Baltimore City College
Baltimore City College history teacher and 2009 graduate J.D. Merrill didn’t want to hear any more excuses from students about poorly-sourced assignments.
He knew the school’s library was overdue for updates – a fact that couldn’t be overlooked because City’s students hail from all across Baltimore and some have limited access to other libraries. Fifty percent of the school’s students will be the first in their family to go to college and 62 percent live in poverty.
After the school system supplied $300,000 for library repairs and updates, Merrill—who teaches a research-based course—said he created the school’s first fundraising program to finance more upgrades for the space.
In the end, he helped raise $2.18 million to refurbish and update the library at what is the nation’s third-oldest public high school and the only Baltimore high school to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma program.
“I’ve always tried to fill in holes wherever I’ve been, and it seemed like a really natural fit—this is something I’m really passionate about,” said Merrill, 25, who is also the school’s director of admissions.
After graduating from City, Merrill received a bachelor’s in educational policy studies from Davidson College and master’s in educational studies from Johns Hopkins University, before landing his dream job at his alma mater.
The refurbished library is to be completed this summer with three peer-tutoring centers, a computer lab and updated and expanded sources.
“It’s one of those situations where you’ve got a boat and you need somebody to start rowing,” Merrill said. “There’s nothing remarkable about what I did, other than I picked up a paddle. What’s remarkable is that we’re getting a new library.”