How Do I Get My Child Prepared for School Amid COVID-19?

In-person, online, hybrid, and small groups are among the options school systems around the globe have weighed to best decide how to safely educate students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As decisions are being made, many parents are still uncertain about best practices when it comes to ensuring their children are prepared for what many consider to be the new education normal COVID-19 has ushered in.

Emily Levitt is Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning, a K-12 supplemental and enrichment education company.

Emily Levitt is Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning.

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Emily Levitt is Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning.

“This year, I think it will be a little harder to set up the feeling of a class,” said Levitt who is also a mother of two. “Kids will have a hard time doing that virtually this year. This affects me as a mom too. I have a child going into the third grade, and another going to the fourth grade.”

She added, “We are all in this together, and we will get through it. It’s not ideal, but because we are all in it together, we can make up lost ground. There is a lot of anxiety around everything. We need grace and patience.”

Sylvan has more than 750 points of presence across the globe, 5,000 school relationships, and has been in existence for over 40 years.

“My charge is to ensure that the education quality stays high for all of our students no matter where they are,” she said. “That includes North America, Asia, and the Middle East.”

Levitt talked about some of Sylvan’s new offerings to help parents, educators, and students cope with the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“We have social distance groups, and are keeping them small with protocols in place,” said Levitt. “Our teachers can help make sure students are logged-in to classes when they need to be, and that schoolwork is getting done and being handed in. The upside is that the children get their work done and it frees up parents to do their own jobs.”

She said Sylvan is also assisting with pods, which are groups of students who learn together in homes under the tutelage of the children’s parents or a hired teacher.

“We also started offering tutors for tutor pods up to four kids,” she said. “If parents are looking for someone to take over, the teacher can do that for that pod.”

She added, “We have also been approached by large corporations who want to add tutoring to their employees as an HR benefit. They want to form an arrangement with Sylvan to offer subsidized tutoring to their employees or offer discounted rates. Folks should ask their employers if they have a lower cost arrangement with us. They can also contact us directly.”

Sylvan consists of franchised and corporate supplemental learning centers, which provide personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas.

“Sylvan has seen a huge uptick in the number of calls we are getting from parents interested in our services,” said Levitt. “For young kids, learning from a screen just is not appropriate. They have a harder time grasping the concept as opposed to being in person with someone. It’s also harder to enforce class rules from a distance and easy for kids to hide in the crowd.”

Levitt recalled her own personal experience, while offering tips for parents.

“It’s harder for teachers to keep track of students virtually, than if they are in the room with you,” she said. “I got my kids set-up on Zoom. One was playing a game, and the other

was fixing a snack while the teacher was teaching. It was not the teacher’s fault. I let one of my sons have his class from his bedroom on his bed. However, I brought them each a desk for their rooms. Now, there are no video games and no television. This provides an environment which makes them feel like they have to do their work and not lounge around.”

With a virus that presents a challenging test for the coming school year, Levitt believes preparation is the key to ‘passing’ it.

“This is a good time for parents to look at their children’s learning environment and other things they do have control over,” she said. “In the spring we were not ready and did not see Coronavirus coming. Now we know what is coming. Parents can reassess and see what they can do to meet the more rigorous demands.”

She added, “Parents should have a good workspace for their children with no distractions. It can be a corner on a table in a living room. Anything a parent can do that gives their children a dedicated workspace for school. For parents of children who are behind, are have learning disabilities, that is even more important.”

Levitt is a former middle school teacher.

“Nobody wanted the pandemic to be a push, but education needed a push,” she said. “There is a silver lining here. We can learn and education can take a big jump forward. Not just K-12, but colleges and universities too. I think one of the hugest things is that everyone understands now, is that without a K-12 system, the whole economy can fall apart. Parents cazn’t go to work. If we are not bolstered the way we should be, everything falls apart. I hope everyone learns that lesson when this is done.”

She added, “I also think snow days are a thing of the past. Everyone can log in now. Good luck to everyone, be kind to each other, and we will get through this together.”

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Renowned educator Dr. Anne O. Emery dies at 93

A student at Walbrook in the 1970s, Wardell Woodrow Wilson, Jr. recalled the school’s principal Dr. Anne O. Emery seeing him without wearing his proper choir attire.

