Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

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.


Just in Time for Christmas, a New Computer Lab for Waverly School

Chris Thompson, an AmeriCorps*VISTA member placed at Waverly Elementary/Middle School by GHCC, has been working hard this Fall to make sure Waverly Elementary students have access to computers to support their learning.

But Chris won’t take all the credit: he made all the connections, got the ball rolling, and provided coordination and support, but it was Waverly’s amazing community partners that came through and provided a whole new computer lab for the school.

Here’s what Chris had to say about this collaborative effort:

Tell us a little bit about the new computer lab at Waverly. What was there before, and what will this lab allow students to accomplish?
The new Waverly Elementary School computer lab features 25 refurbished computers, a smart board for LCD projection, and a wonderful new mural painted by third grader Kyle Smith. The previous lab only contained a handful of “dinosaur” computers that were so old they were unusable. While these computers aren’t brand new, they are high-quality and only two years old.
The addition of a functioning computer lab will allow students to reinforce math and reading skills through interactive online learning tools, learn computer and technology skills, and have fun while they’re at it. Classes that have already utilized the lab have been thrilled, and the teachers are grateful for another fun resource for instructing their students.
Who donated time and resources to make this happen? How did you coordinate efforts between them?
I initially reached out to any organizations doing computer donations to address the need for technology at the school. Bootup Baltimore, a student-run technology assistance organization operated through the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern, offered to donate 25 computers and the necessary keyboards, mice, and cables. They acquired the computers through the Johns Hopkins University’s IT Recycling Program.
I worked with Bootup Baltimore until we hit the obstacle of finding funding to buy hard drives. Because Waverly Elementary and the Cathedral of the Incarnation have a strong and long-standing partnership, it was natural for me to reach out to them and ask if they could help. When they said yes, Bootup Baltimore purchased and installed the hard drives, then delivered the machines to the school.
Bootup Baltimore did all the initial computer refurbishment and setup, but the school’s IT specialist took charge of maintenance and support for the computers after they entered the building.
  
A project like this can get complicated—what was the moment that made it all worth it for you?

The unveiling event that Waverly held for the computer lab on Wednesday, December 15 was when I finally felt really excited about the implications of the project for Waverly students. We had a third grade class in there playing math computer games and everyone was able to see computers being used.
We also took the opportunity to thank all our partners individually and recognized the third grade student, Kyle Smith, who did the wonderful mural on the wall to beautify the room. The event was a thrill for everyone and made me grateful for the work they, and I, had done together.


You’re a VISTA—what’s your role at the school and in the community? How did this help you accomplish your VISTA project goals for the year?
My primary role at the school and in the Waverly community is to mobilize resources for the benefit of neighborhood families and students. I also assist with parent engagement initiatives put forth by the school.
This project was a great example of partnerships with community organizations that will provide a resource to fill a long-term need at the school. My role is to inspire people to do work like this and help coordinate their efforts. This project never could have happened without the spark provided by a VISTA, which then transformed into a prolonged process of coordination and support for partnering organizations as they worked to make the lab happen.
My primary goal this year is to form and strengthen partnerships between the Waverly school and the surrounding community, and this project enabled me do both! 

VISTA Spotlight: Andrew Stiller



Know someone interested in making positive changes in the world? GHCC is seeking qualified candidates for our nationally-renowned AmeriCorps*VISTA program.  Sign on for a year of service with us and receive health benefits, a modest living allowance, and an end-of-service education award.  We have 10 positions available to start in August 2010 in the areas of improving public schools, strengthening neighborhoods, and adult literacy.
We’ll be featuring several VISTA stories in the coming weeks to raise awareness of national service.
Want to know more? Visit our website!

