Pillars of BSA: Ms. Gladney

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Pillars of BSA is a mini-series featuring profiles of the leaders who will be leaving BSA this year.

Gladney. Ms. Ruth Gladney always has a lot to say, we know that. Her wit, charm, and smile is what we will always remember first (I could actually gone on for hours about what we will remember). Now, this interview was conducted a little differently. Given that she is an English teacher, I wanted to tell her story, not just answer questions in a row. Didn’t Ms. Gladney always have such a way with words?

“Thirty- two years ago I entered Baltimore School for the Arts with very little knowledge of what the school was about. Charlie Allen, head of the English Department for Baltimore City Public Schools recommended my transfer to Baltimore School for the Arts. He felt that I had the capacity to help failing youth in the school who were challenged by the rigorous curriculum and a lengthy school day. To be honest, I was in total fear. I had taught eight years at a junior high school. I had a wonderful principal and worked with a staff that I loved. Things were going quite well for me. It took some time after my interview to make up my mind, but I finally accepted the position. The first year was no “day on the beach.” Students had to get used to my particular methods. They had to get used to my voice. Most were loving and obedient, but some took me to task. In the first year I had to “prove” that I knew my subject matter and that I had the expertise to move them forward. I remember one specific occasion where a student erased the word “panicked” from my board and replaced it with “paniked” because the student thought I did not know how to spell the word. I was livid and reported the incident to the parent. I felt so disrespected, but it armed me, for from that time I challenged myself to do more and to be better. Moving forward, I look back to the days I have spent here. Not one day has been a disaster, not one. I have had my moments, but on my worst day there has ALWAYS been someone who has made my day better. I have no regrets. From this time on, I will continue to work as an educator and learn all I can about the world and its inhabitants. I leave with the desire that my students realize they have been a greater blessing to me than I have been to them.”

Surprisingly, I am tearing up yet again writing a farewell to one of the greatest teacher I’ve had the blessing to know and learn from. Her knowledge will follow me for the rest of my days at BSA, and the rest of my life. Thank-you for allowing BSA to become of your life for so long Ms. Gladney, it sure won’t be the same without you.

For another look back at Ms. Gladney’s time at BSA, check out this video.