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June Newsletter

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Retaining the Teachers Baltimore City Students Need

On June 14th, the Fund released our newest report Should I Stay or Should I Go? Retaining the Teachers Baltimore City Students Need, which examines teacher burnout, retention and recruitment in City Schools. Through in-depth interviews with a demographically representative sample of 202 current City Schools teachers and nine former teachers from 100 of the 164 schools in the district, the Fund learned about educators’ working conditions, what makes the job difficult, and what they love most about teaching. The report culminates with recommendations from teachers and the Fund for Educational Excellence to improve conditions and retain and recruit the educators Baltimore City students need.

Read the Full Report Here

This latest report has resonated with media, educational and youth organizations, and city residents calling attention to this important issue on both a local and state level. Check out recent coverage in the news:

As we move forward, we will be making presentations to district and city leadership as well as educational and community partners. Interested in learning more? Schedule a briefing with the report’s authors by emailing us at For more on Should I Stay or Should I Go? visit to read the full-length report, including detailed key themes and findings, teacher stories, and the Fund’s recommendations.

The Fund Welcomes Ashleigh Ayres!

The Fund for Educational Excellence is thrilled to welcome Ashleigh Ayres to the team as our new Development Manager! Ashleigh is responsible for maintaining and broadening donor relationships and ongoing fundraising operations that advance the work of both the Fund and City Schools. She works closely with the Senior Program Director, District Development to support the work of the Heart of the Schools program, a year-round initiative that celebrates and supports Baltimore City Public School principals. In addition to her traditional nonprofit development knowledge, Ashleigh brings with her an extensive educator’s perspective and experience from her background of over five years teaching music education.

We are so excited to have her on board. Welcome, Ashleigh!

Share Some Love Campaigns Update

Following the success of last year’s school-wide campaigns, the Heart of the Schools relaunched an improved version of the Share Some Love initiative! At the conclusion of school year 2022-23, over 5,000 notes of positivity were shared across 46 Baltimore City Public Schools.

Many schools opted to share their love notes with teachers and staff as part of their end-of-school-year send off—like Hazelwood Elementary and Holabird Academy.

Heart of the Schools Day-of-Play with Baltimore Ravens Rookie Class at The Belair-Edison School

On June 21st, the Heart of the Schools was thrilled to help coordinate a school-wide day-of-play in partnership with the Baltimore Ravens Rookie Class at The Belair-Edison School! Students and players explored the Ravens bookmobile, participated in activities facilitated by the nonprofit Weekend Backpacks and played a number of games including kickball, egg races and musical chairs. While the school had to move the event indoors due to rain, the weather didn’t put a damper on any of the fun thanks to The Belair-Edison School team’s incredible job shifting the day’s activities indoors so seamlessly!

2023 Heart of the School Awards Recap

After four years, it was so great to be back at the Hippodrome Theatre on May 25th celebrating the 2023 Heart of the School Awards with over 700 principals, community leaders, educators and families – our biggest event to-date!

Take a look at some photos from the wonderful evening:

Flickr Photos

If you were unable to make it or simply wish to rewatch the event, you can find the full Vimeo of the night here:

2023 Heart of the School Awards Ceremony

Click here to read more about the winners and watch the videos screened during the event showing each winner in action at their schools, below:
Mark Bongiovanni – Curtis Bay Elementary School
Tiffany Etheridge – Belmont Elementary School
Peter Kannam – Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School
Brandon Pinkney – Walter P. Carter Elementary Middle School
Jacqueline Williams – Director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

The five winners were joined by five honorees, each of whom has demonstrated exemplary innovation, execution, and leadership in building strong school cultures.
Kelly Casagrande – Charm City Virtual/Virtual Learning Program East
Venus Jackson – Harlem Park Elementary Middle School
Nichelle Johnson-Walker – Morrell Park Elementary Middle School
Aleesha Manning – Cecil Elementary School
Cheyanne Zahrt – City Neighbors High School

Of Note:
Additional insights, updates and resources.

  • Applications are now open for Youth Grantmakers, an initiative of Baltimore’s Promise. Qualifications: Youth ages 16-24 who have attended or currently attend a Baltimore City Public School. Candidates must be curious, motivated, and ready to learn. Apply Today!
  • At Leith Walk Elementary/Middle, students are taking the space they need to breathe, to vent, and to navigate their emotions in Heart of the School Fund-supported Wellness Rooms. The impact is impossible to miss! Learn more in this recent City Schools Progress Report story:
  • Getting out the vote…for students! Across the district, hundreds of students are stepping up and leading through collaboration and creativity in Student Government Associations. Learn more about the impact in this Progress Report story:

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