“As a choir member, we were supposed to have on red blazers,” recalled Wilson. “She asked me why I didn’t have on my blazer. I explained I was working full-time because I wanted to buy a car. She sold me my first car – a blue 1963 Dynamic ‘88 Oldsmobile, dirt cheap. Her students were everything to her, and she would do anything for her students.”

Dr. Emery was a graduate of Tuskegee University (formerly Institute). Wilson, who is also an alumnus, credited Dr. Emery with “steering” him to the school.

“One of the greatest things she created was the Tuskegee Club,” said Wilson. “The bus was filled with students and went to Tuskegee Institute. She was so nurturing. She was a great leader and a soldier on the battlefield. I called her Mama Emery. That is a title higher than Dr. Emery.”

Dr. Anne O. Emery May 15, 1927- August 19, 2020

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Dr. Anne O. Emery May 15, 1927- August 19, 2020

Dr. Emery, who founded Heritage United Church of Christ with her late husband, Vallen L. Emery Sr., died Wednesday, August 19, 2020. The Ashburton resident was 93. At Baltimore Times press time, funeral arrangements for Dr. Emery were still being arranged.

Rita Harris-Bowers is a lifelong member of Heritage United Church of Christ, located on Liberty Heights Avenue.

“My parents came soon after Dr. Emery and her husband started the church,” said Harris-Bowers. “She and her husband tried to join a church and were denied. That’s what got them going to start Heritage. Thirty years later, the church wrote an apology for rejecting them. Dr. Emery had that letter posted in her house. She was a powerhouse. No matter where she went, people knew who she was.”

Harris-Bowers reflected on Dr.Emery’s quest to ensure students went to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

“She started so many organizations at Heritage, including a college tour,” said Harris-Bowers. “We rode for a week on the bus, and would hit all the HBCUs along the way. She knew all the college presidents. Once they were on that college tour, a lot of those kids got full scholarships. It brought tears to my eyes. She wanted every person that crossed her path to get a higher education.” She added, “She was well into her 80s still riding that bus. There is not one young person that would not have something powerful to say about Anne Emery and her support in their journey of academia and beyond.”

Lynda M. Brown said she was a mentee of Dr. Emery. “I first met Dr. Anne as a child in the early 1960’s in the basement of the Heritage United Church of Christ, where the Baltimore Chapter Jack and Jill of America met to participate in positive cultural experiences,” said Brown. “Throughout my life, Dr. Anne was a mentor and adviser. I admired her commitment to community organizations and her dedication to the education of all young people she encountered. Dr. Anne was always crisp, well-groomed, stylish, smart, and full of integrity.”

Dr. Emery received a bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee University and went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Morgan State University (formerly Morgan State College). She earned a doctorate in education from Temple University.

A native of Thomasville, AL, her illustrious career in education included serving as vice principal of Lemmel Junior High School. She served as principal of Walbrook High School from 1971 until 1980.

Tanya Diggs, a 1977 graduate of Walbrook, recalled Dr. Emery’s loving, but stern leadership. “Dr. Emery did not play,” recalled Diggs with a laugh. “She was very strict. She called me in her office if I was late. She would also call my mother and let her know. I got a beating when I got home. Dr. Emery kept me in trouble and out of trouble at the same time.”

She added, “Dr. Emery was hard on me. She said I would learn, and I did. She loved us all, and cared about us as if we were her own children.”

Dr. E. Lee Lassiter, an alumnus of Tuskegee and a retired newspaper columnist and educator, also recalled Dr. Emery’s leadership at Walbrook. His wife, the late Louise Lassiter, was an administrator at the school.

“My most memorable memory is how Dr. Emery did and viewed things as principal at Walbrook,” said Dr. Lassiter. “It was another school in the city system, but in my view, she operated it like a prep school. I recall the large room where she had the names of her 3,000 students on that board. She tracked each of them individually. She pointed their names out to me, and said, ‘this one needs this, and this one needs that.’ She tracked them, and through her own individual determination, she made sure they got it.”

He added, “That’s how Walbrook got so many Merit Scholars. She also scoured the city looking for the kind of teacher she wanted, and did what she had to do to get them on the Walbrook faculty.”

Dr. Lassiter said he and Dr. Emery worked together in the founding of the Baltimore Tuskegee Alumni Association. “The Alumni Association’s annual breakfast, which will be 40 years old, was her brainchild. I am awed by her impact. She didn’t start things that were temporary or fly by night. She started things that lived beyond her. She inculcated into others that they carry out things at a level of excellence she would have demanded if she were here.”

