This is the first in a series of weekly posts to promote Shriver Center partnerships, highlight community assets and needs, and market opportunities for the UMBC community. The Shriver Center offers 096 Community Service & Learning, a zero-credit transcript notation for UMBC students engaged in weekly service and reflective activities.
Community Partner Name:
Lakeland Elementary Middle School
2921 Stranden Road, Baltimore, MD 21230 (@ 15 minutes from UMBC)
Zach Pekor, Project Director, Lakeland Elementary Young Explorers
Describe the issue area(s) that your organization addresses.
Our organization works primarily in education by providing a STEM after school program, called Young Explorers, for 1st-4th grades Through the Young Explorers Program, we provide our scholars academic tutoring, math and reading skills reinforcement, and enrichment activities such as art, science experiments, physical education.
What do you consider your community's greatest strengths?
I think the Lakeland community's greatest strengths would be the close proximity to the school and it's commitment to families and the youth who live in the area. Many of the residents truly strive and work to create a better community for everyone.
What does your organization bring to the community?
As a community school, Lakeland offers many different services for the families and community members. These services include a Food Pantry, Spanish and English Classes, Technology Open Lab Time, and Community Gardens. Overall, Lakeland Elementary Middle School is a keystone organization in the greater Lakeland community.
During the summer, we offer a summer camp experience called Freedom Schools which is an academic model created by the Children’s Defense Fund as a way of having education be a personal form of freedom. The curriculum focuses heavily on literacy but viewed through a cultural and historic lens, so that our scholars learn more than just basic literacy skills.
What are meaningful ways that the UMBC community can work together to impact the community?
UMBC is in such a great position to aid many of organizations in the immediate area through its commitment to academic rigor and the STEM fields. Additionally, the students offer a large pool of talent in which they can plug into already existing community organizations. The many clubs and organizations at UMBC are a great way to engage in the work that we do here at Lakeland, especially with our attention to STEM. I cannot think of a better way for UMBC students to engage in service and civic engagement than through the many community organizations in the Baltimore metro area.
How did you get involved with this type of work?
While attending graduate school at DePaul University for my Masters in Biology, I realized that research was not for me at all. I loved and continue to love the sciences but wanted to make a broader impact by getting youth interested in the STEM fields. I spent two years serving with AmeriCorps in both the NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) and VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) and that is where I developed a strong interest in community service and educational outreach (more info at http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-nccc). After that I started applying to jobs that combined my love of science with that of community service and ended up getting the position with UMBC and Lakeland Elementary Middle School!
How can YOU get involved?
Young Explorers currently operates Monday-Thursdays until mid-May, 2:30-5:30 pm. Transportation is available. Volunteers will register in the Spring 2015 096 Practicum - one day a week at Young Explorers is fine (more always welcomed).
Currently, we are looking for STEM Fellows who would be providing a math or literacy lesson to a classroom of our students. We have openings for a 4th Grade Fellow for Wednesday and Thursday as well as a 2nd Grade Fellow for Tuesday and Thursday. All fellow positions have a stipend with each fellow receiving training in classroom management and lesson plan development.
All interested individuals should contact Mr. Pekor at email@example.com. This is a great way to development student leadership skills and to create strong bonds with the local community (see attached application).
For more information about Young Explorers and/or Lakeland Elementary Middle School, contact Zach Pekor at 410-455-1501, firstname.lastname@example.org