The Golden Eagles of Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School are back on campus after nearly two years of virtual learning. While the transition to in-person instruction was a challenge, the school was more prepared than most thanks to the strong leadership of its administration.
Now in his fourth year as principal, Steve Skeen has guided Mount Royal through the pandemic by balancing the social and emotional well-being of students and the critical need to continue their academic progress, while keeping students and staff safe from COVID-19. In the Spring of 2020, Skeen and a team of teachers implemented a pilot project for in-person learning for a small group of elementary students. “The idea was to have proven COVID mitigation policies in place early on so that we were prepared to safely welcome all of our students back,” says Skeen. “It also allowed us to meet the needs of students that were struggling with virtual learning and provide them face-to-face interaction.”
Anticipating a complex set of issues this year, Skeen shored up the school’s mental health staff to include two psychologists, a therapist, guidance counselor, social worker and a “wholeness specialist” focused on social and emotional learning. This team in addition to seasoned and talented teachers ensured the school would be ready to meet any challenge. With a clearly thought-out plan and resources in place, Mount Royal welcomed back nearly 750 students from pre-K to eighth grade on Aug. 30 and hasn’t looked back.
One of the first desegregated schools in Baltimore, Mount Royal has since 1958 carried a tradition of excellence and opportunity. The school’s vision states that “Mount Royal students will unlock their individual, exceptional abilities in order to choose how they will make the community and world a better place.” Mount Royal is one of only four schools in the city to offer the Ingenuity Project, which attracts bright middle school students from across the district. The program emphasizes preparing students for college and careers in STEM fields by exposing them to a rigorous science and math curriculum.
Mount Royal also offers advanced academic programs to provide an accelerated curriculum and the opportunity to earn middle school honors credits. Elementary school students can place into the Gifted and Advanced Learning Program, which puts them on a path of rigorous academic excellence at an early age. Prior to the pandemic, the school grew from 2 to 3 stars in the state’s rating system and continues to finish in the top 10 in reading and math scores on district-wide assessments.
While academics are highly important, the school produces well-rounded students by integrating a variety of subjects at all grade levels. The curriculum includes visual, instrumental, vocal and theatre arts in addition to Spanish, health, physical education, and coding. Surrounded by MICA, Mount Royal has a unique partnership with the art college and its students. After-class clubs and enrichment programs include the Baltimore Urban Debate League, Civic Leadership, Spanish club, Writers in Baltimore, Robotics, Code in the Schools and Higher Achievement.
To learn more about Mount Royal, email the Parent/Teacher Organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ellen Molino