Southwest Baltimore Charter School (SBCS) was founded in 2005 by a group of parents and teachers who wanted to broaden the academic and social horizons of their Southwest Baltimore neighborhood, home to three of the lowest performing schools in Baltimore City. The initiative began with 60 children, in kindergarten and grade 1, who were taught in a few classrooms on the third floor of an underused elementary school. Today, Southwest Baltimore Charter School serves 425 K-8 students in its own building, with a mission to achieve authentic academic success by harnessing the kindness, cooperation, and trust of faculty, family, and community.
The school’s families are culturally and economically diverse and its students bring a variety of extraordinary talents and complex educational needs. The staff and faculty are driven to meet each child where he/she is and to move all children forward, in the belief that every child has the ability and deserves the opportunity to learn to think critically and communicate effectively. Expeditionary Learning, the school’s design model, teaches children to become critical thinkers by diving deeply into many subjects. Academic classes supported by field research and work with outside experts make learning challenging, exciting, and fun. At Southwest Baltimore Charter School, the arts and outdoor education receive the same rigorous attention as literacy, math, social studies, and science. Inside and outside the classroom, our students are encouraged to make well considered intrinsically motivated choices that lead to positive and productive action and relationships.
But all of my experiences with the Baltimore Library Project have led me to this conclusion: investing in a community through its libraries—with passion, with great care, and always with the people of that community in mind—enriches that community at all levels and cultivates a lasting wonder in the hearts and minds of its people.