Baltimost: Nathan Ferrell, Spanish teacher at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women

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Courtesy of Nathan Ferrell.

Baltimost is a Baltimore Fishbowl feature series that asks locals what they love about their city. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore and the people who make it so unique.

So what makes Baltimore the Baltimost to you? It could be a favorite place, a great meal, a memorable interaction or something else entirely. Email suggestions to Karen at [email protected]

Nathan Ferrell, 35, is a Spanish teacher at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women.

In his words: 

“To teach in Baltimore, you have to have the endurance, the wit and the brilliance that the students here exhibit. They bring it every day.

Coming to a Baltimore city public charter school after teaching in Howard County for eight years was harder than I expected. I thought I knew how to teach, but I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn.

The kids I teach are from all over the city. Many have experienced trauma. If there isn’t trust–absolute trust–with the teacher, there’s either no learning or utter rebellion. To earn that trust, I make sure I allow my students to know me personally, but I’m also clear that I’m the adult in the room.

My first year teaching in Baltimore, I got a grant to plant dozens of trees along the sidewalks near the school. My students and I organized a big tree-planting event on a Saturday in early June. It was a hot day. 

I was working alongside my students and other volunteers, and then we took a break for some water and snacks. During our break, a woman came by asking for help. She was clearly living under precarious circumstances. And the kids, without a second thought, just gave the woman all their snacks and water. They know when someone is in need.

I had been thinking of switching to a Baltimore City school for a while. The catalyst for me was the uprising in 2015. I was also very eager to be part of a teachers union.

I joined a group called BMORE, the Baltimore Movement of Rank and File Educators. Last year, I worked as a campaign manager for Diamonté Brown and the Union We Deserve slate, which led an insurgent campaign for union leadership. We won, and now public education in Baltimore has a new and more democratic voice.

I’m a bike commuter. For me, biking is a way of life and integrating it into my daily routine is one of the most important things I think folks can do for themselves and for the planet.

I’m involved with Bike Party, the monthly bike ride through Baltimore. I get to see our whole city come together and visit so many unique neighborhoods. I used to strap a big drum to my bicycle, but I don’t do that anymore. Bike party connected me to Bikemore, which promotes biking infrastructure and safety in the city. They do a lot to make this city a better place.

One thing I love about Baltimore is the Lithuanian Hall. It’s a community center created by Lithuanians, and it’s enormous. It takes up nearly a whole city block. I started going 12 or 13 years ago. You pay a few bucks to get an honorary membership. The Save Your Soul night is a must-do. It’s a vinyl-only soul music dance party, the first Friday of every month.”

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