The ALC’s Catherine Mahan awarded Volunteer of the Year by M.A.A.C.C.E.

The GHCC Blog Team recently caught up with the Adult Learning Center’s Catherine Mahan, who was recently awarded the 2015 Volunteer Award from the Maryland Association of Adult Community and Continuing Education.

Catherine Mahan

Catherine Mahan

Congratulations on receiving this award!  How did you first come to be a volunteer at the Adult Learning Center?
Well, for most of my working career I ran my own design firm.  It was work I enjoyed, but it did involve long hours and some travel away from home.  I also raised two children, and I was active in my professional society.  So I had very little time for service work.  It was my plan to be able to do something to “give back to the Baltimore Community” where I had made my career once I retired.  I had actually planned to retire by 2008 but the economy was so bad, it wasn’t a good time for me to leave my firm (I was president!). So I decided to go ahead and do some of the things that I hoped to do in retirement while I continued working. I came to the Adult Learning Center in 2008 and took the training to be a tutor.  I taught ESOL classes right out of college, and have always been interested in Adult Literacy, so this was a natural fit for me.

Wow, we are so glad you did not wait to retire to become a volunteer with us!  What do you do as an ALC volunteer?
It keeps growing and changing!  Initially I tutored one-on-one with a woman who was from Korea.  We met once a week, which was all either of us could manage as she worked full time also. We met for several years until my schedule no longer permitted it.  I later became involved with a program the ALC developed called “Get That Job”.  I developed a training piece on job interviewing which I gave a couple of times a year when the ALC was running the program.  Then in 2010 I joined the Advisory Board, and I have worked on the Board ever since.  I was co-chair of the Scrabble Fundraiser in 2013.  I also continually work wherever I am out and about to shine the light on the ALC and to solicit donations for the terrific work that goes on there.

Your enthusiasm really shines through!  Can you tell us what you like best about volunteering at the ALC?
I have always liked working with other people towards a common goal, be it developing a good design solution for an office project or working on people’s language and communication skills.  But probably the best thing for me personally, is that I find that Greater Homewood and the Adult Learning Center are places where I have learned a lot and grown a lot myself.  Not only do the people here have a good heart, but they run a smart organization, and I am continually learning from them.

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the growth of Adult Education in Baltimore?
There are a lot of barriers to accessing continuing education, and the ALC tries to address them when they can (getting bus tokens, providing notebooks or classroom materials, etc.)  As transportation is often an issue, bringing the classes into the community has been an important step, and the Center now has several “off site” classes.  The Adult Learning Center changed its name several years ago from the “Adult Literacy Center” when it became apparent that there were negative connotations to “literacy” and some learners didn’t want their employers to know that they were taking ‘literacy” classes.  The change to “learning” is a positive change.

What do you like to do in your time away from volunteering at the ALC?
I also volunteer at Cylburn Arboretum!  As I am a landscape architect, I greatly enjoy helping out with their projects and maintaining the two hundred acres of gardens and open space.  I also enjoy water color painting and printmaking.

Thank you, Catherine, for volunteering your time and energy to the Adult Learning Center.  And congratulations again on receiving the 2015 Volunteer Award!

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GHCC Staff Spotlight: Teddy Edouard

The GHCC Blog Team recently caught up with Gusman “Teddy” Edouard , Assistant Director of GHCC’s Adult Learning Center. Teddy was recently awarded a COABE Scholarship Award from the Maryland Association of Adult Community and Continuing Education.

Teddy Gusman (left) with GHCC's Deputy Directory, Todd Elliott (right).

Teddy Edouard (left) with GHCC’s Deputy Director, Todd Elliott (right).

Congratulations on your scholarship award!  Can you tell us about your position and your primary responsibilities at the Adult Learning Center?

As the Assistant Director of the Adult Learning Center, in a nutshell, I teach English and Civics class twice a week, coordinate the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, assist with scheduling the ALC classes, and act as a resource person for the ALC instructors. I also plan, develop, and organize professional development for the teaching team, in collaboration with the Adult Basic Education Instructional Specialist. Furthermore, I lead the learner outreach process and help with class registration and preparation. Lastly, I contribute to the program evaluation and improvement.

What did you do before coming to the ALC?

Before joining the ALC I worked as an ESOL instructor and trainer in a variety of contexts, but my immediate previous position was a Cross-Border Program Coordinator at Plan International, where I used local US Embassies’ grant money to create the first Bi-National English Camp for teachers and high school students from Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

What a great background. Can you tell us what you like best about your job at the Adult Learning Center?

The best thing about what I do on daily basis is putting my passion into action. I really enjoy the fact that at the ALC we work together like a navy seal team; we train together, have each other’s backs, and we share one mission — providing quality learner-centered instruction to promote literacy and help foreign-born residents improve their English language skills. In other words, we put the learners at the center of our day-to-day practices and decisions. I really enjoy being part of an effective and efficient team that puts people first. On top of that, my job is very satisfying. It has allowed me to contribute to making Baltimore a Strong City by serving both natives of Baltimore and immigrants from all over the world. And seeing learners’ progress and achievements always makes my day.

What do you find most challenging about your job at the ALC?

I believe education is the silver bullet that can transforms Baltimore city; however, life’s challenges and distractions make it difficult for lots of folks to take advantage of our free classes and achieve their educational goals. That being said, students’ retention has been one of the biggest challenges I face in my line of work. That is, keeping learners engaged and motivated is what the ALC teachers work to do day-by-day. And part of my job is to help alleviate the impact of learners’ attrition on the performance of our program as a whole through the betterment of our professional development sessions and the quality of classroom instruction, using technologies to create real and authentic learning opportunities.

What do you plan to do with the scholarship award you are receiving?

My scholarship award will go toward covering expenses related to courses I take at Purdue University, such as Instructional Design and Technology. In addition, the fund will cover my subscription to a scientific journal in Instructional Design.

That’s terrific!  What do you think are the greatest challenges facing the growth of Adult Education in Baltimore City?

The top challenge is funding. Adult education providers in Baltimore do not have the necessary funding to effectively meet the needs of the adult learners, nor can they afford to hire full-time teachers and purchase the appropriate 21st century technologies that can facilitate students’ access to the indispensable skills necessary for quality jobs. This is unfortunate because whether we like it or not, parents’ education level has a big impact on their children’s educational achievement. That is to say, investing in adult education is the right thing to do if we want to also strengthen the K-12 system, which in turn will lead to improved high school graduation rates.

You give so much passion and energy to your job. What do you like to do in your time away from work?

I like spending time with my family, hanging out with my friends, and reading about the new trends in ESOL and Instructional Design. I take pleasure in working on small projects around my house. Lastly, I enjoy riding my bike around Lake Montebello and at Druid Hill Park.

Thank you, Teddy, for sharing your work and vision for adult learning with us. And congratulations on your award!

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Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “Making the Most of Your Higher Eds” – A Panel Discussion

If your community is looking to ensure successful partnerships with local higher education anchor institutions, “Making the Most of Your Higher Eds”, a panel discussion led by representatives from Loyola University; Goucher College; and University of Maryland, Baltimore is for you. To participate in this workshop, and many others, register here.

A thank-you card from Margaret Brent students, sent to GHCC for our role in leveraging funding from anchor institution, Johns Hopkins University, for renovations to the school.

On the right, a card from Barclay School students, thanking GHCC for our role in securing funding from local Higher Ed, Johns Hopkins University, for renovations made to Barclay and Margaret Brent. On the left, the Margaret Brent’s renovated facade.

Universities can be a tremendous asset for surrounding neighborhoods. Their resources and economic leverage can support a diverse range of improvements, including after-school programming, workforce development, neighborhood planning, physical development, and more. Local communities can benefit from partnering with colleges for student interns, class field placements, and capital investments. However, university bureaucracies can also be notoriously difficult to navigate; it can be unclear who to contact for which resource and how to promote active collaboration.

In Baltimore, we are lucky to have several world-class colleges and universities within the City limits. In this workshop, panelists from Loyola University, Goucher College, and University of Maryland, Baltimore will share the innovative ways their universities are supporting surrounding neighborhoods. Come to this presentation to learn how you can connect with ongoing programming and navigate the university bureaucracy.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). To register for the event, follow this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant to community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

 

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Hands-On STEM Education at the 29th Street Community Center

MSO 1

Over the past several months, a group of dedicated students at the 29th Street Community Center have been participating in Maryland Science Olympiad (MSO). MSO is an after-school STEM enrichment program which encourages students to tackle a variety of STEM-focused challenges in a fun, but competitive, environment.

mso 4

In the fall, students selected MSO competition events they found interesting. They met twice a week after-school to practice these events and prepare for the Baltimore City tournament. These hands-on activities range from tests, for which students have to study specific STEM subjects, to construction challenges that require students to design and build structures, vehicles, or rockets. With help from a Johns Hopkins University student mentor group, the Charm City Science League, our students excelled in their chosen activities.

