Friday, October 30, 2009

Pictures from GHCC's 40th Birthday Party!

Receiving our pictures from event photographer Mike Ciesielski easily took the cake as the most exciting event in our office this week. Everyone had such a wonderful time on Saturday! Here are a few photos from the evening, and you can see even more on our Flickr page.

GHCC's 40th Birthday Party

The Uppity Ladies Stilt Walkers towered above the crowd.

GHCC's 40th Birthday Party

Aerialist Mara Neimanis performed The Myth of Akewa

GHCC's 40th Birthday Party

Single Carrot Theatre gave a great improv comedy performance.

GHCC's 40th Birthday Party

The crowd sang "Happy Birthday" and enjoyed bright blue cupcakes.

GHCC's 40th Birthday Party

Hundreds of supporters turned out to dance and celebrate GHCC's 40th Birthday!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who made the day great!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Margaret Brent to Open Ben Carson Reading Room

Submitted by Rachel Prince

As the Lead Art Teacher at Margaret Brent, I collaborated with teachers and students to design and paint the Ben Carson Reading Room at Margaret Brent Elementary Middle School. The theme of the room, " Branching Out with Books," depicts a natural landscape for students and teachers to relax with a good book. Ten talented Middle School students spent several afternoon sessions painting the surrounding walls. They were eager to use bright colors and bring the room to life. Everyone worked well together and we are looking forward to the formal opening on November 4!

On November 4 at 1:30 p.m., Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School in Charles Village will open its brand-new Ben Carson Reading Room. Funded by a $10,000 grant from the Carson Scholars Fund, the room will create a nurturing atmosphere for students to expand their horizons and develop reading skills. The students and their art teacher have filled it with bright and colorful artwork and hundreds of books of all genres, topics, and authors. Click here to learn more about the Ben Carson Reading Project.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Byron Pitts: Stepping Out on Nothing

Also in recognition of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, check out this great story from CBS News, where Byron Pitts talks about his own struggles with illiteracy and interviews several others who have faced similar challenges:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

Submitted by Todd Elliott

“Adult education” means many things to many people. To some it’s about yoga and Spanish classes at a local community college. To those of us in the professional field of adult literacy the phrase refers to a wide range of options in the continuum of lifelong learning: English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), basic education, GED test preparation, the External Diploma Program, and family literacy. And it goes beyond that – many adult literacy programs include computer instruction, workforce and employability assistance, and financial literacy.

Congress recently passed House Resolution 707 declaring this week of October 18 to 24, 2009 “National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week." As this issue is very close to our hearts at Greater Homewood Community Corporation, we are pleased to have the opportunity to recognize the successes of the adults who are working to improve their skills and their lives.

One of those learners is Martin, who has been with the Program since January 2009. When he enrolled after just a few weeks in the U.S., Martin’s English was spotty at best and he struggled to find the vocabulary to express himself. An engineer in his home country in Cameroon, Martin had to wait the necessary period before becoming eligible for a “green card,” his permission slip from the U.S. government to work. In late July, after a long search, he found employment as a machine operator. One day one he impressed his supervisor with his knowledge and skills, and he has already received a promotion.

To eliminate barriers caused by illiteracy and low communication skills, the Adult Literacy & ESOL Program at GHCC responds to individual learners’ needs by offering intensive, learner-centered instruction through classes and one-to-one tutoring. We serve two distinct populations, age 16 and older: adults in need of basic education, and immigrants seeking English language skills. Native-born learners focus on basic reading, writing, and math skill development, while immigrants work on basic to advanced English listening, speaking, and writing skills.

It is remarkable that in a nation as affluent as ours there continues to be a staggering number of adults who cannot read or write – nationally 90 million adults are eligible to receive adult education services (the National Assessment for Adult Literacy, 2008), and in Maryland more than 750,000 are without basic skills. The tragedy is that in our state only 5% of those adults actually receive instruction due to long wait lists.

In Baltimore City 35% of adults have less than a 12th grade education, and even more are at the lowest literacy levels. The Maryland State Department of Education last year reported that in today’s workforce a high school education is a minimum essential for employment, and individuals who earn a high school diploma or GED equivalent increase their annual wage capacity by $7,216. The work we do can and does make a difference.

So how can you help or get in involved? Here are some ideas:
  • Tutor: Volunteer to work with a learner for basic reading, writing, math, or English instruction. GHCC has the only literacy and ESOL tutor trainings in Baltimore, so call us today to find out more.
  • Donate: Contributions to our Adult Literacy & ESOL Program are invaluable as we seek to maintain these crucial services to the community.
  • Advocate: Contact your national and local elected officials and encourage them to keep adult education in their priority areas. More importantly, encourage them to increase funding for adult education!
When it comes down to it, so many of our national issues are heavily reliant on strong literacy skills: health care must have literate, informed patients to be effective; our fiscal and economic health is based on a savvy consumer population; and we must all engage in constructive, responsive public discourse. All this and more can be achieved through successful adult education.

