LaVale, Md. — Chipotle Mexican Grill is now hiring managers for its LaVale restaurant that is expected to open this year.
The restaurant is now advertising openings for a general manager and an assistant manager. Both positions come with medical, dental, 401(k) benefits and semi-annual bonuses, according to the postings. Chipotle will be housed in a renovated space in the Braddock Road Shopping Center, 12101 Winchester Road, that was once home to a U.S. Cellular, among other businesses through the years. This will be Chipotle’s first location in Allegany County.
Once a restaurant advertises openings for management, it will take some time to get them settled in to start hiring cooks and the rest of their staff. Typically when the general manager post is advertised, opening is about 180 days away. That’s what we’re looking at now, at best. Construction and opening seems to be slower than usual.
Chipotle said to check back in early summer for a better idea of when opening could be.
It looks like we still have a bit before our opening. Check back early summer and we’ll probably have a better answer for you!
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Bruster’s Real Ice Cream will be joining Sardi’s Pollo A La Brasa Chicken in the former Pizza Hut on the corner of Railway Lane and Massey Boulevard.
A building permit filed with Washington County Building Services shows that 100 Railway Lane will be split to accommodate the ice cream shop along with Beltsville-based Sardi’s Chicken.
Bruster’s has been around since 1989 and now has over 200 locations, including in Chambersburg, Pa., and Frederick. Each location is allowed to make up to 24 flavors per day out of its 150 flavor catalog. You’ll find your cones, mixes, sundaes and ice cream cakes here like you would at Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins. However, the flavors are made in store and not trucked in. The chain is based in Bridgeville, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
The 4,100-square-foot ice cream parlor lists possible hours as 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week with 30 employees. Those hours will likely be adjusted according to the season.
(I will never forget the fine folks at the Erie Times-News introducing me to Bruster’s there in the summer of 2006. Couldn’t get enough of it, really and am glad there will be an easier one to get to than Chambersburg and Somerset.)
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — PREIT sprinkled some tidbits about additional improvements at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown on Thursday in between some information we already knew.
Regal Cinemas will remodel its Hagerstown movieplex, PREIT announced, by installing “luxury reclining seats in a stadium seating format and modernized aesthetics.”
That announcement would seem to hint that Regal will sign on to extend its lease beyond 2020.
As I mentioned before, Regal is renovating theaters across the country by installing king-sized recliners, upgrading projectors, screens, sound systems and in some places, reducing screens and building a bar lounge. Anything beyond technology upgrades and recliners coming to the Valley Mall will remain to be seen.
The press release also formalized other announcements: Tilt Studio and Onelife Fitness will replace Macy’s and Belk will have an October 2018 opening date. Bon-Ton is already in liquidation mode after the holidays with signs for “all sales final” around the store. They should be closing up shop come February.
Here’s an excerpt from the release covering Tilt and Onelife:
Tilt Studio and Onelife Fitness will occupy the former Macy’s box in a total of 118,000 square feet, bringing differentiated and sought-after uses to the property. These advancements at the area’s dominant regional mall represent PREIT’s commitment to cultivating a diversified mall experience, where shoppers will have access to fashion, fitness, fun and food.
Tilt Studio offers a variety of attractions, including rides, bowling, black light laser tag, black light golf, arcade games and space for parties, groups and private events. Tilt Studio will occupy 48,000 square feet at Valley Mall. Tilt currently operates over 40 locations across the country, however this will be one of only 10 Tilt Studio locations.
Onelife Fitness will open its third Maryland location in 70,000 square feet at Valley Mall. Onelife Fitness operates 29 locations today – its clubs are innovative, community-focused, convenient, friendly and affordable, offering vast amenities. The Valley Mall location will feature indoor and outdoor pools – significantly reinventing the traditional mall platform.
Tilt Studio and Onelife Fitness will join Belk, which who will replace the proactively recaptured Bon-Ton store. Belk, which will open October 2018, offers an assortment of national brands and private-label fashion, shoes and accessories for the entire family, along with top-name cosmetics, a wedding registry and southern style for the home.
