Schools play an important role in deciding where to live for parents of children aged 18 and under. Maryland schools were ranked 1st in the nation in 2011 for the third year in a row by Education Week, and West Anne Arundel County is fortunate to be home to three of the top 803 public high schools in the entire nation, as ranked in 2011 by Newsweek. The elementary and middle schools feeding these high schools are equally high-quality institutions.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Anne Arundel County Public Schools are organized into high school “feeder systems,” grouping elementary and middle schools by the high school their students will eventually attend. For information on individual schools, visit the Anne Arundel County Public Schools website at www.aacps.org.
In 2008, Superintendent Kevin Maxwell announced a new concept in Anne Arundel high schools: each would develop a “Signature program” that would be unique to that school. The Signature is a full partnership between the community and the school and a true collaboration with the community to develop 21st century workforce skills and pathways through Signature-specific curriculum and co-curricular opportunities.
A community-based team made up of business and community partners is formed in each school to create, implement, and maintain relevant and meaningful opportunities for students in Signature-specialized coursework and co-curricular programs. Students have the opportunity to engage with their school’s Signature at many levels, from full enrollment to participation in one or two co-curricular programs, and will eventually participate in internships and work experiences in their chosen field.
Meade High School in West Anne Arundel County introduced the first Signature Program, in Homeland Security, in the fall of 2008, and they have had great success in engaging their target audience of B/C students who might otherwise not have special programs available to them. Students in the Meade Homeland Security Program have shown higher attendance rates and higher grade point averages compared to their peers. Arundel High School introduced their Signature, Community Development and Global Citizenship, in the fall of 2010, and Old Mill High School expects to follow in 2011 with International Economics and Finance.
Advanced Learning Opportunities
All three high schools in West Anne Arundel County offer opportunities for advanced students to pursue challenging curricula. Old Mill High School was the first in the county to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program (www.ibo.org), regarded internationally as the most stringent academic program in existence at the high school level. Meade High School now also has a thriving IB program, and Old Mill, Meade, and Arundel High Schools all have strong Advanced Placement programs. In addition, students can opt to earn college credit through Anne Arundel Community College. The success of Anne Arundel County’s schools is literally paying off – scholarship awards for 2011 are up 60% over 2010 in West County schools, and a whopping 87.7% at Arundel High School.
Alternative/Technological Education Programs
For students who are interested in more “hands-on” learning, the Center for Applied Technology — North offers programs for students from all three West County high schools the opportunity to learn workplace skills as part of their school day. A wide range of programs allow students the opportunity to enroll in a “completer” program beginning in 10th grade that prepares them for a chosen career, with work experience and internship options made available their senior year.
West Anne Arundel County is also home to two publicly supported charter schools, Chesapeake Science Point in Hanover with its focus on science, math, and technology (grades 6-9), and Monarch Academy, whose mission is to educate students to be self-motivated, creative, critical thinkers and life-long learners who are productive contributors to the global community (grades K-8).
Finally, Anne Arundel County offers a variety of programs beginning at birth for students with physical or learning disabilities. Parents should contact the Anne Arundel County Public Schools Division of Special Education at 410-222-6911 (infants/ toddlers), 410-766-6662 (pre-school), 410-222-5470 (elementary) or 410-222-5437 (secondary) to learn more about the programs offered. Services are provided at no cost to families.
More information on all of these programs can be found by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools website at www.aacps.org.
In addition to the public schools throughout West County, many private and parochial schools are available. Listings can be found in the Chamber’s Business Directory under Schools & Colleges.
Anne Arundel Community College
Anne Arundel Community College is a fully accredited, public two-year college that enrolled just over 53,000 students in fiscal year 2010. Nationally recognized for its innovative, award-winning academic and workforce training programs, AACC puts a strong focus on meeting workforce needs.
AACC is the nation’s first community college to win federal certification of its information security and cybercrime curricula. In April 2010, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designated AACC as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE2Y for two-year institutions) in Information Assurance Education through 2015.
AACC’s Regional STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Center trains students for careers in emerging fields and high-demand industries. Its Honors program allows students to work one-on-one with professors. AACC’s programs train students to step into jobs created by Ft. Meade’s expansion of technical and homeland defense jobs. The college’s agreements with four-year institutions provide pathways for students to continue their education. County residents can access four-year institutions without leaving the county through the AACC at Arundel Mills Regional Higher Education Center.
The college’s award-winning, state-of-the-art Information and Cybersecurity program offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, certificate and stand-alone courses that prepare students for entry positions in the area of cybersecurity. Minutes away from Fort George G. Meade, home of the US Cyber Command Headquarters, AACC is positioned in the right place at the right time. Call 410-777-AACC (2222) or visit the website at www.aacc.edu.
Parents and guardians of young children relocating to West Anne Arundel County often say that finding childcare or a preschool for their offspring is the most challenging part of the move. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of resources available to help make the search easier.
Before exploring your options, it’s important to note that Maryland is one of the few states that has a law (Family Law Article, 5-801) requiring children under the age of 8 to be cared for by someone who is at least 13 years of age. In other words, no child under the age of 8 can be left home alone in Maryland, and no one under the age of 13 can legally babysit for a child under the age of 8.
Maryland also requires that most childcare providers be licensed. The Office of Child Care, which is part of the Division of Early Childhood Development at the Maryland State Department of Education, is responsible for licensing and monitoring all childcare centers and family child care providers in the state.
You will find a list of Chamber members who are licensed childcare providers in our Business Directory under Child Development and Day Care.
Another option to search for licensed childcare is through the Office of Child Care’s LOCATE system. For a random list of licensed providers, visit their website at www.mdchildcare.org and enter an address near where you would like to find a childcare provider. For a more comprehensive list, contact the Anne Arundel County LOCATE office at 410-222-1728 between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. This office is also available to help locate childcare for children with special needs.
Parents and guardians who are looking for an accredited early childhood program can visit Maryland School Improvement website for a list of Childcare centers that have voluntarily sought state or national accreditation. These centers follow the Standards for Implementing Quality Early Childhood Programs.
Other childcare options in the area include in-home care and faith-bases childcare programs. To search for in-home care, contact an organization like Au Pair in America, AuPairCare, Nannies, Inc, or The Nanny Network. For faith-based programs, please call or visit the church or synagogue of your choice. A listing of area churches is available on our website under Religious Organizations.
Additional resources, including copies of A Parent’s Guide to Choosing Child Care and 13 Indicators of Quality Child Care can be found at the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education’s website http://nrc.uchsc.edu/. Chesapeake Family Magazine also has a comprehensive listing of preschools and summer camps under “directories” at www.chesapeakefamily.com.
America’s Best High Schools!
Our nation has approximately 23,000 high schools. Out of all those, here’s how ours lined up in Newsweek’s 2011 Rankings of America’s Best High Schools:
- #507 Old Mill High School
- #763 Arundel High School
- #803 Meade High School
Congratulations to West County’s High Schools for once again obtaining a high ranking in Newsweek!
West Anne Arundel County Educational Attainment Census
Courtesy of the US Census Bureau