2021 Week 6: Education & Youth Advocacy


We have three student workers with us at the school, working as support staff and assisting us with day-to-day tasks. One of them has come to us from Centro SOL (Carlos’ placement) to work alongside the other students who’ve come to us from YouthWorks. She was not able to join YouthWorks directly because YouthWorks is unable to offer opportunities to immigrant youth due to administrative barriers. She’s a spectacular person and is such a support to the Calvin Rodwell summer program, and I’m glad that Centro SOL exists to offer opportunities to youth like her whereas other programs are unable to do so.

The access to the opportunity was made equitable for her, but the opportunity itself is not identical to that of YouthWorks in all capacities. The difference between YouthWorks program and Centro SOL’s program is in the way they pay their mentees: youth from YouthWorks are paid biweekly throughout the program but youth from Centro SOL are paid for their work in full once the program is over. I do not condemn Centro SOL for this difference because I understand why the difference exists, but it is just another way that different barriers and statuses create inequity even in spaces where equity is desired and attempted.

But for the kids in the summer program, I think potential collaborations between the school and other placements could be those that are geared toward giving kids access to different arts resources and activities. (I’ve been trying to remember the name of this organization that offers photography and filmmaking opportunities to youth… we heard from them during orientation… if someone could drop the name that would be GREAT!) But said organization could be great for the students at Calvin Rodwell. Amanda, my supervisor and the community schools coordinator at CREMS, mentioned that the school has a tech center that they plan to use to create a daily newsroom for morning announcements, and I think that collaboration would benefit them greatly.

Photo of Em Ambrosius, smiling EM AMBROSIUS | VILLAGE LEARNING PLACE

In Bites this week we were asked to reflect on the relationships that we have been able to build throughout this summer. I have then spent the rest of the week thinking about the amazing people that I have met at the Village Learning Place. There is Laura the fantastic office assistant, Annie my supervisor, Roberto a Hopkins work-study, Liesje our fantastic executive director, Tee-Kay the head of LINK Summer, Mr. Daniel the 5th/6th grade teacher, Ms. Amber the 3rd/4th grade teacher, Mr. Carson the 1st/2nd grade teacher, Ms. Noraleen the 1st2nd grade teacher, Ms. Kim the wonderful LINK Leaders teacher, and so many more.

Coming into this summer I was so much more focused on developing relationships with the children that the VLP is serving not giving any thought to the fact that coworker relationships would develop. I hadn’t ever entered an office environment and interacted with coworkers and really didn’t have anything to expect, but I definitely didn’t expect to become such good friends with the people I am working with.

This week the VLP had an evening drinks-in-the-garden get-together that I didn’t have to go to but went to anyways, and I had such a blast. I spent a lot of the night talking to Bonnie, Laura’s sister, and Roberto. But I spent a lot of time learning and hearing more about the lives of the people I am working with. Hearing about the places in Baltimore they like to visit, how their families are doing, and their thoughts of the band playing. Also last night I went to Laura’s 40th birthday party. It astounded me that I had known this woman for less than two months and she invited me to her party. It was a blast and it was so cool meeting her friends that have children the same age as Laura’s daughter and who had also grown up with their children going through the VLP’s programs. I just can’t thank them enough for welcoming me with open arms into their community and I just hope I can continue to work with the VLP for a while to come.

I have truly cherished all of the perspectives that I have gained throughout this summer through having conversations about Baltimore and the VLP’s place in the community. This work has definitely left me feeling more connected to Baltimore and especially Charles Village which should serve me well for my years to come in the city.

I continued to work in the Library this week cataloging books and on Thursday I finally finished cataloging all of them. Next, they all need labels and reinforcements before they can be shelved and circulated. But I am really happy with my progress in getting over 300 books added to the VLP’s library. On Friday we went to Rawlings Conservatory with the 1st/2nd graders which was a lot of fun to see the plants and run around in Druid Hill Park. It is really bitter-sweet that the summer is coming to an end but I have had the most fantastic time and learned so much and am excited to meet the 3rd/4th graders next week!

My great aunt passed this weekend which is devastating. I haven’t really come to terms with it yet but I have the amazing support of my family and friends to work through the grief. I have been thinking a lot about her and my grandmother, her sister, and about my time with them, and about all of the stories, I have heard from my dad.


Intersectionality has a fairly large impact on the work I’m doing with ACCE this summer. ACCE is a Baltimore City Public School with black students making up the majority, located in Hampden. Hampden (which I didn’t know until this summer) has long been a neighborhood of lower-income white residents. Many have been pushed out by middle-income white residents and through gentrification of the area. This leaves a mix of middle-income and low-income whites making up the neighborhood that surrounds the school of mixed middle-income and low-income black students (as there are no zoning requirements for high schools in the City). There seems to be a higher level of discrimination both of ACCE students by the community, and of the community by ACCE students, heightened through the consideration of intersectionality. I have seen more specific examples of intersectionality on the home visits I go on for ACCE to check in with families of students that didn’t make it to class much last year. In one specific case, a mother explained to me that her daughter is dreading school because of her being low-income, white, and having anxiety and ADD/ADHD. This student has had trouble in Baltimore City schools and I see that in-person in the summer programming at ACCE for students with similar identities.