Again, we are still waiting to see what plays out with the two other big box spaces.
Seritage Growth Properties has not unveiled what it will do with the shuttered Sears space and J.C. Penney’s lease ends in 2019. I would not count Penney’s out at the mall. Penney’s saw a boost in same-store performance across its portfolio for November and December, CNBC reported. If the company can continue its strength on beauty, women’s, kids and new appliance segments, there’s hope for a stronger turnaround.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — A poultry-loving restaurant with a straightforward name is coming to the North Village Shopping Center in Hagerstown.
Just Chicken filed for building permits to take over Suite 18728 at the shopping center located on the corner of Longmeadow Road and Pennsylvania Avenue, according to county records. The permit describes the eatery as a charcoal chicken restaurant that will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week and employ 10 workers. It appears it will go into the space beside AutoZone that’s becoming a restaurant carousel.
There are scant details about Just Chicken. Pecking around online, the only existing restaurant that pops up is a Just Chicken in St. Louis, Mo., and no signs point to the operations being related. When there is more info, it’ll be updated here.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — An upstart chain of Ohio restaurants will be taking over Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery’s space soon in the Valley Mall.
Columbus, Ohio-based Rustic Barrel Sport & Tap is showing on its website that it is coming soon to the Valley Mall, listing the same phone number — 301-582-5300—that Tilted Kilt uses. It signals that the days—maybe even as soon as Sunday— could be numbered for Tilted Kilt’s Hagerstown location. The Hagerstown Tilted Kilt is no longer listed on the chain’s website, with Frederick being the closest location. No closing date has been posted, but with the restaurant de-listed from the corporate website, it could be any day now.
An opening date has not been posted, but it will take some time to renovate that space, re-hire existing employees, hire new employees and get the liquor license in order.
Never heard of Rustic Barrel? Neither have I. The chain is brand new, filing for its trademark in April. It should not be confused by similarly named Rusty Bucket, which also is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. So far, there are locations in Columbus and Canton, Ohio; Florence, Kentucky; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and opening soon in Novi, Michigan, as well as coming soon to Hagerstown.
Rustic Barrel boasts local and national craft beer, plenty of TVs and video walls to watch sports with something called “totchos” on its menu—tater tots with loaded toppings like you’d find on nachos. You’ll also find burgers, salads, sandwiches like the Salmon BLT, flatbread pizzas and full entrees. Check out the full Rustic Barrel menu to see what’s appetizing.
There’s a few moving parts to this takeover. For starters, this isn’t the first time Rustic Barrel is taking over a Tilted Kilt. The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer, which also saw a Tilted Kilt being taken over by Rustic Barrel, kept track of those takeovers:
On Sept. 9, This Week Community News of Lewis Center, Ohio, reported that a Tilted Kilt in Columbus, Ohio, was being converted into a Rustic Barrel. That also seems to have been the case in Florence, Kentucky, the site of the first Rustic Barrel that opened four weeks ago.
In San Diego, a Tilted Kilt shuttered after the Chargers moved to Los Angeles. In Morgantown, W.Va., a Tilted Kilt closed two years ago in a busy shopping center filled with other restaurants. Yes, it is unusual to see a national chain restaurant see instability to the point of closures and franchisees ready to flip it for something else.
In Annapolis, a corporate-owned location closed in June after losing a lawsuit for unpaid rent at Westfield Annapolis and facing lawsuits from contractors, according to The Capital Gazette.
Tempe, Arizona-based Tilted Kilt is in the category of “breastaurants” as Hooters and Twin Peaks but with kilts, and opened its Valley Mall restaurant in May 2013. It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten that Cafe Rio Mexican Grill opened just the month before beside it, with that quickly shuttering and making way for Primanti Brothers. I’ve only been a couple of times and other than a major football game, it seemed to be dead while other restaurants along the front of the mall were buzzing. The Scottish-themed food wasn’t wooing me either.
Do you think Rustic Barrel will have more success than Tilted Kilt?