This past month, our students’ and their mentors’ hard work paid off at the city-wide tournament, where they placed 4th overall and qualified to compete in the state championship, scheduled to take place next month! Our students placed top five in several individual events at the Baltimore City tournament, including: 1st: Bridge Building, Fossils; 2nd: Wheeled Vehicle; 3rd: Anatomy, Dynamic Planet; 4th: Water Bottle Rockets, Crime Busters; and 5th: Can’t Judge a Powder, Write It Do It.

We are very proud of our students’ accomplishments and we are excited to share their success with everyone!

MSO 2MSO 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Register for Summer Camp! The 29th Street Community Center provides exciting summer camp opportunities for kids of different ages and interests. Click here for page 1 and here for page 2 of the summer camp flyer. Make sure to register soon because space is limited! If you have any questions, please contact Center Director, Hannah Gardi.

Posted in Greatere Homewood Voices, Life at GHCC, Neighborhoods, The 29th Street Community Center, Youth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “Oh Captain, My Captain” by Lottie Sneed

If your neighborhood is looking to start or grow a block captain network, “Oh Captain, My Captain” led by GHCC’s own Lottie Sneed is the workshop for you! To attend this workshop, and many others, register for the 2015 Neighborhood Institute here.

GHCC's Lottie Sneed (left)

GHCC’s Lottie Sneed (left)

A strong community will often have a healthy neighborhood association, meeting regularly and working with key stakeholders to improve quality of life. However, who are your other neighborhood leaders,  the residents who know about everything happening on their blocks? Block Captains! How can you identify these leaders and get them to work together to improve their blocks and strengthen your association? Creating a block captain network can both provide your neighborhood association with a boost and give an outlet for residents who want to be more engaged but aren’t ready for Board leadership positions.

In this workshop, GHCC’s community organizing team will walk participants through our process for recruiting, training, and developing block captains. This interactive session will include strategies for engaging neighbors and planning block events, while also helping neighborhood association leaders think about how to best plan and execute a formal block captain network.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). To register for the event, follow this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant to community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

 

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Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “So Many Liquor Stores, So Little Space” by Cassie Greisen

If your neighborhood is looking to address problems of alcohol outlet density and nuisance, “So Many Liquor Stores, So Little Space” led by Cassie Greisen, will help you learn new strategies for addressing these issues. To participate in this workshop, and many others, register for the 2015 Neighborhood Institute here.

Greisen

Cassie Greisen

Alcohol outlets that engage in dangerous and illegal serving practices contribute to a wide variety of neighborhood problems. Communities across the United States are using planning and zoning as a complement to the state liquor licensing process to address alcohol outlet density and nuisance. This workshop will discuss the status of Baltimore’s zoning rewrite, the history of the Baltimore City Liquor Board, and its recent reform.

Led by Cassie Greisen, a program manager at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health, this workshop will explore how to diverse neighborhoods are working to address problem alcohol outlets in their communities. Representatives from York Road Partnership and Federal Hill Neighborhood Association will share strategies that were used in their recent liquor struggles.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). To register for the event, follow this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant to community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

 

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AmeriCorps VISTA Spotlight: Laquesha Wright

VISTA 019Laquesha Wright is a GHCC sponsored AmeriCorps VISTA serving at Maryland New Directions (MND) in Baltimore City to improve client relationships through a client focus program and increasing the effectiveness of the community partner outreach process as well as improving its relations with current employers.

My service experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA has been very influential in shaping my perspective on social policy issues.  Being an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer opened my eyes to the possibilities of what service can be. AmeriCorps VISTA has been a great outlet for my passion of giving back. I have been able to explore the possibilities of service beyond direct service and I have learned ways to strengthen and support the initiative of an organization by coordinating community service programs, raising awareness, promoting justice work, and providing logistical/administrative support.

