I am Traci Callender, the new Executive Director of Higher Achievement in Baltimore. I have dedicated the last 10 years of my professional career to serving youth, both as an administrator with the Boys & Girls Club and Metro TeenAIDS, and as a community organizer and coalition builder for youth-specific causes in cities like Atlanta and New York. I am excited to continue this work as the Executive Director of our Baltimore affiliate.
As the former Director of Programs at Higher Achievement in DC, I worked with a passionate group of professionals to execute high-quality programming. As many of you know, late in 2014, Higher Achievement was awarded the prestigious i3 grant–an award from the Department of Education — that enables us to recruit more scholars, grow the number of sites we serve, and bolster the rigorous and engaging programming our scholars and families have come to expect. As I step into this new role, I am excited to build on my experience in DC to deepen our organization’s impact in East Baltimore, South Baltimore, and Lakeland. I am also excited to announce that we have shifted our program location in East Baltimore to Commodore John Rodgers, where we will serve 60 scholars during the 2016-2017 school year.
In Baltimore, deep community impact does not come from acting unilaterally, but rather from collaborating intentionally with a variety of stakeholders and service providers. I aim to further integrate Higher Achievement into the Baltimore City education landscape, catapulting the affiliate to new heights of excellence. It is my quest to begin a deeper exploration of the possibilities that arise when we maximize our potential in the expanded learning space.
We have the opportunity to re-conceptualize what our scholars can accomplish. Today’s economy is powered by the innovation of a generation of critical thinkers. This means that it is not enough for our kids to simply get good grades; they need to ask the right questions and build tremendous capacity for meaningful reflection.
It is no secret that our city’s youth face a myriad of obstacles when navigating the education system. Can you imagine an educational community where we fully support our scholars’ development as emerging leaders by challenging them in academics, calling them to action in community advocacy, and engaging them in their own social and emotional growth? This is the community I hope to build here in Baltimore.
Whether you are a scholar, family member, school partner, staff member, mentor, supporter, or impassioned community member, I welcome you to the table as a valued champion for change in Baltimore.
As we launch Afterschool Academy on September 26, I hope to meet each of you at our Centers and in the community, serving the youth who need us the most.
I look forward to charting our path together.