In 2012, Reinvestment Fund provided $8 million through its New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) allocation to the Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School (Henderson-Hopkins) for the construction of a 90,000-square-foot school and a 28,000-square-foot early childhood center (ECC) on a seven-acre campus. The Henderson-Hopkins school has been operating in temporary facilities since 2009, but the new school building will serve as its new home, anticipated to open in fall 2013. The K-8 school will be the first new school built in East Baltimore in 25 years.
This $50+ million development is the cornerstone of a major redevelopment effort in Baltimore being undertaken by East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI). The effort entails the revitalization of 88 blighted acres adjacent to the Johns Hopkins Hospital to create a thriving mixed-income community for families, businesses and public institutions.
The Johns Hopkins School of Education (SOE) and the Morgan State University School of Educational and Urban Studies (MSU) assumed operational responsibility of the Henderson-Hopkins school in early 2012 with the goal of transforming it into one of the best schools in the city. SOE is responsible for the day-to-day operations, and MSU has taken primary responsibility for the governance of the school. SOE will be focusing on small class sizes, a wide range of enrichment activities and strong leadership.
In addition to using a project-based learning approach, the Henderson-Hopkins school uses SOE’s Success for All (SFA) program, which has been recognized by the US Department of Education as one of the most effective evidence-based programs available to improve student performance. SFA centers around a daily 90-minute reading period for all students, with a focus on phonics and tutoring for children who are falling behind or need extra help. Teachers receive training in SFA’s structured teaching practices and rigorous pacing. Schools also have a full-time SFA facilitator on site to test and assess students, organize tutoring and support teachers in the classroom.
The Henderson-Hopkins school has a contemporary design with an emphasis on providing open and flexible space to maximize opportunities for individual and group learning. The classrooms are designed to allow the interior and exterior spaces to be reconfigured according to need and on demand for specific projects, activities and ages of students. The school will also have a soccer/softball field, a community garden, outdoor terraces and a gym. The project will meet the Baltimore City Green Building Standard.
The Henderson-Hopkins school is fully committed to making sure that all children are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. Therefore, the ECC is also an important component of the new learning campus. Also managed by Johns Hopkins, the ECC is based on the Parents and Children Together program model, dedicated to reducing disparities in school readiness between advantaged and disadvantaged children. It integrates child development services, family support and health care services. Additionally, services to address health and nutrition needs, workforce development, adult literacy and more can be offered on site or through a family advocate referral process. The center will have 15 classrooms with diverse enrollment by age and funding source. Staff of the ECC will be employees of Johns Hopkins University.
Planning for the school was comprehensive and brought together residents, faith leaders, local elected officials, parents, community organizations and education leaders. The Henderson-Hopkins school has significant philanthropic and institutional support, including grants from the Weinberg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Institutions. Additionally, state capital grants are funding demolition, infrastructure and utilities. The remaining balance was met by NMTC financing.
The Henderson-Hopkins school is similar in almost every aspect to a charter school with the exception of its enrollment. Unlike a typical charter school that accepts students through a lottery system, the Henderson-Hopkins school has a neighborhood catchment area similar to that of a standard zoned school. The school’s current enrollment of 228 is expected to grow to a total of 540 students by 2015. Total projected enrollment for the ECC is 174 children.