Drumming, dance and math at John Eager Howard

Ssuuna picture 1Ssuuna opening his residency at JEH during a full school assembly

John Eager Howard partnered with Young Audiences to host Ssuuna for an arts integrated residency throughout December and January. Ssuuna worked with the third, fourth, and fifth grade to teach drumming and dance while reinforcing math concepts. In early January the students shared with the school all that they learned in a closing assembly.

student performance 3Students perform their dance during the closing assembly

student performance 2Students provide the beat for the dances during the closing assembly

Get on the bus!

2013.01.29 BEC group photoOur group at the Rally Leaders Prep Session (1/29/2013)

Last week, 14 people went with John Eager Howard and No Boundaries Coalition to Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC)'s Rally Leaders Prep Session. We heard the latest updates on the facilities campaign and learned about our strategy for the state legislative session.

What is the facilities campaign and why is it important for Reservoir Hill?

  • Baltimore Education Coalition is working on a financing plan to leverage State and City dollars to $2.4 billion for school facility upgrades. The first step of this plan requires passing the "block grant bill" in Annapolis.
  • Over the next 10 years, JEH is estimated to need over $14 million in facilities repairs. Without the proposed financing plan, these repairs will not be possible.
  • If the block grant bill passes, John Eager Howard is slated for a full renovation or replacement as soon as 2014-2015.

For more information check out the Baltimore Education Coalition and Transform Baltimore websites.

What can we do to help pass the block grant bill?

  • Come to the February 5th Reservoir Hill community meeting: 6pm at the Rec Center, dinner provided. We'll discuss the plan in more depth and talk about the neighborhood's involvement in the campaign.
  • Come canvass with us on February 11th: meet at 3pm at John Eager Howard, canvass from 3:30-5, and debrief at the Rec Center after. We want to be sure as many people know about the plan and ways to get involved as possible!
  • Come with us on February 25th to the Rally in Annapolis. In order to demonstrate Baltimore's commitment to the plan, the BEC is working to turnout 3000 parents, teachers, students, community members for this rally. John Eager Howard is working to fill 2 buses-- will you get on the bus with us?

Contact Erin Bowman, ebowman@reservoirhill.net or 410-225-7547, to get involved and save your seat on the bus!

DSC00196Fifth graders at John Eager Howard working on their "Rally Song" to be performed at the Tuesday Community Meeting. 

Cooking with Student Chefs at JEH Rec

Starting in January, students at the JEH Rec Center are learning to cook foods from around the world. At the beginning of each five class session, students pick 4 countries to inspire the recipes they'll cook. Not only will students learn new culinary skills, but by investigating the ingredients students will begin to think more critically about where their food comes from and how it impacts their health.

Step 1: Read the recipe (included at the end of this post) and investigate the ingredients. Before they even begin cooking, the students answer these three questions about each ingredient:

  1. How far did the ingredient take to get here today?
  2. In which seasons can you grow the ingredient in Maryland?
  3. How does the ingredient help our bodies?


Step 2: Learn a new skill-- safely using a box grater. 


Step 3: Work as a team to prepare the dish.

DSC00191 Step 4: Share with friends and family!


Torta de Espinaca (from Colombia) Spinach cakes


  • ½ pound spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup mozzarella  cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • salt, cumin and pepper
  • olive oil


  1. In a saucepan put water to boil and when boiling turn off heat and add spinach to sweat for 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Then pass them through a colander and drain all the water.
  3. Place in a bowl and cut slightly with a knife.
  4. Dice onion and tomato, then sautee until softened (about 5 minutes)
  5. In another bowl mix the eggs with the flour, salt and pepper
  6. Grate the cheese and add to the spinach.
  7. Add the egg mixture and mix gently.
  8. Add the sauteed onion and tomato mixture
  9. Pour mixture into greased pan, cook for 3 minutes on each side

Keep an eye out for recipes from Egypt, India, and Germany!

John Eager Howard School Selected for Modernization in Year One

In late November, the Baltimore City Public School System released its 10-year plan recommendations for every City school.  The goal is a bold one - to provide a fully modern  school facility for every child in Baltimore City within ten years. For full information go to: 21st Century Buildings for our Kids Reservoir Hill's John Eager Howard School (JEH) is listed as renovate with possible addition or replace.  Westside is closing.  Mt. Royal is listed as renovate with possible addition.

This plan is contingent on legislation being passed this session at the state level to give the school district the funds to make the renovations. Reservoir Hill school advocates will, as in past years, be on the front lines of that advocacy.