(Updated 12:30 p.m.) WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. — Tilt Studio and a Onelife Fitness gym will replace the Valley Mall’s shuttered Macy’s, mall owner PREIT announced Wednesday in its quarterly earnings report.
PREIT CEO Joseph F. Coradino said in the Thursday earnings call that a lease has been executed with U.S. Fitness Holdings for a 70,000-square-foot gym with an indoor and outdoor pool. Coradino didn’t specify which of US Fitness’ brands but it appears to be Onelife Fitness. US Fitness Holdings operates OneLife Fitness, Sport & Health and Crunch Fitness.
The anchor replacements are part of an overall success for PREIT across its portfolio, being able to quickly fill in shuttered anchors. Coradino said that anchors are in transition at half of PREIT’s malls. The Hagerstown Macy’s closed in 2016.
“We’re leading the way in transforming the anchor landscape,” Coradino said on the earnings call. “This is a longterm business and malls in particular are undergoing a renaissance that we’re excited about.”
Dodge Projects, which collects information from permits and other sources for construction projects, is showing that it will be a Onelife Fitness. Without paying for the full access (it is quite pricey), it’s unclear where that information came from. Sometimes companies will submit the project for listing, other times it will come from a permit scan or sometimes from uncorroborated reports. In any case, the source is noted on the post. Mall employees are also being told that the gym will be a Onelife Fitness.
A mega-sized arcade and a full-fledged health club are part of an industry pivot away from department stores and clothing retailers to entertainment-centric tenants. Valley Mall already saw some of that occur with Primanti Bros., Red Robin, Tilted Kilt, Mission BBQ, Noodles and Company and Starbucks all taking up spaces in the mall and on Valley Mall Road.
“We’re establishing unique environments for our shopper,” Coradino said. “When we talk about diversifying our tenant base, we’re referring to reducing our reliance on traditional mall retailer, including department stores, apparel and accessories. We’re transforming our anchor mix with 10 of 11 anchor replacements solidified in less than a year.”
That remaining anchor PREIT identified as at Plymouth Meeting Mall between King of Prussia and Philadelphia. Does that mean that Sears already has someone lined up or, is it semantics because the Sears space is owned by Seritage Growth Properties and not PREIT?
Tilt Studio is your Dave and Busters consolation prize — and it might turn out to be better. Some locations boast over 100 arcade games, laser tag, black light mini-golf, mini bowling and bumper cars. Each location has a little bit of a different mix of what’s going to be included. Some Tilt Studio are much, much bigger than others.
Coradino said on the call that the Hagerstown Tilt will be 48,000 square feet with bowling, rides and laser tag.
While the graphics look like they are more teen and kid friendly, it will be interesting to see if this becomes an adult hang out, too. Having time to peruse Tilt’s site, every location looks to be a little different. Most have a basic snack bar and have an appearance that is welcoming for elementary school-aged kids.
Then, check out the massive two-story location in Tempe, Arizona. That is 40,000 square feet and includes a craft kitchen and bar instead of a snack bar and this little note:
Our Taproom at Tilt Studio Bar, also located on the second level, features a wide array of popular beers, bottled or on tap, wine by the glass or bottle, specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, and delicious frozen drinks. The Taproom will also be the perfect spot to watch your favorite sporting event on dozens of big screen TVs.
One source has said that mall employees were told it will have a bar, which should appease the 21-35-year-old crowd. Just judging by their websites, you can see how Tilt is more family-oriented than Dave & Buster’s and Round 1 Bowling and Amusement. Certainly, leasing agents and their companies did their homework and figured out why one of the above is better for a certain mall over the other. Let’s see if they got Hagerstown right by choosing Tilt, and what version of Tilt Hagerstown will see.
Here’s a news report on the 2016 opening at Eastwood Mall in Niles, Ohio:
Here’s a video on one of their larger locations in Arizona:
Will Tilt feel the same as the old Playland and Fun World on the north end of town? Will it be better? I need to know.
