Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

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 


What Works in Education: A Speaker Series

Brain Targeted Teaching: Linking Research to Learning, presented by Dr. Mariale Hardiman and Barclay School Principal Jenny Heinbaugh. Thursday, September 27 from 6-8pm at the Barclay School (2900 Barclay Street).

Changes are occurring behind the scenes at Barclay Elementary/Middle School, where teachers are implementing a new framework that links research to the classroom. Called the Brain-Targeted Teaching Model, Barclay teachers are using new approaches to link research in the brain sciences to promote deeper student engagement and achievement. Parents, prospective parents, and the community are invited to attend an interactive and inspiring presentation on September 27 to learn more.

The brain behind this innovative model is Dr. Mariale Hardiman, Asst. Dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Dr. Hardiman is also the former principal of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, where she led the underperforming school to Blue Ribbon status. Her work at Roland Park became the basis for her Brain-Targeted Teaching model.

In 2011, GHCC brought Dr. Hardiman to its Principals’ Meeting where she presented about her Brain-Targeted Teaching model, and Barclay Principal Jenny Heinbaugh was inspired. Last spring, Heinbaugh and nine of her teachers completed Dr. Hardiman’s 30-hour training in the model. Now, Barclay teachers are implementing the model’s 6 teaching targets and methods that are supported by brain research.

Dr. Hardiman and Principal Heinbaugh hope that Barclay will soon be viewed as a school of choice by all families living in its residential zone and attract additional families to live in the community. We sat down with Dr. Hardiman to find out more about her work and why she is working with Barclay School.

Could you speak about your time as principal of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School?

When I first got to Roland Park, the school was falling apart. Outside where the beautiful fish fence is now, it was a mudslide. Inside there was graffiti everywhere, holes in the walls and no doors on the bathroom stalls. The test scores weren’t great either. When I think about it, I really used the Brain-Targeted Teaching principles, though I hadn’t formalized it into a model yet. I had to clean up the environment first because no parent was going to walk in there and say, ‘I want my child to come here.’

It wasn’t like Roland Park always was like it is today. The community was petitioning to close the school. That was an easy fix though. I explained that you don’t need to send your kids to this school, but I guarantee you, if this school gets better, your housing market will improve. Change doesn’t happen in a week, but when the community is engaged and they like what they hear and see, I promise you good things will happen.

What makes the Barclay School unique in its implementation of the program?

I’m so excited to work with Barclay! I really have to say, I applaud Jenny Heinbaugh. So many principals let others handle professional development and don’t think of it as their job. She is a real model for her teachers. Jenny has been fabulous, and I have to hand it to her that she wants to move in this direction. There are some principals that just want a quick fix to get test scores up, but for Jenny, this program is more. It makes your school a better place for children.

What should people take away from your presentation?

I’m taking the workshop I do for teachers and administrators and tweaking it for parents and the community. I spent a lot of time thinking, ‘That sounds really academic. How can I say it in a normal way?’ The crux of what I do is to provide research to people. It’s not ‘do as I say because it’s good,’ but here is the body of research that shows why it is good. And this model also encourages the development of creativity. We’re not giving kids the experiences in school that let kids be creative. The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model encourages collaboration and arts integration that lends itself to creative problem solving, a 21st century skill.

I hope that if parents hear how it’s being approached in school, they’ll think of what they can do at home. If there is more interest from parents, I would love to bring together a small group in a workshop session to figure out how to implement this strategy at home.

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Mark Your Calendars for the next “What Works in Education Speaker Series”:

On Tuesday, October 30 at 7:00 pm, sponsored by the Bolton Street Synagogue (212 West Coldspring), author Paul Tough will present his new book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. Learn more by listening to this fascinating podcast of This American Life: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/474/back-to-school.