In Washington Post article, In Baltimore, the joy and relief of making it through high school alive, reporter Steve Hendrix spotlights Excel Academy's recently graduated class of 2017. Over the past school year, 5 students have been shot dead but their community has proved it's resiliency in tragedy. "The heroic answer to violence is to give the students the gift of normality."
Promise Heights In The News
Parents Shine at Graduation Party, an article written by University of Maryland Baltimore Media Specalist Mary T. Phelan, showcases the celebration of our most recent Parent University graduates and programs on April 25, 2017. Included are quotes from current and past graduates who completed the program about what the Parent U program means to them and their families. We are honored to help these parents and children on their journey and know that this is not the end. Click here to learn more about the Parent University programs.
This morning we celebrated some very important milestones for our early childhood programs. Today we celebrated the 8th graduating class of Parent University I, marking the 150th family to complete the program. In addition, we celebrated the work of B'more for Healthy Babies Upton/Druid Heights, especially hitting 3 years with 0 infant deaths in our community, and the Judith P. Hoyer Centers. This celebration included current graduate's families, past Parent University graduates, and program supporters. During the festivities, we were honored with a spoken word performance "Learn to Love," written and performed by David Native Son Ross.
Learn to Love:
I never seen a man
love a woman the way my father loves my mother
I wanna learn to love like that.
He swept a single mom and her two babies
off the ground out of the shadows of hopelessness
and as a little boy, all I could think was:
“God, his arms are strong.”
He struggled, but he made it known
that his commitment was life long
‘cause little boys need that from their dads
I’m glad he understood that
it ain’t easy to get a young boy that ain’t yours
to love you back
but he stayed right there
and never relapsed and man, I wanna thank you for that
I wanna learn how to love like:
How I never seen a woman
love her pumpkins for what they are
no spun gold, she embraced her straw and loved it
‘cause it’s worth more to her than glass slippers
and a horse-drawn carriage
her fairytale came true with a broke down
four door Ford automatic
baby it ain’t much I can afford but trust me
there’s gold in our marriage
I wanna learn to love like that
when she was in school—he held us down
when he was down—she held him up in high esteem
might not meet society’s standards but
he is her king
and still, his queen
keeping food and cash in the castle
“baby, I got you until we get back on our feet
no naggin’, no hassle, ‘cause together
we’re gonna fight this battle”
I wanna learn to love that
No, never did she ever
have a bunch of chickens
clucking in her front yard
all in her business
squawking about what men is and what men ain’t
she kept it quaint
this is the real deal for real
no pretty picture here I’m trying to paint
believe me, it ain’t
‘cause life ain’t perfect
we’ve seen some hard times
and those hard times hurt
but we weathered ‘emtogether
when there was no food in the fridge
yeah, there were nights they went hungry
but they fed their kids
who were just happy to live
unpaid bills, rent due, and lights off
still in that house, love poured every ounce
I wanna learn to love like that
to love without regret
without holding back
to love, regardless
despite the setback
hey, do you wanna know what love is?
Don’t watch reality tv
read reality weaved in the brilliant fabric
of this couple’s life work
worn, double-stitched with
twenty years worth of patchwork
and they’re still sewing
still growing together, I tell ya
I wanna learn to love like that
Never have I seen a couple love like this
so strong for so long
I’m a lucky one
a real life Cosby kid
my own Cliff and Claire right there everyday
supporting and pushing me all the way
I tell ya, what I say is true
twenty years and never seen them argue
all they do is play
they get into it every now and then but hey
they still kiss at the end of the day,
my sister and I knew everything was alright
I wanna learn to love like
The only hand I ever seen him lay to her
was when he washed her back
rubbed her feet
helped her aching body get into the passenger seat
and the only put down she ever laid on him
was a lay-away receipt
I tell ya, I wanna learn mom
I wanna learn dad
I wanna learn how to love
by David Ross ©2007
You can find more of his work at www.anartkeymusic.com.
