A New Pathway to Teaching: An Education Diversity Experience Taking Shape in Maryland Schools

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Frostburg State University alumna Brianna Hopkins teaches math at Gwynns Falls Elementary School in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Coppin State University

Sometimes you have to let programs simmer for awhile until they’re ready. I’ve been waiting for this day to come for over a year, when Frostburg State University faculty were excited about a new federally grant-funded program. It was promising that they were part of a Coppin State University-led program that just received a $3.6 million infusion from the U.S. Department of Education.

Today we’re at the point we’re ready to share and demonstrate the promise of the program with a success story and the launch of the first phase of the program. We packaged this feature I wrote with the press release we distributed with Coppin to show two sides of the program: the nuts and bolts and then the human interest story.

Like the program itself, the communication of Pathways to Professions (P2P) is a joint venture with FSU and CSU’s media relations offices working as one.

The human interest story also includes key information about P2P so readers can grasp this mammoth undertaking. Expect to hear more about P2P over the next five years and beyond. The hope is that this a model for other universities and K-12 school districts.

By Charles Schelle

When Brianna Hopkins needed a student to behave, she thought staring down the student with a stern look might do the trick.

In Baltimore’s Gwynns Falls Elementary School, it worked flawlessly. At Mount Savage Elementary School, located in a small Allegany County town, the student giggled. Lesson learned for Hopkins.

“It was funny because she said ‘Miss Hopkins, why are you looking at me like that? Is there something in your eye?’” said Hopkins, a 2017 graduate of Frostburg State University. “I thought that it was funny because it was such a culture difference.”

That’s the point of a new U.S. Department of Education grant-funded program implemented through Coppin State University and Frostburg State University: to allow teacher candidates be prepared for anything in any classroom. It’s called Pathways 2 Professions and has officially launched this fall.

Maryland is in many ways a miniature America with snowy mountains in the west transitioning to farmland and urban cities and then to sandy beaches along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The population is as diverse across the state as the geography, and if teacher candidates can figure out how to scale unfamiliar terrain in two starkly different Maryland classrooms, they can teach anywhere in the country.

To make this program possible, Coppin State and Frostburg State — both part of the University System of Maryland—collaborated to redesign curriculum to improve teacher effectiveness and student success. Their efforts resulted in a proposal where Coppin State was awarded a five-year, $3.6 million Teacher Quality Partnership Grant to develop the Frostburg State partnership.

Dr. Yi Huang, associate dean/associate professor of CSU College of Arts & Sciences and Education is the author and principal investigator of the grant. Dr. Kim Rotruck, acting associate dean of FSU’s College of Education, is the co-principal investigator. Both are joined by several other faculty members from both institutions as well as partners with various agencies to design the program.

“Teachers are the single most important factor in terms of impacting if a student can learn and improve or not,” Huang said. “By improving teacher effectiveness, you have a much greater chance to improve student learning. That was the ultimate goal. We have a greater goal of inclusive excellence.”

The challenge was worth pursuing for faculty at Coppin and Frostburg to take prospective teachers out of their comfort zones to expand their skillset by managing classrooms in a different part of the state, Rotruck said.

“FSU instructors believe their students need every opportunity to meet the challenges of today’s classroom. We want to provide as many opportunities for their success,” Rotruck said. “This Coppin partnership has definitely changed their perspective and allowed them to grow as teachers.”

 

 

How Pathways 2 Professions Works

 

To understand how teacher candidates can work outside of a system, it’s important to know how they work within a system to become a teacher.

Maryland has a Professional Development School Network that identifies at which K-12 schools teacher-candidates can complete their required 100-day internships. Those schools are affiliated with a higher education institution within their region.

FSU, for instance, has partner schools in Allegany County, Washington County, western Frederick County and eastern Garrett County. CSU’s network extends to a several Baltimore city schools in a one-to-three-mile radius of the campus.

CSU and FSU, both with nationally accredited teaching programs, ensure that the schools and teachers they work with in these K-12 PDSN sites are meeting standards to teach future teachers. Also, it helps that the schools are in a defined area to prevent, for example, a Garrett County teacher having to drive to Ocean City for a required site visit.

