Engagement at its Best – The New Dorothy I. Height Elementary School

On April 4, 2018, the new Dorothy I. Height Elementary School opened its doors in Reservoir Hill. The school was the third fully modernized building to open under Baltimore City Schools’ 21st Century School Buildings Program after a five-year process from concept design through grand opening.  Throughout the past five years, Child First played a leading role in the design of the building by partnering with stakeholder groups including Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, Beth Am Synagogue, and the Whitelock Community Farm to gather community input on the school building design.   After reaching over 500 individuals through one-on-one and small group conversations, the community identified that the building should be designed around the core values of safety, belonging, opportunity and connection. Today, when you walk through the front doors and see the community room on the left, the large glass windows overlooking the playing field and the outdoor amphitheater, the beautifully restored auditorium, and two music rooms; it is easy to feel and see how the values have been integrated into the design. 

After the doors of the new school building opened, Child First continued to listen to parents, teachers, and the community. In 2017, Child First Community School Coordinator, Porsche Johnson, and BUILD Organizer, Abby Baldwin, identified the need for transportation services for students living farther than one mile from the school as a key concern, and a barrier to attendance. Together, the two partnered with school leadership and organized opportunities for parents to share their concerns with decision-makers at Baltimore City Public Schools. After several months of organizing, City Schools granted students living beyond the one-mile radius from the new school building bus service, thereby reducing the barriers for families to access and attend their brand new school building. Child First is grateful for the opportunity to have played such important roles at Dorothy I. Height throughout the 21st Century School Buildings process and looks forward to working with the next two Child First schools to undergo modernization: Calvin M. Rodwell where construction began Summer 2018, and Robert W. Coleman, which concluded its feasibility study in May 2018.

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Give a gift and watch it make a difference. Here are a few things even a modest gift can do for our students:
1995/1996
1995/1996
Voter accountability session with the Mayoral candidates; Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development organized listening campaign with citizens that identified afterschool programming as key need in the city; City Ordinance granted that created Baltimore Child First Authority.
1996
1996
Kermit "KC" Burton named first Executive Director of Child First Authority.
1997
1997
Carol Dunston Reckling named Executive Director.
1997
1997
Governor Parris Glendening earmarked $500,000 in dedicated state funding to Child First Authority; earmark still exist in state budget today.
2000
2000
Grant from Abell Foundation to develop our own curriculum to boost academics in Out of School Time Program.
2000
2000
Received initial funding from
Family League of Baltimore.
2002
2002
“We are not leaving without a meeting.” Action against Department of Human Resources to maintain state earmark.
2004
2004
CFA held the first Show What You Know student showcase.
2008
2008
High Expectations - In partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Partnerships, Communications & Community Engagement, CFA worked with William H. Lemmel and Garrison Middle School students to create a school climate and culture that supports relationships of trust with students and their parents and facilitates intervention strategies.
2009
2009
CFA began CFA Art Core, an initiative that placed visual and performing community artists at each afterschool site to facilitate high-quality arts instruction.
2009
2009
Baltimore Education Coalition created and Child First serves as a lead organizing member
2012
2012
Family League launches Community School Strategy and CFA becomes lead agency for community schools and OST sites
2015
2015
CFA plays pivotal role in 21st Century Building Design process at Dorothy I. Height Elementary School (then John Eager Howard)
2016
2016
Carol Reckling retires after 19 years at the helm
2016
2016
Danista E. Hunte named 3rd Executive Director
2020
COVID-19
RESPONSE
2020
CFA Family and Community Engagement Team established during the global COVID-19 pandemic to share community resources and to provide family engagement workshops and events for parents and community
2020
2020
14 Community School Sites and OST sites
2020-21
2020-21
Provided virtual programming to children and families all while living through a global pandemic
2021
2021
Celebrating 25 Years!
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1995/1996
The Beginning
1996
CFA's First Executive Director Appointed
1997
Carol Dunston take charge
1997
$500,000 in State funding
2000
Support From the Abell Foundation
2000
Support From the Family League
2002
Funding In Jeopardy
2004
Spotlight on the kids
2008
High Expectations
2009
Art Core
2009
CFA Leads
2012
Community Schools
2015
21st Century Schools
2016
Carol Reckling retires
2016
Danista Hunte
2020
Covid-19 Response
2020
14
2020-21
Virtual Programming
2021
25 Years!
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