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2020 Heart of the School Award Winner


Zaharah Valentine

Baltimore Design School

Any visit to Baltimore Design School illustrates how an empowered staff results in strong student relationships, better academic performance and a compassionate, positive school culture. From adding wellness breaks and a staff yoga room to creating a daycare for the children of staff, Principal Valentine ensures that faculty and staff have the environment and resources to perform at their highest. The result has been student academic gains in both literacy and math and an active, engaged, motivated student body. Baltimore Design School is a calm, focused space where students and staff thrive, in large part because they have a school leader who supports them.



“She is making this school better by sticking by our sides and not letting us get so caught up in what’s wrong that we can start focusing on what we are doing right.” - Asia Marie Billings, student


“Ms. Valentine is a great principal. She has encouraged us to do our best even if we think we can't. I've only been at this school for a few months now and I already feel like I belong here thanks to the teachers, students, and Ms.Valentine.” Laila Abdur Rahim, student


“She expects nothing but absolute greatness from all of her students and they love and respect her.” -Lavonya Moody, parent

Be sure to check out Principal Valentine's feature in Baltimore Magazine:

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