“Children are our 1st priority” is the slogan that greets you as you walk into Mary E. Rodman Elementary School on Mulberry Street in Baltimore. Cardboard silhouettes of books hanging from the ceiling overshadowed our trek to the library. Black linked-chain, swung merrily from short black posts, anchored in translucent pastel, cubic trash cans, blooming with colorful tissue wrap, separated the special reading area from the rest of the library. Windows, with pastel tissue silhouettes, adorned the room like tiffany glass and a poster heralded, “You are about to enter a Learning Zone!”
Gutsy first grader, Meshay Clark, started the program by warmly welcoming us without a script. First grade teacher, Mrs. Jones, emceed and photographed the event. Her class enthusiastically recited and gestured to the poem, “Books to the Ceiling.” After a lively recitation of an original poem, “Books, Books, Books,” siblings Carlos and Daja Pearman, of the 2nd and 5th grade classes respectively, spoke on how the reading room came about. An excerpt from a colorful book was read to the children by Candy Carson.
Mr. Robert Diggs and Mr. Howard Tucker, from the 100 Black Men of Maryland, promised their commitment to helping the children succeed by volunteering to read to them on a regular basis, and donating one of their favorite books. Ms. Christine Watson, Executive Assistant for Area 2 Elementary Baltimore City Public Schools added words of wisdom. Also on hand was Mrs. Harris, who designed and outfitted the room.
Principal Jerome closed with his charge to the students to stay focused on what is really important.