Vicki Almond Joins The Student Support Network Board of Directors, May 2019
The Student Support Network is delighted to announce that Vicki Almond, former County Councilwoman representing the Second District of Baltimore County, has joined our Board of Directors. Vicki’s decades of public service and her expertise in County government and the school system will be great assets to the Network!
The Hackerman Foundation Awards Important Grant to the Student Support Network, April 2019
The Student Support Network has been awarded a grant of $35,000 from the Hackerman Foundation, which represents initial funding in the hiring of an Executive Director this year. “We are extremely grateful to the Hackerman Foundation for providing this opportunity to help us grow,” said Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, President of the Network. “This funding comes at a time when our organization is growing rapidly and the work involved has begun to outpace the volunteer efforts that began the Network in 2015.” Currently the Network has programs in four schools and runs two annual drives to assist students in twenty-two schools with food, school supplies, and personal care items. Over 10,000 visits and requests for food and other assistance were met last year through Network programs in schools.
Summer Internship for Student from Goucher College Funded by SSN, April 2019
The Student Support Network has funded a $1,000 internship through a donation to Baltimore County government to update the Baltimore County Emergency Resource Guide, a comprehensive guide to social services, food banks, and dozens of other resources available in Baltimore County. Last updated in 2013, this Guide has been so important for service providers that older copies are still used. Updating this Guide has been a goal of the Network for the past three years. Caroline Patterson, a student from Goucher College, will be working with Malina Colón, Executive Assistant of the Baltimore County Office of Communications and other staff to update this guide, which will help service providers including school support staff throughout the County. We are grateful to the Office of Community Based Learning at Goucher College and to Ms. Colón for making this project possible.
Caroline Patterson, a student from Goucher College, who will be interning with the Baltimore County government
Loch Raven Technical Academy Joins the Student Support Network, March 2019
We are delighted to welcome the Loch Raven Academy Network to the Student Support Network!
The lead volunteers of the Loch Raven Academy Network are Stephanie Goldstein and Barbara Leeper, who will work with school staff to fulfill student needs and stock and organize the room for students, now known as the Raven Center.
For more information about the Loch Raven Academy Network, please visit its SSN home page.
Baltimore County’s Transition Report Includes Important Education Focus, February 2019
The Student Support Network and other education advocacy groups are extremely pleased that in the Transition Report issued by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski’ s Office last week, the Education Team made recommendations that included full implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision (breakfast and lunch at no charge in 51 high poverty schools), “Breakfast After the Bell” in eligible schools, and increases in support staff (pages 8, 14 and 15).
Please read the full report.
Left to right: Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Tam Lynne Kelley of No Kid Hungry and Yara Cheikh, education activist, at the meeting on the release of the Transition Report at CCBC Essex on Feb. 19
Partnership with Goucher College Community: Getting the Word Out on Hunger and Food Insecurity in Baltimore County, January 2019
Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, President of the Network, was invited to speak to the staff at Goucher College on Jan. 24 about hunger and food insecurity in our area, including Baltimore County Public Schools, and programs such as the Network which are trying to address it. Goucher College, Towson University, the University of Maryland and the Community College of Baltimore County now all have food pantries for students in need of food.
On Wednesday January 30, the topic of the “Community Bowl” common hour at Goucher College was food insecurity. Our panel, organized by Rob Ferrell of Goucher, talked with students, faculty and staff there about food insecurity in K-12 and local colleges and universities, systemic problems related to poverty and food insecurity, and what to do about them – it was a great event!
Left to right, Rob Ferrell, Prof. Carolyn Schwartz, Dr. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Prof. Le Phong, and James Williams, a student at the college.
Carroll Manor Elementary School PTA hosts a Family Pasta Night Fundraiser for the Student Support Network, January 11, 2019
A huge thank you to Mary Seiler, PTA President of Carroll Manor Elementary, and PTA members for choosing the Student Support Network to benefit from their Family Pasta Night fundraiser. This event raised $1,000 for the Network, and we are very grateful for all of their work to put this great evening together.
Jess Wodarczyk and Girl Scout Troop #1412 of Carroll Manor Elementary School had previously visited the Loch Raven Haven and talked to Chris Diehl there about items for students in need, and the Troop also brought donations for the Network to the event. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell and Chris Diehl set up a table with information about the Network and examples of items provided to students. Delicious food, too, was provided by Brookside Market – a new place to check out.”
Goucher College Research Project Published in College Magazine, Winter 2018
Research on food insecurity in a class at Goucher will help the Student Support Network learn more about food access in the catchment areas of our Network High Schools: Loch Raven High School and Parkville High School. In Professor Phong Le’s courses on statistics last fall, students researched stores selling food in these areas and evaluated the varieties and quality of the food sold in stores. An article in the Goucher Magazine discusses their work.
SSN Expresses Appreciation to the Mt. Moriah Charitable Foundation, December 2018
December 18: At the Holiday Party for the Mount Moriah Lodge #116 of Towson last night – Laurie presented a letter to Greg Jones, President of their Charitable Foundation. Enjoyed dinner and the opportunity to express the gratitude of the Student Support Network for their tremendous support this year!
For the letter presented to the Lodge members, Read Here
Research Project at Goucher College to Help Network Understand Food Access in Baltimore County, November 2018
Many thanks to Professor Phong Le of Goucher College for working on a research project with his students for the Student Support Network in two statistics classes – students evaluated stores selling food in the Loch Raven High School, Parkville High School, and Towson High School catchment areas – how many are there? What is the nutritional quality of the food sold? We’ll pass on the results after their final report. Thanks also to Cass Friedland, Director of the Office of Community Based Education at Goucher, and Jamie Harding, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. To understand more about food insecurity, some students also visited the “Loch Raven Haven” room for students in need at Loch Raven HS.
From left to right: Cass Friedland, Professor Phong, and Jamie Harding
Classroom: Professor Phong and Laurie Taylor-Mitchell with Goucher students presenting their research on November 30
Towson Times Shines Spotlight on Laurie and the Big Fall Drive, November 2018
We are so grateful to Courtney McGee, who once again highlighted the Student Support Network in her November 7 Towson Times article, in which she recognized Laurie’s “Community Activist of the Year” award and encouraged county residents to participate in and donate to the Big Fall Drive, November 9-10 at St. Thomas’ Church on Providence Road.
Laurie at the Big Spring Drive
Laurie Receives “Community Activist of the Year” Award, October 2018
Laurie was recognized as the “Community Activist of the Year” by Maryland Hunger Solutions and the Maryland Food and Nutrition Network at an event in Annapolis. She received the award for her work to reduce hunger and poverty within Baltimore County public schools through her non-profit organization, the Student Support Network. Laurie is also currently advocating to expand the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows high-poverty schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, to more schools across Maryland.
From left: Mitchell Glassman of the Critical Issues Forum, Laurie Taylor-Mitchell of the Student Support Network, and Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions at the 8th annual Fighting Hunger in Maryland: Meals Matter conference, held at the State House Building in Annapolis on October 9, 2018.
The Student Support Network Welcomes a New Donor: 2NDGEAR, October 2018
The Student Support Network has a new donor, 2NDGEAR Computer Company. 2NDGEAR has chosen the Network as the beneficiary of their holiday food drive this year! With hunger and food insecurity affecting so many students at our Network schools, this drive will help us sustain our efforts to provide as much as we can to our students in need. Learn More About 2NDGEAR
New Project with Faculty and Students from Goucher College, September 2018
The Student Support Network began exchanging ideas and benefitting from students and staff at Goucher College when Judy Cohen, a Network volunteer and Program Director of the SAGE Academy for Lifelong Learning, put Laurie in touch with Dr. Cass Freedland, the Director of the Community Based Education Office there.
Students, staff, and alumni from Goucher have been extremely generous in donating to our Holiday Drive and the Big Spring Drive. A new project beginning this fall is being coordinated by Professor Phong Le in the Mathematics Department. In his Data Analytics for Sustainability classes this fall, students will survey all food stores and their products in the catchment areas of two Network Schools: Loch Raven and Parkville High Schools. Using the Healthy Foods Availability Index (HFAI) survey, which has been used extensively in the City through work at Johns Hopkins University to evaluate food access, each store will be visited and evaluated according to the survey criteria. Food access and the presence of “food deserts” have been studied extensively in Baltimore City but not studied well in the County. The compilation and analysis of this information by students, in conjunction with GIS mapping, will apply the class skills to working on a local research project. The information gathered through this index will help the Network and other groups involved with food advocacy for students understand the availability of food, its quality, expense, transportation issues, and locations of stores in relation to demographics and income levels in these areas. Laurie presented current statistics on poverty and food insecurity in the school system and information on the Network to these two classes in early September. In addition, through the efforts of Jessica Castro, a Goucher student who volunteered to collect items for a drive last year, the Gaming Floor at Goucher is very interested in helping the Network with the Big Fall Drive benefitting high-poverty schools around the County. We are so grateful to Cass and to Goucher College students and faculty for their interest and tremendous support of the Network, and look forward to future projects with them!
From left to right: Laurie Taylor-Mitchell (Student Support Network), Jessica Castro, Cass Freedland, and Hannah Lerner at Goucher College with donations from College students and faculty for the Network.
New Donations to ESOL and AVID Programs at Parkville High School, September 2018
The AVID program at Parkville has some major new patrons: Susan and Jeff Dorsey, and Cheri and Bob Pegues. Susan and Jeff will contribute $100 a month to the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), which helps students in very challenging life circumstances receive the support they need to succeed in high school and beyond. From their website: “75% of AVID students are from a low socioeconomic status background, and 80% are underrepresented students. Nevertheless, they outperform their peers in crucial metrics nationwide.” The Dorsey’s generous donation has already had an effect! Beginning this school year, Cheri and Bob Pegues will contribute $100 a month to both the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and AVID programs at Parkville, for a total contribution of $2400 this year. This new support will allow the Chairs of these programs to provide more academic support and also provide school supplies for students in need at both programs. Together the AVID and ESOL programs at Parkville include hundreds of students. Cheri, a graduate of Parkville High School, is also the new lead volunteer for the Network program there and has been busy organizing the pantry and delivering supplies to school teachers and staff. She has made a phenomenal start and we are so fortunate to have her!
