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The iteration of RFP that will open on January 31st was very immediately informed by what I learned from area students in Fall 2014. I was particularly privileged to spend a month collaborating with BCPS art teacher Elisabeth Gambino and her four high school art classes at ACCE (the Academy for College and Career Exploration).

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Though located in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood, ACCE enrolls students from throughout Baltimore, which led to a rich extended conversation informed by a broad range of experiences of community within the city. Students learned about architecture, urban planning, and the role of citizens in shaping their neighborhoods through drawing, role playing, writing position statements, and interviewing professionals and community members. The end of the unit resulted in a collaborative mural comprised of pieces drawn and assembled by students to represent their ideas about the structures and facilities needed to support a strong and well rounded community.

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I also learned a great deal working in conjunction with Rachel Valsing and her students at Towson High School. Given their location in the county, the Towson students inherently had a different relationship to the city of Baltimore, and as such we spent a good deal of time discussing and analyzing their pre-established ideas about the city, and the ways in which they currently interface with it. Later, Rachel and I led a group on a walking tour around Waverly, where we extended this conversation. Many students had the chance to see a part of Baltimore they hadn’t seen in a way they hadn’t seen it.

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Back in the classroom, students worked collaboratively to produce a piece addressing the connections and commonalities between Towson and Baltimore.

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