Submitted by Andrew Stiller

I never thought my time as a VISTA member would land me in front of a room of civil servants while being webcast live across the United States. But then again, I didn’t really know what to expect.
Though my parents tried to instill a sense of civic pride and responsibility in me, it didn’t really stick until I got to college. Community service was part of my middle and high school curriculum, but we never embraced it because it was forced upon us. Teenage angst and rebellion almost required that I scoff at being forced to clean streets.
Luckily, that all changed. As an undergraduate at Dickinson College I joined the event planning organization, a service-oriented club called the Keystones, and a traditional Greek fraternity. Surprisingly, I had a better service experience motivating the Greek men to roll out of their beds for philanthropy on Sunday morning than I did with the Keystones. I realized I could affect more change by motivating and teaching others. This was my philosophy throughout college.
After graduation, I was applying for policy-oriented jobs and anything else I could find. I was really lucky to be turned on to the AmeriCorps* VISTA program, and when a position opened up at GHCC, I jumped at the opportunity. VISTA reflected the ideals and methods I adopted in college.
My role as Community Connections Coordinator at GHCC immersed me in a Baltimore City public school community, working with parents and administrators at the school and a variety of partner institutions in the neighborhood. It became apparent early on that true success would be measured by how much buy-in I could get from the parents and the community. A large part of my responsibility would be motivating parents, churches, businesses, neighborhood institutions, and local colleges and universities to invest in Waverly Elementary/Middle School.
I had an opportunity to articulate my experiences when representatives from the Department of Education and the White House’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships came to Waverly to discuss partnership building. I don’t remember saying a lot, but it must have stuck with them. A few months later, I was asked to give a presentation on my role as a VISTA member to the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. A briefing had been scheduled to discuss the possible collaborative efforts between the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). As a VISTA member working primarily with schools, I was located at the epicenter of this relationship.
I felt really honored to present on my VISTA experience. I found that the hardest part was limiting the length of my speech. GHCC’s VISTA members wear many different hats on a daily basis: organizer, capacity builder, mediator, teacher—the list is almost limitless. It was really difficult to put it all these amazing experiences into words. I worked on my speech up until the night before, trying to find the right word to express how it felt to see a parent step up to participate at the school.
When I spoke, though, I was confident. The audience was attentive and after two PowerPoint presentations from officials at CNCS, I think my firsthand experience was a useful counterpoint. I spoke about the day to day things, my major accomplishments, and ways any VISTA member can positively change a school. Regardless of my pre-speech jitters and what I had written down, I found that speaking about my VISTA year was actually quite easy. I think the reason is simple: I became a VISTA to help motivate others, yet it was their efforts in return that motivated me even more. I am now just as invested as anyone else in Waverly Elementary/Middle School and its surrounding community. I hope that means my job has come full circle. 

Waverly Ace Hardware: Your Neighborhood Hardware Store

GHCC was a big supporter of Ace Hardware moving into Waverly, and we’re thrilled to see business taking off!  Our Community Economic Development program fosters business district development by connecting local businesses to our network of resources and partnerships.  Greater Homewood neighborhoods like Waverly Village are a perfect place to open a business.  To learn more about our economic development initiatives, visit our website.

Submitted by Rachel Machacek, Ace Hardware Stores

Waverly Ace Hardware
As we’ve opened up hardware stores in DC and Baltimore, we’ve focused on underserved communities that value small local business. After our success with Federal Hill Ace, we started looking in north Baltimore for a new location. We saw a lot of potential for growth and opportunity in Waverly and the community members really made us feel like they would embrace a local business. And they have!

Now that we’ve been open for the better part of a year, we’re becoming a hub for homeowners working on renovations as well as those looking for quick home maintenance items. We’ve also had a wonderful time getting involved with the community – particularly during the Waverly Winter Wonderland for which we took pictures of neighbors with Santa Claus.

Waverly Ace Hardware
The impending Lowe’s down the street is a source of concern for us. Our presence is still growing and we hope that the neighborhood will recognize that we are poised as a locally run business to offer not just jobs, retail, and services but also be a gathering spot for the community. We recently sponsored a pet adoption day and look forward to another in July, and we’re kicking off free bike workshops in April as part of an overall emphasis on providing community services in addition to selling hardware and home-maintenance products.

We’ve also worked on a strong Internet presence through Facebook, Twitter and a blog to provide up to minute info on sales and essential DIY advice.
Waverly Ace Hardware
Waverly Ace Hardware is located across the street from the Giant grocery store at 601 Homestead Street, Baltimore, and has plenty of free parking.
Store hours:
Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
www.acehardwaredc.com
Join us for Neighborhood Bike Stop Workshop: Changing a flat
Saturday, April 17, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Learn to change an inner tube with the pros @ Light Street Cycles. They’ll be on hand at Waverly Ace on April 17 to give some quick and dirty lessons. Changing a flat is really quite easy! The workshop is free and we have bike racks outside the store. No excuses!