US Fitness/Onelife Fitness Gym
Onelife is a new player to the fitness world, with only two Frederick locations to its name in Maryland.
Both Frederick locations were formerly Sport&Health and feature a pool, turf workout areas, spa-inspired locker rooms, a virtual cycle studio, circuit stations, free weights, 100-plus cardio equipment and a studio for dance, yoga, Pilates and Barre. US Fitness acquired the Sport & Health brand in 2014.
CBI:And you immediately launched Onelife Fitness. What was different about those clubs?
KG:We created Onelife as a destination club model—a sports club with all the amenities. A typical facility features racquetball, basketball, several pools, extensive Kid’s Clubs, women-only areas, private yoga and Pilates rooms, and group cycling studios, as well as large group exercise rooms. We wanted clubs that would appeal to everyone, and that, at around $30 a month, would offer unparalleled value.
JOHN GALIANI:And we wanted a brand that we could define, mold, and control. It’s much easier and more comfortable for us to be leading a brand. It’s not that Gold’s Gym lacked anything; we just wanted to go in our own direction.
Valley Mall’s non-anchor occupancy stands at a strong 98.5 percent at the end of the third quarter, according to PREIT’s report. That’s up 1.4 percentage points from the third quarter of last year. Losing Sears took a hit on the overall numbers with 84.1 percent occupancy, down 14.2 percent just from losing one additional anchor.
I wouldn’t read too much into the comp sales figure. The mall is at $404 per square foot for comparable sales at the end of the third quarter, down from $420 for third quarter 2016. That figure takes into account tenants who are under 10,000 square feet and have occupied the space for at least 24 months. The mall has added several new tenants over the past year that aren’t reflected in these numbers and spaces like H&M wouldn’t be counted for its size.
A couple things to keep an eye on for the future: expiring leases.
PREIT’s earnings report shows that JC Penney’s lease ends in 2019 and Regal Cinemas lease ends in 2020. Typically talks would be underway around now to start renewing the JC Penney’s lease. For example, Bon-Ton’s lease is due to expire in 2018 but PREIT purchased the building in July 2017 and brought in Belk.
Regal is renovating theaters across the country by installing king-sized recliners, upgrading projectors, screens, sound systems and in some places, reducing screens and building a bar lounge. The Hagerstown movieplex could use a refresh if it stays on.
Before they even think of Regal’s renewal, all eyes are on a Sears replacement. The company didn’t share any plans for that space, which is owned by Seritage Growth Properties. Seritage has not made any announcements yet for the 109,000-square-foot space.
FREDERICK, Md. — T.J. Maxx sister store Sierra Trading Post is eyeing one its first — if not the first— Maryland locations in Frederick.
A leasing flyer for Riverview Plaza, 5425 Urbana Pike, shows a proposed location for Sierra Trading Post. Think of Sierra Trading Post as an Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean outlet, but with a variety of brands for outdoor clothing and recreational gear. The company boasts overstock gear from brands like Marmot, Haglofs, Browning and New Balance.
You’ll find fly fishing gear, hiking boots, ski and snowboard gear and clothing and camping supplies.
Sierra Trading Post’s website doesn’t show any Maryland stores on its listing yet. So far, Sierra Trading Post only has 16 stores in 11 states, as of July 29, according to the company’s website. The chain is part of TJX Companies, whose portfolio includes T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Homesense. The company is headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyo.
No job openings are advertised for this location as of yet.
Washington County, Md. — Work is underway to split up the shuttered Macy’s in the Valley Mall for future tenants.
Building permits were approved this month to create two shell spaces in Macy’s. It doesn’t sound like the Washington County Board of Elections will be in the immediate plans for that space. The Herald-Mail reported on Oct. 17 that the Board of Elections is still deciding on a space. The story mentions a second-floor space, which I only knew Bon-Ton having a second floor that is mothballed that was part of the mall’s old second-floor loft of shops. Anyone know if Macy’s, which was built as Hecht’s, had second-floor office space?
In any event, that’s not going to effect shopping space. No tenant names were attached to the building permit application but we might not have to wait too long.
The mall’s owner, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, or PREIT, has its third-quarter earnings call scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2. An announcement could be made during that call to impress investors.
It’s hard to say what will fill those spaces. The trend for malls has been filling in department stores with dining, entertainment options that are on a more affordable scale of a Dave and Busters or Lucky Strike—think TILT or Round 1 Entertainment; boutique grocers (Lucky’s Market; Spouts); outlet-type stores like Nordstrom Rack or HomeGoods, sporting goods retailers like Cabela’s or Field and Stream. It all depends on the population, market area and income base of the mall’s shoppers.
Just to give you an idea, here are retailers who have filled large vacancies in PREIT-owned malls within the last year. Some of these malls (Capital City; Plymouth Meeting; Woodland) are in much larger markets than Hagerstown.
Here are my guesses as to what would be a good fit based on the above:
Field & Stream, HomeGoods, Burlington and Round 1 Entertainment.
Field & Stream — This region has plenty of hunters and anglers to satisfy a Field & Stream. With Cabela’s and Bass Pro becoming one, Hagerstown would be a better fit with a mid-size store like Field and Stream. While Hagerstown checks off a lot of lists for something like Bass Pro (interstate visibility, market) I’m not sure if we’re there yet. Bass Pro is a destination store and the traffic to the Arundel Mills Malls is too much to bear on most days and the drive to Harrisburg can also be a pain with tractor-trailer accidents or wintery conditions. Bass Pro showed a willingness to build stores closer together in some areas, but maybe the merger changed things.
HomeGoods — Hagerstown is full of bargain shoppers. Marshall’s and Ross does well. HomeGoods would add a nice dimension for your domestic purchases.
Round 1 Entertainment — This is one of your runner-ups to Dave and Busters. A lot of people in Hagerstown say they want a D&B’s but they are built in much larger cities. Round 1 is going into areas that are more like Hagerstown. How will this fare against Seven Ten beside Longmeadow Shopping Center. I thought another concept that would compete against this was being planned near Breakaways but I could be imagining things.
Burlington — See HomeGoods above. God bless this store finding a way to survive in the Chambersburg Mall. However, the tenant mix for bargain hunters and lower-end stores plays well for Burlington at its current location. Would PREIT be able to woo Burlington away from the mall that it once owned, as recent as 2013? I don’t know the lease or ownership status of the Burlington building to say one way or another. Or the willingness of the retailer to add a location between its Chambersburg and Frederick stores.
Now, keep in mind that not only is PREIT filling Macy’s with two retailers but it now has to work with Seritage to find a retailer (or retailers) for Sears. That could lead to all of what I mentioned that are good fits plus a surprise to come.
It’s been a longtime coming for Verizon to finally break into Hagerstown. The LTE coverage map shows that most of Washington County is now covered, but it’s surprising it hasn’t happened sooner considering the number of residents who commute daily from the Hagerstown region into the Verizon coverage area.
Unfortunately, this does not mean Verizon FIOS TV and Internet will be available in the county. Verizon offers “high speed” Internet up to 15 Mbps through DSL but no broadband service, leaving Schurz Communications’ Antietam Cable, I’m sorry, Antietam Broadband, as the only game in town. Only certain parts of the county have Comcast as an option.
Today we’re at the point we’re ready to share and demonstrate the promise of the program with a success story and the launch of the first phase of the program. We packaged this feature I wrote with the press release we distributed with Coppin to show two sides of the program: the nuts and bolts and then the human interest story.
Like the program itself, the communication of Pathways to Professions (P2P) is a joint venture with FSU and CSU’s media relations offices working as one.
The human interest story also includes key information about P2P so readers can grasp this mammoth undertaking. Expect to hear more about P2P over the next five years and beyond. The hope is that this a model for other universities and K-12 school districts.
By Charles Schelle
When Brianna Hopkins needed a student to behave, she thought staring down the student with a stern look might do the trick.
In Baltimore’s Gwynns Falls Elementary School, it worked flawlessly. At Mount Savage Elementary School, located in a small Allegany County town, the student giggled. Lesson learned for Hopkins.
