2021 Week 1: Education & Youth Advocacy
Posted: June 23, 2021
JORDAN ADAMS | CALVIN M. RODWELL ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL
Toward the end of the week I was slightly disappointed because I felt that I wasn’t doing enough work from the jump. After my original placement, Liberty Elementary, closed for the summer, I was placed into Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary/Middle School, and because of the last minute change, I spent my first week at home. My supervisor and the community school coordinators at Calvin Rodwell sent me links to virtual trainings that I could take part in as a way to prepare me for working in a school full time. I also attended trainings in preparation for the YouthWorks students we have coming at the end of the month. By the end of the week I had to be nice to myself; just because I wasn’t doing as much work as I thought I would, doesn’t mean that what I’m doing isn’t important.
But throughout the week I couldn’t stop thinking about those students who were gearing up for the summer program at Liberty. On Wednesday at Bites we discussed education in Baltimore and the challenges that students and teachers endure. Like many schools in the city, Liberty does not have functioning A/C and closed two weeks ago due to the heat. After finding out that Liberty closed for the summer to fix their A/C, I was concerned for the students who were looking forward to the program and for the parents who depended on the program as a means of childcare while they work. I know how challenging it is to want to learn, to need to learn, but having all sorts of obstacles preventing you from doing so in a way that’s productive and fun and comfortable and necessary. I’ve been emotional about it this past week. But what I’ve seen from Calvin Rodwell – they got a new building right before the pandemic last year – is that updates to the schools in the city are coming, but they are coming slowly.
EM AMBROSIUS | VILLAGE LEARNING PLACE
Overall, this first week with our placements has been fantastic. Working at the Village Learning Place has been amazing; it’s a supportive and energetic working environment, and everyone seems excited to have me there this summer. I didn’t have much to do this week since all staff orientation for the LINK summer starts in my second week. I have a lot of excitement for the week of orientation because it seems there is a lot planned. Additionally, I am excited to learn about the curriculum and teaching aspect of the whole thing.
Monday, I completed the onboarding paperwork and read the staff handbook. Tuesday, I worked at the library during its open hours and then got a tour of the facilities. Wednesday, I helped out at a Vaccine Clinic being held in the library. Thursday, I helped stuff bags that will be sent home to the kids next week, so they have supplies while working from home.
In our Bites session on Tuesday, we talked a lot about slow starts and how it is entirely normal to have a job start slowly as you learn the skills you need to do work on your own. I’ve never really had a real job, so I hadn’t had that experience before, but this makes total sense. We discussed the education system of Baltimore City, which is the one thinking about Baltimore that I feel as If I know something about. But it was handy to have the perspective of reviewing the difficulties of education in Baltimore right before I begin working with kids all summer. Additionally, Riya’s presentation at Bites talked a lot about the legislative processes to improve the public school system; her talk inspired me to work in political advocacy for education sometime in the future. I firmly believe that educational equity is a critical pathway to achieving overall equity in the world.
Outside of work, it’s been a pretty good week. I have had enjoyable things for dinner, mental health has been alright, and I had a wonderful chat with Misti, the CSC director. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying cooking each night for dinner; it has made me very evicted about eating and actually taking care of myself. I have gotten a lot more adjusted to living on my own and knowing when I need to reach out to friends and family virtually and with those who are in Baltimore. For Juneteenth, I went down to the Lewis African American History and Culture Museum to learn from a few events and exhibits. I had never been to a museum alone before. Still, I got a lot out of the experience and enjoyed experiencing the emotions and celebrations and the history surrounding Juneteenth.
I am very much looking forward to next week. To learn all I can from orientation, dance at the Sandlot, learn from this week’s Bites session, and continue eating all of the veggies I bought from the farmers market.
JEVON CAMPBELL | CODE IN THE SCHOOLS
My first week back at Code in the Schools was definitely a myriad of emotions. I do not think I know quite what I expected but I know that my first week was not it, at least from an emotional standpoint. On one hand, I kind of felt like I would just be pressing the resume button on the internship, especially because this month was marking my year anniversary of being at Code in the Schools. However, on the other hand, I knew it was not going to be quite that simple because there might be new things and new people. I felt like I got a mixed bag of that. For one, I found myself a bit frustrated and almost feeling guilty. Some of the tasks that I was looking to work on over a month before was not quite complete and it was a little upsetting because I felt that this year, during the school year, I was holding down the communications and preparations for CodeWorks, our main summer program, pretty well. Despite all that, the school year portion of CIIP was over at the end of April and I had to focus on finals as May started so I had to pause my work with Code in the Schools for a month. Others helped cover the tasks I was responsible for but it wasn’t the same. I know if I was working through May we would have been more prepared but now I am back and it is the middle of June and we are in a scramble for CodeWorks to start in a week and a half. It is always hectic right before CodeWorks starts but I just wish I could’ve helped more because I know I would have been able to make a difference.
Outside of those thorns the week was a little slow but not bad. It took me a little bit to nail down what gaps were left for me to fill but I was able to help with a few closing items for our school year Prodigy Program, that I helped with before, and start helping with CodeWorks email again. It was also great to see people again virtually. During the school year there was definitely times I felt a bit siloed as I wasn’t able to participate in meetings like during the previous summer and see how people were doing and feeling. Being back this week was very different though. I was able to see a ton of familiar faces and get to catch up with coworkers that I liked working with last year. On top of that, we had an in person staff appreciation party on Friday, which was so great. I got to go to the Clifton Park mansion, where there was a super cool from the patio. I got to hear Brandon Woody perform for the first time in a while. Best of all, I got to meet so many coworkers that I never got to see in person and never met before and didn’t know how they fully looked like, which was amazing. It was also to crazy to reflect on the fact that the whole year I worked at Code in the Schools was during the pandemic and we never met in person before outside of Trish. I even got to meet Jo, who I work with the most and take a picture with them. Another plus was the lunch was good and the red velvet cheesecake cupcake was soo delicious. I even got a Code in the Schools mask. Going to the Staff Appreciation Party was truly a blessing and hearing the CEO and CFO personally thank me for my help in the organization the past year made me very happy.
ANDREA GUILLÉN | BALTIMORE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
On my first day, during a mini “orientation” session, one of my supervisors casually mentioned how they integrate the central tenants of critical race theory into their work with community partners. My supervisor mentioned this in passing and I did not get a chance to ask more questions, but I did not totally expect to hear that. Maybe because critical race theory is something I am still learning about or because it is currently being so intensely debated on the national stage. I think I was just kind of shocked because critical race theory is still not normalized. In my experience, even if people disagree with it, critical race theory is not treated like any other academic discipline but is often debated as if it were a form of propaganda. I don’t think I have ever been in a situation in which critical race theory was openly and explicitly discussed, even in my sociology courses or with my friends that I know have investigated and read about critical race theory. The themes of critical race theory are not even entirely normalized to be debated. So I did not know how to approach the work my community partner does, and that I will soon be doing, to integrate certain themes.
As I progressed throughout the week, I participated in discussions about community partner relations, how they can be maintained and what sort of training do community partners need to have. In one workgroup, in particular, the wording in a policy the group was reviewing labeled community partners as “community-based organizations.” A community member asked the group who we are excluding by this word choice, specifically thinking of local businesses and colleges, leading to a discussion about word choice in the policy. Some mentioned that diversifying community partners, especially when thinking of local colleges whose students are most likely not local, required diversifying the training for community partners. I had been thinking about this too, as it is a question that I had been given the task to try to answer throughout the summer. How can community partners be prepared to properly support Baltimore? For my department’s work, many of the themes of critical race theory are the baseline expectations for community partners. Critical race theory works to understand the social reality of law and culture as it relates to race. My community partner values and incorporates understandings of the realities of Baltimore’s demographics in this city, state, and country. Knowing these histories and realities is what they feel is necessary for other community partners to be effective and supportive for Baltimore students. To keep the community and its reality in larger society at the forefront of the work and future work they do. In the small bits of conversation, I have had, my community partner is committed to ensuring that any ‘outsider’ brought into the community is prioritizing the macro and micro realities of the community in the work they do, something I hope to keep in mind as an outsider myself who will be working with more outsiders in my role in the community engagement department.
AARON HARRIS | HAMPDEN FAMILY CENTER
My first week at HFC was good. I got to sit down with my boss, Pierre, and talk to him about my role as a summer intern. I wish I had a “name” for my role (maybe I do and I forgot?) but I suppose summer intern is fine. Anyways, my first official task was to clean the activity room and organize the storage closest. That took me most of the week, but I managed to more or less claim some order to the room. By the end of the week, I had also received my main assignment for the next week, which was to brainstorm ideas for the Olympic Field Day we would be having as part of the camp on the 29th. My conservations with Pierre have been very enlightening – in one of our talks, I learned that a discussion between him and his girlfriend, who is a Baltimore native, was his first experience learning about what Hopkins had done to the black community in the area, and the deep distrust of Hopkins that ran within the black community. My boss also got me a bus pass, so I have that option if I need to. I don’t see myself using it, as I have gotten into the routine of walking to and from work. Not only does it wake me up in the mornings, but it allows me to see how the people of Hampden live, as well as allowing me to admire their commercial streets. Of course, I have learned about the dark sides of Hampden too – particularly their history of race riots and exclusionary practices, which have led to being an especially white enclave within an already white area of Baltimore. In any case, I’m looking forward to my second week. Tags: 2021, Academy for College and Career Exploration, Baltimore City Public Schools, Calvin Rodwell Elementary, CIIP, Code in the Schools, Dent Education, Education, Hampden Family Center, Village Learning Place, Youth Advocacy