We are on the precipice of giving our children the best schools to attend possible, and we need your help.

To join the campaign for modern school facilities, contact the RHIC office:

Rick Gwynallen 410.225.7547 rgwynallen@reservoirhill.net



John Eager Howard School: National Title I Distinguished School of the Year

Front Mural at JEH

Reservoir Hill's own John Eager Howard School has been named National Title I Distinguished School for the 2012-2013 school year. 

The school will be honored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of State Title I Directors in an upcoming ceremony in Nashville next month.

The Maryland Department of Education nominated one school after a thorough review of student achievement data based on the Maryland School Assessments. John Eager Howard had the highest score for Category 2—closing the achievement gap between student groups.

For more information: http://marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/pressrelease_details/2012_12_17.htm

While you are at it, check out the school's website: http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/61

Say hello to Mike Andrews

Mike Andrews - Dec. 2012

Mike Andrews joined the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council (RHIC) and Reservoir Hill family on 4 December. Thanks to Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), Mike is a VISTA assigned three days a week to support a range of needs at John Eager Howard School and John Eager Howard Recreation Center.  The other two days a week he works out of the JVC office expanding their Bookworms program to more schools.

Mike grew up in Delaware until he was 16 when his family moved to North Carolina.  He attended Elon University and then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, eventually receiving his undergraduate degree in English Language & Literature with a minor in Classical Studies.

Mike says, “My interest in a career in education led me to service in Baltimore at John Eager Howard.  I’m also a lifelong soccer enthusiast and have been a musician and producer since high school.”

Mike looks forward to meeting more people living, working, playing, and worshiping in Reservoir Hill.  Please welcome him when you see him out and about. Feel free to call Mike at the RHIC office (410.225.7547) or reach him through his email address: mandrews@associated.org

Fall with JEH's Green Keepers

NFD Robert at farmJEH students visiting Whitelock Community Farm on National Food Day (10/24/2012)

JEH Scholars have been busy this fall at John Eager Howard! Students painted in after school art classes, performed in a Math Bee, enjoyed salad at Whitelock Community Farm, and worked to keep greening John Eager Howard.

Every Tuesday and Thursday during Child First students participate in Green Keepers/Kids Grow. This fall, students planted "mystery" seeds, raised Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, learned about habitats and food chains, and explored the lives of trees. Throughout December, students will learn more about seasonal changes and how they impact animals.

GK at soil deliveryJEH students helping in the school garden (10/25/2012)

In mid-November, JEH Green Keepers used what they've learned over the past two years to share at a BCPS School Board meeting with other students from SELAT (Student Environmental Leadership Action Team):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N22rX_5sgQ&w=560&h=315]

Hint: Skip to 30 seconds into the video when the students start speaking into the microphone

". . .Last year we built a wind turbine and learned about energy and how to make it. We ride bikes, scooters, and things that don't use gas to keep the environment clean and to keep chemicals out of the air. We want better buildings with bigger classrooms with space for plants to help us learn and clean the air. . . We compost 3 days a week at John Eager Howard to make soil so we can grow better foods. We want there to be fewer rodents at our school. . . We recycle and had a school contest in art class to decorate the bins. We recycle to keep our environment clean. We would like to have a choice about the food we eat at lunch; we want our lunches to have food from Whitelock Community Farm in them. . . We have a garden at our school and I  helped plant some vegetables. It's fun and helps me learn science. We want more murals at our school that talk about the environment. . . We have pet caterpillars to learn about how they grow. We would like to have trays for our school lunches that are recyclable. . ."

Welcome to JEH's Artist in Residence

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu88eDkpdLE&w=560&h=315] This year, as part of Child First, John Eager Howard and RHIC welcome Michelle Luong to the family! Michelle is working at JEH through MICA's Community Art Collaborative program (CAC) and will be with the school full time for the 2012-2013 academic year. Check out the above video to hear about why Michelle decided to apply for CAC and what she'll be doing with students this year!

One Night, One Bill, One Baltimore

Last week John Eager Howard, Child First, and RHIC joined Baltimore Education Coalition and 300 others for an action on the state grant capital funding bill. Parents, students, community groups, and city and state officials came together to learn more about the bill and build energy around the growing campaign to transform our schools through innovative facilities financing. Parent of a former John Eager Howard student, Arica Gonzalez co-chaired the action and introduced the evening:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU-391gYtpc&w=560&h=315]

"...And as I witness this phenomenal group of schools, congregations, and organizations represented here tonight, I am reminded that collectively we can achieve the highest of heights. I am reminded that the spirit of the people of this city is determined, and noble, and strong, and proud. And I am unsettled to the core to see that our infrastructure does nothing to reflect the lives that fill it..."

