Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program
Campus Principal Ambassador Fellow
Bio/Overview: For the past five years, Joseph Manko has been the principal at Liberty Elementary School, a public school that serves 442 students. After teaching for 7 years, he was selected as a member of the New Leaders for New Schools cohort and worked as a Resident Principal at Hilton Elementary. Beginning in 2008, Manko served as an adjunct professor at Towson University and Johns Hopkins University teaching graduate level classes on education policy and school reform. His educational career in education began in 2002 when he joined Teach for America and was placed in Baltimore, Maryland.
Educational Values/Philosophy: Manko believes that children learn by doing and benefit greatly from experiencing the world around them. Liberty Elementary School is the site of the largest field trip program in Baltimore with 93 field trips being conducted in the past school year. Each child at Liberty will attend six to ten field trips a year and their learning will be connected to topics being covered in the classroom. He focuses not only on student data and academic growth, but also on providing students with access to experiences that will develop their ‘non-cognitive skills’. Children at Liberty can participate in one of sixteen afterschool enrichment clubs with activities ranging from karate to video game design to robotics. Liberty students also have access to the ‘Idea Lab’, a school maker space providing the opportunity for computer coding, 3D printing, robotics, circuit building, fabrication, and design thinking. Manko believes that learning can only be fully actualized in conjunction with the community. A full slate of wrap around programming works to enrich the lives of both students and family members. By providing families with experiences to enrich their lives, tools to meet basic needs, and academic resources to support their children, the Liberty Elementary School model embraces a whole child and whole community approach to improving outcomes for children.
Achievements: In 2014, Manko was chosen as one of 17 transformational principals in Baltimore and prestigious designation given for outstanding leadership within Baltimore City Public Schools. He was recognized by Education Week for his academic leadership, education innovation, community outreach, and technology integration and was named as one of “Nine People who will shape Education in the Next Ten Years”. Manko traveled to Japan in 2008 to observe educational practices on a Fullbright Scholarship. In 2009, he became one of 45 Baltimore City National Board Certified teachers. During the entirety of his tenure at Liberty Elementary, the school has consistently performed in the top ten percent of schools in Baltimore. Out of 155 schools, Liberty is the fifteenth highest performing despite having a population that is 100% African American and 93.5% of whom qualify for free and reduced meals. In order to provide wraparound services to his community, Manko has led initiatives to bring head start classes, after school programs, and a food pantry to the school. In 2012, Manko worked with his community to capture an adjacent recreation center at risk of being closed. At the rebranded Liberty Rec and Tech Center, student and community programming if offered daily from 9:00-9:00 and includes GED classes, parenting courses, Zumba programming, recreation basketball, workforce development activities, mental health supports, and more. Under his leadership, Liberty Elementary School earned the distinction as being the only school in the district that supports a one-to-one technology program with a student-iPad in the hands of every child. Liberty has also been recognized for the past four years by the State of Maryland as a Gold School for its Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). It is one of two schools in Baltimore to receive this recognition for outstanding student safety, climate, and culture in four straight years. You can follow the amazing things going on everyday at Liberty Elementary School by following the twitter hashtag #Liberty64.
Education: Joseph Manko holds a degree in History and Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles and has received a Masters of Arts in Teaching and a Masters of Science in Education from the John Hopkins University. He is currently working on his PhD at the University of Maryland.
Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Small Schools
- Community Schools
- Wrap Around Services
- Teacher Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Technology Education
- Urban School Leadership