The multi-layered P2P program provides an additional opportunity to the 100-day internship to practice teaching to a different demographic in a contrasting geographical setting in Maryland by establishing support at each university and PDSN sites. The Coppin-Frostburg partnership works because it’s a defined set of schools, along with college faculty familiar with each other who worked together to define standards and expectations of what this would look like.

These one-week internships take place following the education majors’ six-week internship at their home institution’s professional development schools. Students also complete group site visits to partner schools earlier in the process.

“We tried many different models of people observing and spending time in Baltimore classrooms, but we never found a collaborative model that is so well coordinated to provide these students with experiences beyond observation,” Rotruck said. “Now they are participating in diverse environments.”

These teacher candidates examine their own stereotypes, their background, upbringing and misconceptions about teaching in urban or rural schools and check them at the door.

“Until somebody asks you to do it, you don’t think about how your culture influences your instruction and your decision making,” said FSU Professor of Educational Professions Dr. Janet Mattern, who is the FSU site director for P2P.

Here’s how students unpack how their personality and way of life influences their teaching:

 

  • In the first phase, FSU and CSU education majors will conduct site visits at professional development schools to observe classrooms and gain initial exposure to schools in a different part of the state. The first visits will take place in October.
  • FSU and CSU students collaborate on assignments online through Blackboard and work on developing curriculum together.
  • In the second phase, planned for the spring of 2018, FSU students have a one-week internship, or residential clinical rotation, in an urban professional development school near Coppin. CSU students do the same at a FSU professional development network school. Teacher-candidates must complete P2P competency-based activities in order to be part of this experience. The first clinical rotations are planned for spring 2018.

Students who successfully complete components of the program are awarded P2P MicroCredentials that will appear on their transcripts to show they acquired specialized skills through this unique experience. The pilot implementation of the P2P MicroCredentials in Teaching Effectiveness will begin in fall 2017 at CSU and FSU. Plans are in the works to develop MicroCredentials that teacher candidates could earn during their two-year induction phase, and convert into Continuing Professional Development credits for teacher certification.

 

 

From Big Savage Mountain to Baltimore

 

When students traded places in a pilot clinical round, their perceptions changed.

FSU students learned why Baltimore public schools require uniforms, experienced a city where minorities are the majority, and saw students facing the same issues that students in Western Maryland face. CSU students could see the effects of poverty in some rural communities and the lack of racial diversity in K-12 schools.

“One of the students’ assumption was that African American students would face economic challenges. In rural areas that are predominately white, poverty is still a major aspect that impact a student’s life, emotional development,” Huang said. “That’s one thing that they were able to connect to — that students faced challenges in rural and urban environments.”

The experiences help teacher candidates make adjustments. That could be something as little as enforcing certain classroom rules like raising a hand to ask or answer a question or if certain students are more comfortable with using a tablet instead of pen and paper, Mattern said.

“Until you start unpacking those things, you don’t even realize you do it because it’s just a part of who you are,” Mattern said. “What do you value? What do you believe? The way you were raised influences every interaction you have.”

The program isn’t intended to make teachers feel like they have to have all the answers, said Dr. Boyce Williams, interim dean for FSU’s College of Education.

“You give them the tools they need, not to be able to solve all the problems children come with but to have been exposed to best practices and to know that I need to seek help,” such as from a school nurse or psychologist, Williams said. “I’m expected to teach all students, but I can’t be everything to all. But I certainly ought to know and identify when there is some type of need, an issue or a challenge, and be able to go to the resources for support.”

 

‘They want to be loved’

 

Hopkins, a Baltimore resident, was part of a pilot test of the program before the official launch, teaching at Gwynns Falls Elementary in Baltimore and at Mount Savage Elementary School, outside of Frostburg. She also interned at Route 40 Elementary School in Garrett County, where she opened up the eyes of some rural, white children.

“I had kids who were brushing my skin because they thought my skin was going to feel different because it was brown. I didn’t mind, and I was happy to share with them that we’re all humans,” said Hopkins, who is African American.  “We have different shades of skin but that doesn’t matter. You get hungry, I get hungry. You get thirsty, I get thirsty. If someone says something mean to you, it hurts your feelings. The same with mine. It was nice to have that experience.” 

