The New Yorker Praises the Maryland Film Festival

0

The New Yorker’s Richard Brody wrote a glowing piece on the Maryland Film Festival today.  We love the way he refrains from naming names, and just likes the aesthetic of the festival. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves…

Mt. Washington Elementary’s Margaret May Named City Schools’ Teacher of the Year

0

Baltimore City Schools CEO Andrés A. Alonso announced yesterday Mt. Washington Elementary fifth grade teacher Margaret May as Baltimore’s Teacher of the Year. She now becomes a candidate for Maryland Teacher of the Year this fall.  

“Every day of the year we see excellent teaching and learning in our classrooms, but on this one day each year we get to lift up the work of one particular educator, and for me this is a true honor. We get a glimpse into the great work of one individual teacher, and in turn celebrate the incredibly hard work and dedication of so many,” said Dr. Alonso.

Mount Washington Principal Sue Torr, who nominated Ms. May for the Teacher of the Year designation, said, “she has a thorough knowledge of the content she teaches and has developed an array of instructional techniques and strategies that motivate her students to learn.” 

Ms. May has taught language arts and social studies at Mount Washington Elementary for the last four years. In both 2007-08 and 2008-09, all of her students scored proficient or advanced on the Maryland School Assessment in reading. But that is not how the veteran teacher of nine years measures her success.

“Every September, I know I have succeeded when my students come back to visit and tell me how much they miss fifth grade. I know I have made an impact when former students look for book suggestions or invite me to a musical they are starring in. When my students beg to stay in my classroom during lunch and recess because they want to read or write more, I know I have contributed to education,” said the star teacher.

Early-on she was drawn to teaching. “My mom [was a teacher and] would get together with her friends, who were all teachers, and I would listen to them debate educational issues and share teaching stories. They all loved teaching and just seemed happy with their jobs. I knew I wanted that same thing.” As a child she would stay up at night watching her mother grade papers and beg her to let her help.

Before coming to Baltimore Ms. May taught in the  Fairfax County schools. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

 

Couple Love: Changing the Locks

1

When edgy Chop Shop stylist Shannon Bailey-Puller—she snips like a sculptor, and has studied with scissor wizard Nick Arrojo—met her husband Bill 10 years ago, he was starting barber school, and she wanted out of a marketing job. They bonded over hair chat—quickly, Shannon decided to go to cosmetology school, and move in with Bill.

At night, the two would trade details from their day’s hair lessons—all very romantic, until they decided to sit down in their kitchen and trade homemade cuts.

“Bill got so pissed because I wasn’t doing it the way he wanted; he shaved it off,” Shannon says. “When I asked him to do my highlights and color, because he wanted to learn, [he acknowledged] it’s hard. He realized he didn’t want to do women’s hair, and I didn’t want to do clipper cuts on a man!”

The cutters’ story gets cuter: Today, Shannon, 35, styles and colors at Chop Shop in Lauraville, while Bill trims men’s hair directly downstairs in his basement storefront, Blue Spark, named for a song by the punk band X. (His long-standing clientele consists of affluent business men, edgy rockers, and blue-collar guys.)

“Any guy can come, and Bill makes men look better,” Shannon says. “Bill’s personality is laidback and easy to talk to. He can talk your head off. He can debate you, too.”

Shannon says both she and Bill have strong people skills, equal to their skill with hair.

“Reading somebody verbally and reading their physical body language, it’s all part of the [haircutting] experience,” she says. “You have to ask the right questions. I always ask, ‘What do you do for a living? Do you wash and go? Do you spend time with your hair?’ You don’t want to give a high-maintenance cut to a person who doesn’t want to be high-maintenance stylist.”

Though the two remain enthusiastic about their careers, they try not to linger on shoptalk at home. Now and again, though, during the workday, Shannon does pop downstairs to say hello and survey her husband’s handy work.

“Bill is a master clipper cutter, and I’ll go sit and watch him work just because I still like to watch what he does, because he has a different skill than I do,” she says.

The next big step in coupledom for the two could be a joint shop for men’s and women’s hair, but if they decide to make this leap, Shannon votes for another upstairs/downstairs arrangement.

“I love my husband to death but if I had to work beside him I think I’d kill him!”

Chop Shop 4321 Harford Road (410) 426-2300
Blue Spark 4321 Harford Road (410) 444-1110

One-Night (Produce) Stand?

0

Dear Sara,

A stranger asked me out, in the produce section of real life, and I
more or less ran away from him. My friend then made fun of me, but I
didn’t know what to do. I just feel more safe and comfortable meeting
new people online. Weird? Probably. I feel bad about it. He was kinda
cute too. I felt like I had to make a decision right then.

Dear In-Headlights,

One of the oft-overlooked little beauties of the internet is that in a
sense, it is a slow-life movement even as it speeds so much else up.
Yes, new social acronyms are born there every day and Urban Dictionary
dutifully keeps track. But it has also given us something back that
we’d culturally lost. It is a place of pen pals and waiting several
days to hear back from a thoughtfully composed email. The comfort
level you’re describing comes from the power of being able to think
about and compose a response on your own terms. Yes, few people
utilize this power when engaged in a heated political argument on
Facebook, but nevertheless, it is an option, and speaking as one who likes
to write, I prefer it to the feeling of being put on the spot that
happens often enough in real life.

What you really wanted was to experience your grocery store moment slowed-down, long enough to have a chance to think about how to respond. The internet is The Neutral Zone and you’re the captain of your personal spaceship. Not so in the real world, where apparently a cute guy who had the balls to talk to a strange girl in the first place, makes you feel like you’d have to marry him or something if you gave him your email address. Decide in advance what information you feel safest giving bold strangers and stick to it. For some, it’s a phone number. For others, it’s the email address they use for coupons but not the one tied to
their Facebook account. And remember that the internet feels safer in part because it’s full of so much fiction (where anonymous authors feel safer inventing new MLK quotes than they do owning up to their own words, for instance). Any safe “feeling” is very rarely grounded in anything real. I mean watching Robert Redford in Out of Africa makes me feel VERY safe. Real safety has nothing to do with a feeling or a fantasy. It comes from good choices and proper safety nets in place. You know, stuff like a really long password containing numbers and special characters. Now that you’ve had this experience, you’ll know what to do next time. In the meantime, this is why Craigslist has a Missed Connections section.

Co-Ed Sleepovers for Teens: Yea or Nay?

4

Last night I asked a friend with a daughter who is a junior in high school if she would talk to me about the co-ed sleepover phenomenon for the fishbowl. Here’s what I got in response:

So, prom is Saturday and my daughter has tried on her dress about 45 times–not sure the zipper is going to last!  “Plans” (we should really sit down and talk about what this word means) are still evolving for the post-post-prom, although we have said “no way in hell” to the co-ed sleepover.  I mean, really?  So, maybe “Zoe” is going to have a sleepover, but just girls.  (Again, really?  How dumb do I look?)  So hard to know the right thing to do here!  Many of those on the brave frontier who have gone before us have allowed their kids to attend/crash/hang at the post-post-prom co-ed sleepover.  Are we shriveled up dinosaurs who have forgotten how to have fun?  Or are we a few of the handful left who are willing to be unpopular with our kids??  We have actually sent an email, tonight, to the Maryland Department of Transportation to find out if a provisional license holder (such as most high school juniors and many seniors) can use the exception of “official school event” to get out of the driving curfew to come home after the post-post-prom party by him or herself at 4 in the morning… 

“Don’t you trust me?”  These words sting coming from my daughter’s sincere face.  “Of course we trust you.”  What else can we say?  We do.  And yet, there is something about the co-ed sleepover that just does not sit right.  When she pushes for an explanation, the best I can answer, in all sincerity, is that I think it is “inappropriate.”  Do I know that teenagers can have sex whenever they want, if they want?  Yes, I know that.  Do I know that teenagers can drink and get drunk whenever they want, if they want?  Yes, I know that.  Do I think these are the choices she is making?  No, I do not.  So what is different about the hours of 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. this Saturday night?  I don’t know.  But my instinct is that, at least for us, the answer is still no.  The best I can tell her is that parenting is just a chain of thousands of tiny decisions, all made with her best interest at heart, and this one is no exception. 

My husband says the co-ed sleepover is a playground for the devil, and that teenage boys and girls having a sleepover is an abdication of a basic parenting responsibility–to keep them safe, and protected.  If you are not going to say no to that what are you going to say no to?  Ignoring the obvious hyperbole, these comments and questions all resonate until I hear that my dear friend, so and so, whom I really like and respect, is HOSTING the co-ed sleepover!!  What??  Who is right and who is wrong?  Or like so many other things on this wild, fantastical journey, is there room for both of us to do it our own way, and be right?  That’s the space that feels comfortable for us, so that is where we land.  I don’t know what works for other families, but this year, this prom, my daughter will be coming home.

The Real Social Network

0

We all do a lot of virtual social networking these days, but imagine a realm in which actual networking between the young and old could help elderly residents remain in their homes years longer, and younger residents snag seasoned babysitters, airport rides from linked-in neighbors, and engaging new friends with life lessons to burn.

New hope-powered nonprofit Village at Home, part of the Village movement spreading across the U.S. (56 unique Villages are in operation and 120 more are under development) makes it possible for local seniors, even those with some health limitations, to remain in their homes as long as possible.  Baltimore-based geriatric social worker Susan Newhouse, who advises families on practical issues of aging, is a major proponent of the nonprofit, because, she says, “It takes an organized Village to bring us together in our modern world.  Older adults want to remain in their homes and to be engaged and useful in their communities. Younger adults are raising families in a hectic world and need support. Children benefit from connecting with all ages. When we help each other, everyone benefits.” 

Services from the network of Village “Neighbor to Neighbor” volunteers are always free once you are a member; discounted services are offered by vetted Village vendors—neighborhood residents of all ages are welcome to sign up as members.

The nonprofit encourages a system of regular exchange, whereby, for example, younger people can  connect with those caring, older babysitters, while the same older sitters may receive rides, perhaps errand-running, courtesy of their younger neighbors. Younger people can also take advantage of volunteer services. Vendor service options include tech support, landscape service, bill paying, meal delivery, information wrangling, housecleaning, and more.

“The Village seeks to build a kinder, gentler world. The sense of a Village emerges which nurtures us all. And the feeling good from helping someone else lasts longer than other pleasures,” Susan says.

For more information about Village At Home memberships or volunteer opportunities, please contact us at 410-235-3171 or [email protected]

The Village is currently  under development, gathering start-up funds and memberships. Introductory memberships are $399 for individual membership and $749 per household membership, with a $100 discount if you join now. Village At Home will be available in the following local neighborhoods:

Blythewood, Bellona-Gittings, Cedarcroft, Cross Keys, Evergreen, Guilford, Homeland, Keswick, Lake-Evesham, Lake Roland, Mt. Washington, North Roland Park, Oakenshawe, The Orchards, Poplar Hill, Riderwood, Roland Park, Ruxton, Sabina-Mattfelt, Tuscany-Canterbury, and Wyndhurst

I’m Karaoke, You’re Karaoke

0

Ever wish weekend life were more like a thrilling movie? If Saturday night’s become Netflix-and-carryout, stay-in predictable, step inside an alternate realm known to those who have conquered it as…the Bloody Bucket. Oh, stop squirming. Bloody Bucket is just the tag local Hampdenites have awarded a harmless, but also nameless, burned out little dive on Union (formerly called The Clipper Mill Inn) where drinks are cheap and karaoke singers pack freaky mega-talent like no barroom in the history of screen-scrolling lyrics.