Dr. Emery was chartering president of the Baltimore Chapter of 100 Black Women and a member of the Baltimore City Commission for Women.

“I worked with Dr. Emery in the Baltimore Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women,” said Dr. Thelma T. Daly. “We have a very strong chapter because of her strategic planning and very focused vision for the chapter. Dr. Emery did not vacillate. She was no-nonsense and she wanted everything just right. If people took a role, she expected them to execute their role with excellence.”

She added, “Dr. Emery was always accommodating. She enjoyed having meetings at her home, and we enjoyed going there. She would pull out the best china.”

Dr. Emery’s storied career also includes being appointed to the Maryland Higher Education Commission by former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich. She also chaired the board of directors of Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy, a school she is credited with helping to start. “Dr. Emery was an educator from the heart,” said Rose Hamm, former principal of Frederick Douglass High School. “All she wanted was for her children to make it and be productive. She had high standards. You could feel her coming down the hallway. She will be missed.”

Dr. Emery’s is survived by one son Dr. Vallen L. Emery Jr., six grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Hotel Revival ‘Reels In’ a Big Catch Jason Bass named Director of Culture & Impact

In wanting to move towards more in- clusiveness, Hotel Revival threw out the reel hoping to hook a big catch. They got one – Jason Bass.

An award-winning entrepreneur, Bass is co-founder of “The Night Brunch,” a group that coordinates monthly gather- ings for the community at different restaurants in Baltimore City. He is former CEO of the Baltimore-based Treason Toting Company. Bass’s work and mission is centered around Baltimore and its people, and has earned him a reputation as one of the area’s most talented businessman.

Bass, 40, recently joined Hotel Revival as its first Director of Culture and Impact. In his new post, Bass will build brand loyalty through engaging the community, guests, neighbors, and partners and curating cultural programming and events at the hotel and its food and beverage establishments. In addition, he will coordinate and lead an employee en- gagement program where employees are presented with regular opportunities to volunteer and be involved with the community.

“I am responsible for a bit of the internal culture, but connecting the company with the community and developing a stronger relationship between the two,” said Bass. “I am doing that through partnerships and relationships that may have pre-existed, but were not nurtured. I am looking at those, amplifying them, and looking at new opportunities. The goal is to make the hotel as inclusive and diverse as possible.”

Hotel Revival is a 107-room, 14-story boutique hotel located at 101 West Monument Street, in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon neighborhood. Since 2019, Bass had been serving in a con- sultant role.

“I am humbled and very appreciative,” said Bass. “Working with Hotel Revival in a consulting capacity was just one step, but for it to go in this direction so quickly and during a pandemic and looming recession is amazing. I am full of gratitude for the opportunity.” At his most recent venture, Kiss Tomorrow Hello, a marketing and events agency, Bass worked with brands including Hotel Revival, to culminate impactful and impressionable events by identifying key audiences and coordinating partnerships.

“What sold me was that Donte Johnson, General Manager of Hotel Revival, had a vision of creating commerce-free spaces,” said Bass. “He wanted to get people to interact in the space, but not have it limited to just hotel guests. He wanted it open to the community. I had never really seen hotels attempt to do that. I thought commerce-free space was a great concept. No one is pressuring you to purchase anything. All you have to do is enjoy the space, be inspired, and do your work.” Johnson talked about the ‘Bass’ Hotel Revival caught.

“Inclusivity and community are two leading values that have been and are engrained in who we are as a brand and what we are continually striving to accomplish,” said Johnson. “Jason has spearheaded a number of successful, inclusive, community-focused efforts at the hotel, including our weekly lunch and produce distributions that we started at the beginning of the pandemic, as well as several in-person and virtual events and conversations surrounding timely topics. His creativity, connections and character are an asset to Baltimore, and we feel fortunate to have him as part of our family.”

The property offers four event spaces, and embraces Mount Vernon’s notable history of art and culture by featuring an extensive array of local artists and artisans. It also embodies Baltimore by showcasing local products, the city’s history, and native cuisine.

“Donte Johnson and the supporting staff are incredible,” said Bass, also highlighting the efforts of Yoga instructor Justin Timothy Temple, and deejays Sean Johnson and Jason Medina who he said have provided services free of charge to support the hotel’s outreach services.

