The Why’s Part II: Why Education? In Baltimore?

Here’s something you may find surprising: I have no experience teaching and spent a grand total of about 4 hours in Baltimore over 4 years ago. So why would I accept a placement with JVC teaching in Baltimore?

It all started last summer when a friend recommended that I watch HBO’s The Wire. It’s a fictional show about the Baltimore City, its people (cops, criminals, addicts, children, politicians, & everything in between), and its government systems.

Each season looked at a different aspect of the city. The first season focused on how the police department handled drug problems and interacted with drug dealers within the city. The second season focused on unions, the third on politics, the fourth on education, and the fifth on the press (public relations professionals reading this should take a look at season 5. It offers a very accurate portrayal of a news room). The show strived to show a realistic vision of an American city. All institutions depicted, from drug trafficking operations to City Hall, were dysfunctional in some way, causing the characters, no matter how noble, to adapt to their reality, continuing the cycle of dysfunction.

What really inspired me, however, was the fourth season on education. In my opinion, education is where the cycle of poverty manifests itself the most (Check out the circular imagery from the 1:16 mark in the season 4’s introduction). Middle school and high school may be the time when a child makes the most important decision of his or her life: stay in school or to start or continue down a path towards poverty or crime.

Each season ends with a musical montage of scenes showing where each character is headed in their life. Season 4’s montage ends with a long shot of a crossroads (5:30 mark), perhaps representing the crossroads that each child faced.

After watching The Wire, I felt that education would be the best place to volunteer. Here, I would be able to pass on what I’ve learned in my own education to those who may not otherwise receive that help. I know I can’t save the world, but maybe assisting some students with their class papers will add to the mission* of the school, help school be cool and, be a place where students not only learn about writing, but also about life.

*The school’s program caters to students in low and medium income families, who demonstrate academic potential and motivation, and are mature enough to be employable. Students pay part of their tuition by working five full days a month at area businesses.

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4 Responses to The Why’s Part II: Why Education? In Baltimore?

  1. Samantha says:

    I agree that a life of poverty can be averted due to wise educational choices. And what a neat way to decide how you would approach service this year!

    Have you read the Case for Servant Leadership by Kent M. Keith? It’s published by the Greenleaf center for Servant Leadership. Mr. Greenleaf penned the term Servant Leadership in 1970 and it’s an eye opening point of view towards serving others in order to lead. You might enjoy it!

  2. Tom O'Keefe says:

    Thanks, Sam!

    I have not read the Case for Servant Leadership. I’ve heard of the “servant leadership” term, however, in high school. The theme of our senior retreat was, “To lead is to serve.”

    I’ll definitely check out Mr. Keith’s book. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. […] for the same overarching reason, that of completing a year of service, but the specific reasons why we’re each there will likely differ greatly. We’ll come from different backgrounds, schools, […]

  4. […] Intersection of Passion Street and Skills Boulevard In the past, I’ve talked about why I went into education for my year with JVC. I found myself passionate about education and how it should be the great […]

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