Shasha S. Satchell CLC, one of our Resource Moms for B'more for Healthy Babies is passionate about breastfeeding. As a certified lactation consultant, she facilitates a monthly community-based breastfeeding support group in the Pedestal Gardens housing complex in West Baltimore. Recently she completed the initial training as a Doula with the Centro Ashe Herbal Center in Costa Rica under the guidance of Nilajah Brown of the Birth Well. This additional certification will allow her to continue to provide a nurturing environment for expecting women to give birth to healthy babies in Upton/Druid Heights and continue the important work of BHB.
'Santelises must save Renaissance Academy' an op-ed by Councilman Eric Costello and Promise Heights ED Bronwyn Mayden
Councilman Costello and PH's own Bronwyn Mayden make the case to keep Renaissance Academy open in The Baltimore Sun. This follows the recommendation put forth by City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises to close Renaissance Academy after the current school year ends.
"City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises and the Baltimore City School Board should join the long list of partners who are working to support students in one of the neediest neighborhoods in our city. These students carry the burden of our city's weaknesses: trauma from community violence, poverty, mental and behavioral health issues, and a failing education system."
To read the full article, click here. Baltimore City Schools will vote on the closing of RA as well as three other city schools at their December 13th Board meeting.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erica L. Greene reports that new Baltimore City Schools CEO, Sonja Santelises, is recommending that Renaissance Academy be included as one of four schools to be closed at the end of this school year. The previous recommendation for closure after SY14-15 was successfully overturned under then CEO Gregory Thornton. Beyond reasons sited at the time of the original recommendation, Satelises states that the school is, "...a physical remind of a tragedy," and that attempts to find an alternative space for the school have fallen through. Read the full article here for more detail.
Several meetings regarding this and other recommended closings have been announced by the school board:
- Wednesday, November 16th - a meeting for students and parents to get information and give feedback to school officials regarding the potential closure.
- Tuesday, November 22nd at 6 pm - a special session for the public regarding all recommended closures at BCPS Headquarters.
- Tuesday, November 29th at 6 pm - the public hearing regarding the closures at BCPS Headquarters.
Washington Post reporter, Theresa Vargas follows up with Khalil Bridges to see how life has changed after being featured in the June 2016 article, "Coming of age in a city coming apart."
Martin Blank, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, wrote a piece for the Huffington Post's blog about the importance of educators and community partners in schools. Beginning with a quote from Khalil Bridges, he spotlights the work done by Renaissance Academy Principal Nikkia Rowe and Community School Coordinator Hallie Atwater to support high school students through the Seeds of Promise: Transforming Black Boys into Men program. "As we continue our work, partners in the Coalition for Community Schools will not forget Khalil Bridges admonition to not overlook everyone else. It’s a matter of equity."
Click here to read the full article.
Since Washington Post journalist Theresa Vargas first covered Khalil's journey on June 13th, over 411 people from all over have donated to the GoFundMe set up by Hallie Atwater, Renaissance Academy's Community School Coordinator, to exceed the initial goal by almost $10,000 and still going! We could not be more proud of Kahlil for all that he has achieved and are confident that he will be able to achieve his dreams.
On June 23rd The Washington Post wrote a follow up article, "'Soar Khalil soar!' Nearly 250 strangers give a Baltimore teenager $30,000," about the widespread support that Khalil has received and his plans for the future which include attending a 4 year institution and becoming an athletic trainer of physical therapist. You can read that full article here.
In a letter to editor published by The Washington Post on June 22nd in response to the June 19th article "Coming of age in a city coming apartment," Richard P. Barth, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, spoke regarding community schools and how they support schools in a holistic way to provide for students, families, and staff.
If you would like to contribute to Khalil's future his GoFundMe page is still active. In Khalil's own words, "I would like to say thank you for all the hope and support and motivation you’ve been giving me. I love y’all for believing in me.”
photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu, The Washington Post
The Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood is spotlighted by Theresa Vargas, journalist for The Washington Post, in her article "I don't know if people understand what is happening in Baltimore." In it she interviews Rachel Donegan, Assistant Director of Promise Heights, and Nikkia Rowe, Principal of Renaissance Academy, about the community and how it affects those who live there. Read the full article here.
photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu, Washington Post