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A Message from the President: June 2021

A Message from the President

Dear Members,

I would like to share some stories about my own school experience as a Baltimore City student. I think that people who went to school here in Baltimore City have valuable experiences, and they are especially valuable when they are good experiences, so that people can remember what good, well-resourced schooling looks like. Remembering our schools as the rich, resourced places they were helps us continue to fight for our children to have those same rich opportunities. 

One of the elementary schools I went to was Harford Heights. I would catch the MTA bus to school in the 4th grade from my home on Gorsuch Avenue. I think it’s important for people to understand that for many Baltimore City children, that’s normal, and a lot of our really young kids already have that responsibility for themselves. But I have to tell you, that walk was rough. I don’t know if you know about Harford Road by Gorsuch, but when you’re 9 years old and everyone’s outside, it’s a little intimidating. I like to make sure that people understand that we put our children in a lot of circumstances that we think are alright, and we think they’re good, but there’s a lot of things that our kids see on the way to school and we as educators need to be mindful of that.

Harford Heights had the GATE program for gifted and talented kids, and I was in that. I played the violin in the 3rd grade (before I lost it at the bus stop) but I did learn “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” When I lost the violin, my mother was really mad, so I didn’t get another instrument after leaving a whole violin on the bus. I was that kid that you know who is completely absent-minded. At Harford Heights we learned Greek mythology and we got to come dressed as different gods and goddesses. Beyond the textbooks, I remember learning by playing games like, 24 and Number Munchers. 24 was my game, I think I really could still dominate if I had a deck. 

I graduated from Harford Heights and I went to Roland Park. The thing I remember most about Roland Park was that there was so much for me to explore. I took Spanish, German and French, and I’d like to give a shout-out to my middle school French teacher, who is still teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools, Ms. Karen Saar. (Later, when I was an adult, she ended up being one of my BODYPUMP instructors!) 

At Roland Park I started to play lacrosse. I actually started to play most of the sports they offered because I didn’t want to go right home, and I was looking for something to do next after school. I became the captain of the lacrosse team, and my team got really close because all of my best friends were on the team. 

We decided to all go to City together to play lacrosse. I was the captain of the City lacrosse team and we went undefeated one year, (after being very defeated the year before) and I played under coach PJ Kesmodel, who used to coach at Mount Hebron. Mount Hebron has and had a very prominent lacrosse team, so it was really cool that we had a coach left such a great lacrosse team to come and develop our skills at City. We were the first women’s lacrosse team at City to wear shorts, because we didn’t want to wear kilts, so maybe that’s an example of how I was learning about collective action as well as all the other great lessons you learn from sports.

At City I became the president of my class. I was in the National Honor Society and Modeling Club, and I played lacrosse, volleyball, and basketball, and I was in the marching band. I just did everything. I left City ranked #9 in my class with a 4.6 GPA and I loved it all. City Forever!

I even had two foreign exchange students at City. First there was Kailor: he was from Costa Rica and he came in the middle of a snowstorm. That experience really enhanced my Spanish quickly because I had to figure out how to explain to Kailor in Spanish why in the world it was so cold, when he didn’t have a coat, and we didn’t have electricity. Then I ended up having Faye, a student from Germany (even though I wasn’t taking German), and that was really fun because Faye was around my age and we ended up getting into some trouble at parties. Turns out her English and my German weren’t good enough to get her out of the trouble she got into. Hosting foreign exchange students helped me realized how big the world is outside of Baltimore, but at the same time, how easy it can be to connect with people who at first seem like they’d be really different from you. Foreign exchange is the type of great program that I got to take advantage of that so few Baltimore students today get to participate in.

I had a great time in Baltimore City Public Schools and I want to share these stories because we need to make sure that all of our schools have all the resources I was able to experience and more. All of our students deserve those experiences, and I know that BTU members are fighting every day, individually and collectively to make sure our students get them.

Have a great summer and thanks for all you do!

In solidarity,

President Diamonté Brown