This July we took part in the transformation of three elementary schools that are doing some transformation of their own. Our volunteers headed to Mary E. Rodman Elementary School in Southwest Baltimore, James McHenry Elementary/Middle in South Baltimore, and Harford Heights Elementary in Northeast Baltimore City to take part in painting, cleaning, and organizing.
These three schools have been designated turnaround schools in part by expiring federal dollars from the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The effort seeks to ‘turnaround’ Baltimore’s worst-performing schools by pairing them with one of the system’s best, Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle in East Baltimore. Commodore John Rodgers was once ranked 872/875 until it reversed course using SIG dollars to quadruple enrollment, bolster test scores, and create a safer school environment for students.
The students and families of Mary E. Rodman, James McHenry, and Harford Heights face a mountain of social determinants that make a normal day at school challenging. It is the city’s hope that through this partnership, the teachers will share lessons learned, and collaborate with their counterparts across the city to better serve their students.
We were proud to be a part of the effort to turnaround these schools. In a Baltimore Sun article, Principal David Guzman of Mary E. Rodman Elementary, said he wanted to paint the halls and lockers, “I’m thinking of some bright colors,” he said. “Something to make it pop.” We painted inside, outside, school mascots, and inspirational quotes. The halls were certainly brighter after our day of work.
After the painting, the three groups of volunteers convened at Zella’s Pizzeria by Hollins Market for good pizza, good brews, and good times. We had a great turnout and packed the pizza joint!
To learn more about the turnaround school initiative, check out this article from the Baltimore Sun: