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Small steps could lead to big changes in Waverly

How $74,000 and one school has the potential to impact an entire community

Above: Waverly Elementary/Middle School

In July, the Greater Homewood Community Corporation (GHCC) received a $74,000 grant from the Family League of Baltimore City that is being used for this year’s batch of Waverly Elementary/Middle School students.

Now that the school year is underway, recipients say that the new funding is having a direct, significant and immediate impact on what it’s like for students to attend the school.

“Prior to our receiving funding,” said Jaclyn Paul, a Communications & Technology Specialist at GHCC, “the only after-school program at Waverly was an academic program through the Franciscan Youth Center, which only served approximately 120 of the 550 students.”

Cory Carter

Cory Carter during the JHU kids soccer session. Cory is a third grader at Waverly Elementary (Photo courtesy of Waverly Elementary)

In conjunction with GHCC, the school is using the funding for a slew of new programming that is overseen by Andrew Stiller, who was hired by GHCC as a “Community Resource School Site Coordinator.”

“The grant provides for Andrew’s salary and helps the school and GHCC provide family engagement events throughout the year,” said Paul.

According to Stiller, the stipend he receives for parent and community activities allows him to offer things like health workshops that teach parents how to protect their children against lead poisoning.

Waverly Elementary/Middle School (Photo courtesy of Greater Homewood)

Waverly Elementary/Middle School (Photo courtesy of Greater Homewood)

“I think the most important thing to recognize is the ripple effect that my project can provide,” said Stiller.  “If I can engage a student’s parent and get them to come to a workshop, I can expose them to new and useful ideas.”

For students, they are planning new after-school activities, such as a cooking class that teaches healthy eating and how to make homemade applesauce, and a dance class instructing students in ballet.

Here’s a rundown of some of the other new classes and programs Stiller has created or strengthened:

•    A partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Social Concern, which has allowed the school to offer a variety of extra-curricular programs including orchestra, dance, cooking, soccer, and health education.

•    A student-mediated Truancy Court designed to help alleviate tardiness and absenteeism.

•    A partnership with the Y at Stadium Place, which provides access to Y facilities including the rock climbing wall, pool and gym, “ to kids whose families might not be able to afford full passes,” explains Stiller. One fitness class is teaching about gym safety and workout machines.

•    The school also has a partnership with the Cathedral of the Incarnation, which hosts programs for the school such as a teacher appreciation event at the beginning of the year. “This is vital for engaging the teachers and showing community and administrative support,” said Stiller.

•  A new creative writing class through Writers in Baltimore, an independent non-profit that teaches creative writing through trained tutors.  Students are currently learning about poetry and how to write haiku.

Stiller said although the grant and his work may seem modest, it has the potential to make a big impact.

“The partnerships I provide may not seem so ground-breaking,” he said,  “but if an after-school soccer program teaches students teamwork and prevents them from being mischievous after school, then they are more likely to stay on the right path for achievement.”

“Because we are a community school, improvements with our children pay dividends in the future, because the majority of our students are from the neighborhood,” Stiller added.

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