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Baltimore City Public Schools re-engage city youth

Ruth Young Tyler | 3/4/2016, 9 a.m.
The Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) Re-Engagement Center has shifted the academic trajectory from a bleak past to an optimistic ...
Dr. Rinata Tanks, Strategic Climate Specialist at the Re-Engagement Center (middle) with student participants Destiney Turner (left) and Donay Sims (right). (Photo: Ruth Young Tyler)

The Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) Re-Engagement Center has shifted the academic trajectory from a bleak past to an optimistic future for 19-year-old Destiney Turner and 15-year-old Donay Sims.

The Re-engagement Center (REC) located at 200 E. North Avenue is a new full-service facility that will serve as as the outreach to students, who have previously dropped out of Baltimore City Public Schools; are at high-risk of dropping out; or have been previously incarcerated back to the school system and also to support students who are in acute crisis.

The center’s priority is to help students identify the most appropriate support and educational environment in order to minimize the likelihood of dropping out and to decrease multiple transfers due to significant lack of progress towards high school graduation, according to officials.

BCPS is committed to the academic success of all city students and the center will provide a myriad of services including, high-impact instructional, social and emotional services to engage and re-engage students.

“There was a lot of turmoil and obstacles in my life,” said Turner, who was a victim of bullying and struggled with mental health issues when she left school at 16. “There are a lot of kids who go through the same things.”

Now three years later, Turner is on the road to success, thanks to the support and strategic direction she received at the center. She is on track to graduate from high school in 2017. Her goal is to study economics at Towson State University.

“I hope to encourage other students and let them know there is hope for anybody,” Turner said.

Each student at the center is assigned a case manager, who works to assess the student’s needs and develop a personalized plan. The REC provides wrap-around services to accommodate education, teen parenting support, counseling services, and behavioral intervention support, if necessary.

Dr. Gregory E. Thornton, Chief Executive Officer of Baltimore City Public Schools addressed a standing-room only crowd at the BCPS district office on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at the official opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center.

“This is a hub where you can get all the support that you need,” Dr. Thornton said. “Today we hit a reset button for them [Baltimore City students].”

Donay Sims’ mother passed away when she was only eight years old. She lacked the family support she needed until her aunt encouraged her to go back to school. Sims credits the REC for providing her with the support, direction and opportunity to help her get through school.

“I have hope now— a lot of hope,” said Sims, who plans to attend Morgan State University when she graduates from high school.

Dr. Rinata Tanks, Strategic Climate Specialist with the Baltimore City Public School Re-Engagement Center wants students to understand that past mistakes do not mean the end of opportunity.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dr. Tanks.

“There is no other work that we are doing right now, that is more important,” said Roger Shaw, director of Multiple Pathways for Baltimore City Public Schools.

“We know there are many factors that cause students to be disengaged,” said Shaw. “We take the student where they are and help them to move forward. This Center has the potential to change Baltimore City.”

For more information, about the Re-Engagement Center, visit: www.baltimorecityschools.org or call 443-984-2000.