He added, “Michael Haskins of Currency Studios designed our Revival community t-shirts, and Bashir Joba did the coloring books for us to help people cope with COVID-19 that could be downloaded online.”

In addition to Joba, Bass said companies have donated produce and other goods to support the hotel in its COVID- 19 relief efforts. The Baltimore native talked about what the name of the hotel conveys.

“Hotel Revival is poetic and also speaks to what we are taking on in the community,” said Bass. “The definition of revival deals with improving the con- dition or strength of something. With COVID-19, we have come into a time when the entire world is being impacted in the areas of health and wellness. We are in a city that has been known to deal with tough issues in the past. We want to revive and help restore the hope that has been lost over the years.” He added, “I want to continue to do my best and be a gate opener, not a gate keeper and continue to be involved in the community whenever possible.”

Located at 101 West Monument Street in Mount Vernon, Hotel Revival offers beautiful, cozy ‘commerce-free’ space that can also be utilized by the community.

courtesy Photo

Located at 101 West Monument Street in Mount Vernon, Hotel Revival offers beautiful, cozy ‘commerce-free’ space that can also be utilized by the community.

‘Scripture says, it is better to give than to receive’ Cancer Patient Donates N95 Masks During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 13, 2020, the Novel Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Two days later, on March 13, 2020 a national emergency was declared in the United States concerning the COVID-19 Outbreak. PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), which acts as a barrier between infectious materials and its wearer, was in high demand, but in short supply.

Much of the world was scrambling to get PPE. Those fortunate enough to have masks, gloves, and other PPE, tried to stretch their supply as best they could. But for Carol Pitts Wilson, who had the highly-sought after n95 masks, it was best to follow exactly what The Bible says in

Acts 20:35.

Dr. Christian Rolfo and patient Carol Pitts Wilson. Dr. Rolfo is treating Pitts Wilson for a carcinoid tumor.

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Dr. Christian Rolfo and patient Carol Pitts Wilson. Dr. Rolfo is treating Pitts Wilson for a carcinoid tumor.

“Scripture says, it is better to give than to receive,” said Pitts Wilson. “Giving does make a difference in someone’s life.”

Pitts Wilson gave five of her N95 masks to Dr. Christian Rolfo, director of the Thoracic Medical Oncology and the Early Clinical Trials at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC). Masks were also distributed to members of his staff. Dr. Rolfo specializes in thoracic oncology, drug development and translational oncology, and is treating Pitts for a carcinoid tumor. Pitts made the donation on March 31, 2020 at the Center’s Greene Street location.

“Dr. Rolfo and I developed not only a doctor-patient relationship, but a friendship,” said Pitts Wilson who is 70-years-old. “I wanted to give back to Dr. Rolfo. He is trying to save my life, and I wanted to help save his life. Dr. Rolfo also has a two-year-old son. I wanted him to continue to do his work and teach his son to be as loving and caring as he is. To give back in such a way really felt good.”

A carcinoid tumor is a slow-growing cancerous tumor that can grow in

several places throughout the body. A carcinoid tumor often begins in the stomach, appendix, small intestine, colon, rectum, or in the lungs.

“In January of 2019, Dr. Rolfo started treating me for a carcinoid tumor sitting outside my lungs,” recalled Pitts Wilson, noting she was not a smoker. “It was about the size of an avocado. It sat too close to my aorta for them to remove it, so I was not a candidate for surgery. This is a rare form of cancer. I took chemotherapy for two weeks, and have had proton therapy. I am being treated with hormone shots to continue to treat the tumor, to stop the cancer cells from spreading, and to kill them off.

“Some have spread to areas of my bones and I am being treated for that. I had to get an endoscopy and colonoscopy and all those tests came back good. The tumor is not growing, and the bad cells are decreasing.”

Pitts Wilson recalled when she first sought treatment.

“I was having labored breathing for about three days in December 2019. Then it got to the point where I could not breathe. I went to Union Memorial and they sent me for a battery of tests. The tumor was pressing against my lungs, which gave me the labored breathing.”

Pitts Wilson, wJ1

ho is retired, attends One God One Thought Center for Better Living on Coronado Road, where Rev. Bernette Jones serves as Senior Pastor.

