Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DigiBall at Digital Harbor

by Andrew Coy

It has been a while since my last post, but there are good reasons for that, one of which I would like to take a moment and share.

Background and Context




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I teach at Digital Harbor High School in inner-city Baltimore. The school was founded in 2002 with substantial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the objective was to take a failing school in southern Baltimore and reinvigorate it with a vision of 21st century education and technology to service inner-city students in the Baltimore City Public School System (how well this has or hasn't worked and what my thoughts are on Urban Education Reform I will be sharing sooner or later on this blog, no doubt). While Baltimore City Public Schools has been in the news recently for some pretty significant and progressive changes (such as graduation rates and a new teacher contract), these improvements have only recently started to turn the tide of more than 40 years of problems and a failing system.

The neighborhood in which I teach is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in downtown Baltimore, but Digital Harbor was one of Baltimore City's first City School of Choice (meaning that students from all over the city can elect to attend the school regardless of where they live). As with other schools in the Baltimore, middle class families send their children to private or charter schools. This combined with the geographic dispersement of students means that substantial parent/community involvement has been a challenge. Some members of community around our school have, however, effectively adopted our school and our students as their own and while relationships with the neighborhood and the students (especially in the early afternoon after the bells ring) has definite room for improvement, a few members of the neighborhood have taken it upon themselves to make a positive impact.

Last year these community members organized a fundraising event and in one night raised more than $50,000 for scholarships to students going to college from Digital. I became more involved this year when they came to the school looking for someone to help out with a website and other technical issues. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me trying to juggle everything from teaching to web programming to finishing my Master's degree at Hopkins.


Reasons for this Post



I wanted to write this post for two main reasons.

1) a follow up to the last post I wrote about teachers knowing HTML.

While what I have done for the DHHS Alliance has gone beyond simple HTML knowledge, I feel strongly that the more teachers teach themselves about technology the more value they can add to their school and the more they can make a lasting difference in the lives of their students (both in high school and beyond). I know some individuals disagreed with my last post, arguing that Web 2.0 has effectively reduced the need for teachers or anyone to actually know HTML, but I still feel that for those willing to make the investment, there will be significant payoffs. Better to program than be programmed (in the words of Douglas Rushkoff), especially if one adopts the teacher-as-leader model of education.

2) to invite you all to check out the website i've been working on and highlight some of the silent auction items that are available online.

Scrubs from the TV Show Scrubs signed by DONALD FAISON and ZACH BRAFF -- (more info)
Signed book "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side and Beyond!" The Raven’s own Michael Oher, #74, the football star made famous in the hit film,"The Blind Side" -- (more info)
ONE night evening package at this premium downtown hotel, THE MARRIOTT INNER HARBOR-CAMDEN YARDS, located footsteps from Camden Yards – Oriole Stadium -- (more info)
RACING package including Clubhouse passes for 10 to LAUREL PARK or PIMLICO RACE COURSE, reserved seating, live-racing programs, parking for 10 cars AND a race named in your honor -- (more info)


Not available on-line but if interested, can contact me -- (abcoy@bcps.k12.md.us or @andrewcoy)


The actual event will be at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on Saturday, the 26th of March.

Tickets are available on the website if you are in the area and want to come support some of inner-city Baltimore's best students! (who, incidentally, won the 2A Boy's Basketball State Championship this year!)

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