Fifth Grade Baltimore City Students Showcase Capstone STEM Projects

Arlington Elementary School students, Queen Bemah, Tyreek Brown, Michael Green, Amar Johnson and Maikala Manns identified poor lighting as a problem in the community. After five months of research and conducting a community walk-through, they presented their capstone STEM projects at the bi-annual STEM Showcase at Polytechnical Western Institute High School in Baltimore City on May 15, 2018 where more than 400 parents, teachers and supporters attended the event.

In coordination with their STEM facilitator and mentors from Johns Hopkins University, the students participated in a student driven project (SDP), designed to help them identify issues in the neighborhood and to seek out solutions to solve the problems.

The 5th graders participated in an after school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program at Arlington Elementary School in Baltimore City, which met Monday through Friday for an hour. After months of learning about the engineering design process, the students presented their findings and projects.

The aspiring engineers conducted a community walk-through to identify a problem they could find a solution to. Within a few blocks of the school, they saw a light post that was lying on the ground. It measured 322 inches. They were inspired to focus on community and personal lighting for safety.

During the STEM showcase, students presented their inventions, including a non-falling light fixture, which was equipped with a collapsible pole, reflective tape and miniature cameras. With a focus on personal lighting, Michael Green enhanced a pair of sneakers with LED lights, fluorescent shoestrings and miniature cameras attached to the back of each shoe. Amar Johnson designed a hooded sweatshirt equipped with reflective tape and a miniature camera.

Many of the students, including those at Arlington Elementary attended previous STEM events and look forward to the next one. With the advancements of overlapping disciplines, STEM has opened up exciting career fields for elementary school students that were not around 15-20 years ago.

“We recognize the amount of time and support that’s required to spotlight the STEM projects of our SABES students, and we applaud their achievements,” said Alisha N. Sparks, Elementary School SABES Program Manager at Johns Hopkin University Whiting School of Engineering.

STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES), is a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins University with the goal of bridging the gap and improving educational outcomes for targeted city schools— Arlington Elementary/Middle School; Barclay Elementary /Middle School; Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary/School; Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#215); Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#237); John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School; Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School; and Pimlico Elementary/Middle School.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $7.4 million grant to Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering and Education in 2012. The mission of the program focused on a three-prong approach for success: training STEM facilitators and teachers in best practices; to provide students an engaging and interactive curriculum; and to enhance learning in the classroom with after-school programming that shows students how science can impact their lives.

Research suggests that students who participate in STEM programs display more confidence, greater analytical thinking and an increased interest in a STEM career.

“The SABES STEM Showcase is a visual reminder to our students that they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Sparks.

Back to School Tips for Students and Parents

Baltimore County Public Schools re-open for the 2017-2018 school year on Tuesday, September 5. As families finalize summer activities, consider these tips for a smoother transition into the school year.

1. Daily Devotional/Meditation— Prepare yourself before you rush into the day to meet the demands that your family, employers and clients place upon you physically, mentally, financially, emotionally and spiritually. Wake up 30 minutes earlier to focus. Read a daily devotional or personal affirmations. A few recommendations are: Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado, Day By Day with James Allen by Vic Johnson, Prayers that Avail Much by Germaine Copeland, The Holy Bible, The Qur’an or your book of practicing doctrine.

2. Morning exercise stimulates mental acuity— Several studies conducted in the United States suggests a myriad of benefits for students (and adults) who exercise in the morning resulting in better academic performance, an increase in concentration and energy levels. Other countries have adopted the exercise regime and it has proved to be highly successful.

3. Organize

A. Meals– Pack everyone’s lunch the night before. Prepare dinner in a slow cooker. On school nights, don’t adopt the title of “short order chef.” Plan and shop in advance while following a family menu (whenever possible). Healthy and nutritious meals will keep your family operating at peak performance.

B. Laundry— After clothes are dried, fold and put them on hangers and place them in the drawers or in the closet. Identify and iron clothes the night before. Looking for socks and underwear in the morning will impede morning progress.

C. School supplies – Attend an “Annual Back to School Drive” hosted by organizations in the community to supplement your school supplies list. Purchase supplies in advance while anticipating items for science projects.

4. Wellness and Physical Check-ups – Before the first day of school have your child boost his/her immune systems with nutritional supplements, at minimum vitamin C. Consult with your primary care physician to address each person’s health concerns.

5. Talk positive with your child/children – Leading up to the first day of school there will be an increase level of anxiety, excitement and “butterflies.” Positive self-talk about the new school, experiences, meeting new friends and seeing the old ones will put them at ease. Continue the communication throughout the school year. Giving each child their one-on-one time is essential in building their self-esteem and managing behavioral concerns and social issues.

6. Homework/School Projects– Identify a well-lighted area in your home to complete assignments and special projects or go to the library.

7. Plan car maintenance – Maintain the fluids in your car. Fill up the gas tank the night before so that you’re ready for the morning commute.

8. Connect with teachers – Develop good communication (face-to-face, phone, email) with your child/children’s teachers to enhance the learning experience and to share any concerns. When discussing your child’s academic performance avoid communicating with teachers and administrators on any social media platform including, Facebook, Twitter, Oovoo or Facetime. Arrange a “surprise” visit to the school. Be an active part of the school’s PTA by attending the meetings. Students whose parents are actively involved with their child’s/children’s education creates an “it takes a village” relationship.

9. Stay engaged– Stay engaged with the educational process, school activities and fundraising events throughout the school year and plan accordingly.

10. Social media vigilance – Parents should be vigilant of their child’s/children’s activity on their mobile devices and “follow” them too. Parents are encouraged to set up an account and monitor for predators, cyberbullies and their child’s activity too.

Upward Bound: Preparing high school students for college

After six-weeks of intensive sessions and college level coursework, 49 Baltimore County high school students graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Upward Bound program on July 26, 2017 in hopes of matriculating into college.

From June 18 to July 26, the students participated in program at CCBC and lived on the campus of University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMUC).

Upward Bound is a nationwide, grant funded educational program, authorized by the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. At the time, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation into law, it was intended to “strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education.” Since 1965 the HEA has been reauthorized nine times.

Coordinated by CCBC, the Upward Bound program was initiated in 1987 and serves students who have demonstrated academic potential. The program is in its 30th year of promoting the development of students’ basic academic skills, cultural enrichment and the motivation to successfully matriculate to and graduate from a four-year college. To ensure the students’ highest success rate, the scholars are required to participate in all of the program’s activities.

Jamil Charles, 17, a third year Upward Bound scholar who plans to study nuclear or electrical engineering and to attend Alabama State or the University of Maryland on a full academic scholarship.

Intellectually daring and with a wise perspective on life, Charles said, “I don’t want my mother to pay a dime for college. It’s not an option about going to college, it’s a must.”

With a 3.8 grade point average, Charles is a member of the National Honor Society, executive treasure for student government association at Owings Mills High School and plays football, lacrosse and wrestles during the school year.

According to Sherron Edwards, director, CCBC Upward Bound, two thirds of the students must meet the income guidelines and be first generation to attend college— neither parent may have Bachelor’s degree. The remaining third may exceed the income guidelines or may not be first generation college graduates.

“We track students for six years after they’ve completed the program,” said Edwards.

The Department of Education requires an annual performance report detailing students’ coursework, grades, grade point average and test results, according to Edwards. During the Upward Bound matriculation and coaching process, Edwards reviews students’ assessments of their actual reading level versus “what their report card says.”

Although excited about attending Upward Bound in his freshman year, Dana Thomas’ refocused his attention to improve his grade point average. At the end of the first quarter of his sophomore year, he earned straight A’s.

“I was ecstatic about being eligible,” he said.

With a broad smile and dread locks reaching his shoulders, the 17 year old rising senior at Landsdowne High School laughed as he recalled how he pretended to be a Power Ranger. Now the aspiring actor and model aspires to study theater and attend Maryland Institute College of Art.