Hopkins learned how much and how little race is part of the conversation in education. Hopkins grew up in Catonsville and attended a predominately white elementary school. She said she had to adjust to the culture in middle school, which was more of a diverse melting pot, then adjust again at a predominately African American high school in Baltimore city, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Her schooling background taught her a lot, but it’s another aspect to teach students accustomed to certain environments.

The young students Hopkins taught were not fixated on race, she said.
“I realized after this internship that children don’t see color unless you make it a big deal. They just want to be loved, regardless if it’s Allegany County or Baltimore City Public Schools,” Hopkins said. “They just want to learn, and they want to be loved.”

That’s the key: that all children deserve to be taught and to feel validated. And if teacher candidates like Hopkins can recognize that, the program will be a success by improving both teachers and students.

“Brianna will be able to teach anywhere. The idea is that sometimes urban and rural schools are very similar but also very different,” Huang said. “The idea is now they have the advantage over the typical teacher preparation program. They actually have that kind of experience.”

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Domino’s Planning Store in Hagerstown’s North End

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Domino’s Pizza will be opening a new restaurant beside Martin’s Food Market off of Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown.

Domino’s filed a building permit to remodel a space at 18728 North Pointe Drive for a new location, according to Washington County building records. The 2,532-square-foot restaurant would be open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to midnight. The same shopping center had a Fox’s Pizza Den that is now closed.

Domino’s has operated inside the Rocs convenience store at 18404 Maugans Avenue since it was built in 1999. It’s unclear if this is an additional location or if it is relocating.

Domino’s, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has undergone a wave of encouraging franchisees to either renovate/remodel or move into a new space for its next-generation stores with what they’re calling a “pizza theater.”

Here’s how The Seattle Times described pizza theater:

A pair of mustachioed pizza makers in blue aprons — visible from behind a glass display at a new Domino’s store in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood — tossed dough into the air as a handful of corporate executives looked on Tuesday.

Domino’s calls the concept “pizza theater,” because customers now can come in and watch their orders being made.

“This is the way we always made our pizzas. A lot of people just had no idea,” said Domino’s Chief Executive Patrick Doyle, who was in town Tuesday to see the new store at 4436 Rainier Ave. S. “It was sort of one of those lightning-bolt moments where we said, ‘Gee, maybe we should show them.’ ”

The new look is part of a four-year-long effort to freshen the pizza chain’s image and boost its growing ranks of carryout customers.

The open-kitchen format includes seating for a dozen or so people, a chalkboard where customers can leave comments and a refrigerated section for grab-and-go items such as salads and milk.

Will this be enough for you to switch to Domino’s or give it another try? They will have less pressure now that Pizza Hut closed on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown to make way for an urgent care office. But you still have Papa Murphy’s Take N Bake around the corner, King’s New York Pizza in Fountainhead Plaza and anywhere else you can grab a slice.

Farm Brewery Progressing Across From Hagerstown’s Leitersburg Cinemas

20045418_246403285876135_2646795852680266627_oWASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — A new farm brewery on Leitersburg Pike north of Hagerstown is getting closer to opening.

Upper Stem Farm Brewery was issued electrical permits to start electrical work on its tasting room at 20150 Leitersburg Pike, Hagerstown, according to permit records. The property is located across the road from the entrance to Leitersburg Cinemas. The farm brewery has been in the works for some time and with any independent micro-brewery, there will always be delays.

Owners are listed as Jean Fentress and Dan Wingerd, according to the permit application.

The Herald-Mail reported on Wingerd’s initial inquiry in front of the Washington County Liquor Board in 2015 before he purchased the property. The newspaper also provided background on Wingerd:

Born and raised in Hagerstown, Wingerd said he graduated from North Hagerstown High School. He moved to Montgomery County and retired last year from his job in the computer industry, he said.

“My wife and I plan to move back here,” he said.

He earned a master brewer certificate before retiring and worked as an assistant brewer at a microbrewery in Frederick, Md., for three years, Wingerd said.

