Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Waverly Elementary/Middle Arts Program is a Huge Success!

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On June 8th, students from Waverly Elementary/Middle School gathered with their families, community members, and local artists at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation for a special gallery exhibit and art auction.

This past winter, Anne Stick, a tutor at Waverly, was attending a Parent Teacher Organization meeting when she was inspired by a group of students who came to advocate for themselves. “The students stood up at the meeting and asked for art classes” she recalled, and they were told that would only be possible if there were volunteers to run it and donations to provide the supplies. That’s when Anne and GHCC’s Community School Site Coordinator, Christine Garrett, jumped into action.

Anne, who is an artist herself specializing in print making, was excited about the ideaIMG_0555 of bringing her passion for art to her neighborhood school, and recruited a cadre of volunteers from her church, The Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, to staff the program and support it financially. Christine went to work to ensure that all the program management was taken care of; liaising with school administration, running a volunteer training, and working with Anne on the program development. Together they created a full semester long after school arts program for Waverly middle school students.

The program consisted of four different themes: print making, ceramics, computer graphics, and paper mache. Anne developed the curriculum and Utrecht Arts store generously donated supplies for the classes. Wanting to give the students a sense of the impact art can have on their own community, Anne recruited four local artists, Sam Christian Homes, Kylis Winborne, Ursala Minervini, and Greg Otto (a Waverly alum), to be guest teachers.

The program was a huge success, and though it was created for middle schoolers, it ended up welcoming a number of little siblings from the elementary school as well. The class met biweekly during the 8 week spring session and enrolled 23 students. Next year, Ann and Christine plan to expand the program to offer multiple classes for both middle and elementary school students.

IMG_0556The exhibit sold all of the more than 50 original pieces at the Cathedral that night, and the students decided that the proceeds will be used to support program’s continuation and expansion in the fall.


Goucher Mentoring

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Each week throughout the school year, 12-15 students from Barclay join in a mentoring partnership with Goucher students and spend a day together in enrichment activities.  For the last year, the program has taken an arts-based approach, and offers a range of activities from African drum and dance, to spoken word poetry, theatre, photography, or visual art.  The program has always targeted seventh graders, because it is the most important year in terms of competitive high school enrollment in Baltimore City.  The goals of the program have remained simple: to promote college access, develop and nurture critical skills (like communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution), and to encourage mentor-mentee relationships that provide social capital and role models that will help the children navigate their futures. The program is hosted on Goucher’s campus in the Pinkard Community Service Center, and in addition to the enrichment activities includes a shared dinner between mentors and mentees, which adds depth to the program, and gives the Barclay students investment and ownership over Goucher spaces, ultimately enabling them to envision themselves in college. 

Leader, Morgan Stevens explains:

Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Morgan Stevens. I’m a junior psychology major, Spanish minor from Potomac, Maryland. I’ve been involved with the Goucher Mentoring Program since my first semester at Goucher but preceding that, I also participated in an early immersion program called FOSTER. FOSTER involved a tour of East Baltimore and information about the Baltimore Public School system and lasted three days before I officially became a first-year student. Throughout this Spring semester I’ve been attempting to fine-tune my plans for when I graduate and have come to the conclusion that I’d like to work toward becoming a middle school principal. I can say without a doubt that this thought is grounded in my work with the Goucher and Barclay students in the Goucher Mentoring program.

How did the Goucher Mentoring Program come into existence?

The Middle School Mentoring Program, originally the Lemmel Middle School Mentoring Program, was established in 1999 by the late Carol Weinberg, a beloved member of Goucher’s faculty and staff.  For many years the program was supported in collaboration with the Gettysburg Consortium of Colleges (Gettysburg, UMBC, Notre Dame, and Goucher) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  When Lemmel was closed in 2008, the program was moved to Barclay Middle School.  For fifteen years, the program has served seventh grade students in Baltimore City Public Schools.

What’s your favorite thing about doing the program?

