“In my travels all over the world, I have come to find that what differentiates one child from another is not ability, but access: Access to education, access to opportunity, access to love.” – Lauryn Hill, The MisEducation Of Lauryn Hill
(BALTIMORE – January 25, 2016) – As a resident of Sandtown, I am so very mindful of perceptions, especially in light of the tragic death of Freddie Gray and the ensuing civil unrest. I am keenly aware of the opinion of others as scenes of riots impregnate the psyche with all kinds of notions of the people who live in my community.
We have to be careful about reading the wrong things when we see such on television. The media can have us thinking one way when that could be a devastating mistake.
As a retired waiter, I know first-hand that passing judgement on people – based on how they look or what we mistakenly assume – can be very costly. Multiply that times the millions of people in this country and what we have is a terribly ignorant society trapped by its own “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
Take Historic Pennsylvania Avenue, for example. It is associated with so many negative stereotypes that even some black people end up believing that nothing good is there.
Enter Andy Bertamini, the regional president for Wells Fargo Bank. Sure, he is responsible for doing great work in the community – including his efforts on behalf of United Way. Sure, he is actually a person – with a family – and roots. However, there is so much more to Bertamini. Yes, he says the right things and shows up at the right places and gives the bank a good look.
You see, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this man actually cares about people and unlike a lot of people with good intentions, he really does go the extra mile to reiterate to the universe that truly gives a damn. Specifically, he is on the board at Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy at Penn-Dol or Pennsylvania and Dolphin.
What’s beautiful is not that Bertamini, a white man, has chosen to give back in an otherwise economically challenge neighborhood. What’s beautiful is that he takes the time to understand a community and aims to avoid the mistakes made by people with deep pockets who come to communities like Upton and Sandtown with the goal of helping empower people, but at the end of the day have no clue about the people whatsoever. Nor do they understand the difference between ‘giving a man fish’ and ‘teaching a man to fish.’
I do not know the entire story as to how Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy has been able to accomplish what it has, but from my first visit, I can tell you that there are some very serious adults who work there and that the students are serious, too.
Quite honestly, it’s how I remember school. Truth is, when you go inside some schools in Baltimore, it is utter chaos. When you walk inside this charter school, on the other hand, there is order. There is respect. There is a serious focus on learning and I absolutely adore it.
This is the first of many stories to come on this beautiful collection of souls geared on academic excellence, I pray. For now, do know that something extraordinary is happening on ‘The Avenue’ – and it involves every facet of our community, from the senior volunteer corps to the parents to the church (they love Rev. Al Hathaway at Union Baptist Church) to the non-profits (Upton Planning Council headed by Wanda Best) to the students.
KUDOS, Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy, on quite possibly being the best school in Baltimore City!
SEE VIDEOS of school …