Then, kindergarten teacher, Leon Pryer, explained the background of the bill and facilities campaign:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK6XCUwUgyk&w=560&h=315]

  1. City school buildings are in a state of crisis 85% of BCPS school buildings are in poor condition
  2. Deficient school facilities negatively impact students and teachers Facilities impact academic achievement, absenteeism, graduation rates, and health.
  3. Current funding system to fix city school buildings is flawed Current funding levels are insufficient to fix schools and provide little more than a band-aid approach to repairs.
  4. There is a solution! It has been done before! Several U.S. cities have developed programs to fully rebuild their schools by using innovative financing that allows for large amounts of borrowing up front. 
  5. State block grant is critical to acquiring the first billion of $2.4 billion need With a consistent funding stream, Baltimore can leverage the money they already receive from the State and City and build 60-80 schools now! Leveraging State and City dollars is like taking a mortgage out on your home. 
  6. Our plan can transform Baltimore! -- The block grant helps to pay for renovation and replacement of buildings over 10 years so that every student is in a safe and modern school building. -- The block grant helps to create thousands of jobs for Baltimore residents.
  7. We need your help to transform our school buildings! --Work with others in the BEC to teach the Block Grant --Tell people about the Block Grant and its benefits for your community --Join us in Annapolis with a bus full in February!

After the introduction to the block grant, BEC invited those elected officials present to pledge their support for the bill by agreeing to make it their number one priority this legislative session.

Dr. Sonja Santelises, Chief Academic Officer for BCPS, and Verna Jones-Rodwell, Chair of the Baltimore City Delegation, shared their reasons for prioritizing the facilities campaign:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BIRzMncMUc&w=560&h=315]

City Council members Mary Pat Clark and Bill Henry, school board members David Stone and Robert Heck, and state legislators Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg, Mary L. Washington, Joan Carter Conway, Curtis S. Anderson, and William C. Ferguson IV also pledged their support for the bill.

Interested in getting involved with the facilities campaign at John Eager Howard?

Contact: Erin Bowman, ebowman@reservoirhill.net, (410)225-7547 --OR-- Jennifer McDowell, jmcdowell@childfirstauthority.org, (410)396-0837

Growing Opportunities at John Eager Howard

The JEH Community at Back to School Night (9/27/12)

You've already heard about all the plants growing at John Eager Howard, but this year JEH is growing more than broccoli! Students, teachers, parents and community members have all been busy at JEH this fall. The school broadened its existing partnerships by bringing in Playworks and Parks & People, and is expanding its work with Child First in order to offer more opportunities to students and families.

Students playing 4-square during a Playworks led recess (September 2012)

Playworks promotes team building, works against bullying, and improves the school learning environment by teaching games and encouraging physical activity during recess. Coach K leads Playworks at JEH, and though she's only been at the school for less than 2 months, she's already part of the family!

Coach K in the JEH Cafeteria (10/16/12)

Students getting ready for enrichment at Child First (10/16/12)

John Eager Howard also expanded it's partnership with Child First. Jennifer McDowell, who worked with JEH families as a parent organizer last year, is now the Community Resource Coordinator for the school. Additionally, JEH now has a fully funded Child First sponsored after school program. The after school program includes academic and enrichment opportunities for students and is being directed by JEH's own 5th grade teacher, Ms. Chambers.

Students working on their nature time capsule in Kids Grow (10/16/12)

Green Keepers, RHIC's after school environmental science club, is growing! This year, through a partnership with Parks & People, RHIC is able to bring Kids Grow to JEH. Kids Grow is an environmental education program designed to improve academic skills while providing students with meaningful experiences in nature. While Kids Grow is only available to children enrolled in Child First, all JEH students have the opportunity to be Green Keepers by helping to support the many other Green School efforts taking place during the school day.

A Year of Dreams at John Eager Howard School Gets Started

John Eager Howard School’s Back-to-School Night was a spirited start to the year on September 13th.

A professional singer kicked off the event by taking “volunteers” from the audience to do some singing and dancing.

 First, a group of mothers were featured . . .