DSC_5125-001As a leader of the program I have the amazing opportunity to mentor not only the Barclay students but Goucher students as well. This takes my work with the program outside of solely the Wednesday sessions. Also, since we’re working with the seventh graders at Barclay and we recently began operating with an interview-style admissions process, we have a community of students with whom I feel comfortable having serious, young-adult conversations. However, I’d say that one of the coolest aspects of being involved in the program is when the theories of adolescent development or psychology come alive in my work with the Goucher and Barclay students and I’m able to apply my studies to my real-life experience. I couldn’t ask for a more experiential learning environment.

What goals do you hope the students will accomplish with the program?

One of the intentions behind creating a space in which the students have the time to interact with college students on a college campus is that they can practice advocating for themselves in a variety of ways. Goucher Mentoring is designed to honor and celebrate the vocabularies and stories that the Barclay and Goucher students come in with and to challenge them to expand them to include new perspectives and ideas about the world: locally and globally.

Will you describe some of the activities in detail that the students are learning/doing?

This semester each week  is comprised of a different small group or paired conversation about the similarities and differences between the middle school and college student experience. There has been a sprinkling of larger group activities that have involved theater exercises and these have also been intended to illustrate the underlying similarities between the Goucher and Barclay student lens. We’ve also instituted the “snap cup” from Legally Blonde which involves a period of time during dinner when students are given slips of paper on which to write observations or compliments about people in the group anonymously that will later be read aloud. The person’s whose name was read out may keep the complimentary slip of paper.

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The idea behind the snap cup is to build in a community ritual and to strengthen the relationships between the mentors and the mentees. The final project and gift is a scrapbook in which the kids can place all of the artwork they have produced throughout the program.

What is your favorite aspect about working with middle school students?

Middle school students in particular are honest and because they are honest they require me and the Goucher students I work with to respond with authenticity to match them. . I greatly value my bus conversations with the students who utilize that time to ask questions about the college experience or even just to tell me what’s been going on in their world. I’m happy to listen.

Can you share a story or an achievement that took place in the program this year?

I have been immensely proud of those Goucher and Barclay students who have stepped up and taken the initiative to lead an “energizer” or warm-up activity. The Barclay students have taken the opportunity to open up several sessions with activities they’ve played in school or with their families and have done an excellent job explaining the directions to their peers and to the Goucher students. It has been such a step forward to be able to pass the leadership baton over to the other members of the Goucher Mentoring community and to watch the growth that has occurred as a result.

What are the biggest lessons that you hope to instill with the young people that you work with?

DSC_5258-001One lesson I hope to impart in my Goucher “mentors” and my Barclay “mentees” is that there is a world outside of your neighborhood that is waiting to be explored but also that your neighborhood is something that will always be a part of the way you view the world. I always encourage the young people I work with to find things about where they come from that they can be proud of, but also to be critical analysts of what can be better.

What does the future look like for the Goucher Mentoring Program?

As of now I can safely say that we will be working on an increased emphasis on leadership, particularly through hands-on activities and reflective conversations. In addition, we will be looking to expand our repertoire of arts-based education especially with an eye to involving artists from the City in our lessons. I’m looking forward to seeing how the program grows with the new voices that will be involved.

“Goucher Mentoring”  is a program of Community-Based Learning & Community Service Programs at Goucher College, a partner to The Barclay School since 2008.
Photo Credit: Liam Gandelsman 


Community Schools Program Spotlight: Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story

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Through our Community Schools program, GHCC collaborates with over 80 partners to bring  innovative learning opportunities into local public schools. Goucher College is one of those many dedicated partners whose Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story afterschool literacy program has been running strong for more than a decade. We recently caught up with Goucher students Jacob Webbert and Emily Timothy, who direct the program at Barclay Elementary/Middle School.

Tell us a little about yourselves.

Hi everyone, my name is Jacob and I’m a psychology major (with a pre-medical focus) at Goucher College. In addition to being a student and a Director for Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story, I also serve as the Chair of the Judicial Board for Goucher College. In the summers I work on a small farm in central Maine.

I first got involved with Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story as part of a community-based learning class that I took at Goucher my freshman year. Every semester since I continued on with the program as a volunteer.

Hi, I’m Emily, I’m a sophomore Chemistry major at Goucher College.  On campus, I’m also involved in Gophers for Goucher, a group of students who provide philanthropic support to the college, and I’m a workshop facilitator for first-year Chemistry students.

