It comprises an 8-acre, 40-initiative Challenge Course with aerial, lower element, and group activities, founded as one of the first 12 in the country. Begun in 1974, and developed since, the course was on the cover of National Geographic Kids (previously National Geographic World) in 1978 and passed the internationally used ACCT standards for design, performance, and inspection in 2014. Park's Challenge Course is unique within the Maryland Independent Schools network and contributes to academic, social-emotional, and leadership development. It is one of few confidence courses in the country originally constructed, maintained, and facilitated by students.
  • The ISAMR (International Student-led Arctic Monitoring and Research) program works to monitor the climate change in the subarctic region through generating long term research projects, giving students the opportunity to conduct original, scientific research. Together with Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the Junior Canadian Rangers in Churchill, Manitoba, Park School's branch of ISAMR travels to Churchill on the edge of the Arctic Circle. This opportunity is offered to students twice a year, October and August – each trip with their own distinct research focuses.[7]
  • Park has a number of Visiting Scholar residency programs that bring scholars, artists, and journalists to campus to present and meet with students for discussions and workshops. Past residents include Dr. Leana Wen, Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore and the next President of Planned Parenthood; White House correspondent April Ryan; author, journalist, and educator Ta-Nehisi Coates; conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas; journalist and author David Maraniss; pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher; investigative journalist Katherine Boo; Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; essayist and columnist Frank Rich; poet Lucille Clifton; children's book author Jerry Pinkney; writer Valeria Luiselli; and more.


From Grade 4 in Lower School, through Middle School, and competitive Varsity level teams in the Upper School, Park emphasizes a balanced approach. The athletics program teaches fundamental athletic skills, conditioning and fitness, game strategy, and the lifelong skills of perseverance, commitment to a common goal, overcoming adversity, and winning with humility and integrity. The school values both participation and a competitive spirit. In the Lower School, all students who wish to come out for a team are included and receive playing time. Beginning in the eighth grade, and increasing each year through junior varsity and varsity levels, coaches encourage all players, but skilled and dedicated athletes receive the majority of the playing time. Both boys and girls play in highly competitive leagues, the MIAA and IAAM respectively.[8]

Park's state-of-the-art Athletic Center is 42,000 square feet with three competition-length basketball courts, a 2,300 square-foot fitness center, an athletic trainer's room with whirlpool and treatment tables, and an 8-lane swimming pool. The school has five playing fields on the main campus for field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse, including a state-of-the-art Astroturf field with a conditioning track. Four additional athletic fields for baseball, softball, lacrosse, and soccer are located on Sugar Campus in Greenspring Valley (a five-minute ride from main campus).[9]

Notable Faculty/Staff[edit]

  • Laura Amy Schlitz, librarian and storyteller; won the 2008 Newbery Medal for her children's book Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village [10] and the 2013 Newbery Honor for her children's novel Splendors and Glooms.[11] Laura wrote the monologues in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! for the 5th Grade curriculum. Her most recent book, Princess Cora and the Crocodile, published in 2017.
  • Deborah M. Roffman, Named one of Time Magazine's "Top Sixteen Parenting Experts for the 21st Century," is a sexuality educator, consultant, and author. She has taught sexuality education in Grades 4-12 at Park for more than 35 years. Her most recent book, Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know about Becoming Your Kids' "Go-To" Person About Sex, was published in 2013. She's consulted with faculty and parents at more than 300 schools nationwide around the implementation of comprehensive, age-appropriate K-12 sexuality education.
  • Angela Balcita is an English teacher in Park's Upper School and the author of Moonface: A True Romance, published in 2011. She received her MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Iowa Review, and Utne Reader, among other publications.

Noted Alumni[edit]

Civil Rights Litigation[edit]

In 2018 the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit alleging that Park discriminated on the basis of gender in employment decisions it made about sports coaches.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 100: The Park School of Baltimore 1912-2012. Baltimore, Maryland: The Park School of Baltimore. 2013. p. 1.
  2. ^ 100: The Park School of Baltimore 1912-2012. Baltimore, Maryland: The Park School of Baltimore. 2013. p. 85.
  3. ^ 100: The Park School of Baltimore 1912-2012. The Park School of Baltimore. 2013. p. 89.
  4. ^ "Park School Philosophy".
  5. ^ "Park By The Numbers".
  6. ^ "Park By The Numbers".
  7. ^ "International Student-led Arctic Monitoring & Research (ISAMR)".
  8. ^ "Park at a Glance: Interscholastic Athletics and Physical Education".
  9. ^ "Athletics Facilities".
  10. ^ "2008 Newbery Medal and Honor Books | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)". Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  11. ^ "2013 Newbery Medal and Honor Books | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)". Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  12. ^ "EEOC Sues Park School of Baltimore Inc. For Sex Discrimination". Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018.

External links[edit]