BCP June 2019 Newsletter
In this issue:

  • D. Watkins Delivers Keynote Speech at City Springs Closing Ceremony
  • City Springs Students Learn Symmetry Through Art
  • Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises Reads to FES Students
  • Mentoring and Mixed Martial Arts at Frederick Elementary
  • Catholic Relief Services Supports Govans Elementary Field Day
  • Hampstead Hill Academy Debate Team Finishes Strong
  • Wolfe Street Academy Principal Mark Gaither Honored as "Heart of the School"
  • Julia Marciari-Alexander Hosts Tour of The Walters for BCP Students
D. Watkins Delivers Keynote Speech at City Springs Closing Ceremony
Writer, Professor and Speaker D. Watkins delivered an inspiring keynote speech at the City Springs Elementary Middle/School eighth grade closing ceremony on June 7, 2019.

During his speech, Mr. Watkins shared the following nuggets of wisdom from his Grandmother:

  • Stubbornness is a sign of stupidity.
  • It's never right to do wrong. It's never wrong to do right.
  • Give the same type of love you deserve.
  • Lift as you climb. I'll never say I made it until my friends make it too!
  • Fear and faith can't live in the same space.
  • When you're lost every direction is right.
  • Treat everybody like they Jesus.
  • Never look down on someone unless you're pulling them up.
  • You can't cheat the work.

In May, Mr. Watkins visited City Springs and eleven other city schools to share his new book,“We Speak for Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America.” This book provides an existential look at life in low-income black communities, while also offering a new framework for how we can improve the conversations occurring about them. 

Mr. Watkins brought free copies of his book, lunch, and a group of East and West Baltimore residents to share their stories of success.

When a City Springs seventh grader asked Mr. Watkins what inspires him, he replied: "You inspire me. I was once your age and trying to figure out the world like you. I needed big brothers and homies to look our for me. Sometimes I had that, and sometimes I didn’t."

“When I have rough days, I know there’s kids running around the city who are being inspired by the work I do so I have to keep going. When you see a young person and you look out for them and they start to succeed — when they are smart and get into great colleges and start their own companies — that is the biggest blessing.”

City Springs and BCP would like to thank Mr. Watkins for sharing his story and wisdom with our students.

About D. Watkins

D. Watkins is Editor at Large for Salon. His work has been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and other publications. He holds a Master’s in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore.

He is a college professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project, and has also been the recipient of numerous awards including BMe Genius Grant, Ford’s Men of Courage, and named by Richtopia as one of the 200 Most Influential Writers in the World. Watkins was also a finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award and Books for A Better Life. He has lectured at countless universities, and events, around the world. Watkins has been featured as a guest and commentator on NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s The Erin Burnett Show, Democracy Now and NPR’s Monday Morning, among other shows.

Watkins is from and lives in East Baltimore. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America and The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir.

For more information visit: https://d-watkins.com/
City Springs Students Learn Symmetry Through Art
The word “symmetry” describes an object that is the same on both sides when it’s divided into halves. For example, if you perfectly cut an apple vertically down the middle, it will be “symmetrical”—the same on both sides.

Symmetry is an important concept in both math and art, two fields that people don’t often think of as being related. However, our Urban Teacher resident Ms. Hornbeck recently taught an engaging geometry lesson to Ms. Smith’s students that mixed math with art and invited students to create artwork displaying mathematical symmetry. 

Inspired by artist Kehinde Wiley (who painted former President Barack Obama’s presidential portrait), Ms. Hornbeck began by printing out pictures of his paintings and asking students to identify and trace the lines of symmetry found in his pieces.

The students quickly noticed one of his reoccurring artistic themes, identifying his use of repeated symmetrical patterns in the decorative backgrounds of many of his paintings. Next, they discussed creating their own artwork with a symmetrical pattern background, and then used materials like isometric dot paper, graph paper, or plain white paper to help them plan out their own symmetrical artwork. Once everyone had finished their designs, Ms. Hornbeck duplicated the background on a computer and took pictures of the students. Finally, she digitally cut each student from the photo and placed them in front of their symmetrical backgrounds.