“It was funny because she said ‘Miss Hopkins, why are you looking at me like that? Is there something in your eye?’” said Hopkins, a 2017 graduate of Frostburg State University. “I thought that it was funny because it was such a culture difference.”
That’s the point of a new U.S. Department of Education grant-funded program implemented through Coppin State University and Frostburg State University: to allow teacher candidates be prepared for anything in any classroom. It’s called Pathways 2 Professions and has officially launched this fall.
Maryland is in many ways a miniature America with snowy mountains in the west transitioning to farmland and urban cities and then to sandy beaches along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. The population is as diverse across the state as the geography, and if teacher candidates can figure out how to scale unfamiliar terrain in two starkly different Maryland classrooms, they can teach anywhere in the country.
To make this program possible, Coppin State and Frostburg State — both part of the University System of Maryland—collaborated to redesign curriculum to improve teacher effectiveness and student success. Their efforts resulted in a proposal where Coppin State was awarded a five-year, $3.6 million Teacher Quality Partnership Grant to develop the Frostburg State partnership.
Dr. Yi Huang, associate dean/associate professor of CSU College of Arts & Sciences and Education is the author and principal investigator of the grant. Dr. Kim Rotruck, acting associate dean of FSU’s College of Education, is the co-principal investigator. Both are joined by several other faculty members from both institutions as well as partners with various agencies to design the program.
“Teachers are the single most important factor in terms of impacting if a student can learn and improve or not,” Huang said. “By improving teacher effectiveness, you have a much greater chance to improve student learning. That was the ultimate goal. We have a greater goal of inclusive excellence.”
The challenge was worth pursuing for faculty at Coppin and Frostburg to take prospective teachers out of their comfort zones to expand their skillset by managing classrooms in a different part of the state, Rotruck said.
“FSU instructors believe their students need every opportunity to meet the challenges of today’s classroom. We want to provide as many opportunities for their success,” Rotruck said. “This Coppin partnership has definitely changed their perspective and allowed them to grow as teachers.”
How Pathways 2 Professions Works
To understand how teacher candidates can work outside of a system, it’s important to know how they work within a system to become a teacher.
Maryland has a Professional Development School Network that identifies at which K-12 schools teacher-candidates can complete their required 100-day internships. Those schools are affiliated with a higher education institution within their region.
FSU, for instance, has partner schools in Allegany County, Washington County, western Frederick County and eastern Garrett County. CSU’s network extends to a several Baltimore city schools in a one-to-three-mile radius of the campus.
CSU and FSU, both with nationally accredited teaching programs, ensure that the schools and teachers they work with in these K-12 PDSN sites are meeting standards to teach future teachers. Also, it helps that the schools are in a defined area to prevent, for example, a Garrett County teacher having to drive to Ocean City for a required site visit.
The multi-layered P2P program provides an additional opportunity to the 100-day internship to practice teaching to a different demographic in a contrasting geographical setting in Maryland by establishing support at each university and PDSN sites. The Coppin-Frostburg partnership works because it’s a defined set of schools, along with college faculty familiar with each other who worked together to define standards and expectations of what this would look like.
These one-week internships take place following the education majors’ six-week internship at their home institution’s professional development schools. Students also complete group site visits to partner schools earlier in the process.
“We tried many different models of people observing and spending time in Baltimore classrooms, but we never found a collaborative model that is so well coordinated to provide these students with experiences beyond observation,” Rotruck said. “Now they are participating in diverse environments.”
These teacher candidates examine their own stereotypes, their background, upbringing and misconceptions about teaching in urban or rural schools and check them at the door.
“Until somebody asks you to do it, you don’t think about how your culture influences your instruction and your decision making,” said FSU Professor of Educational Professions Dr. Janet Mattern, who is the FSU site director for P2P.
Here’s how students unpack how their personality and way of life influences their teaching:
In the first phase, FSU and CSU education majors will conduct site visits at professional development schools to observe classrooms and gain initial exposure to schools in a different part of the state. The first visits will take place in October.