When I came to Goucher and found out about Read-a-Story/Write-a Story, I jumped on the opportunity to be a part of this program.  Throughout high school I worked a lot with younger students as a mentor, tutor, or ‘teacher’s helper’, and I knew this was something I was passionate about.  After a year of volunteering, I was excited to get the opportunity to be an assistant director this year.

How did Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story come into existence?622A6432

Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story was founded more than a decade ago by Goucher students with the help of their professors. The idea was to create a program to more closely connect the College and its students to the neighborhood that Goucher originally existed in before it moved to Towson in 1953. It has been continuously operated and run by students ever since.

What’s your favorite thing about doing the program?

One of the best things about the program that we get to see every semester is the partnerships that form between the Goucher students and the Barclay students working together. We try to maintain a 1:1 ratio between the students with the goal of being able to foster some fantastic teams who get to work, help, and have fun with each other throughout the course of the entire semester. Seeing all the smiles, hearing all the laughter and questions, and experiencing all the stories and partnerships is without a doubt our favorite thing about Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story.

What goals do you hope the students will accomplish with the program?

We strive to see improvement in literacy, both reading and writing, for all students at all skill levels. With the partnerships that Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story creates though, it is also our goal to see increases in confidence, outreach, and communication. Students have fun with each other and they grow to be more comfortable connecting, asking questions, and trying new things. At the end of the program, the tangible finished products are the fantastic books that each student creates themself.

622A6512Will you describe some of the activities in detail that the students are learning/doing?

We usually start off the program with a quick game to help work off some of the energy from the day. Then we pick and read a story together as an entire group (Dr. Seuss and the fairy tale collection remain very popular with everyone). When we finish, we break up into teams of Goucher and Barclay students who then pick their own books to read with each other.

During the semester, each Barclay student receives a blank book of their own. With their Goucher student, they work on their own story and illustrations, each week adding a little bit more. By the end of the program they have a completed book of their own that they can bring home to keep and read.

What is your favorite aspect of working with students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade?

One of the best things about this age group is their excitement, creativity, and curiosity to learn about just about anything. These qualities really lend themselves not just to building fun and strong partnerships, but also to writing some really great stories. Just this semester, a Barclay student has begun writing a story about a butterfly, a family of bears, and a school bus (we haven’t quite figured out the eventual role of the bus in the story, but it has been made clear to us that it is definitely an integral part of it). Everyone has so much fun and one of the identifying characteristics about our classroom is the echoing laughter emanating from it.

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Can you share a story or an achievement that took place in the program this year?

We had a Barclay student who, when he first started in the program, was very shy and tried to avoid reading mainly because he was a little embarrassed about his abilities. Each week though, his partner would read to him and they’d work together on a story. He loved to draw and so he would first draw his story ideas out while talking and answering questions with his partner about what he was doing. They’d then work on the letters and sentences to describe the story he was telling. A month or two into the program, he was waving us down as we were checking in with each group so that he could read aloud the new sentence that he had just completed.  These are the kinds of achievements that we love to see. They never get old.

What are the biggest lessons that you hope to instill in the young people that you work with?

The most powerful component of our program is the partnerships that are formed and fostered between students of all different ages, backgrounds, and strengths. If there is any one thing that we had to pick, it’s that community and teamwork are powerful concepts that can accomplish anything. Working together can pay large dividends and, more often than not, it’s a lot more fun.

What does the future look like for Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story?

Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story is a strong and popular program both at Barclay and at Goucher. The future of the program may shift in terms of its day-to-day activities but the core of the program and the partnerships it strives to form and create, will always remain at the heart of its mission.

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Want to support programs like Read-A-Story/Write-A-Story? Donate to GHCC so that we can continue to provide our public school students with innovative learning opportunities to which they may not otherwise have access. 

To see more photos, visit our Flickr page.


Waverly welcomes new principal

Ms  Rice3Amanda P. Rice is the new principal at Waverly Elementary/Middle School and she can’t wait to expose her students to the kinds of experiences and opportunities that will create leaders in them all.

With seven years as a school administrator under her belt, Ms. Rice brings enthusiastic energy and a wealth of experience as the new principal at Waverly. She previously served as the Assistant Principal at Cross Country Elementary/Middle School for two years and as the Principal at George Washington Elementary School for four.

