The Uniform Services Academy (USA), a Baltimore City public high school, offers a unique program: it combines small classes with curriculum content directed to specific careers. It has been designed to “infuse relevance and real life educational experience into the urban education process”— in short, to provide an environment in which students struggling with the problems of urban education will be stimulated to attend
school, stay in school, and achieve academically.
USA functions as four schools within one, Walbrook Senior High School. The four schools are Maritime and Transportation, Criminal Justice, Fire and Emergency, and Business and Technology. Graduates are expected to continue their education in college, or to move directly into the field for which they have been preparing. (In fact, they do both, with most electing to go on to college.)
USA was launched in 1998 with high expectations as part of the city’s New Schools Initiative program, which contracts with third parties to operate public schools. Four school years have now gone by; results suggest that the expectations have been realized to a degree that warrants recognition. Hard data support a record of modest success.
Leadership of the program and much of the energy that enlivens it lie with Dr. Andrey Bundley, a product of Baltimore City inner-city schools who went on to earn his Master’s and Doctorate degrees at Penn State University. A committed educator, Dr. Bundley is sensitive, on the one hand, to the special problems the students face, and on the other, to the realistic goals they must meet. Though proud of the school’s overall achievement, he recognizes that there is a long way to go.
The Abell Foundation salutes USA, and shares Dr. Bundley’s optimism for the program’s continued growth and enrichment, justified because, as Dr. Bundley puts it, “We’re ‘still becoming,’ and getting better all the time.”