Todd Elliott
Director, Adult Literacy & ESOL Program
(410) 261-3524

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Principal Sheilah Meyers: Making Great Strides at Guilford Elementary/Middle

Submitted by Shana McIver

At GHCC, our public eduction program staff build a school’s assets by mobilizing business and community partners to invest in a school environment that welcomes and serves the whole community. Since 1998, we have collaborated with partner schools throughout Greater Homewood to leverage resources for those school communities. Through this extensive network of partnerships, we promote a sense of shared purpose among school and neighborhood stakeholders. Last year, we worked with over 100 partner agencies and leveraged $1.5 million in resources and volunteer hours for approximately 4200 students in eight public partnership schools.

Good public schools are essential for healthy, thriving neighborhoods. None of this good work could be accomplished without support and acceptance from school administrators. We would like to take this opportunity to spotlight and commend one of our very innovative and committed principals, Mrs. Sheilah R. Myers. She's the principal at Guilford Elementary Middle School (one of GHCC's two Community Schools) and has made significant strides at the school since arriving in 2006. GHCC congratulates Sheilah Myers for stepping up to the challenge, reforming Guilford and accepting our invitation to partner in meeting the needs of children and families.

Mrs. Myers is amongst the many urban educators who answered the call for exemplary urban school leadership through the New Leaders in City Schools Maryland program. In 2008, she encouraged her entire school community to adopt the program's motto -- "Together, we will make a difference!" -- and with this belief and strategic planning, Guilford made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). Staff, students and other stakeholders were confident that with the right positive synergy, "the sky was the limit" for academic success. In 2009, Guilford's school family approached learning and removal of barriers to achievement with the same rigor as the previous year. As a result, the school made AYP for the second consecutive year and was one of seven City Schools to exit school improvement status.

Mrs. Meyers remains passionate about ensuring excellence for all children and insists that her staff to do the same. Mrs. Myers expects Guilford to be a learning community where educators inspire a quest for learning and community members/partners are proud to acknowledge it as one of the best schools in the city.

"There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done ... until all our children are achieving at high levels, until we reach advanced levels of academic performance, until we become a Blue Ribbon school, our work is not done." - Principal Sheilah Myers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Competing for a Good Cause: More Trees!

Submitted by Olga Maltseva

A little competition can do a lot of good when Baltimore City College High School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute get involved!

On October 24, 2009, Poly and City will compete in a tree plant-off organized by GHCC’s 40 Trees in 40 Neighborhoods Initiative. Each school will vie to outdo the other and plant the most trees on their campus. Joined by volunteers from the surrounding community, students from each school will spend the morning digging holes, planting trees, watering, mulching, and removing invasive plants.

The students know how much good they’re doing – more trees in the ground means less contaminated run-off, better air and water quality, and an overall better quality of life for everyone on the campus. Of course there can only be one “winner,” but no matter who puts the most trees in the ground, the real winners on October 24 will be the Jones Falls, the Herring Run, the Chesapeake Bay, and the citizens of Baltimore.

Want to join us on the 24th and be a part of this historic event? Email Audrey Stevens at and stay in the loop by joining the event on Facebook.

Part of GHCC's 40th anniversary celebrations, this plant-off is made possible by TreeBaltimore, the Jones Falls Watershed Association, the Herring Run Watershed Association, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the students, parents, alumni, and administrations at both schools.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

GHCC VISTAs Will Race for the Cure on October 18!

Submitted by Laura Schmitz

On October 18, 2009, you may see some familiar faces running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The race, which has become the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world, raises money and awareness to fight breast cancer while celebrating survivors and honoring victims.

Sun, exercise, good people, and breast cancer awareness: is there a better way to spend a Sunday? I think not. The opportunity to get involved was brought to the attention of a few GHCC VISTA members, and we jumped on it. In the spirit of collaboration, we decided to form a team. So far, participants range from fresh to seasoned VISTAs, with some GHCC staff enlisting for the cause. Want to get involved? Click here to visit our team page!

The team is open, and runners/ walkers/joggers of all ages and abilities are invited to enlist. Think the 5K may not be your thing? You can still participate -- consider making a donation to our team. We’d love for you to join us on the 18th, even if it is just to watch!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Charm City featured in New York Times travel section

This weekend, New York Times reporter Joshua Kurlantzick dubbed Baltimore a hip haven for artists in his delightful review of Charm City's in's and out's, 36 Hours in Baltimore (October 4, 2009). His article is a day-in-the-life synopsis of some of our favorite restaurants, theaters, cafes, bars, and shops including Woodberry Kitchen, Atomic Books, Minas Gallery, and the BMA.

Image courtesy of Susan Raab for The New York Times