July 11, 2018
Gerrod D. is about to enter his senior year at Bard Early College High School and is spending his summer in a familiar place, somewhere he considers a “second home”. As an intern in Living Classrooms’ Inspired to Serve program, Gerrod is leading sports and activities for elementary and middle school summer campers at UA House at Fayette community center, where 100 East Baltimore youth are enrolled in all-day programming focused on enrichment, education, wellness, and summer fun. Gerrod’s role as leader may be new but his history with Living Classrooms dates back to middle school.
Gerrod spent three years enrolled at The Crossroads School, a top-performing public charter middle school operated by Living Classrooms that serves roughly 160 students in 6th-8th grade on a non-traditional waterfront campus offering unparalleled lessons in science and nature. As a self-proclaimed “goof off,” Gerrod struggled academically during his early tenure in middle school and was not engaged in his academics. Like many entering 6th graders at Crossroads, his reading proficiency was well below grade level and it took some intervention by his teachers and the principal to help him realize his potential.
“Mr. Ebert taught me a lot, he pushed me without me knowing it, he always told me I was a smart kid but I always played around too much,” said Gerrod. By the time his final year at Crossroads began, he had gained a new dedication to his schoolwork and, with some extra help and motivation from his teachers, set his eye on attending a top public high school that would help him achieve his dreams.
After declining acceptance to a high school he now deemed, “below his potential,” Gerrod enrolled as a freshman at Bard where he would have a head start on his goal of attending college. He plays basketball on his school’s team but the lack of diversity in extra-curricular activities led him to seek out an alternative, which brought him back to Living Classrooms.
For the past two years, Gerrod has been attending the POWER Teen program where he receives educational, career, and life skills support through a mentorship program focused on helping teen boys flourish through high school and prepare for the expectations of adulthood. The program also introduces the boys to potential career pathways while offering a social outlet where they can connect and discuss important issues that young people encounter in their lives.
On most days throughout the year, Gerrod can be found at UA House at Fayette, whether engaging in a program himself or assisting the staff. Though he must travel by bus from West Baltimore to get there, he admits that he spends most of his time at UA House where he says, “everyone is engaged in you personally” and “they [the staff] have helped me be a better person.” After hunting for a summer job among a number of opportunities that did not fit his interests, it seems a natural fit that he would return to UA House as an intern. This time, he’s using his knowledge and penchant for sports to coach younger students, which he says is his favorite aspect of his job.
This fall, Gerrod plans to apply to Towson University where he’d like to study Sports Management and one day become a coach, a desire that was nurtured by his mentors at UA House at Fayette.
Story by Living Classrooms Staff Writer