 . . . followed by the men

After the mothers and fathers strutted their stuff, students took part in a first-ever John Eager Howard fashion show.  The school has standard school uniforms, but anyone who has been to the school has probably noticed that the students personalize their uniforms in a lot of ways. The fashion show highlighted the creative ways the students add their own personalities to their school uniforms.

Following the fashion show, JEH staff and teachers were introduced to the participants.

Then everyone got down to work. The children filed out to a session of games with Playworks.

And the parents worked in small groups to learn about and discuss new school procedures, ways the school operates, and goals for the year.

Finally, students transformed themselves into waiters and waitresses, taking orders from the working parents and serving a dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs.

The 2012 – 2013 school year promises to be busy and exciting.  There are many opportunities to volunteer at the school and everyone’s help is needed.

If you would like more information on volunteering at John Eager Howard School, whether or  not you have children, call Erin Bowman at 410.225.7547, or write to Erin at ebowman@reservoirhill.net





The 2nd Whitelock Harvest Fest Was a Great Day in the Community

The morning of October 7th started with grey skies, cold, and the threat of rain, and pretty much stayed that way, but, hey, it's autumn.  Whitelock Street was alive and vibrant anyway.  Four hundred people came out for the 2nd Whitelock Harvest Fest and had an incredible day sampling food, talking with neighbors, listening to great music, and enjoying the activities for our children.  Held on the site of Reservoir Hill’s former commercial hub, the Fest is a celebration of family, community, healthy food, recreation, creative city living, and the power of working together to return life to the heart of Reservoir Hill.

Transforming the 900 block of Whitelock Street into the liveliest place in Reservoir Hill,

Neighbors and Friends . . .

Danced . . .

Talked . . .

Sampled unique and delicious greens dishes in the Greens Cook-off

Played . . .

Ate . . .

Shook the lulav and etrog (and you didn't even have to be Jewish)

And caught up on the local news in the Reservoir Hill newsletter, Views From the Hill

Check out the pictures shot by out neighborhood photographer, Howard Fink:  2012 Whitelock Harvest Fest


Fifteen people entered their favorite greens dish in the Greens Cook-Off

The Whitelock Community Farm offered some great prizes this year, including a $100 cash award, and a three-course dinner for four at the Woodberry Kitchen



There were . . .

CLOWNS . . .

BANDS . . .

Reservoir Hill’s own youth hip hop dance group, Infamous . . .


Balloon-makers and Face-painters . . .


Smoothies made by pedal power . . .



Playworks from John Eager Howard School ran games for our children

BIKE MARYLAND HOSTED A BIKE RODEO Riders 6 - 14 years of age got trained in safe riding, rode an obstacle course, and got a free helmet

Thank you to all of the organizations who came out to make the day such a success and share their ideas and resources with Reservoir Hill neighbors and friends:

Beth Am Synagogue, Child First, Healthy Homes, Lakeside Neighbors Coalition, Maryland Hunger SolutionsMidtown Parents, New Lens, No Boundaries Coalition, Reservoir Hill Mutual Homes, and University of Maryland Food Supplement Education Program





 THIS SUNDAY26 August, starting at Noon


The German Park Working Group will be weeding, cleaning, painting, and repairing

Please come out and help us get the playground ready for autumn


Just show up on the German Park playground

or for more information contact:

Alan Pressman: amp642@yahoo.com

Please bring:


Any food you need

And garden tools for weeding (if you have them)


See you on Sunday at Noon

Monthly Social Hours at JEH Rec Center Off to a Good Start

Some had been in the community only a year. Others had lived here more than 50 years.  But all met other Reservoir Hill neighbors they had never met, talked about subjects they had never discussed with each other before, and tried some new food made from produce in our own community.

The first of what will be a monthly Reservoir Hill Social Hour at John Eager Howard Recreation Center was held in August and drew a multi-generational group of residents to share food and chat after work.

Neighbors were treated to a watermelon drink,

a tomato-basil-mozzarella snack, and baba ghanoush from a cooking demonstration by health and gardening extraordinaire, Adamaah Grayse.  Adamaah made these seasonal recipes using locally-sourced produce, mostly from Whitelock Community Farm.

The Social Hours are opportunities to meet neighbors you might not know or don’t get to see often, chat over lite fare, a game of cards or a board game, and find out what each other thinks about the issues facing the community.

From discussions at this gathering, ideas emerged about how to help the recreation center expand its programs this year.

Watch for notices of upcoming Social Hour programs.