When asked why she designed this math-meets-art experience she responded: “It is very important, especially in math, for the students to feel invested in what they are doing. By creating a self-portrait, a lot of the kids were thinking about non-math related things, like ‘what pose am I going to do?’ or ‘what color is my design going to be?’ But, they had to integrate math into their pieces for it to be acceptable and meet the design criteria. When it was time for the students to take their geometry unit exam, symmetry was a breeze!” 

This open-ended activity required a lot of work for both student and teacher, but it was worth it. It allowed students to tap into their imagination and creativity while demonstrating a basic but important mathematical concept. In the end, Ms. Hornbeck couldn’t be happier: the kids had fun while improving their math skills. Thank you, Ms. Hornbeck, and good job students!
Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises Reads to FES Students
Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises visited Frederick Elementary on May 24, 2019 to read Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt to third graders.

The collection of poems written by Patricia McKissack tells the story of the quilt-making community in Gee’s Bend, Alabama

According to soulsgrowndeep.org, "the women of Gee’s Bend—a small, remote, black community in Alabama—have created hundreds of quilt masterpieces dating from the early twentieth century to the present."

Dr. Santelises engaged students in a lively conversation about the poems and commented that she was impressed with the students' background knowledge and participation.

Shortly after the visit, Dr. Santelises informed the school about an exhibit at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum featuring photographs of the Gee's Bend quiltmakers. The exhibit, entitled "Linda Day Clark: The Gee’s Bend Photographs," is on display until September 1, 2019.

Coincidentally, the school was already planning a trip to The Lewis, sponsored by Bon Secours Community Works and Kaiser Permanente. Students in grades one through five who had recently been selected as students of the month visited The Lewis on April 3, 2019.

The photographs in the visit captured the richness of the rural landscape as well as the strong sense of community forged by the women who are carrying on the quiltmaking tradition in Gee’s Bend.

In addition to the photographs, students had the opportunity to view the actual quilts and make their own pieces. Some of the third graders who had learned about the quiltmakers from Dr. Santelises shared their knowledge with other students.

"We greatly appreciate the CEO for her support of our reading initiative, and her general support for FES," said Principal Harold S. Henry, Jr.

"From initially making time in her schedule to visit and participate in our learning community, followed by the thoughtfulness shown in alerting us of the Lewis exhibit after the fact, we take pride in believing that we made an impression on her with the work that we've done in our first two years of charter conversion."

"Our students were able to visit the exhibit through our partnership with Bon Secours Community Works and Kaiser Permanente; and they remembered the readings from their morning spent with the CEO. I am truly grateful for leaders who are partners and demonstrate their care for our learning community like Dr. Santelesis." 
Mentoring and Mixed Martial Arts at Frederick Elementary
FES Family and Mentor Event

Frederick Elementary's recent Family and Mentor Social Engagement Event was a night to remember. Parents, mentors and mentees came together for a night filled with fun, laughter, good food and great conversations.

We would like to acknowledge our partners Bon Secours Community Works, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, Kaiser Permanente and Enterprise Women's Network for continuously supporting the vision and mission of FES.
MMA Workshop with Tenyeh Dixon

The BCP After School Program at FES recently hosted a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) workshop with Tenyeh Dixon, Maryland's first and only two-time MMA Pro Champion.

Mr. Dixon is Maryland's most decorated and accomplished Mixed Martial Arts Figher, having achieved three world titles. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu and kyokushin karate, and placed silver at the 2014 Pan American Games.
Catholic Relief Services Supports Govans Elementary Field Day
A group of ten volunteers from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) participated in Govans Elementary's Field Day on May 15, 2019.

The energetic volunteers supervised ten stations and helped students complete a variety of games and activities, which required student team work. The volunteers also helped break down the stations and clean up.

“We had a great time with the students on Field Day. They were engaging, fun, and just delightful to be around," said Megan Gilbert, CRS Communications Officer for Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

"After spending time with the teachers at Govans, we were reminded that there are people working hard every day to make sure the children of Baltimore have a bright future. We are so grateful to them for their dedication to educating the city’s future leaders.”