My placement at a community school has intersected with so many other placement areas! One of my main tasks in the first half of the internship was executing the food and hygiene delivery programs for families of ACCE students, which is a mix of the food security and low-income resource placements. More recently though, I have been planning the Back to School BBQ and resource fair for students at ACCE, and the other partners of CIIP have been a HUGE help in guiding me to choose the vendors for the resource fair. My supervisor has made great efforts to make sure I understand the demographics of ACCE students and families so that I can be a better source of support and resources for them. A lot of students and their families are immigrants, so I have reached out to organizations such as the Esperanza Center and the ERICA to come share about their workshops and services for the families. A goal of this fair is also to give students resources for involvement and engagement, while also preparing them for careers and professionalism, so organizations such as Wide Angle Youth Media and others that help prepare and empower students have a huge place in being a resource for these students. Even the sector of health has been a large part of my work at ACCE, as I am assisting in the coordination of a community wide vaccine clinic and the families of ACCE students are the target for organizations such as Shepherd’s Clinic. Overall, the existence of a community school really requires intersections with other placement areas. Without these connections, there couldn’t really be a community school.

Photo of Jevon Campbell, smilingJEVON CAMPBELL | CODE IN THE SCHOOLS

This week was a lot smoother than previous weeks. The YouthWorks website was finally working like how it should be for the most part, barring some sign in issues, so that helped a lot. I feel like I am getting much better at communicating with instructors and getting help from them. This was probably my best week in a supervising capacity. I was able to get all the attendance in on time, barely, but I felt very relieved to do it because YouthWorks moved up the deadline. Additionally, I learned a whole new feature of google forms and think the feedback form I made was the best feedback form I ever made. The financial literacy with Ms. Aneka Winstead from WATT Kids was great again and the youth were super engaged again. The session Friday afternoon led by our CEO, Ms. Gretchen LeGrand, went really smoothly too. The youth enjoyed the music I was playing as I was cohosting for the session and seemed to like the presentation a lot. Overall, I just enjoyed all the interactions we had with the youth and liked having a very successful week.

The only tough part of this week was that even though a heavy majority of the youth were enjoying the CodeWorks program there were a couple that basically told me that they were willing to be terminated from the program and did not want to participate anymore. For me it is very disheartening to see that, especially because I feel like we, as a whole, go out of our way to help the youth and I really hate seeing them miss out on the opportunity, even though I understand they might’ve just been a little burnt out and could not work anymore. I found myself getting a bit stressed out trying to find a way to help out the youth and trying to communicate with instructors to help log hours for youth to get paid but, just like how things worked out this week for the most part, I need to trust that everything will be fine as long as I give my best effort.

Photo of Andrea Guillen, smiling


Fun Fact: You can get a pack of 50 mini-rubber ducks for $10.99 on Amazon. I spent most of this week doing prep work for engagement initiatives at the Back-to-School Family Festivals. I also began the process of wrapping up some projects I have been working on since my second week, which was bittersweet. A lot of the graphic design work I was doing this week had me nit-picking every little thing about a design, but this nit-picking also flowed into my other projects as well. One of my projects on volunteer policies and websites requires me to focus a lot on language, which, in the nicest way possible, is the most tedious and frustrating thing ever. But one word can change the tone or message of a sentence, potentially affecting the ultimate goal and effect of the message. I remember one of the very first meetings I was listening in on, there was maybe a 15-minute debate on using the term “hyper-local” versus “local,” and I remember thinking myself “we should just pick one, it really does not change anything and I doubt anyone will fixate on this once we publish it.” Now, I retract my thought. The question of language has come up in almost every Bites session as well, most vividly a discussion during Jevon’s presentation about food desserts versus food apartheid.

The work on language has become a theme of my work this summer, constantly reminding myself of the risk of alienating others without proper consideration of language. With the preparation for Back-to-School, my supervisor is continuously emphasizing using the family festivals as a way for families and partners to gain trust in the school district. We’re serving thousands of families and it’s more than just getting students excited for school. It’s getting students the right supplies and uniforms, sharing scheduling information, and connecting families to resources for food security, tutoring, or transportation support. All of this can most effectively occur if families know and trust the district and school administration and vice versa, and poor word choice can affect this. What’s frustrating is that there is no perfect answer. The task on updating policy language was not like my task on getting the supplies and prices for the duck game. It’s a task where I am cross-referencing with language from other sources, reaching out to team members for their intel, and trial and error to see how the language impacts the community. On one of the orientation days, I spoke about how I prefer the process of a task rather than finishing a task. I will never get the language for the policy or the language for the family festival flyers perfect, making me struggle with both the process of a task and finishing the task. I am so grateful to be supported by a team that has acknowledged the reality of creating and updating language and has offered me support on which resources to connect to and how to approach discussions on language. I have a love-hate relationship with language and word choice; it is a difficult process, but it is also a challenge that opens up discussion and ideas that may not have been thought of before (I can now speak of the different merits between “hyperlocal” and “local”). As much as it is frustrating, it has also brought about some of the most fruitful discussions I’ve had so far, even when it does not seem related to the initial topic at hand.

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