FSU and CSU students collaborate on assignments online through Blackboard and work on developing curriculum together.
In the second phase, planned for the spring of 2018, FSU students have a one-week internship, or residential clinical rotation, in an urban professional development school near Coppin. CSU students do the same at a FSU professional development network school. Teacher-candidates must complete P2P competency-based activities in order to be part of this experience. The first clinical rotations are planned for spring 2018.
Students who successfully complete components of the program are awarded P2P MicroCredentials that will appear on their transcripts to show they acquired specialized skills through this unique experience. The pilot implementation of the P2P MicroCredentials in Teaching Effectiveness will begin in fall 2017 at CSU and FSU. Plans are in the works to develop MicroCredentials that teacher candidates could earn during their two-year induction phase, and convert into Continuing Professional Development credits for teacher certification.
From Big Savage Mountain to Baltimore
When students traded places in a pilot clinical round, their perceptions changed.
FSU students learned why Baltimore public schools require uniforms, experienced a city where minorities are the majority, and saw students facing the same issues that students in Western Maryland face. CSU students could see the effects of poverty in some rural communities and the lack of racial diversity in K-12 schools.
“One of the students’ assumption was that African American students would face economic challenges. In rural areas that are predominately white, poverty is still a major aspect that impact a student’s life, emotional development,” Huang said. “That’s one thing that they were able to connect to — that students faced challenges in rural and urban environments.”
The experiences help teacher candidates make adjustments. That could be something as little as enforcing certain classroom rules like raising a hand to ask or answer a question or if certain students are more comfortable with using a tablet instead of pen and paper, Mattern said.
“Until you start unpacking those things, you don’t even realize you do it because it’s just a part of who you are,” Mattern said. “What do you value? What do you believe? The way you were raised influences every interaction you have.”
The program isn’t intended to make teachers feel like they have to have all the answers, said Dr. Boyce Williams, interim dean for FSU’s College of Education.
“You give them the tools they need, not to be able to solve all the problems children come with but to have been exposed to best practices and to know that I need to seek help,” such as from a school nurse or psychologist, Williams said. “I’m expected to teach all students, but I can’t be everything to all. But I certainly ought to know and identify when there is some type of need, an issue or a challenge, and be able to go to the resources for support.”
‘They want to be loved’
Hopkins, a Baltimore resident, was part of a pilot test of the program before the official launch, teaching at Gwynns Falls Elementary in Baltimore and at Mount Savage Elementary School, outside of Frostburg. She also interned at Route 40 Elementary School in Garrett County, where she opened up the eyes of some rural, white children.
“I had kids who were brushing my skin because they thought my skin was going to feel different because it was brown. I didn’t mind, and I was happy to share with them that we’re all humans,” said Hopkins, who is African American. “We have different shades of skin but that doesn’t matter. You get hungry, I get hungry. You get thirsty, I get thirsty. If someone says something mean to you, it hurts your feelings. The same with mine. It was nice to have that experience.”
Hopkins learned how much and how little race is part of the conversation in education. Hopkins grew up in Catonsville and attended a predominately white elementary school. She said she had to adjust to the culture in middle school, which was more of a diverse melting pot, then adjust again at a predominately African American high school in Baltimore city, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Her schooling background taught her a lot, but it’s another aspect to teach students accustomed to certain environments.
The young students Hopkins taught were not fixated on race, she said.
“I realized after this internship that children don’t see color unless you make it a big deal. They just want to be loved, regardless if it’s Allegany County or Baltimore City Public Schools,” Hopkins said. “They just want to learn, and they want to be loved.”
That’s the key: that all children deserve to be taught and to feel validated. And if teacher candidates like Hopkins can recognize that, the program will be a success by improving both teachers and students.
“Brianna will be able to teach anywhere. The idea is that sometimes urban and rural schools are very similar but also very different,” Huang said. “The idea is now they have the advantage over the typical teacher preparation program. They actually have that kind of experience.”