From Classroom to Community

Group: From Classroom to Community

Type of group: Center for Social Concern

Year Founded: 2008

Name: Linda Zhou

Position: President/Co-founder

Shoshana Akabas, a freshman who leads an English/ Creative Writing Class and volunteers for From Classroom to Community, describes her experiences:

” On a practical level, I’ve learned a lot about teaching: how to encourage students, how to know your audience, how to engage sometimes unwilling participants in a meaningful discussion. I also have even more confidence in the importance of the work From Classroom to Community does: how much some people need help and how little time it takes to help them. Specifically from teaching the creative writing class, I’ve learned that everyone has a voice and everyone has something to write about. “

As you can see from her description, this Center for Social Concern (CSC) student group is dedicated to reciprocal learning between our volunteers and the people of Baltimore that we serve. I, Linda Zhou, and my friend Sandra Ho founded From Classroom to Community in 2008. We felt that there was a need in the community for what this group offers, and our mission statement is: From Classroom to Community is a student-based volunteer group aimed towards enhancing the quality of life for the underserved population of Baltimore City by teaching classes and tutoring in a variety of academic disciplines. This will ultimately bring them better academic and job opportunities that they would not have been able to encounter otherwise. We currently teach Computer Literacy and English/ Creative Writing to homeless adults at Our Daily Bread- Christopher Place. The men that we teach at Our Daily Bread- Christopher Place are enrolled in the academy to take classes, learn life skills, and get back on their feet. We also tutor at-risk youth in science, writing, language arts, and math to prepare them for their GED exams at YO! Baltimore, so we teach. These high school students are trying to pass their GEDs so that they can find better employment or obtain more education, e.g. enroll in college, and we work with them on areas of weakness to help them improve their scores. In the past, we have also taught an Art Therapy class and volunteered at My Sister’s Place- Women’s Center. All our volunteering sessions are an hour long, once a week, and last 10 weeks. The minimum time commitment is 1 hour per week, and presently we have 15-30 members.


From Shoshana, more about volunteering with From Classroom to Community:

1. Why did you choose to become involved?

The most appealing thing about From Classroom to Community for me was the chance to get off campus. It’s easy to feel isolated and forget that a larger community exists outside of Hopkins and is in need of help.
2. What special events or activities does this group coordinate/participate in?

From Classroom to Community places students in underserved communities to teach anything from computer skills to GED test-taking strategies. I teach the creative writing class, which helps students find an emotional outlet for what is often a traumatic past, and sharpen their analytical and writing skills.

3. What makes this group unique?

One thing that makes From Classroom to Community special is the people you have the chance to work with. Many of the men in the creative writing class at Our Daily Bread Employment Center have real stories to tell and are great writers – they just need a little encouragement. The ability to meet people who come from completely different backgrounds and have had unbelievable experiences is a unique and important aspect of From Classroom to Community. Writing, specifically, can be very therapeutic, and seeing the progress that students make and knowing that you’re making a real difference in their lives is also incredibly rewarding.

This organization is unique not only in the population that we serve but also in the depth of leadership and involvement that volunteers experience. Volunteers can apply to be Principal Instructors and lead a class, like I do. Additionally, if you have an idea for a new class, the President and Vice-President will help you start it!

4. How can freshmen be involved?

Freshman can be involved in all aspects of the club, from volunteering to taking on officer positions to starting new classes!