Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be on hand to greet principals as they create a playground space that welcomes children of all abilities to play, learn, and grow together. The service day is part of NAESP’s annual conference, which is being held July 11-13 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The project is sponsored by NAESP and playground equipment supplier and corporate partner Landscape Structures.
John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School is a Title I school located in Baltimore's Greektown neighborhood. It serves 672 pre-K-8 students: 88 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch, 46 percent are English-language learners, and 53 percent are Hispanic. The school is a STEM school that provides an after school component. The school’s middle-level students are involved in a storytelling program with the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center teaches a Healthy Heart class to third-grade students. The school also has programs for English-language learners and an after-school drama club.
Mary C. Donnelly, principal of John Ruhrah for the past 12 years, believes the new playground will enable the school to dramatically increase the use of outside grounds for both instruction and recreation. “It will allow our families—particularly our new families—to network and feel comfortable and safe,” said Donnelly. “It will also significantly impact student achievement by helping children reduce anxiety and stress, adjust to a new environment, and focus on their studies.”