“I look forward to working along with the outstanding team of teachers here at Waverly, parents, and community members to make goals achievable,” she says. Working alongside team members like GHCC Community School Site Coordinator, Molly Keogh, Ms. Rice plans to redevelop support services for students, families, and the surrounding community.

Ms. Rice’s experience as a mother of a “wonderful eleven year old child” guides many of the decisions that she makes for her students. It is her goal to ensure that her son receives an excellent education and a well rounded childhood full of everything that he will need to become a leader in society. This is the same guiding force that she applies to the students and the community in which she considers herself “blessed to serve as principal”.

Waverly – which is on the brink of being fully renovated – is fortunate to have Ms. Rice as their principal leader as she is familiar with and very much looking forward to working collaboratively with community partners in effort to strengthen the school community.

To learn more about GHCC’s work in Community Schools please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at Waverly Elementary/Middle School, please contact Molly Keogh at  443-224-7367 or by email at mkeogh@strongcitybaltimore.org.


Community Schools in Action – Partnering with ACSB

We recently sat down with GHCC’s Director of Neighborhood Programs, Karen DeCamp, and the Director of Advancing Community Schools in Baltimore (ACSB), David Hornbeck, to talk about the Community School strategy and why GHCC is partnering with David and his initiative.

What is a Community School?

DH: It’s a public and private collaborative. In our work, we increasingly see the school is a place to empower people to have a voice in things that matter to the children, the school, and the community.

KD: Conventional schools are like old-fashioned rotary phones. Community Schools are like smartphones with “apps” – extra supports and programs to help all kids succeed. This is especially important in schools with lots of students from low income families who may need health services like free eyeglasses in order to focus on learning, and access to tutoring, mentoring and free or low cost enrichment in music, arts, sports in order to compete on a level field with their higher income peers.

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Why are Community Schools part of GHCC’s strategy?

KD: Neighborhoods need good schools. Our partner schools all serve students with at least 80% receiving free and reduced lunch. GHCC uses the Community School strategy to bring the assets of institutions – such as universities, faith partners, nonprofits and neighborhood associations – to enrich the lives of kids and eliminate barriers to learning. The heart of the work is our full-time Site Coordinators, who leverage these resources and manage all the details of programming – all aligned with school priorities like reducing chronic absence. With David and the ACSB initiative, we are researching best practices and systems that can be applied across schools, as well as seeking additional services that will stabilize families.

What is Advancing Community Schools in Baltimore?

DH: Advancing Community Schools in Baltimore (ACSB) believes that the characteristics of a Community School are essential to student success.

Our work has three parts:

1) Supporting, expanding and improving the strategic focus of Community Schools;
2) Building a database to develop the evidence of success over time and for continuous improvement;
3) Helping create a grassroots organized voice in each school community to address issues important to the school community.

The principal function of ACSB is building an advocacy voice at each school. This might be contacting an elected official, or like the team from the Waverly School, knocking on 400 neighbors’ doors to tell them about the school renovation. We currently are working with 11 schools in the city and hope to grow that to 15-20 by the summer (there are currently 38 City-funded Community Schools).

What is an example of how it is working in other cities that stands out in your mind?

DH: In 1990 the Kentucky State legislature enacted an entirely new school system. One feature declared that every school with 20% or more students eligible for FARM as a Community School. Today the academic achievements of kids in Kentucky have raised the state’s ranking from 48th to 33rd in the nation. Community schools are widely perceived as making a significant contribution to these rankings.

Historically, Community Schools have been an afterthought. They exist in a sense at the mercy of an annual budget process and have not yet been considered an integral part of what it means to be a school. My belief is you can’t be a successful school without tending to the social, emotional, health and family issues that are barriers to learning.

How can people become involved in ACSB and advocating for Community Schools?

DH: The ACSB website has an advocacy “action engine” that enables people to sign up, receive alerts and easily act. Sign up and be part of our network of advocates for Community Schools!

Sign up on the ASCB website via the Act Now link. Register for your community school (note: select your community school or GHCC as your “affiliation”), and send an email/letter to your elected official today to support funding for Community Schools.