Mayor Extols Public-Private Partnership in Visit to Charter School in West Baltimore
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie
Rawlings-Blake, JD, visited a West Baltimore charter school that
has been greatly shaped by its partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). The mayor visited Furman L. Templeton Preparatory
Academy (FLT) on May 28, calling the public school "one of the best
examples of public-private partnerships in the city."
Her remarks came during a speech to the fourth- and fifth-grade classes
gathered in the cafeteria of the school, located in the Upton/Druid
Heights neighborhood not far from the UMB campus. Promise Heights, a
partnership led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW), aims to improve the lives of children from infancy to age 21
living in the neighborhood, one of the poorest in the city.
"You are our future," Rawlings-Blake told the FLT youngsters, offering
advice for success including several suggestions to put into effect
right away. "Make it a book-filled summer," she said, advocating plenty
of reading. That will not be a stretch for the 450 pupils at FLT,
which is a public charter school that operates on a year-round
The mayor's visit, part of a speakers' series, ended with a
question-and-answer session that prompted raised hands and earnest
queries. How to balance being a mom and mayor? Answer: rely on family
to take her place during moments she must miss. Who are her most
inspirational figures? Answer: her mother, Nina Rawlings, MD, a pediatrician who graduated from the University of Maryland in 1966;
and her father, Maryland Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings, who died in 2003.
Career? Lawyer. In fact, she graduated from the University's law
school, now the UM
Francis King Carey School of Law, in 1995.
Among the leaders who greeted Rawlings-Blake upon her arrival were SSW
Dean Richard Barth, PhD, MSW,
and Assistant Dean Bronwyn Mayden, MSW,
executive director of the Promise Heights initiative. In the
photo above, they stand with FLT Principal Debra Santos, who extends her
hand to Rawlings-Blake, right, as pupils look on from the stairs.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded a 2012 Promise Neighborhood
planning grant to the University that gives new momentum to this
5-year-old effort. Promise Heights now includes broad collaboration
by UMB professional schools with educational, faith-based, private
and non-profit partners in the effort. It is designed to provide educational, social, financial, mental health, and health services from cradle to career or college.
For Barth and Mayden, the event at FLT came within days of a different
official visit in Baltimore that drew attention to Promise Heights.
That was the appearance on May 17 by President Barack Obama at a West
Baltimore manufacturing plant. Barth, Mayden, and Rachel Donegan, JD, a SSW clinical
instructor and programs coordinator for Promise Heights, were among those
invited by the White House. Said Mayden, referring to her brief
interaction with President Obama: "I thanked him for the Promise
The Presidential visit took place on UMB's Commencement Day, presenting
logistical challenges for Barth, who began the day at the School's
convocation at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, rushed at midday to Ellicott Dredges in the
Camden-Carroll industrial area to hear Obama urge greater opportunities
for workers to join the middle class, and then made it to the 1st
Mariner Arena for the UMB commencement ceremony.
On May 28, his trip to FLT was much more a normal part of the dean's
routine. Barth has been an officer of the advisory board since FLT
converted to charter status in 2011 and became involved in the
elementary school's makeover a year before that. Joining him and
leading the mayor's tour was fellow member and chair of FLT's board,
Andrew Bertamini, regional president of Greater Baltimore for Wells
Fargo. Bertamini organized the speakers' series that led to
The series is but one of many enrichment activities, such as a
voluntary "Saturday school" that drew 70 youngsters week after week.
Another example is last year's publication of a book of poetry by
fourth-graders, who presented their poems at the 2012 CityLit Festival
under the direction of Gillian
Gregory, MSW, LCSW-C, a clinical instructor at the SSW who is the
Community Resource School coordinator for FLT and maintains a Promise
Heights office at the school.
Joining the tour for the mayor and her aides was Yusuf Abdul Dashiell,
assistant principal of the school, who explained that FLT offers
instruction with an emphasis on technology for pupils from
pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The group stopped in a computer
lab and in a third-grade math classroom, where students were learning
multiplication with the help of tablets and other electronic teaching
The University-led Promise Heights project is a partner of the Judith
P. Hoyer Program, known as Judy Centers. The latter serves
infants to age 5, and is located downstairs at FLT. Also housed there
are two Head Start programs for young children. Numerous 2- and 3-year-olds were napping when the mayor arrived, and she peeked at them at the
start of her tour. To everyone's relief, the toddlers slept right