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Preparation for two careers by The Rev Deacon Marsha Evans Holmes

StoriesThere were several teachers who influenced me greatly, but the foundation was laid with Miss Dorothy Howard, my first and second grades teacher at Turner Elementary School. By the time I graduated from Dundalk High School in 1971, one of the most important skills to my successful career was the ability to think critically. The knowledge, skills - both technical and interpersonal, and relationships from my time in Baltimore County Public Schools have helped me to achieve success in two very different career paths.

 

The Rev Deacon Marsha Evans Holmes, Retired Vice President, Verizon Communications; currently Episcopal Deacon at Christ Episcopal Church, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

My Journey

 I have been a student in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) for the past 13 years. The vigorous curriculum has pushed me to educational levels I didn’t think I would reach. I wouldn’t have been able to be successful without the encouragement and love from many of BCPS‘s amazing teachers and administrators.

My BCPS journey began at Powhatan Elementary School, where I gained my foundation. I wouldn’t have even had the courage to push myself and step outside of the box without the encouragement of Mrs. Pamela Ahmed.  Mrs. Ahmed made her classroom feel like a safe haven. I felt comfortable making mistakes in her presence knowing that I would be corrected and guided with love.  Even with her love and encouragement she set her expectations high for her students. She wanted us all to get a glimpse of how great we could be academically and personally.

Those expectations helped to prepare me for middle school.  As I entered Deer Park Middle Magnet School, I met an amazing woman named Ms. Penelope Martin. Ms. Martin was the principal of Deer Park. She shared her love of learning, life and people with all of her students. Ms. Martin wanted to ensure that all of her students received the best education possible, and that they were challenged to reach higher academically. Ms. Martin encouraged me to be the change I wanted to see in those around me and my community. In middle school I got involved in everything that I could, hoping that I could be like Ms. Martin and change a life even if it was just for a moment. My involvement in middle school prepared me for the balancing of academics and extra-curricular activities in high school.

As I started at Lansdowne High School I maintained my academics while again being involved in as many extra-curricular activities. I met Mrs. Katie Showalter while being a part of our spring musical my freshman year. Our bond from that point continued to grow throughout my 4 years there. Mrs. Showalter cared about me as a person and really wanted to see me excel in high school. She was always there to give advice or to even celebrate my accomplishments.  Ms. Angela Berry was an assistant principal at Lansdowne for my freshman and sophomore year. She made those years simply amazing. She never hesitated to correct me and remind me that my education is my first priority in school not my extra-curricular activities. Ms. Berry knew the right words to say to change your day around. What touched me most was that Ms. Berry kept in contact with me even though she no longer worked at my school. Then along came Mrs. Natalie Adams; she was the assistant Principal for my junior and senior year. Mrs. Adams became a mentor to me.  She was always there to help me with life decisions, never telling me how or what to decide but guiding me to make my own decision.  She cared about me for me and only wanted the absolute best for me. Mrs. Adams too would correct me and celebrate me. She treated me as one of her own. She held the standard/ expectation higher for me than she did for others because she wanted me to reach my fullest potential in school which would lead to me aiming to reach my fullest potential in life.

Although I remember many lessons I was taught and some of the amazing activities I did, what has a lasting impact on me is the kindness, empathy, care and concern of these women. They took the time out to listen to me.  They asked how I really was. These women were the difference in my life. As I start my tenure here at  Hampton University  I know that I am fully equipped to handle whatever is thrown my way, not only because of the education provided through Baltimore County Public Schools, but also because of the great support system they gave me .

Chontel Bevans, Hampton University

From BCPS to Uganda and Nicaragua by Angie Hong

StoriesI am a proud product of Baltimore County Public Schools. Although I did not realize it at the time, Harford Hills Elementary, Pine Grove Middle, and Loch Raven High School provided me with a myriad of invaluable experiences, which have helped shape my identity and the work I am doing now. The BCPS system challenged me both in the academic and co- curricular realm. Whether it be placing me in gifted and talented courses, giving me an opportunity to volunteer at a homeless shelter, or allowing me to organize an assembly of 600 students to show my fellow classmates the plight of the longest running war in Central East Africa, I was continually encouraged by my teachers, administrators, and the system as a whole. Being a BCPS student was not always easy, I struggled in some classes, maybe challenged a few educators in other ways, but the fact remained, I was given the room and resources to grow as a citizen of this world and to discover in which ways will I serve the community that has given me so much and the global community, that I may not have met yet.

Skipping prom and my high school graduation, I went on to volunteer in Uganda as a wide- eyed 17-year-old girl, ready to take what I learned through my co- curricular and classroom experiences to improve the conditions in a particular village in Uganda. There, I taught children in a village school and looked after 27 orphaned and vulnerable children. During my time there, one of my fondest memories was finding out that I won the first-ever Principal's Humanitarian Award at Loch Raven High School during an award ceremony. I knew then that the support and encouragement from BCPS would not stop even after graduation. I then continued my education and involvement in co- curricular activities at Towson University as vice- president of the student body, representative of the University System of Maryland Student Council, and leader in activist organizations. After graduation, I became the coordinator for civic engagement in Student Affairs at Towson University for a year and then moved back to Uganda for four months to resettle children, considered orphaned and vulnerable, to any remaining family ties versus staying in institutionalized care.

Now, I will be leaving home once again to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua in the health promotion field. BCPS has taught me that we are all students and teachers in life and that will never stop, and I will always have a fantastic support system.

Angie Hong, Peace Corps volunteer, Loch Raven High School graduate

How BCPS has impacted my life by Melanie Martin

StoriesMy name is Melanie Martin, and I have been a school counselor for Baltimore County Public Schools for 11 years. I have worked as an elementary, a middle and now a high school counselor. I believe that there is something special about each level. I have found joy in helping kindergarteners learn to adjust to the routine of elementary school and in helping middle school students set meaningful academic and behavior goals. This year, as a new high school counselor, I've found a brand new source of happiness – working with students to create four-year high school and post-graduation plans. Helping students select courses that will prepare them for the rigors of post-secondary education and supporting them through the process of applying to colleges makes me feel like my office has been an important stop on their path toward success. When a student stops by to let me know that they have been accepted into the college, university or trade school of their choice, I feel happy for the student, but also fulfilled that I have done my part to help that young person achieve their goals. My work as a BCPS school counselor has allowed me to be a part of successes like this for students every day.

Melanie Martin , School Counseling Department Chair - George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology
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