 

An opening date has not been announced, but the hours listed on the permit for when Upper Stem opens will be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Farm breweries are restricted to limited hours, especially during the week, because of how the farm brewery license is set up. They typically can be granted an extension if holding a special event.

Farm brewery licenses were created by the state of Maryland in 2012, creating an opportunity for farms to grow ingredients on site to be brewed into beer.

Follow the progress of Upper Stem Farm Brewery on its Facebook page.

—Charles Schelle

En Vogue In The Burg

The diverse student population at Frostburg State University is creating some exciting opportunities for students they are bringing here from the city.

Modeling and a general interest in fashion is one of them. It’s an interesting intersection of the country meets the city, with two distinct modeling clubs at FSU. Both clubs are thriving in their own ways and are producing successful alumni. It’s really incredible considering FSU does not have any fashion programs, whether it be design or merchandising.

This story, appearing in the latest edition of Profile, focuses on one alumna, Imena de Barros, who you’ve might have seen in your Sunday paper. Click on the story link for a related sidebar on two other fashionable alumni.

 

IMENA LIKE WOW:
ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF VISUAL COUTURE LIVING HER DREAM LIFE

By Charles Schelle

Every day is a bit of a surprise for Imena de Barros ’12.
At 5 p.m., she has her schedule for the following day in her hand. Is it a shoot for Macy’s? Footwear casting call? A ight to Europe for work? No wonder her Instagram handle is @Imenalikewow.

The easy-going Bobcat is in the Big Apple now, living the not-easy life as a professional model.

But before she started getting calls to model on the department store circuit in ads for Belk, Bon- Ton, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and Target, de Barros earned her busi- ness degree from FSU, a backup plan after she was told in high school that modeling was not in her future. Coming to FSU eased that initial pressure and opened up doors.

“I honestly fell in love with Frostburg the moment I got there,” she said.

A willing learner, she knew what she wanted to get out of her classes.

“I was the person sitting in front of the class, eager to learn and wanting to be there,” she said. “One time a teacher tried to put me in the back, and I was like, ‘Yeah, no.’ I had to talk to him after class. ‘Dude, I’m a nerd! I have to be in the front!’”

That thirst for knowledge prepared her to enter one of the most competitive occupations in the world, where clients have strict needs from their models, including height, weight, hairstyle and smile, to serve their carefully calculated advertising campaigns.

“I try to be as approachable as possible,” she said. “I try to be as open-minded and free- spirited, doing whatever it takes to make the client happy.”

Building Confidence

Before turning pro, de Barros was part of a budding fashion scene at FSU. at scene has since taken hold, and

the campus now has two active and distinct student organizations focused on fashion, Visual Couture Runway Modeling and Paparazzi Perfect.

De Barros’ early involvement with Visual Couture as a founding member is a memory that she’ll carry with her the rest of her life, including meeting her best friends there. It’s also how she met her boyfriend, Alexander Dominguez ’12, who also models professionally.

“We were best friends in college, and we never thought that we would be doing this together,” she said.

The clubs also serve as a formi- dable training ground for future models.

“It gives you an opportunity to express yourself,” de Barros said. “A lot of people in the fashion industry are very creative. … It de nitely broke me out of my shell.”

For example, Visual Couture o ers Couture Clinics to train members on new techniques. It helps the young women and men involved build con dence.

“We spend time building con – dence through how you walk, how you talk, how you show yourself through those looks,” said Visual Couture president Elizabeth Morafa, a senior. “We’re all about con dence through fashion.”

The Business of Being a Model

Before de Barros earned her degree, she ew to South Beach during her senior year spring break to make one last go of becoming a professional.

“I went to every single modeling agency that came to mind. I did a lot of research and everyone said no again,” de Barros said. “Except on my very last day, the very last agency I went to was Next. They gave me a contract on the spot, and I cried like a baby!”

She soon left Miami for her rst job, modeling for German retailer Otto.

De Barros needs representa- tion in each market. Agencies coordinate to avoid con icts or seek higher-paying gigs. De Barros is also represented by Wilhelmenia in Miami, MGM in Hamburg, Germany, and Q Management in New York and Los Angeles.