“It’s been a trying year,” said Pitts Wilson. “It’s not that I don’t waver at times, but my love of God and all the ministers and prayer warriors have helped me to get through this. I don’t know why I got cancer. I just know that I have to continue to love, and in every situation turn negatives into positives and move on in life.”

Dr. Rolfo said he and his staff are overwhelmed by Pitt Wilson’s kindness.

“We are emotional about this,” said Dr. Rolfo of the donation. “It makes us feel that we are important to both the community and patients. I was obviously very happy about Carol’s donation. But I was not surprised, because I know her generosity.”

He added, “She is responding very well to treatment, and we are very happy for Carol. Her kind gesture reminds us of why we are doing our jobs. Obviously, we are using these types of masks. Having extra material in addition to what the hospital is giving us was fantastic.”

Y-LIT Helping to Brighten the Day Amidst COVID-19

Sinai Hospital Trauma program manager, James Gannon was among the employees who recently stepped outside the facility to “pick-up’” their Chick-fil-A lunch, which was being “specially delivered.” However, those bringing the lunches to the hospital weren’t food delivery workers.

These volunteers were members of Youth Leaders In Training (Y-LIT), an organization comprised of middle through high school youth, and young adults, who focus on community service, and mentorship.

“They are absolutely amazing,” said Gannon referring to the group. “They don’t realize how big a part they are playing by feeding us. To have this is immensely helpful.”

Y-LIT partnered with Chick-Fil-A’s Baltimore Inner Harbor location to donate 25 meals. According to organizers, lunch included Chick-fil-A sandwiches, salad, and cookies. Y-LIT added fruit, potato salad, chips and water to the meal.

Carmen Harris, 17, organized the event.

Courtesy Photo

Carmen Harris, 17, organized the event.

“There is no one that does not like Chick-fil-A,” said Gannon with a smile as he stood in front of the hospital. “ It’s nice to get away from the walls, get fresh air, and to see these young men and women who are actively out here. It raises your spirit.”

Y-LIT delivered the lunches to Gannon and other essential employees on Friday, May 8, 2020, in front of the hospital. Carmen Harris, 17, organized the event, which marked the launch of its Gratitude Campaign for Essential Workers.

“Today, we just came and delivered food and a special thanks to workers at Sinai,” said Carmen. “We wanted to show our graduate to those risking their lives day in and day out. We just wanted to thank them. They are real superheroes saving our lives.”

The Gratitude Campaign aims to show appreciation for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, while encouraging other youth and young adults to do the same.

“As a society, it’s a wake-up call,” said Carmen. “Some are self-indulged, and don’t think about what people don’t and do have. It’s an encouragement for youth. It helps us think about others as we go along with our daily lives.”

Carmen attends Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland and will be entering her senior year.

“I feel really good,” she said. “I have been manifesting this since 2016. I wanted to give back to the community to someone risking their life for me. It’s great to be here today and see them face-to-face. I feel so grateful to be out here today standing in front of Sinai.”

Founded in 2017, Y-LIT is a 501c3 private nonprofit organization with chapters in Maryland and Washington D.C. The group has recently expanded to Ohio, California and Hawaii.

Carmen said as part of the Gratitude Campaign, they have also made, donated and delivered masks to postal workers. They also gave the postal workers Krispy Kreme donuts. The group also posts information on social media about essential workers once a day.

“I would not be able to do this without my team,” she said. “I thank my mom, sisters, aunts, and uncles.”

LaTara Harris is Carmen’s mother. Harris said that while they received donations from Chick-fil-A, and two restaurants will soon be supporting their efforts, much of the expenses are out-of-pocket.

“The reason for this is that we decided there is such a need,” said Harris. “I want to thank Chick-fil-A and the trauma team here at Sinai for showing up everyday. We want to support in any way we can. I hope we inspire others to do similar things in the community. We can always do something to help. We thank those on the front lines.”

Harris’ daughter Cari Harris, who is Carmen’s older sister also helped.

“I feel honored,” said the 23-year-old. “Right now, it’s easy to fall into being relaxed. It means the world to me to do this. It shows me the difference we can make.

“The funnest part was writing the press release for the event. I enjoyed planning that aspect of business and understanding the role the media plays in business. I learned a lot. I want to be in business, maybe as a strategic planner. But after writing the press release, now I am thinking about Communications.”

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