I believe in making connections and using my resources and talents in whatever way that I can to help others. Teaching has been a direct reflection of that. Having been raised by raised by a teacher, watching one of my uncles serve his community as a social worker, and having an aunt who has been committed to service through her sorority and other community organizations, service has always been ingrained in me. At Frederick Douglass High School (go Astros!) in Atlanta, one of our graduation requirements was to complete 75 hours of community service. We all groaned at being made to serve, but at the end, felt proud of having made a difference in my community in some way.
When I first moved to Baltimore, I had a desire to bring arts to the community outside of my teaching at MICA, but hadn’t figured out a way to do it. In 2011, a few years after having won the EJK Award for Bird, I was asked to speak at the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition ceremony. It was the most elegant and important event for children that I had seen and I was thrilled to be a part of the celebration. The next thought was, that this should be an event in every city.
Fortunately, a few other people agreed! Deb Taylor (winner of the 2015 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Practitioner Award for Lifetime Achievement) and I have talked about the possibility for about a year now, and since I am currently on sabbatical this fall, I decided to grab my friends and JUMP IN 😉 (see what I did there?). Terry Taylor, organizer of the African American Book Fair at the Reginald Lewis Museum also agreed to be a co-conspirator, and lastly, we brought in Elizabeth Napier, Educational Specialist with Baltimore City Schools. After sowing seeds in Baltimore for the last four years, I am proud to announce that Jump-In Studio, will help bring the first annual Baltimore Bookmaking Competition to our city in partnership with The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, The Enoch Pratt Public Library, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and The Baltimore City Department of Education. Stay tuned for more details!
Check out this video to see why this event is so important for young people.