Passport to Her Dreams

While she already had the bub- bly personality and good genes, FSU helped prepare de Barros.

Promoting student events for the Social Marketing Team enhanced her experience, too.

“When I was with Missy Martz ’95, we were always on Twitter, trying to get the campus com- munity involved,” de Barros said. “Taking what she taught us in a small community and applying it to the world, I have to get every- body on my side and not just a small community like Frostburg.”

Managing social media is part of her job, and in some cases, it a ects whether she will get a job. De Barros has more than 8,000 followers on Instagram. For some, that’s perfect because that number tells clients that she has a local
or regional audience. For others, they demand at least 10,000 followers before considering a model.

rough it all, De Barros feels like she’s living the dream, feeling those “Is this real?” moments traveling to exotic locales like
the Maldives and Mauritius. She needs a new passport now from all of her traveling, and she hopes someday a shoot with Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated is in the o ng.

“I’ve never been happier in my life,” she said. “I am so thankful to be able to wake up and do something that I love.”

It’s good to be Imena.

Training To Be A Diplomat? Attend Frostburg State

You just don’t become a diplomat. It takes special experiences and training.

It turns out that Frostburg State University’s Model Organization of American States course might be the perfect place to get started. Here’s my story that was published in the latest issue of Profile magazine, the Alumni magazine for Frostburg State University.

The story published with a Q-and-A with alumnus Justin van Fleet ’02, who personifies this course experience. You can read the complete Q-and-A on the Frostburg.edu website.

DIPLOMATS IN TRAINING: FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS MASTER DIPLOMACY IN D.C

By Charles Schelle

Across the street from the Washington Monument, Frostburg State University student CJ Barnett struck up a conversation with anyone he could see in the sunlit grand hall of the Organization of American States’ main building.

The mammoth room quickly became an intimate affair as Barnett, from Elkton, Md., worked to get to know other students so he could persuade them to take his side in the discussions to come. To the strangers he met, Barnett wasn’t representing FSU. He was representing the nation of Colombia, leading the delegation in this real-world diplomatic exercise, the 2017 Washington Model Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly for Universities.

“Talking to the people is honestly my favorite part,” the political science major said. “I’ve enjoyed every second of meeting with people from all different backgrounds, all different cultures.”

Not every student is so at ease in large social settings, but even if they have the gift of gab, they had better be prepared to speak about policy, too.

“It was a stressful nightmare,” political science major Cameron Shanton said, smiling as he recalled his first year at the Model OAS. “Slowly, you get used to it. It’s like being thrown into a massive social situation. Anyone would be uncomfortable. You have to speak in front of everyone and convince them of your viewpoint,” said the Thurmont, Md., resident.

Those nightmares quickly turn into a dream week for students. Public speaking is just one of the lessons learned during the weeklong simulation, promoting democracy through diplomacy. It’s the hallmark experience of the FSU Political Science 435 course, Model Organization of American States.

“You do everything a diplomat would do,” said A’Lexus Blue, who earned her political science degree in May. “That’s meeting with other members, talking about bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements.” The Accokeek, Md., resident said time was also required to discuss  United Nations documents and merge them.

The OAS, headquartered in the nation’s capital, is the world’s longest-running regional political union, promoting democracy and defending human rights among member nations in the Western Hemisphere. The event is coordinated with the Institute for Diplomatic Dialogue in the Americas and provides a simulated environment for college students to conduct diplomatic negotiations, as well as handle a surprise crisis scenario announced during opening day.

Barnett, Blue and Shanton were joined by students Jessica Johnson Clay of Cockeysville, Md.; Omar Taylor of Salisbury, Md., who also graduated in May; and Will Woodcock of Columbia, Md.

A Mental and Social Exercise

Being book smart will serve students well at the Washington Model OAS General Assembly. That knowledge has to be expressed in a friendly and strategic way at a dais or in one-on-one chats called unmoderated caucuses. The students had their own topics of concentration in committees that deal with democratization, poverty, human rights or drugs.