CAB MeetingI have been able to work alongside MND to create sustainable resources that can be used to better impact the Baltimore community and contribute to its elevation. My work at MND has enabled me to focus on how to combine different skills and ways of thinking to help the community to achieve a common goal. Due to the service work I have done, I have developed a strong sense of connection to the people and things around me. Through these service experiences I have been able to work with many diverse people, which have changed, my current perception of the world and of social justice issues. My service work compels me to understand the origins of structural injustices and the policies that have perpetuated them on a global as well as national scale.

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Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “It’s More Than Just a Newsletter” by Kathy Nelson

If you are trying to improve your community’s communication methods, “It’s More Than Just a Newsletter” led by Kathy Nelson, is for you. To participate in this workshop, and many more, register for the 2015 Neighborhood Institute here.

Union SqWell-connected neighborhoods require strong and varied forms of communication. Neighborhood communication methods can be as unique as Baltimore’s neighborhoods, from multipage printed newsletters to NextDoor accounts and social media. Each of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages, and all need to be tailored to support your community. In the Union Square neighborhood, leaders have taken the talents of their residents to create a strong and stable communication structure, based around a regular printed newsletter.

Led by Union Square resident and broadcast professional Kathy Nelson, this workshop will offer a panel discussion outlining the steps in creating this newsletter, including layout, printing, and distribution. The workshop will also include tips for managing your neighborhood’s social media and online communications. If you are trying to improve your community’s communication methods, this workshop is for you.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). Register by following this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant to community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

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Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “Orchards and Food Forests” by Ben Howard

If you are looking for a new and creative use for vacant space in your neighborhood, “Orchards and Food Forests: the Whats, Hows, and Whys” led by Ben Howard will be perfect for you. To participate for this workshop, and many others, register for the 2015 Neighborhood Institute here.

Ben Howard of the Baltimore Orchard Project

Ben Howard of the Baltimore Orchard Project

When neighborhoods think about starting a garden on a piece of local land, they normally consider a community garden, where residents grow their own vegetables, herbs, and flowers for individual or communal harvest. This model of urban gardening works great, but a new idea is popping up all across America: urban orchards. Gardeners in urban orchards plant trees that grow fruits to be distributed to neighbors in need throughout a community. Fruit trees create a new dynamic from traditional gardens, providing spaces where neighbors can meet, rest, and seek refuge from the rush of the day. They bring pleasant blossoms and aromas in the spring, shade and comfort in the summer and food and fun in the fall.

In this workshop, Ben Howard from the Baltimore Orchard Project will discuss the advantages of urban orchards and how they can be incorporated alongside annual food gardens. He will also give expert knowledge on how to plan and plant an orchard in your community.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). To register for the event, follow this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

Posted in Beautification, Community Development, Events, Greatere Homewood Voices, Neighborhood Institute, Neighborhoods, Volunteer Opportunities | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Neighborhood Institute Workshop Preview: “Internet for All” by Philip Spevak

If you are interested in bringing high-speed, low-cost internet to all Baltimore residents, “Internet for All” led by Philip Spevak, this workshop is for you! To participate in this workshop, and many others, register for the 2015 Neighborhood Institute here.

Phil Spevak of the Baltimore Broadband Coalition (photo by Nicole Martin, courtesy of the Baltimore Messenger).

Phil Spevak of the Baltimore Broadband Coalition (photo by Nicole Martin, courtesy of the Baltimore Messenger).

The internet is an integral part in our lives. On a neighborhood level, it provides access to information that can accelerate community development and improve our local economy. On an individual level, internet connections are vital for finding jobs and researching key support structures. Unfortunately, internet connectivity in Baltimore is slower and more expensive than many other networks in US cities; many of our neighbors cannot afford internet access needed to improve their quality of life. For these reasons, several neighborhoods have begun working together to help bring internet competition to Baltimore.

The Baltimore Broadband Coalition provides a case study in successful city-wide advocacy. This workshop will expand your understanding of the broadband issue in your neighborhood and share how you can get involved with the Coalition. In addition, the presentation will share tips and tricks for creating a sustainable, city-wide advocacy movement.

GHCC’s annual Neighborhood Institute will be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2015 at the Baltimore Design School (1500 Barclay Street). To register for the event, follow this link. This year, the Institute will feature 36 workshops on a variety of topics relevant community issues and City-wide opportunities. Check back here regularly for a preview of some of the workshops and presenters you can expect to see at this year’s Institute.

 

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