AVID students at Parkville High School, summer 2018
A class of AVID students at Parkville High School, summer 2018
Two Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 10175 of Lutherville helping to deliver over 400 back-to-school bags to the ESOL program at Parkville High School.
Junior Girl Scouts from Troop 10175 of Lutherville with their donations to the ESOL program.
Maryland Presbyterian Church Mission Team assisting the Student Support Network, Summer 2018
The congregation of Maryland Presbyterian Church (MPC) has again demonstrated its strong support for our programs! In 2016-2017, the Mission Committee made an extremely generous donation to the food programs at Loch Raven High School when our organization was active only at that school. With our growth to serving three schools, the Mission Team is devoting its Summer Mission Focus, under the leadership of Rosemary Plummer and Dot Attwell, to raising funds and sponsoring a drive for food, toiletries, and school supplies. Leslie Erickson and Carol Mason, longtime supporters of the Network, have also been active in this effort. Many thanks to them and to David Norse, the new Pastor at MPC, for this wonderful effort, which will help many students in need in all three Network Schools (Loch Raven HS, Parkville HS, and Pine Grove MS) as they start the school year in September!
In the photo, from left to right, are Caryn Putchat, Social Worker at Loch Raven High School, with Leslie Erickson and Carol Mason from MPC in a visit to the Loch Raven Haven at Loch Raven High School.
Towson Times / Baltimore Sun Article on National Night Out in Towson, July 27, 2018
At 6 p.m on Aug. 7, in front of the Historic Courthouse in Towson, this year’s National Night Out will take place. The event brings together in a fun and meaningful way the community with the officers who support it. The article details the activities that will take place. Importantly for the Student Support Network, SSN will have a table at the event to receive donations for Baltimore County students who are living in poverty or homeless. Get the Details!
Girl Scout Troop 10175 volunteers help the Student Support Network in July, 2018
Seven girls from Junior Girl Scout Troop 10175 of Lutherville, MD recently spent an evening helping sort through food and clothing at the storage space for our three schools in St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church. Under the leadership of parent assistant Jennifer McCabe, the girls sorted dozens of boxes of food to be stored in bins, and helped us make decisions about donated clothes regarding sizing and what students might wear. The troop is currently working to earn the Bronze Award through volunteering for 20 hours in various projects. These scouts will bridge to become Cadets in the fall. Under troop leader Kimberly Labrique and Raina Psoras, this same troop has also done a fantastic job for the last two years with adopting two families of students in need at Loch Raven High School for the December holidays, and they are continuing to collect items for our Network schools. We are so happy to have their wonderful enthusiasm and energy!
Debbie Phelps Visits the Loch Raven Haven, July 10, 2018
We were so pleased today to have Debbie Phelps, the Executive Director of The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, visit the Loch Raven Haven at Loch Raven High School to see our space for students and to learn more about the Student Support Network. It’s wonderful to have her interest and appreciation for our programs! In the photo, left to right: Janine Holmes, Principal, Loch Raven High School, Debbie Phelps, and Linda Oliver, administrative assistant at Loch Raven.
Towson Times / Baltimore Sun Article Updates Student Support Network News, June 20, 2018
We are delighted that Courtney McGee of the Towson Times has published another article on the Student Support Network, including our name change and growth to three schools, the wonderful news about the increased support from the Freemasons of the Mt. Moriah Lodge of Towson this year and the announcement that the Network will be the beneficiary of donations brought to the National Night Out Event in Towson on August 7. She also notes the date of our Annual Fundraiser on October 16 and the generous offers from Rosedale Federal Savings & Loan Association and the Mt. Moriah Charitable Foundation to be Title Sponsors for our Fundraiser. Read all about it!
Student Support Network announces $12,000 donation from Mt. Moriah Charitable Foundation, June 2018
Great news for the Student Support Network: a new $12,000 donation from the Mt. Moriah Charitable Foundation! The Foundation’s continuing support of our partnership provides much needed funds for the ongoing work of the Network. In addition, the Mt. Moriah Charitable Foundation is a Title Sponsor, along with Rosedale Federal Savings & Loan Association, of our Annual Fundraiser to be held October 16, 2018.
We Have Officially Changed Our Name, Spring 2018
Towson Times / Baltimore Sun Article Spotlights Laurie Taylor-Mitchell’s Educational Advocacy
A March 14, 2018 article in the Towson Times by Courtney McGee noted Laurie Taylor-Mitchell’s educational advocacy and the founding of the Loch Raven Network, which has since grown into the Student Support Network. Read More