Political Science Professor Dr. Joan Serafin Andorfer has been the president of the Institute for Diplomatic Dialogue in the Americas since 2000, and serves as a co-organizer of the Model OAS. FSU has sent students to the Model OAS for more than 30 years. Andorfer has witnessed students blossom at the Model OAS, realizing their dreams by solving problems on their own.

“Our students see that they have talents that they didn’t realize they had, or talents they want to acquire,” Andorfer said. “They see there is a place in the world for them to make a difference. I try to teach that in the classroom, but until they actually experience it, they really don’t see how it can be so valuable.”

Before students arrive in OAS, they spend the semester learning about the history of the country they represent, researching modern-day policies of the country, preparing draft resolutions and learning how to conduct themselves in the meetings. It all can feel abstract until a student is faced with a microphone while surrounded by hundreds of peers, having to adjust strategy on the fly.

“Studying for Colombia and the various policies isn’t the hard part,” Barnett said. “The hard part is understanding how every single other state within the OAS is going to respond.”

“If you really have great ideas, you have to be able to communicate them in a language everybody can understand,” Andorfer said. “When they get here, they realize a misplaced comma can be diabolical to what they’re trying to achieve.”

A Global Perspective

FSU students in the class are seeing already how the course and trip will help them during their next steps.

Woodcock wants to attend law school and work for a nonprofit dedicated to protecting animals. He anticipates the Model OAS experience will help him bridge divides.

“It gives you a broader range of knowledge of where people come from, what they expect and what’s expected of them,” Woodcock said. “Hopefully, that will help me interact with people from different cultures.”

Taylor, a law and society major concentrating in criminal justice, found it reassuring that students from the real Colombia indicated that he was on the right track with his resolution for judicial reform on drug use by expanding rehabilitation. He’s feeling optimistic, as he wants to go into a career involving international politics.

“It helps that I have some expertise in diplomacy,” Taylor said.

In the end, FSU as Colombia’s resolution passed 18-9.

The Model OAS experience is supported through Opportunity Grants, which are made possible through gifts to the FSU Foundation’s Annual Fund. To support experiences like this one, visit www.frostburg.edu/foundation/ways-to-give or call 301-687-4161.

 

Sardi’s Chicken Looks To Expand to Hagerstown

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md.—Peruvian-American fusion restaurant Sardi’s Chicken is pecking away to open inside the former Pizza Hut at 100 Railway Lane in Hagerstown.

Sardi’s Chicken of Hagerstown LLC applied for a permit to remodel the hut-shaped building across from Massey’s Hyundai and Kmart, according to Washington County building records.

Beltsville-based Sardi’s started in 2008 and now has 10 Maryland locations, including one in Frederick plus one Pennsylvania restaurant in Philadelphia.

The menu includes chicken with Peruvian spikes, beef short ribs, marinated lamb chops, skirt steak, plantains and more. It’s a mix of Peruvian food, Southern food and as common with many modern Peruvian dishes, you’ll find a Chinese influence thanks to the Chinese immigration that Peru experiences. The Chinese-Peruvian dishes always make for a flavorful combination.

The restaurant’s catering business also catered President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball, according to the Sardi’s website.

An opening date has not been announced.

Chipotle Slated For LaVale, Maryland in 2018

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Rendering of Chipotle at Braddock Square Shopping Center in LaVale by firm AE7.

LAVALE, Md. — Allegany County can fill up on burrito bowls sometime in 2018.

Chipotle Mexican Grill will be opening in 2018 in the Braddock Road Shopping Center in Lavale, the company confirmed Friday, Aug. 4.

“It’s on the books, but we’re looking at next year,” Chipotle tweeted to me on its official account. “Check back in 2018 and we should have a better answer for you! -Becky”

This will be the first location in Allegany County for the Denver, Colorado, chain, that’s famous for burritos, lines of customers waiting to get their guac on and the occasional health scare that’s given the company fits.

The eatery will be located at 12101 Winchester Road, in the former U.S. Cellular location, in a shopping center that houses Tractor Supply Co., Kohl’s and others. Renovations of the shell building has been ongoing this summer.

