Our Strategic Plan, Impact 2020, is guided by three key tenets, the first of which reads,
“Early childhood education, youth development and closing the achievement gap are investments in a strong tomorrow.”
One of the key strategic objectives which helps assure we fulfill this goal reads: “The Y will partner with schools, families and community organizations to narrow the achievement gap and to help every child and youth with whom we work succeed in school and life.”
Perhaps no program we’re invested in accomplishes this objective better or more fully than does our commitment to the Community Schools Initiative. Largely funded by The Family League of Baltimore, the Y has been given the privilege and responsibility to do work in 15 Community Schools, far more than any other organization working in the city. Community Schools are located in neighborhoods of extreme poverty and are designated for added support to address issues like hunger, which prevents a child from learning and thriving.
Today marks the start of Community Schools Coordinators’ Appreciation Week across the country and I must say it’s a sentiment which I heartily endorse! Our Community Schools Coordinators are doing vitally important work which is often unseen, but never unfelt. Y Community Schools Coordinators work in schools with principals, students, families and other community stakeholders to facilitate fundamental supports which enable students to do what they came to school for in the first place, which is obviously to learn.
Examples of some of the thoughtful and innovative work our Community Schools Coordinators have done are as varied and diverse as arranging for food and clothing banks to be housed in schools to assure children do not go hungry or without proper clothing, allowing them to have the opportunity to go through the school day comfortably and confidently. Y Community Schools Coordinators have initiated innovative peace campaigns in schools plagued by violence and even introduced a special program which helps families learn the habit of getting their children to school on time every day. These programs and countless more like them are the work of Y Community Schools Coordinators who, in many ways, are like Guardian Angels on the shoulders of students and families who work hard to knock down barriers to learning at every step.
Community Schools Coordinator Appreciation Week is a wonderful and needed thing, but we can’t possibly thank our Community Schools Coordinators in merely a week. They each deserve our thanks every single day. Please join me in thanking them now:
- Abby Baldwin- Academy for College and Career Exploration
- Sasha Batts- Moravia Park Elementary School
- Natasha Bentzen- Armistead Gardens Elementary/Middle School
- Ramona Dowdell- Lakeland Elementary/Middle School
- Shanelle England- Forest Park High School
- Justin Hunt- Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle School
- Omari Jeremiah- Owings Mills High School
- Andrew Mitchell- Patterson High School
- Teri Ray- Douglass High School
- Cynthia Rodriguez- Holabird Academy
- Anna Scribner- Graceland Park-O’Donnell Heights Elementary/Middle School
- Kenya Smith- Reginald F. Lewis High School
- Catrina Springer- Waverly Elementary/Middle School
- Shekita Wilkins- Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle School
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland