City Schools And Baltimore City Rec & Parks To Host In-Person Learning Centers For The Fall 2020 School Year

Beginning September 28, 2020, Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) and Baltimore City Recreation & Parks (BCRP) will partner to provide more than 1,000 students in- person access to their virtual learning lessons via 15 locations in both schools and city recreation centers.

The new program, Student Learning Centers, is designed to provide students, in grades K-5, who are less likely to be engaged in virtual learning with a way to complete their lessons. From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, students will participate in virtual learning in small cohort groups led by a distance-learning proctor. Additionally, students will take part in recreation-lead activities designed to move their minds and bodies.

To serve students most in need while observing social distancing guidelines, the program will be limited to 10 to 15 students per group. Consideration will be given to the children of parents who continue to work in-person during the pandemic and students who were unable to actively participate in the spring virtual learning, who attend the student learning center host school, or that attend any other school eligible for the Concentrations of Poverty Grant.

If a family believes their student meets these criteria, they are encouraged to complete the Student Learning Center Application between September 1 and September 9, 2020 at: 020. Families may also apply by calling the Student Learning Centers hotline at 443-984-2001.

“As we learned in the spring, the transition from a traditional classroom to a virtual learning environment can create challenges for some of our most vulnerable students – including those without ready access to, or familiarity with technology, internet, and other resources,” said Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools. “I am proud that City Schools and Baltimore City Recreation and Parks are collaborating to meet that need by providing safe and healthy spaces where students who need extra support can learn.”

“Much like City Schools, Rec and Parks has worked through the pandemic to serve the city’s youth and families through daily meal service, pool operations, and youth programs,” said BCRP executive director, Reginald Moore. “Since March, the agency has served more than a half-million residents with daily food service alone. We are eager to continue our support alongside City Schools.”

Both schools and BCRP recreation centers will host the Student Learning Centers at the following locations: William Paca Elementary; Waverly

Elementary Middle; Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary Middle; Dorothy I. Height Elementary; Elmer A. Henderson Elementary Middle; Wildwood Elementary Middle; Mary E. Rodman Elementary; Sinclair Lane Elementary; Pimlico Elementary Middle; Sandtown- Winchester Elementary Middle; Farring Bay-Brook Recreation Center; Lakeland Recreation and STEAM Center; John Ruhrah Elementary Middle; Beechfield Elementary Middle; and Baltimore International Academy East.

Each center was evaluated and selected based on their locations, available air conditioning, access to wireless internet and proximity to outdoor space. Each facility will be outfitted with the proper health and safety equipment for students and staff including face shields, cloth masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Additionally, health screenings will be mandatory for all staff, students and visitors.

After the survey period, selected families will be notified and instructed to enroll between September 14-16.

The two agencies will work together to help parents through this process. To learn more about the Student Learning Centers, residents are encouraged to stay tuned to @BaltCitySchools and @RecnParks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for details.

Virginia High School Students Can Now Take Black History Courses

Virginia students now can take an elective course focusing on African American history, Gov. Ralph Northam said on Thursday, Aug. 28.

The new courses are available in 16 of the state’s school divisions, including in Arlington and Prince William counties.

“Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate,” Gov. Northam said in a news release. “The introduction of this groundbreaking course is a first step toward our shared goal of ensuring all Virginia students have a fuller, more accurate understanding of our history, and can draw important connections from those past events to our present day.”

The full-credit course surveys African American history from precolonial Africa through the present day. It introduces students to African American history concepts, including the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and the civil rights era.

Students will also learn about African American voices, including many not traditionally highlighted, and their contributions to Virginia and America’s story.

According to the news release, the course is expected to challenge students to explore primary and secondary sources documenting the African American experience.

It includes a capstone project requiring students to conduct independent research on a question or problem of their choosing and demonstrate a deeper understanding of African American history.

“We can expect young Virginians to understand the enduring impacts of systemic racism only when they fully understand both the oppression experienced by African Americans and their significant contributions to STEM, the arts, education, law, and advocacy,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

“As a history teacher, I know that this course is long overdue and is a first step toward telling a more inclusive story about the past and how it has shaped the present.”

In 2019, Gov. Northam signed an executive order to establish the Commission on African American History Education.

The Commission was charged with reviewing Virginia’s history standards, and the instructional practices, content, and resources to teach African American history in the Commonwealth.

The inclusion of African American history in high school classes in Virginia comes as protests continue in the aftermath of the police shootings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, and many others.

It also comes at a time when professional athletes and entertainers have stood in force behind the Black Lives Matter Movement in a push for social justice and all to understand the history of African Americans.

“The full history of Virginia is complex, contradictory, and often untold – and we must do a better job of making sure that every Virginia graduate enters adult life with an accurate and thorough understanding of our past, and the pivotal role that African Americans have played in building and perfecting our Commonwealth,” Gov. Northam stated.

“The important work of this Commission will help ensure that Virginia’s standards of learning are inclusive of African American history and allow students to engage deeply, drawing connections between historic racial inequities and their continuous influence on our communities today.”

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.

Courtesy Photo

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.”

For more information visit /.

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

File Photo

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.

BCCC announces tuition free fall classes

Baltimore— Baltimore City Commu- nity College (BCCC) is offering free tuition for students enrolling in the upcoming fall semester. Combining Federal financial aid, the State of Maryland’s Promise Scholarship, support from the City of Baltimore, the BCCC Foundation Scholarship opportunities and CARES Act funding, eligible students entering or returning for fall courses can enroll tuition free.

For those students who are ineligible for full aid or scholarships, BCCC offers the lowest tuition in the Baltimore area at $110 per credit hour; non-Baltimore City residents who live in the State of Maryland do not pay any additional out of county tuition. The affordable cost is also particularly attractive to students attending four-year institutions who want to take advantage of the low tuition and enroll in virtual or online classes.

BCCC will also tap into the recently awarded One Step Away (OSA) grant, the State’s college completion focused grant program, which provides funds to support higher education institutions efforts to reengage, reenroll, and graduate near completer students who dropped out before completing their degree. The College implemented a re-engagement process for near completers with strategies involving direct mail, email communications and robo-calls.

BCCC is also targeting unemployed workers looking to enroll in college or make career transitions. This is their time to make a professional shift or en- hance their skills.

“For over 70 years, BCCC has provided our community access to a quality, affordable college education,”

said Dr. Debra L. McCurdy, BCCC President. “We know the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unusual financial strain on many Maryland college students and their families. With online classes becoming the new norm, BCCC’s tuition options can reach even more students seeking to save money.”

Boasting the lowest in-state tuition in Maryland, BCCC is removing a major barrier for students and is poised to meet diverse financial needs. Not only will the cost of college be managed in a way to lessen financial burdens, BCCC is offering both virtual and online web classes to accommodate a safe learning environment.

BCCC faculty will be attending professional development in preparation for the start of the semester. Additionally, the college is shoring up learning management infrastructure to ensure academic success in the current remote environment.

“Our student support services team of financial aid experts, advisors, coun- selors and tutors are prepared to support our students virtually,” said Dr. Stanley Singleton, Vice President for Student Affairs.

To learn more about free or low cost tuition options, email: or

Education in the Age of Snake Oil, Part I

At every step, the United States has fumbled its response to the nation’s deadliest infectious disease outbreak in a hundred years. Since Covid19’s sudden arrival, a jaw dropping series of mis- steps, miscalculations and missed oppor- tunities have directly contributed to the pain, fear, and suffering of millions. As the traditional start of the school year approaches, the caretakers of our children’s education are in danger of following the same kinds of disjointed, poorly planned, sometimes desperate attempts to keep the economy off life support and control the virus’s spread.

As Americans began to understand the seriousness of COVID 19, most ex- pected the Federal Government to implement a First World response. People believed, or at least hoped the country would quickly harness science and tech- nology to stem outbreaks and crush the disease. Instead, the government’s re- sponse has been decidedly Third World.

With alarming frequency science-based recommendations have been disregarded, replaced by cheap, fast and even life threatening solutions.

We became the laughingstock of the world when President Trump offered his own lethal cyber-prescription for fighting corona. After Trump tweeted that drinking Clorox would kill corona virus germs, some were people gullible enough to follow this murderous advice. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had to issue public warnings telling people not to swallow bleach.

Is there any doubt we are living in a time when pseudo-science is given the same value as sound medical advice? Welcome to the Age of Snake Oil.

Now, Baltimore is already struggling public school system has the daunting task of developing a plan to safely restart instruction. The three options are distance learning, classroom instruction, and a hybrid of the first two models. The gravity of these deliberations cannot be overstated.

Ideal school leadership will need a skill set that includes the Wisdom of Solomon, a steadfast refusal to let political pressure dictate mandates, and the expertise to wrap science and technology around sound policymaking. For now, Baltimore City’s Board of

Schools Commissioners has decided not to reopen classrooms. Virtual learning is scheduled to begin September 8, 2020. Although, it is generally agreed class- room instruction is the most effective way to educate students, the health of students, their families, teachers and staff comes first. The Commissioners continue to develop a long term, safety- driven plan that meets both the academic, mental health, and social service needs of its pupils.

Access to science-based studies is essential to making well-informed, health-related decisions. However, scientific documentation does come with a caveat. When research and professional organizations like the CDC or the American Pediatric Association (APA) call for reopening public schools, it is helpful to be aware of factors that may lend sup- port for their recommendation.

It may be a best practice to rely on science, but policymakers should always know the demographics of the population studied. For example, does APA’s research indicate children do not get as sick when exposed to the virus, apply to kids in a broad spectrum of school settings? If the test group is limited, their endorsement may only be valid for a narrow group of students. Perhaps the low rate of illness only applies to children who live in wealthier, healthier jurisdictions.

It is widely accepted that students attending poor, overcrowded urban schools have higher rates of respiratory ailments, such as asthma. The increase rate of pre-existing disease makes it far riskier to reopen classrooms in Balti- more City than in a less crowded suburb.

The importance of doing a deep dive into the data and carefully examining the science supporting public health recommendations cannot be overstated: intially the Superintendent proposed reopening classrooms and decreasing the CDC’s widely accepted social distancing guidelines from six to four feet. The given reason for reduced social distanc- ing was Baltimore’s public schools lacked the classroom space “to accommodate a greater number of students in person in school buildings.”

This idea was so unacceptable it was quickly and quietly abandoned. The proposal is a lesson in how tempting it can be to put science aside to accommodate an ongoing problem like overcrowding. Relaxing the CDC’s social distancing recommendation is looking to snake oil to solve a problem resistant to earlier in- terventions. By concocting a questionable, but expedient solution, the remedy ignores sound medical advice for a strategy that could spread sickness and death.

I believe no nefarious intent was behind the Superintendent’s flawed solution to overcrowding. It was a judgment shining a light on the proverbial elephant in the room. Baltimore’s public schools have suffered from a “pandemic of poverty” for years. Beyond overcrowding, there are aging; poorly ventilated school build- ings; low standardize test scores; declinng graduation rates; increased demand for school-based social services; and decreased operating budgets.

What shall become of our public schools? Can the City’s cash poor education system survive an infectious disease crisis? Without question the schools will require a much bigger budget to meet the academic and mental health needs of its highly vulnerable population.

Then there is this troubling, existential question: now that classrooms will continue to be closed, who is keeping track of students who depend on school-based social services for sustenance, shelter and safe-keeping? Can meaning learning thrive in a digital desert, or will the lack of reliable, affordable broadband put Baltimore City children further behind?

Jayne Hopson is a former educational advocate for students with dyslexia. Education matters because in the words of former slave, Greek philosopher Epictetus— only the educated are free.

HBCU alumnus commits to run online technology school for Black boys full time

Many educators and parents located in a wide array of school districts are scrambling to figure out how to maintain student achievement, while youth learn online from home beginning in September due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Proactive parents have been searching for enrichment opportunities to help fill in learning gaps. One example of an established resource can be found in a STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) Education Advocate who is on a journey to empower Black boys.


Courtesy Photo


Gerald A. Moore, Sr. is the founder/CEO of the nonprofit, Mission Fulfilled 2030, which is committed to impacting 100,000 Black boys in a variety of technologies by 2030. This fall, the Norfolk State University alumnus will roll out an improved online platform, through The Gerald Moore Technology School for Black Boys where course offerings include: Coding; Web Design; App Development; Basic Electricity; Automotive Technology; Google Docs; and Technology Entrepreneurship. Examples of winter offerings include launching an IT (Information Technology) Fundamentals course, in partnership with CompTIA, which is the world’s leading technology association.

“[On] August 6, 2020, I resigned from my six-figure job (working as a cyber security engineer) to pursue my passion to work for the betterment of Black boys to rebuild the Black family. In order to bring into fruition the type of change I want to see for young Black males, I needed to truly embrace the vision of Mission Fulfilled 2030,” Moore said. “Considering that Black male representation in the Cyber Security field is really low, I needed to make an even bolder decision to leave something I love, for something I love more, and create that next generation pipeline of Black, male Cyber Security Engineers and IT (Information Technology) professionals.” The multi-talented Northern Virginia resident is also a father, newlywed and author of the Amazon best-selling book, “Motivate Black Boys – How to Prepare for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”

The fee to enroll in The Gerald Moore Technology School for Black Boys is $29.99 per month. An introduction to computer science class is available to anyone free of charge.

When COVID-19 arrived, Moore decided to merge the technology school with the nonprofit and offer a free, online Computer Science Program for Black Boys. After three years of STEM mentoring, over 200 Black boys have participated in Moore’s school. The “socialpreneur” says there is nothing more rewarding than watching a boy’s eyes light up, when the student has a breakthrough in figuring something out, or a boy realizes that he can be successful.

Jordan Hennighan, 12, is one example of a student who has benefited fromMoore’s innovative approach to Black male mentoring.

“My favorite courses were ‘How Computers Work ‘ and ‘Basic Game Programming,’ because they allowed me to expand my knowledge, and gave me a different mindset on what I want to do when I get older. I also liked these two because they were very interesting and fun to learn about when we got to code and fix code,” Jordan said. “When I grow up I want to be able to code computers, build them and fix them. Also, I want to start my own coding business when I’m able to do that, to be able to make money and give computers to others that may not have a lot.”

Moore says that the Young Tech Entrepreneurs Course is a fan favorite. Boys ages eight to 17 are taught how to use free open source tools to conceptualize, design and build a working prototype. An Instagram style web/mobile app is one project example. Participants are also taught how to market, gain users and monetize it. Additionally, Moore wants to connect Black boys who are interested in STEM with 10,000 Black technology mentors. Professor Willie Sanders, Jr. is the founder and executive director of Baltimore-based Pass IT On who recently joined Moore to positively impact additional Black boys. Pass IT On’s similar mission is to help close the technology skills gap experience by youth and adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. Sanders and Moore realize that there is an urgent need to reach out to young, Black boys with a life-changing opportunity that gaining 21st century technical skill can provide.

“In D.C. and Baltimore, we lose too many of our young men of color to drugs and violence,” Sanders said. “We want these young boys to know there is a better way that can lead to a brighter future.”

To enroll Black boys in the online school or to learn more about it or to make a donation to Mission Fulfilled 2030, visit:

Baltimore P-TECH Grad Starts Career at IBM

Justice Heughan graduated from P- TECH Carver Vocational High School in Baltimore last year with an associate’s degree in Computer Information Sci- ence. He now works for the tech giant, IBM.

The first in his family to go to college, Justice was hired in December as a mainframe sales apprentice but delayed joining so he could take a few more col- lege courses.

In March, the coronavirus pandemic hit, but IBM kept its commitment, and Justice joined IBM this summer.

“I am surprised since the pandemic hit that IBM was able to keep its commit- ment,” Justice said. “The way businesses operate; you never know what programs have to stop or what funding might end. Now that I’m actually here and working, I’m soaking it up right now. I’m blessed.”

