Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “Making the Most of Your Higher Eds” – A Panel Discussion

If your community is looking to ensure successful partnerships with local higher education anchor institutions, “Making the Most of Your Higher Eds”, a panel discussion led by representatives from Loyola University; Goucher College; and University of Maryland, Baltimore is for you. To participate in this workshop, and many others, register here.

A thank-you card from Margaret Brent students, sent to GHCC for our role in leveraging funding from anchor institution, Johns Hopkins University, for renovations to the school.

On the right, a card from Barclay School students, thanking GHCC for our role in securing funding from local Higher Ed, Johns Hopkins University, for renovations made to Barclay and Margaret Brent. On the left, the Margaret Brent’s renovated facade.

Universities can be a tremendous asset for surrounding neighborhoods. Their resources and economic leverage can support a diverse range of improvements, including after-school programming, workforce development, neighborhood planning, physical development, and more. Local communities can benefit from partnering with colleges for student interns, class field placements, and capital investments. However, university bureaucracies can also be notoriously difficult to navigate; it can be unclear who to contact for which resource and how to promote active collaboration.

In Baltimore, we are lucky to have several world-class colleges and universities within the City limits. In this workshop, panelists from Loyola University, Goucher College, and University of Maryland, Baltimore will share the innovative ways their universities are supporting surrounding neighborhoods. Come to this presentation to learn how you can connect with ongoing programming and navigate the university bureaucracy.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). To register for the event, follow this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant to community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.


Goucher Mentoring


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.


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


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.


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.


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.