Social media has been buzzing Friday since an architectural rendering of Chipotle at the shopping center was shared online. The rendering was included in a portfolio on the website of AE7, a Pittsburgh-based design and engineering firm contracted by shopping center developer H.L. Libby Corp., which owns Braddock Square. The rendering shows spaces for two other tenants as well.

Chipotle has operated since 1993 and has more than 1,500 locations, according to its website.

Students at Frostburg State University, where I’m employed, frequently ask about where’s the closest Chipotle. The answer was Morgantown, W.Va., Altoona, Pa., and Hagerstown, Md. With a location just 10 minutes away, expect this Chipotle to be buzzing   from August through May.

Hurricane Grill & Wings Coming to Hagerstown Kmart Plaza

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Hurricane Grill & Wings will be blowing into Hagerstown soon from Florida.

The website for Valley Plaza’s owners show the wings, burgers and beer restaurant will be coming to the former Cinqo de Mayo restaurant in front of Kmart and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. The shopping center also has a Tractor Supply Co., store. (The plaza is now actively trying to find a replacement for the aptly named Hard Times Cafe, too.)

Originally built as a Ground Round (oh, I feel old now), the new Hurricane Grill space has been a revolving door for over a decade.

Hurricane Grill & Wings is based in Fort Piece, Florida, which is on the Atlantic coast halfway between Cocoa Beach and West Palm Beach. I’ve dined at their Sarasota location that also went in a revolving space for restaurants at the Westfield Sarasota Square mall. It didn’t last long and closed only after. I ate at the Sarasota location and liked the outdoor element that could only work in Florida and the ambience matched the name and location. Will I feel like I’m in Florida there, sipping on a margarita in Maryland?

The big question is how long will this location survive? Not only did the Sarasota location close, but after I moved from Sarasota, Hurricane Grill opened in a former LeRoy Selmon’s in Bradenton, Fla. It had a kitchen fire and never reopened. It also had a construction lien placed against it.

Its Laurel, Md., location is already closed. However, the Elkton, Md., location is still open.

A 2015 restaurant news release said the Hagerstown franchise is owned by father and son Steve and Chris Girard:

“The Hurricane Grill & Wings brand is on the move, and we are proud that Steve and Chris Girard want to be a part of this exciting time for the brand,” said Martin O’Dowd, president of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “Hurricane Grill & Wings is growing rapidly, and the Western Maryland market is an area that we’ve long targeted for franchised growth.”

“With our vast experience in the franchise industry as multi-unit franchisees for other restaurant concepts, we knew that Hurricane Grill & Wings would be the best brand to add to our portfolio for their superior product and core values,” said Chris Girard, franchisee of Hurricane Grill & Wings. “We look forward to inviting the Hagerstown community to Live with Flavor® at Hurricane Grill & Wings.”

Hopefully the Girard family figures out how to avoid the issues (and a fire) that the other locations encountered.

— Charles Schelle

Belk Slated For Valley Mall in Hagerstown

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Look very closely in the second column: Belk Opening 2018

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Scroll too fast and you’ll miss it on the new Valley Mall brochure: Belk.

Belk’s name is tucked away on the second page of the new Valley Mall leasing brochure on the website of the mall’s owner, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust. Thanks to a reader for alerting me to the change.

The brochure simply says “Opening 2018.” Belk’s logo isn’t on the brochure, but it’s likely it could go in the former Macy’s space, but it’s still very possible it could go to Sears.

The smallest Belk is around 100,000 square feet. The shuttered Macy’s was around 120,000 square feet. Sears is 123,400 square feet. Last year, a leasing brochure showed that about half the space, or 52,325 square feet, would be available for lease.

The Washington County Board of Elections wants 20,000 square feet carved out of Macy’s for office space, leaving 100,000 square feet for Belk if the department store wants to open there. That seems easy enough. Good luck figuring out how to carve that space out if that happens.

Also, it is a coincidence that PREIT purchased the Macy’s space in April and now this brochure shows up a month later? Not really. In between, the International Council of Shopping Centers Retail Real Estate Convention (ReCon) was held in Las Vegas where stores, real estate developers and mall owners tried to make some deals.

Plenty of intrigue remains.