Justice credits the P-TECH program for his success. He said it took a real com- mitment, lots of hard work, and dedica- tion to achieve the milestone.

“I wanted to gain as much experience as I could. I had some difficult hours,” Justice said. “For my senior year, the school began at P-TECH at 7:45 and then I’d get on a bus and go to the col- lege where I had classes all day. On the weekends, I worked at the airport, so I was busy all of the time.”

The P-TECH enables students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in a STEM field in six years or less.

It was launched in 2011 and reportedly included 110 schools across eight U.S. states and Australia, Morocco, and Taiwan.

In June, IBM’s P-TECH program graduated 29 students in its first class at West Baltimore’s Carver Vocational Technical High School.

While all of the students received high school diplomas, 12 of them including Justice, completed a six-year program in four years and earned their associate degree in cybersecurity or computer information systems along with their high school diploma at no extra charge.

The program included paid summer internships with IBM and college courses at Baltimore City Community College.

IBM counts among many tech compa- nies reportedly trying to boost diversity in the tech workforce with programs like P-TECH.

Through P-TECH, IBM offers gradu- ates not just an associate degree, but first-in-line job opportunities with IBM. As the P-TECH industry partner, IBM supplies mentors, resources, internships and job placement.

“P-TECH has given me exposure to different career pathways,” Justice said. “My father always told me to take advantage of every opportunity, and P-TECH has given me so many.

“It is nice to have someone who is invested in my future.”

When asked what advice he would pro- vide to students considering a traditional high school or P-TECH, Julius used a famous phrase. “Just do it,” he said about P-TECH. “There’s nothing wrong with [traditional] high school but P-TECH offers you so much. The biggest motiva- tor for me was my mentor.”

Local mental health educator launches ‘Black Mental Wellness Lounge’ web series

This year has been historic for a number of reasons, including the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted significant racial health disparities. Community leaders and physicians have directed much of their efforts and advocacy toward mental health reform in the Black community.

A local mental health educator saw this time as a perfect opportunity to create a web series centered around providing vital resources particularly for the Black community.

Brandon Johnson, creator of a newly launched Black mental health-focused web series, is a devoted advocate who has spent the last seven years of his professional career fighting for mental health reform.

Johnson’s web series, the ‘Black Mental Health Lounge,’ launched in early July and will contain an assortment of YouTube videos with valuable resources and tips that have a target Black audience. Thus far, there are three videos posted on the YouTube channel.

The web series will feature exclusive interviews with leading experts and guests in the field and will explore a variety of topics pertaining to mental health, including trauma, distance learning for children, coping with racism and discrimination, and a list of others.

“I started it basically from a need that I was seeing in our community with the COVID-19 happening and people being disproportionately impacted by COVID- 19 in terms of cases [and] deaths, and then we saw the uprisings that were happening as a result of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” Johnson said, explaining why he started the web series.

The law enforcement-related murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are two of many traumatic cases that could have a significant mental health effect on Black people globally.

In addition, for the five or so months that the coronavirus pandemic has struck alarming health concerns in the U.S.,“anxiety and depression have increased significantly among African Americans,” said Johnson, citing research from the CDC and other sources.

“There was so much stress and anxiety and pain that was happening on my social media timelines from friends, from family, people that I knew, people that were really being impacted by these things, and just feeling stressed out and feeling a sense of hopelessness,” said Johnson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in health science from Johns Hopkins. “I wanted to create something specifically for the Black community because we deal with things differently, we have different impacts. Obviously racism and discrimination are big ones, but we face issues in healthcare and in housing in different ways than in cultures so I wanted to make it very specific.”

Johnson said he wasn’t sure whether he will start a nonprofit with the same mission as his web series, explaining that he’d first have to examine how many people find his resources useful at the moment.

As a volunteer for the Black Mental Health Alliance and the Green Heart Community and a contributor for the Black Minds Collaborative, Johnson has fought tirelessly for positive mental health and suicide prevention services for youth and adults nationally and locally.

