Empowering Scholars. Empowering Parents.

When Ta-niya Bishop dances on stage, it can best be described as joy in motion. She moves to the rhythms effortlessly, in sync with the music and her peers, beaming with happiness and pride. Smiles radiated as the second grader and her dance partners performed in front of parents and teachers during BELL’s Black Heritage Celebration.

“They rocked the house!” said Ta-niya’s father Damieon Bishop, who proudly posted a video of her performance on Facebook. “At the end of the day, I can’t help my daughter dance. I can’t sing and dance. It was a big ole surprise. They took their time rehearsing.”

Eight-year-old Ta-niya has been enrolled at BELL’s after-school program at Arundel Elementary School in Baltimore since the first grade. Through the program’s hands-on academic and enrichment activities, she has maintained her solid math abilities, and is slowly improving her reading and writing skills.

“She’s a little shy at first, but then she slowly comes out of her shell,” said Janine Tucker, Academic Teacher. “She has a very creative imagination and likes to do things off the top of her mind. Now, we are teaching her how to transmit her wonderful imagination into writing and onto paper.”

On stage, Ta-niya transforms from a shy scholar into a confident one. As is the case for many scholars, BELL’s enrichment activities serve as a channel for creative expression, often leading to improvements in their social-emotional skills.  “Ta-niya performs with open arms. Her personality is very unique,” said Mr. Bishop. “She has grown more confident. Now, she will disagree with anyone, including me, and show you if she feels she is right.”

Every Monday through Thursday, while he works as a custodian at the Baltimore Aquarium, Mr. Bishop counts on BELL to provide academic support in areas Ta-niya needs help in. He is in the process of moving farther away from the school, but has committed to continuing her enrollment in the program.

“Oh man, BELL is very helpful for single fathers like me because it keeps us involved. At the end of the day, she comes home and explains what she’s learning,” he said with a smile. “They have projects like the Black History Celebration that make it convenient for me to get involved.”

To illustrate how much Ta-niya enjoys the program, Mr. Bishop shared a revealing anecdote. “I had to take her out of BELL one day. Something came up. I said, you have two choices Ta-niya. You can either go home or go back to BELL. She said, 'Oh, I want to go back to BELL!'”

Parental engagement is a key variable in BELL’s equation for scholar success. It helps foster BELL’s core values beyond the school walls and into the household. “If fathers are not involved, that’s a problem. It's important to show kids that you care about their education,” Mr. Bishop says.

Dedicated staff like Alisa Clea Program Assistant, engage with Mr. Bishop and other parents even on non-BELL days. Ms. Clea texts and calls parents, keeping them in the loop about their child’s progress. Often, she helps busy parents fill out paperwork and applications to make sure their children are getting the most out of the program.

“Ms. Clea will say ‘Ta-niya did this and she took time on it, so now it’s time for you to put in,’” says Mr. Bishop. 

Stories of Impact

Make sure to check in from time to time as Beyond will evolve throughout the year, with new stories of impact.
 
 

Breaking barriers through Taekwondo.

Thanh Ly, a third grade scholar, has found her inner strength and voice through Taekwondo enrichment. One kick at a time, she is gaining skills and applying them in the classroom, and in life.


 

A safe haven for scholars to succeed.

Violence is a topic all too familiar to Daniel Brown's family. So when she heard of BELL, she quickly enrolled her children, joining a growing group of parents who see BELL as a safe haven for scholars to blossom. 


 

Serving a growing family, one scholar at a time.

With three scholars enrolled in BELL, and a fourth child on the way, BELL provides the Castillos with peace of mind, enabling them to work extra hours to provide a solid foundation for their family.


 

Creating community in the classroom.

Scholar success boils down to relationships, says Nancy Kelly, a fourth grade math teacher. Through BELL, she is nurturing stronger relationships with her current students, and forging new ones with her future class.


 

Dad: Parent involvement is key to success.

Parental engagement, a key variable in BELL’s equation for scholar success, comes to life in this feature story. “If fathers are not involved, that’s a problem,” Mr. Bishop says.


 

Former scholar. Current leader.

Follow Tanisha's journey from a fifth grade BELL scholar to a key BELL staff member. Now, as a mother, she is applying her learnings from BELL and changing her daughter Sirhye's life trajectory.