Jocelyn Garlington teaches parents to go to...


Jocelyn Garlington teaches parents to go to school

When Jocelyn Garlington talks, teachers listen.

They don't always like what they hear, though. Who is this woman encouraging parents to challenge educators? To show up at school unexpectedly? To request their child's records?

She is the outspoken author of "Helping Dreams Survive: The Story of a Project Involving African-American Families and the Education of their Children," a 167-page account of her efforts to get parents involved in Harlem Park Middle School.

Written as a narrative, the book chronicles three years of successes and failures as she and four others tried to convince 150 families there's more to being active in school than sponsoring bake sales.

"It is funny when parents get dragged off to spaghetti dinners or carnivals. But what we need to look at is how parents can be involved in meaningful ways," says Ms. Garlington, director of drop-out prevention for the National Committee for Citizens in Education, a nonprofit group in Washington.

Since studies have shown that children do better when parents are interested in school, she created ways to make these institutions more parent-friendly -- translating educational jargon into simple language, conducting community forums and scheduling meetings around adult work hours.

But after 3 1/2 years, she watched private funding -- and the project -- end. When such failures hit, Ms. Garlington copes by retreating to her West Baltimore home and writing poetry. And if that doesn't help?

"I eat a lot of carbohydrates," says the 40-year-old. "That always works."

He's a model plastic surgeon.

Errrrr, make that model and plastic surgeon.

In a profession where image is everything (patients even comment on his waiting-room decor), it doesn't hurt that Dr. William G. Armiger's chiseled features turn up on television and in print. Whether he's in a promotion for WJZ-TV or a public service spot for the nursing profession, his is the face you can trust -- the father, the CEO, sometimes even the doctor.

Playing an M.D., however, can't compare to the real thing, says Dr. Armiger, who is governor of the Maryland chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

"I think good plastic surgery is art applied to the body," he says.

When he's not removing a wrinkle or lifting an eyelid, Dr. Armiger, who has taken classes at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, enjoys sculpting. He's not above bringing in clay to help him visualize a patient's new chin or cheeks.

He decided to pursue cosmetic surgery after realizing he wasn't "interested in taking gallbladders out every day," he says. "All the external stuff impacts people's lives in very real ways. I was happier doing that."

But whether he's happy with his own looks remains anyone's guess. The weekend sailor, who lives in Annapolis, declines to say whether he's ever let anyone tinker with his face or physique. He even refuses to say what he'd like to change about his appearance.

Says the 46-year-old, "It's a personal matter."

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