Today we visited a public boarding school in Baltimore. The school attracts students from low income families from each district of Maryland. I have to say I was very impressed by the school’s seemingly limitless resources. The school boasted dorms for their students that rival that of Gettysburg College’s freshman dorms and even provided the students with new apple technology such as Ipads and Mac Pros. The students seemed very comfortable in their uniforms and seemed to be actively working and participating in the classes we visited. The school was even working on renovating a huge new facility. I think that the idea of providing low income students with the chance to escape some of the rough conditions of city life in a dorm environment is a very compelling idea. However, I found myself questioning whether the millions of dollars being poured into the school from non-profit organizations and donors might be better spent supplementing regular urban public schools as whole. The school cannot operate the system on a larger scale and so the opportunity to attend will only affect a fraction of a percent of Baltimore’s urban student population.
Boarding School Classroom
Today was also our last lesson with our Midtown Academy students. I have to say I had a great time working with the students to educate them on the college application process and career possibilities. It was a great learning experience that I will never forget. I hope that I made some kind of impact on the students and that they enjoy their visit to Gettysburg College in April. I hope one day after I have established myself and accomplish my career goals that I will be able to teach for a year or two in an urban setting in New York and maybe even coach a sports team.
Today was an eventful day for our urban education trip. After having lunch, we met with a PR Representative for one of Baltimore’s charter schools. We were unable to visit the school because of MSA testing but she did a great job of describing the charter program and the school’s day-to-day. The school seemed to produce great testing scores, but I found myself questioning the method. The school she described seemed to be almost like bootcamp and very militaristic in nature. I couldn’t help but envision the school’s teaching method focusing on branding rather than actual community. What I mean by branding is that high test scores and maintaining the schools image is more important than actually helping for the sake of helping.
After meeting with this school rep, we returned to Midtown Academy and definitely made progress with our group. We focused on exploring college websites and our group was actively participating with many questions. We explored the collegeboard.com website and Maddy did a great job of opening the door to various types of colleges.
Following are long day we made a trip to Chap’s Pit Beef. I have to say it was the best BBQ I have had in a long time. The Pit Beef was phenomenal and I highly recommend it to anyone staying in Baltimore.
Chap’s Pit Beef
Today we traveled nearly an hour to a Public Elementary School in Baltimore via bus and light rail. The ride was long and the rain didn’t help but as we got closer the sun came out and we passed by a really cool building mural.
Upon arriving to the school, I was anxious to meet with the students and interact with them. At first glance I felt that this elementary school was designed much like the one I attended at home. Both are very structurally different from Midtown Academy. Like my intermediate school at home, The public school seemed to be very disorganized and wild with masses of students wandering the halls unsupervised. Many teachers seemed to be unprepared and unable to control their classes with the exception of a few teachers. Since we arrived right after the testing period, things were understandably chaotic and I would like to give the staff the benefit of possibly being overwhelmed by the process.
Public Elementary School
We ended our day at Midtown Academy where I directed our lesson. The lesson was geared towards career goals and I thought we did a lot of good things for the students. The activity that they responded the most to was the Life Map. Unfortunately the students weren’t able to finish in time but hopefully they will be able to tomorrow.
Today we arrived at our hostel in Baltimore at around 11:00 AM. Staying at a hostel is a first for me but goes along with my trip theme of trying new things. I have to honestly say sleeping on a bunk bed and sharing a single bathroom with eight other guys is less than ideal for me, but I have definitely woken up in worse places in the course of my four years at Gettysburg.
We arrived at Midtown Academy at around 12:15 PM. I have never been to a charter school and I was very surprised to see a K-8 school established in such a small building. I learned that the building was originally built as a church and was later converted into a charter school. The building itself is beautifully designed but less than ideal as a school for 180 students.
Midtown Academy: Front Entrance
The photo above illustrates the school’s elegance and previous history as a church.
Whatever Midtown Academy lacks in space, it more than makes up for it with a talented staff that makes the most of all of the school’s resources and motivated students. Today our group did our best to break the ice with our group of 8th grade students. We prepared the room and played many different games like College Jeopardy in order to both entertain and educate the students at the same time.
Preparing our teaching environment
The picture above shows Phellix and Maddie setting up the room before our group of students came up for the college institute. I believe that our first day was very successful and what I took away from a teaching perspective is that preparation is the key to a successful lesson.
My name is Michael Cuttitta and I am currently a senior at Gettysburg College. I am a Political Science Major with a Minor in Business. This is my first education class and needless to say, I am really excited about our weeklong trip to Baltimore to visit Midtown Academy. I have geared my lesson plan towards informing the students about potential career choices. I hope that by the end of the week they will have a firm understanding about what requirements and prerequisites different careers demand. I would like them to not only explore careers that they are already interested, but also have them explore additional areas.