Each Saturday night, from 9:30 to close, the bar vibrates with a crew of old-school neighborhood regulars, most quite friendly, many of them in their 50s and 60s, who belt classic tunes by Al Green (Tony does Al so subtly, he will choke you up), Frank Sinatra (the dude who sings Frank looks and sounds like Ol’ Blue Eyes, and he’s been known to pass out pot brownies from the trunk of his car, an added bonus), and the Beatles. Much of the blue-collar crowd equals older Hamdpen residents, yes, which is the beauty of this pure experience, but the occasional young hipster does pass through, usually possessing a burning desire to sing Guns N’ Roses, unfortunately. Visit the spectacular sing-along before an army of cool kids stakes their claim, scribbling their names plus obnoxious pop hit selections on the sign-in sheet. Oh, if you happen to walk in while the inbred looking fellow is banging his head to “Wild Thing,” just sit tight, flip through the list of tunes, and pick out something interesting, a way to make a karaoke contribution distinctly your own—by singing your heart out to a great, time-honored song that really speaks to you, you’ll fit right in.

1619 Union Ave.

In-State Tuition Costs Out-of-State

0

I heard about a cool program from a co-worker this morning.  Her child is a senior, attending public high school in Howard County, and recently accepted an offer from University of South Carolina for the fall through a program I’ve never heard of before: Academic Common Market. If you live in one of the participating 16 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia), and your home state doesn’t offer the degree program you are interested in, you can attend one of the other states’ colleges for in-state tuition price.  That can mean huge savings, as with my colleague, who will now pay $17,000 per year instead of $34,000 per year for her daughter to attend South Carolina.  It’s great for Maryland, also, as the programs offered elsewhere do not have to be duplicated here.  Click on the link above for more information.

Hopkins Hit-and-Runs: Walk Safe, Baltimore

0

Parents of prospective Hopkins students often fret about Baltimore’s reputation as a crime-plagued city — hence the school’s ubiquitous flashing blue light phones and omnipresent security officers. But with four Hopkins students seriously injured in pedestrian-car accidents over the past year and a half, it’s starting to seem like the most dangerous thing a Hopkins student can do is to try and cross the street.

This weekend, two Hopkins students were injured by a hit-and-run driver at the corner of St. Paul and 33rd streets. Both freshman Rachel Cohen and sophomore Benjamin Zucker are expected to survive the accident, which took place at 2:15 AM on Saturday night; Zucker is in critical condition. In 2009, a Hopkins student died after a hit-and-run accident at the same intersection.

In February of this year, Hopkins sophomore Nathan Krasnopoler was biking down West University Parkway when he was hit by an 83 year-old driver, who has since been changed with negligent driving and failure to yield right-of-way to a cyclist in a designated bike lane. Krasnopoler is in a coma and is not expected to recover.

In October 2009, junior Miriam Frankl died after a hit-and-run collision in St. Paul Street’s service drive, at the intersection of 33rd Street. In February of this year, Thomas Meighan, who was drunk at the time of the accident, pled guilty to multiple felony charges and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

With its grassy expanses and smiling security staff, the Hopkins campus — and its Charles Village environs — can sometimes feel like a protected enclave. These accidents are a harsh reminder that that’s far from true. Remember to drive safe, walk safe, and bike safe, Baltimore.

Making the Grade

1

Emily got a “C” on a Spanish quiz this week. Irrationally, my thoughts immediately turned to her future. Not whether she would ever master the language, or even whether she would enjoy travel to Spanish-speaking destinations as much as if she were fluent. My first thought was how it would affect her college admissions. Emily is a junior. Understand that she has not received a “C” for the semester, or the year. She has not even gotten a “C” on a unit test. It was just a quiz. We are all wound so tightly about where our kids are going to college, and I am no exception. I immediately went there.

I feel like I owe Emily an apology. Not because I said what I was thinking (something along the lines of “You’re never going to Williams with a C in Spanish!”  or “There go your dreams!”), although she might have read some iteration of that message on my screwed-up face.  I owe her an apology because I thought those stupid thoughts, and for a moment was swept away by the mass hysteria that plagues our demographic—this narrow slice of society whose kids are smart, affluent, and afforded every opportunity. Why do we do this to them?

Our kids are intelligent, healthy, and talented. We are so lucky to have them, and to live in a time and place where we can offer them their dreams. How do we balance our hopes for their future against the real risk of making them feel like there is no such thing as good enough?  I saw the answer in my friend’s toddler the other day. She was fighting to get the peanut butter jar back from her mother, exasperated, saying “I’ll DO it, Mommy!” Well said.