RHIC partners with John Eager Howard Elementary (soon to be renamed Dorothy I. Height Elementary School) in building a more cohesive community because healthy schools are integral to healthy neighborhoods. Driven by our shared values—belonging, connection, opportunity, and safety—we work together towards the vision of our children, families, and neighbors for their school and neighborhood.
John Eager Howard School Design Advisory & Action Team
From 2013-2015, the JEH Design Advisory and Action Team (DAAT), a collaborative group of community members & advocates, worked closely with the 21st Century Schools' architects on the new school design and gathered further feedback from the broader community. The DAAT was committed to modeling a community engagement process which could be utilized in other neighborhoods and schools. Our process was recognized by City Schools as representative of the type of community engagement they hope will be fostered in other neighborhoods affected by the 21st Century Schools plan.
RHIC was a founding member of the BEC in 2009 and continues to play an active role as the coalition organizes and mobilizes to ensure that all children in Baltimore City receive an excellent education.
After three years of hard work, JEH was awarded Maryland Green School Certification in Spring 2013. The school's greening culture has now been transferred to JEH's temporary location at Westside Elementary.
After developing the school's environmental education opportunities, staff, students, and families grew increasingly interested in wellness. We believe that in order to stay de-stressed and our children to be focused learners, we need to proactively take care of our bodies by paying attention to proper nutrition and exercising. John Eager Howard, Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, and B'more Fit Academy has supported through health fairs and fitness nights, as well as fundraising for fitness equipment.
In 2005, parents, neighbors, and school staff were worried about Reservoir Hill’s neighborhood school, John Eager Howard Elementary School (JEH), because it was threatened with closure as part of a city-wide process to reduce school facility space. In response to this threat, the school community organized and founded the "Better Schools Initiative"; more than 250 residents participated in community meetings, a door-to-door petition drive, city-wide planning meetings addressing facilities needs and closures, and ongoing advocacy. This group succeeded in not only keeping the school in the neighborhood, but also in securing increased funding for facility improvements.
In Winter 2013, 3,000 Baltimore City parents, students, teachers, and neighbors stood together in Annapolis demanding better school buildings for our children. John Eager Howard, working with Child First Authority and RHIC, brought 80 people--the third highest turnout from across the city--for the February Rally.
Baltimore City Public School buildings were facing a $2.4 billion deficit, with 85% of public schools in poor condition-- John Eager Howard alone was assessed at needing $14-16 million in renovation and repair costs. In April, the Baltimore Education Coalition and Transform Baltimore's hard work paid off when the state approved the $1 billion school construction bill. The Baltimore Education Coalition is a city-wide grassroots partnership of over 25 organizations, including RHIC, Child First Authority, ACLU, united by a mission and vision for public education in Baltimore City. Over the past three years, these groups have prioritized city school construction funding and worked to bring a plan to fruition for Baltimore City.
This school construction bill will fund the first 5 years of BCPS' 10 year plan to fully renovate and rebuild all Baltimore City schools. Within BCPS 10 year plan, JEH is set for a "Year 1 Renovation with Possible Addition or Replace". More information about the recommendation, as well as the initial study of the buildings' current state can be found here via this link.