“I’m finding out who I am and how to support myself. Anybody who wants better for themselves should be part of Upward Bound,” he said. “They give you the tools you need to succeed, you just have to use them.”

Many of the students learned about the program through word-of-mouth, like 18-year-old Rico Dorsey, whose godfather participated in the program 10 years ago. Rico has participated in the program for three years as a student at Milford Mill Academy. This summer he returned to serve as a summer bridge student.

“It’s a place of peace, as long as you create the atmosphere,” he said. Rico established networks with other Upward Bound scholars that he went through the program with and they remain in contact.

Michael Thompson, residential director of CCBC Upward Bound program and residential assistant Danielle Jordan organized academic activities, coordinated collegiate workshops and invited several guest speakers, including a local attorney, April Watts, radio personality of Magic 95.9 and Nadir Nasheed, director of Trading Places Mentoring Academy.

Thompson hopes that by broadening their career scope, the students will take advantage of opportunities that are presented to them.

“In addition to learning in school, we want our scholars to educate themselves outside of the school environment,” he said.

Lucy Ekeh raced at the opportunity to attend the summer intensive program. She was accepted into the program and less than a month later she moved into a dorm room. Unlike some other Upward Bound scholars, both of Lucy’s parents graduated from college in Nigeria. Combining her athleticism with academics, the incoming senior at Landsdowne High School is interested in studying law.

“The top three things I gained from the program is a sense of guidance, preparation and responsibility,” said Ekeh. She said her organization and planning skills has increased significantly since the start of the program.

Randallstown High School Principal awarded Baltimore County Principal of the Year

When students at Randallstown High School (RHS) celebrated the culmination of a another school year with their senior prom and graduation, they added one more celebration to the list— Principal Aubrey P. Brown received the Secondary Principal of the Year Award for the 2017-2018 school year for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).

When you enter Principal Brown’s office you are welcomed by a gold colored wall with the word “Excellence” spelled out in 12-inch gold letters, a constant reminder for all who enter to maintain focus.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit,” Brown said about the quote that he lives by.

Brown’s office is strategically decorated with messages of inspiration, motivation and thank-you notes from students.

A hand-written note from one of the students sets high on a bookshelf. An excerpt from the note reads:

“Mr. Brown, You don’t need a High School Principal of the Year Award to recognize how amazing of an individual you are! You care about each and every one of your students and that’s something not all principals (or teachers) can do. Thanks again…”

The Baltimore County Public Schools Principal of the Year Award recognizes outstanding school leaders who create a culture of deliberate excellence for every student. These leaders ensure that all students have equitable access to learning. The selection criteria reflect BCPS’ core values and goals.

According to BCPS, the honoree was identified as one who promotes school culture, supports staff collaboration, and equity for the students and for the administration. Additionally, the honoree ensures that instruction is accessible, research-based and relevant.

Prior to taking on the new role a principal at Randallstown, Brown says when he walked into the building [at RHS] he felt the spirit and it wasn’t alive.

Brown collaborated with the staff to resurrect the culture and began drafting a vision and mission statement with an emphasis on branding and communication. Together they developed a comprehensive communications strategy to increase the rapport among all stakeholders, parents and students.

A school-wide calendar was also instituted to bolster communication.

“I believe that all voices should be heard in all decisions,” said Brown. However, Brown also says that he does have the authority to make decisions without collaboration, if he believes it benefits everyone vested in the school.

Brown says his leadership style is modeled after Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Recently, he has come to take note of the leadership styles of former presidents Thomas Jefferson and Barack Obama.

“I believe all of them encountered conflict and resistance and possibly were led to believe that they could not be successful,” Brown said. “In their own right and in their own time, they proved naysayers wrong.”

Brown is a native of Richmond, Virginia and an alumni of Virginia Union University. He received a master’s degree in educational leadership from George Mason University. Brown has been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha

Fraternity, Inc since 2000.

