SSW, Volunteers Collaborate to Beautify a West Baltimore School
As residents of West Baltimore made their way along historic Pennsylvania Avenue on Aug. 17, many paused to peer at the volunteers who swarmed Furman L. Templeton Elementary School. Known as a local landmark for the bridge that connects it to a recreation center across the street, the public school was being freshened to welcome children ages 4 to 11 for a new term.
The building at 1200 N. Pennsylvania Ave. is also being readied as the hub of Promise Heights, a community outreach effort of the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW). Inside the lobby, SSW Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, led a group of painters who spent much of the morning on ladders, turning the walls an inviting shade of light blue.
Barth says Furman L Templeton will be the host for one aspect of Promise Heights, a community school program "to strengthen and increase opportunities for children and families." Promise Heights is a collaborative venture involving the SSW and other partners.
Wells Fargo, the parent company of Wachovia Bank, N.A., planned the improvement project and fielded the bulk of the volunteers, a determined crew of about 75 workers who helped paint a front office, assemble furniture, and plant several potted palms. Some even attacked the school's overgrown exterior wielding the personal lawn-care equipment of the bank's regional president, Andrew Bertamini, who spearheaded the effort.
Partners included the United Way of Central Maryland and the Upton Planning Council, among others. The Baltimore City Public Schools system also collaborated on the improvements, according to Kenneth Cherry, principal of Furman Templeton.
Cherry says the school for pre-K through fifth grade plans to enroll 450 students. They are expected to perform better academically because their surroundings will have a greater aesthetic appeal. Of the Promise Heights initiative under the direction of the SSW, he says, "A lot of good things are happening for our parents and for our kids."