Furthermore, Johnson says he will soon join the Hyattsville-based “A Beautiful Mind Foundation” in an advisory role.

At some point, Johnson hopes to develop an online hub and resource for information— perhaps, a Black Mental Wellness Lounge website or something related thereto. He does however use his social media pages to direct audiences to the web series. Johnson can be followed on Instagram @branjjohnson and on Twitter @BranJJohnson1.

As one who serves on the youth ministry of Morning Star Baptist Church in Woodlawn, Johnson has made concerted efforts to ensure the young people are holding up well, especially in the midst of this difficult time.

In the coming weeks, Johnson plans to roll out more content that will bring awareness to the specific mental health needs, challenges and assets of Black people as he emerges as another voice for Black mental health advocacy in the Baltimore area.

Johnson has prepared to bring guests into the web series throughout August and September to have much-needed conversations on a range of subject matters, one of which being grief in the Black community, and another addressing the impact of criminal justice on mental health.

He also plans to conduct a panel video featuring young Black professionals in the field to offer advice and experiences for prospective mental health experts. Another video will target the religious community, focusing on Black mental wellness and faith.

“There aren’t enough spaces to talk particularly about Black mental health. And so I really wanted to create something that we could do that anybody could watch and look at and get helpful information and tips from,” he said. “I hope that this becomes a really useful and well-utilized resource.”

Seven Anne Arundel County high school seniors among Comcast NBCUniversal Award recipients

Baltimore— On July 28, 2020, Com- cast NBCUniversal announced it has awarded approximately $95,000 in scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year to 38 Maryland students as part of its annual Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program. Students are se- lected for their outstanding community service, academic performance, and leadership skills.

Funded by the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation, the award is a one-time, $2,500 scholarship to be used toward un- dergraduate education-related ex- penses. Since 2001, more than $34 million has been awarded to about 30,000 high school seniors across the country as part of the Leaders and Achievers program.

“All of us at Comcast are honored to recognize the amazing achievements of our Leaders and Achievers scholarship winners in Maryland,” said Mary McLaughlin, Senior Vice President of Comcast’s Beltway Region. “These students excel in academics and are lead- ers in the community and among their peers. They are a great representation of our future, and we are proud to help them further their education.”

“Congratulations to each of these students for receiving a Leaders and Achievers scholarship for serving as leaders in their communities and for their academic achievements,” said Maryland School Superintendent Dr. Karen B. Salmon. “I’d also like to thank Comcast for helping support the educational future of our Maryland students.”

Comcast, in partnership with Dr. Salmon, created a congratulatory video, which is available at: 3053 and shared with all its Maryland scholarship winners. Additionally, sev- eral students shared their excitement around attending college in the fall, available at: /hear-from-our-maryland-2020-leaders- and-achievers-scholarship-recipients The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program recognizes high school seniors for their community service, academic performance, and leader- ship skills. These scholarships are provided to give young people the op- portunity to continue their education to better compete in tomorrow’s work- place. Applicants to the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program must demonstrate academic excellence, commitment to community service, and outstanding qualities in character, integrity, and leadership.

The Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation continues the work of the foundations founded by Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal to provide charitable support to qualified non-profit organizations. The Foundation invests in programs intended to have a positive, sustainable impact on the communities we serve. Its mission is to empower communities to thrive by helping to pro- vide access to technology, relevant digital skills and training, and inspiring volunteerism and service. More information about how Comcast NBCUniversal supports the communities it serves is available at

Cameren Watkins Southern Senior High School

Courtesy Photo

Cameren Watkins Southern Senior High School

Daniel Ruiz Annapolis High School

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Daniel Ruiz Annapolis High School

Ian Dinmore Arundel High School

Courtesy Photo

Ian Dinmore Arundel High School

Jon Williams Broadneck High School

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Jon Williams Broadneck High School

Trentin Long North County High School

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Trentin Long North County High School

Reyna Vrbensky South River High School

Courtesy Photo

Reyna Vrbensky South River High School