Business Volunteers Maryland organized the CRS volunteers for the Field Day. Govans Elementary would like to thank CRS and Business Volunteer Maryland for supporting our students. Special thanks to CRS team captains Orhan Morina and Megan Gilbert. 

For more information about CRS visit: https://www.crs.org/
Hampstead Hill Academy Debate Team Finishes Strong
The HHA Debate team finished a stellar season, with both the elementary and middle school teams finishing in the top 3 at the Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL) city-wide championship held at Western High School on May 4, 2019.

Middle school students Vincent V. and Daniela K. finished first overall in the middle school open
division, and students Giuliana C. and Annabel finished 3rd overall in the elementary open division. All four were recognized at the Baltimore Urban Debate League Banquet and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 23rd at the Lithuanian Hall.

In addition, Austin R. was honored with the HHA Team Award for upholding the Leaders Go Places 5 Promises throughout the tournament season. [Leaders Go Places is a middle grades leadership program.]

Debate coaches Ms.Poole and Mr. Plunk were awarded the ‘Spirit of the League’ Coaches Award by BUDL. HHA finished 5th overall for the year due to the amazing effort put forth by the team members listed above, as well as Sophie and Viola E., Brenda C., Alize F., Gage B., Jonathan H., and Westley W.

We also owe a heartfelt thanks to parent volunteer Steve Fogleman, who provided valuable coaching assistance throughout the season, as well as Krystal Roof, who along with Mr. Fogleman, served as
volunteer judges at tournaments throughout the year.
Wolfe Street Academy Principal Mark Gaither Honored as "Heart of the School"
Wolfe Street Academy Principal Mark Gaither was recognized for his exceptional leadership and innovation at the 2019 Heart of the School Awards on May 20, 2019. The Heart of the School Awards, which is hosted by the Fund for Educational Excellence, brings together educators, school and city leaders, and community members to recognize principals in Baltimore City public schools for their exemplary dedication and leadership.

During Mark Gaither’s 14 years as principal, Wolfe Street Academy has risen from being ranked 77th to near the top of city schools on state assessment performance, consistently outperforming schools with similar demographics.

As a community school and neighborhood hub, Wolfe Street provides the support that students need to be ready to learn, from medical check-ups, mental health services and dental exams to clothing and supplies.

Principal Gaither is a nationally recognized leader in the community school movement; Wolfe Street has been named one of the five best community schools in the country. Students feel safe and supported, and parents are given the resources they need to advocate for and empower their children.

Wolfe Street serves one of the highest percentages of immigrant families in Baltimore, and supporting his students’ families with their unique needs is a hallmark of Principal Gaither’s leadership and part of what makes Wolfe Street such a special place.

For more information about the Heart of the Schools Awards visit: https://www.heartoftheschoolawards.org/
Julia Marciari-Alexander Hosts Tour of The Walters for BCP Students
Julia Marciari-Alexander, Executive Director and CEO of the Walters Art Museum, was one of the contestants in this year's Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader? Quiz Show on April 10, 2019.

She had such a wonderful time at the event that she invited all five of the student contestants and their principals for a private tour of The Walters on June 6, 2019.

During the tour, Ms. Marciari-Alexander worked hard to keep the students engaged and made connections between the art and relevant topics.

For example, she taught the students about a beautiful fountain that was built in the 1800's using lead paint. The artisans who created the piece and all others like it kept getting sick and dying because of their constant exposure to lead paint. She helped the students make the connection between this problem and the ongoing problem with lead paint poisoning in Baltimore City.

Ms. Marciari-Alexander also talked about how although everyone creates some type of art, most people do not think of themselves as artists. She said that if you hang a drawing on the fridge or sing in the shower, you are an artist.

BCP would like to thank Ms. Marciari-Alexander for competing in Are You Smarter than a BCP 5th Grader? and for hosting this highly enjoyable and educational tour of The Walters.
Baltimore Curriculum Project | 410.675.7000 | bcpinfo@baltimorecp.org | www.baltimorecp.org