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Uncategorized October 6, 2020

Baltimore Design School – Virtual School Start and REdesign!

 Baltimore Design School Newsletter  Design Your Future Message from our Chair Fred Lazarus We have started the school year successfully, with 530 students learning virtually from their homes. This school year is like no other because of the challenges that the pandemic has presented; however, because of the fortitude and tenacity of our school leadership, […]

Baltimore Design School
Design Your Future

Message from our Chair
Fred Lazarus
We have started the school year successfully, with 530 students learning virtually from their homes. This school year is like no other because of the challenges that the pandemic has presented; however, because of the fortitude and tenacity of our school leadership, we have forged full steam ahead. The staff and faculty are well prepared and continue doing remarkable things to support our students and their families.

So many exciting things have happened at our school over the summer. We delivered food to more than 400 community members in need. Our partners hosted virtual workshops for our students and their families.

Our students were equipped to start the school year because computers were delivered to them in their homes. Also, our Verizon Digital Promise grant has been extended to the entire school, so now every teacher and student has a Chromebook.  We are the first school in the nation to have received such an honor.

Our teachers are also prepared. They received adequate professional development training at the beginning of the school year and continue to receive support on equity issues, so they are even more prepared to teach our students. Our focus is on “student wholeness.”

We look forward to showcasing the great work of our students virtually, as they keep designing for their futures.

Your investment in their future is making a difference, and we remain grateful for your support. During the school year, you will receive updates. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions and concerns, or even recommendations.

Again, thank you for your continued assistance and support.

Fred Lazarus, Chair
BDS Board of Trustees

BDS Principal Zaharah Valentine Awarded 2020 Heart of the Schools
BDS Principal Zaharah Valentine was awarded the 2020 Heart of the Schools award from the Fund for Educational Excellence. Principal Valentine was recognized as one of five principals nominated by staff, students, and parents, and included an evaluation by the Fund for Educational Excellence. Principal Valentine was given the award because she has demonstrated exemplary innovation, execution, and leadership while building a strong school culture. In addition to the honor, the Fund for Educational Excellence awarded the school a $2,500 monetary contribution.
Meghann Harris-Graphic Design/Interactive Media Production Teacher Awarded Baltimore City Schools’ Teacher of the Year Finalist
Meghann Harris is a designer and illustrator dedicated to changing the face and racial makeup of the design community through her work as an educator. Meghann received both her Bachelor of Fine Arts (2011) in Graphic Design and her Master of Art in Teaching (2012) from the Maryland Institute College of Art. In addition to being a member of the Instructional Leadership Team and serving as CTE lead at Baltimore Design School for the past year, Miss Harris is also the club sponsor for both National Art Honor Society and Gay Straight Alliance working to build inclusive spaces in the school. Miss Harris speaks, annually, about her curriculum throughout the country and was a finalist for Baltimore City Teacher of the Year in 2019, in addition to serving as an Adobe Education Leader for 2019-2020 academic year. During the summer, Miss Harris teaches at Girls Garage in Berkeley, California, teaching young girls the power of building expertise in male-dominated trades. When she’s not teaching, Meghann seeks to improve her artistic practice for the betterment of her curriculum and was named a resident in the School of Visual Arts’ summer online illustration program for 2020. Click here to read more about the finalists and winner.
Baltimore Design School’s 2020 Virtual Art Show
Help us celebrate our community of artists and makers at BDS, by perusing this website and viewing the works of students, alumni and faculty who created art over the course of the COVID-19 ‘Stay at Home Order’. Click here.
Partners Present Virtual Workshops to Students and Families
BDS partnered with CannonDesignAyers Saint Gross and IMRE to host Virtual Design workshops that were open to all of our students and their families. These design firms introduced students to the multiple career options within their pathways, conducted portfolio building exercises, and demonstrated how an office works. Students participated in real world projects while learning the challenges each designer faced as they navigated the road to their chosen career. If you are interested in holding a virtual workshop, please feel free to contact Christine Frederick at
BDS Partners with iMentor
Pictured above is Urban Designer Evan Todtz and
BDS Senior Earl

BDS is one of Baltimore’s first sites to partner with the national organization, iMentor. iMentor matches 11th and 12th grade students with professionals in a 1:1 hands-on mentoring relationship. Mentors are provided with a guided curriculum and talk to their mentees once a week and meet virtually with their mentees monthly. Mentoring is a source of motivation and provides our students with accountability. Mentors give students guidance, support, practical advice, and provide additional coaching to ensure students reach their academic and career goals. Mentors help to prepare our students for long-term decision-making. Trustee Suzanne Levin-Lapides acts as the ambassador for BDS’s program.

iMentor Baltimore launched in the fall of 2019, inspired by the promise of working alongside some of the most impactful, thriving and collaborative college success organizations in the nation. The long-term goal is to dramatically increase college graduation rates for first-generation students from neighborhoods in Baltimore. Click the link for more information on BDS’s program.

BDS Distributes Food to the Community over the Summer 
Over the summer, BDS staff organized a fresh food drive, and delivered more than 400 boxes of fresh produce and food to BDS families and members of Greenmount West and surrounding communities. Click to read more.
BDS Teachers and Staff Host a Graduation Parade for Seniors
BDS teachers, Board members, and staff lead a caravan of cars and delivered diplomas and special gifts to 79 BDS seniors. Instead of an in-person graduation, BDS Guidance Counselor Mr. Shannon Hayes and Principal Valentine coordinated the graduation parade celebrating the Class of 2020. More than ten cars traveled to neighborhoods across the city for a 10-hour journey to congratulate students. Despite the challenges these students endured during their last year, this class secured the most scholarship funding, and college acceptances to design schools than any other class in the history of Baltimore Design School. Click to read more.
Spotlight on the Class of 2024!
BDS would like to recognize the Class of 2024 as they begin their high school journey. Please join us in applauding our students and celebrating their growth and courage. The following students submitted their pictures and shared some thoughts on what they’re proud of, and looking forward to. Click to read more.
BDS Alumni Congratulate Class of 2020

BDS Alumni come together to deliver words of encouragement to the Class of 2020. Click to view video.

News & Updates
Verizon Awards Chromebooks to Entire School
Pictured above is Assistant Principal Darrin Brozene and WBAL TV Reporter Tim Tooten. BDS was featured on a news story about the Verizon grant.
BDS has become a Verizon Digital Promise Verizon Innovative Learning School.  The program helps students achieve, learn, and create more by providing free internet access and next-gen technology-infused lessons delivering a new way of learning in school or at home. Through the program, every student and teacher at the middle school received chromebooks and up to a four-year data plan.

Because of the impeccable leadership of our Assistant Principal Mr. Brozene, with assistance from Mr. Boyd and Miss Clay, the program has now extended to our entire high school. BDS is the first school in the nation to have received this honor. Because of this extended support, our students will have a 1:1 computer ratio for at least the next three years.

Also, teachers receive extensive training, support, and the opportunity to engage in a unique, immersive curriculum to leverage technology in their classrooms. Learn more about BDS receiving the grant. 

Staff Conducts BDS Needs Assessment
A BDS needs assessment report was conducted based on feedback from nearly 1,000 students, school staff, community members, school partners, parents and Board members. This information was submitted to Baltimore City Public Schools, and has been included in a MSDE Community Schools Assessment Report.

The following three themes emerged and were identified as needs:
Theme 1: Access to mental health resources for stress/anxiety and support of a positive/holistic environment throughout the school, including classrooms, counseling, administration and social support. This is in alignment with the work BDS is currently doing with our school partnerships. BDS continues to make strides in this area.
Theme 2: Opportunity for field trips, including but not limited to college trips, design-related experiences and off-site experiential learning. This is in alignment with work we are doing with our professional partners, BDS Board of Trustees and the efforts of our guidance counselors. Also, we have to brainstorm creative ways for students to have these experiences since teaching and learning is being conducted virtually.
Theme 3: Extra-curricular opportunities that provide safe spaces for students after school, including but not limited to pathway-related clubs for middle school students and access to sports and physical recreation. Both students and families expressed a need for ‘life skills’ programs that included such skills as financial literacy, driver’s ed, basic cooking in addition to 1:1 tutoring, and expanded coach classes. Again, brainstorming is being done to develop programs virtually.

The quotes below from a student and staff member give a good summary of the BDS experience:
“BDS allows students to express themselves in different ways, not like other schools. For instance, not having to wear a uniform in high school. You can be yourself without being judged for wearing bright colors without being picked out. You can shine.”  — BDS Student

“I feel extremely safe coming from two of the largest schools in the district is totally satisfying. The school has strong male support in the classroom/support and overall collectively makes a huge difference for the culture of the school. Also, BDS offers social workers, psychologists and other sorts of related services.”– BDS Staff

Keeping Parents Informed through ParentSquare
Keeping families informed on the latest school news, free meal and grocery distribution sites, resources for child care, online activities for students outside of their academics and daily tips for emotional and mental health is crucial during a time when physical distance can cause families to disconnect. Baltimore Design School utilizes an app called ParentSquare, in conjunction with our social media platforms to keep families in-the-know. You can check out some of our live-feed via  If you have access to resources, or an idea that would benefit our school family, please contact Christine Frederick at


We invite you to join us in our mission of preparing our students for careers in the design fields of Architecture, Fashion, and Graphic Design.  We want to thank those who have supported us already with donations and feedback.

1. MAKE A DONATION by clicking below to support our designers.

2. JOIN US on social media and engage!

3. HELP SPREAD THE WORD about BDS by sharing our mission with your family and friends.

Students deserve an opportunity to reach their greatest potential and you can help our future designers achieve their potential by donating today!