That brochure detailing that a store could lease half of Sears has disappeared from KLNB Retail’s website. However, Seritage’s quarterly reports show it still has rights to recapture half, but has not announced any plans for that space. The initial reports was that Sears wanted to test a smaller format. We haven’t seen that happen yet in Hagerstown.

Nothing has been filed under land records showing a sell or otherwise for Seritage in Hagerstown since it bought the Sears building.

Earlier this year, PREIT announced it would recapture three Sears locations and simultaneously announced retailers to replace those spaces. Hagerstown wasn’t one of those. Likely, because that Sears is not owned by PREIT. It’s owned by Seritage, who is leasing space back to Sears. That’s the company who found and brought BJ’s Brewhouse to the former Sears Auto Center. Seritage’s latest filing shows that BJ’s should be coming in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Baltimore Sun reported on April 1 that there wasn’t any new information on the Hagerstown Sears space. (However, that report overlooked the company’s quarterly report that showed the Cockeysville Sears will be partially replaced by a HomeGoods plus junior tenants and restaurants with most work done by the second quarter of 2018. The Bowie Sears Auto Center will also get a BJ’s Brewhouse.)

Here’s another issue for Belk: TownMall in Westminster. Belk only has two Maryland stores—the other in California, Md. TownMall was put into receivership, according to the Carroll County Times. That means a bank is in control of the mall, not a professional mall management company like PREIT, Simon, Westfield or Taubman. The court-appointed receiver, The Woodmont Co., is there to just keep things going until everything is settled. Woodmont’s website says it’s a receiver for 23 properties.

I’ve seen the after effects of malls placed in receivership and it’s not pretty. Some anchors and tenants have out clauses that can allow them to leave penalty free if certain actions happen (receivership, loss of X number of other anchors or if leasing falls below a certain percentage). Still, a store could close regardless of any penalty. If receivership drags on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Belk decides to close in Westminster if sales decline from a drop in foot traffic at the mall if other stores leave.

In fairness, while a store like Dillard’s left DeSoto Square mall in Bradenton, Fla., Sears, J.C. Penney and Macy’s stayed on through ownership changes and when the mall lost several national retailers. Macy’s would later close because a new store opened at The Mall at University Town Center. Closer to home, it’s a similar story at the Chambersburg Mall in Pennsylvania where certain anchors are able to hold on while the rest of the mall looks ghostly.

A Belk spokesman told the CCT on Thursday they’re not looking to leave Westminster:

Belk, another large department store that anchors TownMall, is similarly well situated, according to Andy Izquierdo, vice president of communications and community relations for Belk Inc.

“The Belk store in the TownMall of Westminster is doing well, so it is business as usual,” he said. “We have no plans to exit the Westminster market.”

No retailer or spokesman will say anything that could hurt sales and nobody announces closures until they actually close or legally have to announce a layoff. Still, I’d have to believe that store should do well regardless of what happens with the in-line tenants.

No building permits are on record for the Hagerstown Belk, yet. Stay tuned.

— Charles Schelle

This post has been updated.

Hagerstown Macy’s Building Sold To Valley Mall Owner

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — The owner of the Valley Mall outside of Hagerstown, Md., has purchased the former Macy’s building.

A landholding company for Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust called PR Valley Anchor M- Limited Partnership, bought the shuttered Macy’s building attached to the Valley Mall for $2.5 million on April 7, according to a deed filed in Washington County.

The building was originally a Hecht’s department store that opened in 1999. Hecht’s was a Baltimore born retailer later owned by May Department Stores. Hecht’s and May Department Stores was acquired by Macy’s parent Federated Department Stores in 2005. The following year, Macy’s replaced Hecht’s name on its buildings, as it did with many other department stores it acquired.

The move gives the mall operator direct control over what goes into that space by being the sole owner. Sometimes malls can have messy relationships with shuttered anchors, with the anchors preferring to sell and market the property themselves to recapture some profit. That could cause a multi-year vacancy.

In March, the Washington County Board of Elections received approval from the Washington County Commissioners for a 20,000 square-foot space in the 120,000-square-foot building, according to a Herald-Mail report. That also shows that the former Macy’s will likely be carved out into multiple spaces for stores, offices and other uses.