As an advocate of the implementation of proactive behavior techniques, Brown gained insight from staff and administrators, in addition to reading “Restorative Practices Handbook” written by Bob Costello, Joshua Wachtel and Ted Wachtel.

“[The] students are co-authors of the Randallstown story,” said Brown. “We should celebrate our successes. If we don’t celebrate them, who will?”

City School students shine at STEM showcase

Arlington Elementary School students Tyreek Brown, Kaylen Randall, Aubrey Smith, Keith Stevenson, and their classmates identified a problem in their community and saw the evidence of it: Rats! To address the problem, they designed the inner workings of an electric rattrap.

To help them along the process, the 4th graders participated in an after-school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program at their school, which met twice a week, three hours each day. The group participated in a six-month student-driven project to identify problems in their community – and came up with a solution. After months of learning, researching and understanding the engineering design process, the students presented their findings.

Students from 10 public schools participated in a STEM showcase at Johns Hopkins University’s Newton White Athletic Center, during the 4th quarter of the 2017-2018 school year. With over 60 different projects and nearly 600 attendees, the event celebrated the educational STEM achievements and student-driven projects during in-school lessons and after-school programs.

Baltimore City Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III (D. 7th district) was among the supporters at the event to see each invention.

Many of the students, including those at Arlington Elementary attended a previous STEM showcase and said they looked forward to participating in more events. In addition to developing the inner workings of an electric rattrap, students designed a poop-scooping robot, a portable shelter for the homeless and a trash truck with mechanical arms.

With the advancements of overlapping disciplines, STEM has opened up exciting career fields for elementary school students that were not around 15-20 years ago.

“We recognize the amount of time and support that’s required to spotlight the STEM projects of our SABES students and we applaud their achievements,” said Alisha N. Sparks, elementary school SABES program manager at Johns Hopkin University Whiting School of Engineering.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $7.4 million grant to Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering and Education in 2012. Sponsored by STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES), a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins University, SABES is a five-year grant funded program that culminated this year. Program organizers hope to bridge the gap and improve educational outcomes for nine targeted schools: Arlington Elementary/Middle School, Barclay Elementary/Middle School, Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary/School, Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#215), Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#237), John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School, Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School and Pimlico Elementary/Middle School.

The program has impacted more than 2,200 Baltimore students and trained 147 STEM facilitators and teachers. Research suggests students who’ve participated in the STEM program display more confidence, greater analytical thinking and an increase interest in a STEM career. The number of students interested in becoming an engineer has increased by 27 percent as a result of the program.

“Watching the children develop into critical thinkers and asking thought-provoking questions proved they are engaged and interested in STEM careers,” said Martha Syed, a three-year STEM facilitator at John Ruhrah Elementary School and Arlington Elementary School. “Students become self-aware when they understand that STEM impacts their home life, school and community.”

The end-of year SABES STEM Showcase which incorporated the nine partner schools from three communities— Greater Homewood, Park Heights and Greektown/Highlandtown, according to Sparks. One of the organization’s goals is to expose the students to STEM careers so that they are globally competitive, be solution-oriented and have a greater understanding of the world.

“The SABES STEM Showcase is a visual reminder to our students that they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Sparks. “[And] shows students that everyone can succeed in STEM and bring innovative solutions to solve problems in their local communities.”

Sparks says the STEM Showcase dispelled the myth that it’s ‘uncool’ to be smart.

Students explore southern HBCUs on annual tour

For ages, there has been meaty discussions in the African-American community around the topic of whether it is culturally necessary to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). One side says attending an HBCU puts limitations on students’ worldview— especially for those looking to compete globally in careers and professions commonly secured by non-blacks.

Maryland native and business owner Kim Hinton encouraged her son, Kris, not to attend a HBCU. Kris grew up in an affluent community and was accustomed to seeing African American doctors, lawyers and business owners, according to Hinton. Hinton said what Kris lacked was diversity and an authentic look at what he will face after graduating from college. Currently, he attends the University of Maryland, School of Architecture where out of the 160 students he is one of 10 African American students. Hinton’s concern is that her son needs to know how to interact with his future peers who are not predominately African American.

Although Hinton attended an HBCU, she later earned an MBA from a non-HBCU school. As the pendulum swings to the other side, HBCU advocates cite the importance of noticing that HBCUs are mainly responsible for graduating students who were well-rounded enough to integrate the fields— the high compensating and socially superior professions— that were traditionally closed to people of color in the first place. It is argued that attending an HBCU helps students develop a strong sense of who they are as part of a cultural group that has been, and continues to be, systematically marginalized by society.

“A black American student would be unlikely to obtain an accurate worldview and self-knowledge at a predominately white college,” said Charles Reaves, an auditor supervisor in Washington D.C., who graduated from Howard University’s School of Business, with a bachelor of business administration in finance. A quality education is obtainable in either environment but I believe the additional enrichment at my alma mater [Howard University] gave me a competitive advantage over my peers attending non-HBCUs.”

During his undergraduate studies, Reaves says he was taught by professors who believed in his potential and inspired him to perform well in courses that struggled with or failed during his high school years, such as calculus and analytic geometry. Reeves earned a MBA from University of Michigan.

The HBCU, many argue, trains students how to negotiate their seat at the table as the Black and White dissolve into color and overt injustices evaporate into subtlety. The sense of pride students generally get from the HBCU experience is unparalleled and advantageous to African American students in the grand scheme of things.

This is why Caring For Young Minds Foundation (CFYM), hosts its annual HBCU tour, an educational initiative open to middle and high school students who have a desire to attend college. Entering its 20th year of service, CFYM has guided hundreds of students on an annual HBCU tour. Expanding its programs and services to the community, the organization’s mission is to empower youth and provide them with resources through mentoring, strategic planning, educational enrichment programs and cultural activities.

The purpose of the college tour is to expose young people to a breath of college life from the admission process to student life on campus to preparing for graduation.

Students from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and as far away as Delaware, boarded a tour bus on April 8, 2017, the dawn of Spring Break to explore 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the southern part of the U.S. The tour’s itinerary included visits to North Carolina Central University; North Carolina A&T University; Johnson C. Smith University; Allen University; Fort Valley State University;Albany State University; South Carolina State University; Bethune-Cookman University; Edward Waters College; and Florida A&M University. The college tour culminates in Florida, April 15, 2017, where students would spend the day at Universal Studios in Orlando.

“Students are never too young to be exposed to new opportunities and their options for a higher education ” said Mike Thompson, vice president for CYMF. Thompson also serves as the behavior interventionist specialist at Randallstown High School in Baltimore County. His children Jabari, 16 and Aliyah, 14, were among the 115 college explorers. Thirty volunteer chaperones, two registered nurses and two police officers traveled in support of the students. The chaperones who were HBCU graduates shared their perspectives about college life on an HBCU campus.

Although the students traveled further south to consider their college choices, the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area is noted for its HBCUs, which includes: Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Howard University. These HBCUs have attracted local residents and students from the northern states.

Ashley N. Richardson is one of them. Richardson attended a predominately white institution (PWI) in New Jersey. Now she is a Juris Doctorate candidate at Howard University School of Law.

“There’s a feeling of connectedness at Howard University that I didn’t feel at my undergraduate alma mater,” Richardson said. “Law school is challenging. However, being part of community of people who are willing to help me along this journey is very encouraging.”

Richardson says her parents approved of her decision to attend both a PWI and a HBCU but there are some parents with a different perspective.

“Our student’s goals are attainable,” said Thompson, noting the organization’s steadfast commitment to supporting the academic achievement of young people in the Baltimore metro area. “Our mission is to change their perspective about attending college. Education is a passport to their future and preparation begins today.”

For more information about Caring for Young Minds and the HBCU tour, visit:

Buckets Blakes of the Harlem Globetrotters visits local schools

— For some basketball players standing at the free-throw line— 15 feet from the basket— and making it, can be stressful. But for Anthony “Buckets” Blakes a member of the iconic Harlem Globetrotters for 15 years, shooting a basketball 583 feet and 8 inches is just another trick shot. The 6’2” guard broke the record for the highest basketball shot ever taken in North America with an epic shot off the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas.

Some may call it practice but for him, it’s all about doing what he loves— traveling the world, entertaining families, playing basketball and empowering youth across the globe.

Before the team’s March 25 games in Baltimore, Blakes visited area schools to discuss the team’s anti-bullying initiative, “The Great Assist,” which spotlights the ABC’s of anti-bullying. A is for action; B is for bravery; and C is for compassion.

As the team’s brand ambassador, Blakes engaged in conversations with students at St. Agnes School about how to handle bullying scenarios, including cyber-bullying, during his March 22 visit. Blakes noted that cyberbullying “can hinder you later in life.” Students were encouraged to post only positive content about themselves and others, if they were to post anything at all.

Blakes shared simple techniques on how to manage their reactions when confronted by a bully. Fifth grader Finn Smith said he would not verbally retaliate with a bully. “I would try to keep the mean things to myself,” said Smith.

Seeking the counsel of a teacher or an administrator was the number one alternative for third grader Veronica King.

“I would tell an adult and hopefully the bully will get the punishment they deserve,” she said.

Sixth grader Hahns Hairston opted for a different approach in responding to a bully’s actions.

“If someone [a bully] is doing something to you, don’t over-react,” said Hairston. Remembering a bully he responded to in the same way, Blakes could relate.

A native of Arizona, Blakes was introduced to the game of basketball at age five. Even then, he knew he wanted to become a professional athlete. Entering his 15th season with the Harlem Globetrotters, Blakes has traveled across the United States and to 79 countries.

“Regardless of religious affiliation, culture or race— joy and happiness is universal, and that’s what we all strive for,” he said, recalling the one commonality he noticed among people he met along his travels.

During the school visit, Blakes simulated The Magic Circle, a pre-game warm-up routine practiced among the Harlem Globetrotters. The practice session is filled with a series of basketball tricks. With the team’s theme song, “Sweet Georgia Brown” by Brother Jones, playing in the background, the school’s principal, Dr. Eric Watts; administrator Makenzie Weber; and three other students were taught a series of basketball tricks to perform with Blakes.

The popular tune has been associated with the Harlem Globetrotters’ multi-generational, crowd-pleasing performances for 92 years.

“Brother Bones’ rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown and the Harlem Globetrotters was the perfect marriage,” Blakes laughed.

Blakes says what makes basketball so popular among youth is that it “involuntarily develops life skills in kids.”

“There is constant movement in the game and we come together to reach a common goal,” he said.

If he was not with the Harlem Globetrotters, Blakes says he would be working with kids in some capacity. Blakes encourages students to “find out what’s unique and cool about you and do that.

“Be the best you that you can be, because it’s very difficult to be someone else.”

Bone marrow donors from the black community can save lives

What started as a candid conversation between two women triggered a crusade in search of a bone marrow donor for Geneau Thames, a local attorney who is battling leukemia.

Thames, 39, is a loved one that local cosmetologist Kenya Vincent and Janice Gordon, Thames’ aunt, have in common.

On July 29, 2016, Thames, 39, was diagnosed with melanoma, an acute form of leukemia, during an annual physical. Celebrating 16 years of marriage this summer, Trent Thames’ serves as his wife’s caregiver. He cleans and drains the Hickman Port, which is inserted in the left side of her body and is used to administer chemotherapy and other medications.

The Thames’ have three children ages 18, 11 and eight. The eldest son joined the “Be the Match” bone marrow registry in hopes of becoming a match for his mom but because they have the same antibodies, which fought against each other and he was unable to donate. So, the search continued.

Then, in came Vincent and the DMV Warriors basketball team. On February 5, 2017, the partnership hosted a bone marrow drive on behalf of Thames at Woodlawn High School.

The leadership staff of the DMV Warriors are now part of the “Be the Match” registry. Players and the team’s owner Andre Vaughn, president Frank Jones and head coach Kevin English all participated in the bone marrow drive. Coach English’s aunt perished from cancer, which motivated him to support the cause and help someone in need.

“It would be a blessing to be selected and help to save someone’s life,” said English, a Bowie State University alum.

“If you’re a participant, you may save someone’s life and that’s where we all stand,” said Jones.

Baltimore City resident Tyrell Crowel, a player for the DMV Warriors, was excited to be part of the registry when the initiative was presented. He says he understands the critical need of a bone marrow transplant and is eager to help.

“If I am a match or not, it’s the satisfaction of being in a position to help someone,” said Crowell who was adopted and raised by his grandmother when he was six months old. “I just want to be able to give the same feeling to someone else.”

Brian Smith, an Overlea High School alum and DMV Warriors player, calls it a “blessing” to be part of the bone marrow registry.

“Imagine if it was your loved one or someone close to you,” he said. “We have to be proactive and not reactive.”

According to statistics, thousands of people with blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease and other life-threatening diseases, depend on a bone marrow or cord blood transplant for treatment. Although there are millions of people on the “Be the Match” registry who are prepared to donate the cells needed for transplants for patients, there still is a need for donors— especially in the African American community.

The chance of a patient finding a genetic match is better among people of similar ethnicity or racial ancestry. Identifying racial and ethnic diversity in the registry is vital to finding matches for all patients in need, particularly for people of color.

The rate of bone marrow transplants in the African American community is disproportionate rate in comparison to other ethnicities. African Americans are the least likely to find one perfect or suitable match in comparison to other ethnic groups according to

Blacks have a 76 percent chance of having a partial match and a 21 percent chance of a perfect match in comparison to other groups; whites have a 97 percent chance of having a partial match and 75 percent chance of a perfect match; and Asians have an 88 percent chance of having a partial match and a 41 percent chance of having a perfect match.

“There’s a lot of education that needs to be done in regards to bone marrow,” said Mr. Thames.

In spite of the malady that’s plaguing her body, he says his wife exercises daily and feels great.

For more information about coordinating a bone marrow drive or becoming a donor, visit: or

BGE and Whiting-Turner sponsor resource space for city residents

A unified three-prong approach of collaboration, faith and trust has created a work-space for four non-profits in an effort to help Baltimore City residents. Corporate sponsors BGE and WhitingTurner have partnered with nonprofits Thread, Baltimore Corps, Center for Urban Families and Invested Impact to create TouchPoint Baltimore at Mondawmin Mall, a space for collaboration among nonprofits, corporate partners and the community.

The four nonprofits located at TouchPoint Baltimore at Mondawmin each have missions that complement each other and the TouchPoint mission. Services provided by the organizations include: mentoring, tutoring, workforce development, life skills support, leadership development and entrepreneurial support.

The city is showing significant resurgence nearly two years after the civil unrest (April 2015) in West Baltimore.

The goal is to encourage other corporations and nonprofits to implement this model in other communities for maximum impact. Bringing these nonprofits together with corporate partners in one location providing a unique opportunity to support the citizens of Baltimore in a collaborative way.

At the February 17 grand opening, Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE and Tim Regan, president and CEO of WhitingTurner recalled a conversation they had following the civil unrest in Baltimore City about how they could make a substantial contribution to the revitalization of the city. The outcome of the conversation resulted in the success of securing an 8400-square foot facility located at 2401 Liberty Heights Avenue.

Butler spoke of their goal to work together in a deep and meaningful way “to build community relationships that transcends race and class.” He stated that the message for support in the community was “loud and clear” and all of the organizations applied their resources to make a difference.

“We wouldn’t allow perfection to stand in the way of action,” Butler said.

Other organizations believed in the mission and the concept and donated their time to bring TouchPoint into fruition. “We both learned at an early age that with leadership comes great responsibility,” said Regan.

Jackie Caldwell, president of the Greater Mondawmin Association welcomed nearly 100 guests and dignitaries during the ceremony. The guest list included: Tisha Edwards, chief of staff for Baltimore City Mayor Catherine E. Pugh; Bernard C. “Jack” Young, president of Baltimore City Council; Baltimore

City Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III (District 7); Kristin Jurkscheit, manager at Baltimore Corps; Rodney Oddoye, director of northeast regional operations for BGE; Shawn Brown, regional sales manager for Strong Tower Security; Kimberly Ellis, founder of Breaking Bread; and Wendy C. Blackwell, founder of Unmasked.

The leadership team at TouchPoint is comprised of Sarah Hemminger, CEO and Co-Founder of Thread; Fagan Harris, president and CEO Baltimore Corps; Rodney Foxworth, CEO and founder of Invested Impact; and Joe Jones, president and CEO Center for Urban Families

Trading Places Mentor Academy Inspires Baltimore Youth

From the prison cell to the classroom

Nadir Nasheed made a trade. A former inmate, Nasheed traded his old lifestyle and mindset to a new one— director of operations at Trading Places Mentor Academy (TPMA).

Nasheed shared his testimony and life experiences with hundreds of at-risk youth in several schools and organizations in the region including, Catonsville Alternative, Randallstown High School and the Juvenile Justice Center.

Nasheed delivered a message to 40 students at Woodlawn High School during a speaker series on February 22, 2017. He spoke about the importance of academic excellence, staying focused, positive influences and having educational and career plans. Business leaders and associates of TPMA accompanied Nasheed to speak to the students and answer questions which included Zerita Ross of Ross Insurance Agency, Chef Raymond Lee, owner of Truffle Butta Bistro and Kendall Harris who works for the Department of Corrections.

TPMA was created from Nasheed’s experiences and the realization that he could do a lot more with his talents, skills and abilities. During the latter years of incarceration with the Bureau of Federal Prisons in Massachusetts and Kentucky, Nasheed’s time was used to produce a body of work that would help Baltimore area youth. He authored eight curriculums of which were developed while he was in solitary confinement for four months included topics, Beyond the Hood, Circle of Influence, Creative Thinking, Staying Focused, Seeking Out Mentors, Turning Your Vision into Reality, The Importance of Preparation, Handing Down the Struggle. Nasheed hopes the content will change the trajectory of wayward youth.

“It’s not rocket science but, these are basic principles that will lead to their success,” said Nasheed.

Born and raised in the District of Columbia, Nasheed lacked a positive male role model in his life, which caused him to seek approval in “the streets.” When he was 21 years old, he was sentenced to 20 years and eight months. He served 8½ years. He stayed out of the criminal justice system for 14 years and then returned to prison where he served another 24 months. He has since remained clear of correctional facilities.

Trading Places Mentor Academy provides an alternative for at-risk youth who are performing academically below grade level by partnering with other individuals for additional support.

“The world is more competitive now and a high school diploma is not enough,” said Nasheed, who believes many students are “pushed through high school” based upon data needed to show the school’s overall progress. “In my opinion it’s setting the kids up for failure.”

Nasheed says TPMA is providing alternative support to allow youth to succeed.

Nasheed’s 16-year-old daughter, India an 11th grade student at Woodlawn High School is proud of her father’s accomplishments. She is enrolled in honors classes and is on track to take (AP) advance placement courses next year. After graduation, she plans to attend Temple University to study journalism. In turn, Nasheed is proud of his daughter’s commitment to education and looks forward to her graduation.

With his wife’s continued support, Nasheed plans to transfer the college credits he earned from Mercer Community College in New Jersey to attend University of Baltimore and study business administration and non-profit management.

“I went from being part of the problem and now am part of the solution,” said Nasheed.