The impact Baltimore City educators have on children is enormous. Regardless of the type of schools where they teach, our educators have the same goal in mind, which is to cultivate a generation of students to be great leaders, thinkers and to make a positive impact on the world. I know this because I have seen our members working tirelessly toward this goal first-hand.
Since the first day of school, I have had the honor of visiting classrooms across the city to see our teachers and paraprofessionals educating our students. I have seen new and seasoned educators working collectively to create engaging learning environments that encourage out-of-the-box thinking. I have also witnessed innovative lesson planning in math, science, English and social studies with students who are eager to participate.
As an elementary school teacher and special educator who taught children in first through eighth grade for nearly four decades, it makes me proud to see teachers like Ms. Coleman at Mary E. Rodman using Flocabulary, an innovative website that infuses learning with music, to reinforce her English class lessons; Mr. Poknis at Medfield Heights whose tortoises are a source of live-action learning about the life cycle of animals; Ms. Maddox at Hilton Elementary who has written children’s books to help her students to become better learners; and Ms. Forrest, who has been teaching and guiding pre-K students at Liberty Elementary for nearly 40 years.
And then there are educators who go the extra mile like Ms. Ganges at Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology who raised $750 so each of her 11th graders could take home their own copies of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God;” Dr. Hood-Mincey, who founded and directs the Singing Sensations Youth Choir in performances throughout the world; Ms. Lyons from Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle who secured a grant to receive 65 desktop computers and 120 headphones for the school’s computer lab; Ms. Clark at Pimlico Elementary/Middle who, with the help of Samaritan’s Shoes, coordinated Shoes of Hope, a program created to secure a donation of 600 pairs of sneakers for the school’s students; and Ms. Hall-Pridgen, a Spanish teacher at Baltimore School of Design, who was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program and spent six weeks in Peru this summer with the goal of developing her intellectual competence about Latin American culture to bring back to her students here in Baltimore.
The work our educators do in the classroom is just the tip of the iceberg. What many will not share is the countless hours they spend preparing lessons, grading papers and attending professional development workshops to expand their pedagogy. They also will not mention the time they devote to staying after school to hold coach classes, serve as advisers for clubs and other extracurricular activities, or how they make themselves available to parents to help them provide better academic instruction for their children at home.
Contrary to popular belief, being an educator is still a noble profession, and teachers and paraprofessionals in Baltimore City are doing the necessary work to mold our city’s children into well-rounded learners who will become effective leaders of our great city.