Read Adeline and Chislon’s Testimony about the Dream Academy
Adeline Akoforngwe, Testimony to the Montgomery County Council, April 5, 2017
Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to testify, my name is Adeline Akoforngwe, and I am a parent of a fifth grade student at South Lake Elementary School where my son is a part of the Dream Academy.
First, I would like to sincerely thank the County Council for funding the Dream Academy it is an incredible program. And second, I’d like to thank the Recreation Department, they have done a wonderful job in starting and operating the program at our school.
The program has really been of great help to my son Chislon and I know to other kids. The extra hour of academic support gives my son and the other students the opportunity to fully learn concepts from the normal school day.
In particular, the program has helped my son a great deal with some behavioral issues. When we first moved from Cameroon he was having some challenges adapting to the new environment. I was getting a call once a week or once every two weeks from the principal’s office because he had gotten in trouble. It got so bad, that when I would see South Lake come up on my cell phone my heart would start to skip. But since the Dream Academy started in February I haven’t gotten a single call. In fact, I received a phone call from his teacher, she called to let me know how much Chislon had improved and how well he was behaving in class.
I really do appreciate his teacher and the administration’s support for my son, but the Dream Academy is something special.
The academic support Chislon receives is also very impactful. The teachers at the Dream Academy has created extra time and space to support him with math. He is getting to do some of it by himself now and you don’t have to help him do it step by step. Sometimes he comes home from school and he’s already done his math homework, if I don’t search, I won’t even know that he had math homework.
He really really loves Dream Academy so much, there’s no day he doesn’t tell me he’s looking forward to it. Tomorrow, April 6th, the current school quarter will end and we’ll find out about his grades. I am just so sure there will be improvement.
Chislon Njang, Testimony to the Montgomery County Council, April 5, 2017
Good evening, my name is Chislon Njang, and I fifth grade student at South Lake Elementary School.
When I first moved here last winter I didn’t understand the rules in my school so I was getting in trouble a lot – it was so different from the rules in Cameroon.
Before the Dream Academy started, I was getting trouble every single day, but now I don’t get in trouble anymore.
The staff and teachers at the Dream Academy help me focus and calm down when I want to act out. They remind me to be nice and let me know it’s ok to take a break outside of the classroom, and take deep breaths.
My favorite subjects are math and science. I like math because I’m good at it. It makes sense to me. And I feel confident when I’m doing something I know I’m good at. The teachers at the Dream Academy have helped me do better in the regular school classes.
Thank you for funding this program, I’ll be in middle school next year, but I hope you put more money in the budget for the program next year. I know it will help other kids. Also, I’d like to come back and visit.
On February 9th, over 600 people packed the sanctuary of Silver Spring United Methodist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland to stake a claim on the future of Montgomery County. Leaders from across the county gathered to take part in the event put on by Action in Montgomery (AIM) and the Montgomery Housing Alliance (MHA). The pews where full of leaders from elementary schools and the Amalgamated Transit Union, local churches and Islamic community centers, synagogues and retirement communities; a diverse group brought together to stand up for the constitutional and human rights of all people in Montgomery County and to launch AIM’s 2017 Listening Campaign.
AIM began the action by thanking the County Executive, County Council, Superintendent, and Police Chief for their bold leadership in making sure that Montgomery County residents are welcomed and treated fairly, regardless of faith or immigration status. Clergy assembled on stage to commit to stand in support of county officials in their continuing work to welcome, serve, educate and protect the safety of all residents regardless of changes to policy at the federal level, and promised to hold those officials accountable should that change.
As a part of this effort, 130 attendees committed to being a part of AIM’s Rapid Response Team, a group that will be trained and prepared for powerful action and resistance to counter Anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and racist incidents and actions.
The action was a time of celebration. Leaders came forward and provided news of AIM’s recent victories while also clearly laying out AIM’s Agenda for 2017.
Residents of Northwest Park shared the story of their victory seeking redress for deplorable conditions in their apartments. After a year of organizing to hold Kay Management accountable for the reoccurring mold and persistent problems with rodents, bed bugs, and cockroaches, tenants and AIM have won a number of improvements, the latest of which is a commitment from Kay Management to replace all 1,950 windows in the 800-unit complex over the next four years and overhaul their policy for preventing and remediating mold.
Principal Celeste King and student Dave Sob spoke about Dream Academy, the free, quality afterschool programming with parent organizing that AIM won for 240 students at two elementary schools with high poverty rates. Ms. King spoke of the program’s impact on her student body and shared AIM’s intention to expand Dream Academy to 4 new schools in FY18.
Shane Rock of Interfaith Works updated the assembly on AIM’s victories in affordable housing. AIM won an additional $51 million for the Housing Initiative Fund (HIF) for the 2017 budget, and in 2016, the HIF produced new 983 units and preserved 2,646 affordable units. Furthermore, AIM fought for 275 affordable housing units in the Westward redevelopment in Bethesda, MD. AIM reiterated its commitment to making Montgomery County welcoming to all by pushing for more affordable housing in 2017, calling for an increase in the HIF and a commitment to put affordable housing first on County Land.
Finally, AIM committed to working along side the Amalgamated Transit Union to fight for a Metro bus and rail system that works and is fair to riders and workers.
The action closed with leaders from each present institution coming forward to make a bold commitment to be part of AIM’s 2017 Listening Campaign. When the night was through, AIM leaders had committed to listening to over 3000 people, in conversations focused around the immediate needs of new executive orders surrounding immigration, as well as pertaining to AIM’s other long-term agenda issues.
The Listening Campaign will be kicked off by intercultural listening sessions at member institutions around the county with significant immigrant populations. These sessions will bring together a diverse group to have an inter-cultural conversation about the most pressing issues in their lives. The issues and leaders identified by these conversations will build AIM’s People’s Agenda for the 2018 election and identify our top campaign issues. It is the first step to build power and work for justice together in Montgomery County, and will put AIM and AIM’s agenda front and center in the 2018 election.
Groundbreaking for Good Hope Neighborhood Recreation Center!
December 12th, 2016 | By Mitti Hicks
Wonderful groundbreaking at Good Hope Community Center! The last of the four community centers in Historic African-American Communities to get renovations, this time with an arts focus from Strathmore. Thank you to County Executive Leggett, Councilmembers Berliner, Floreen, Elrich, Riemer, Leventhal, and Recreation Director Gabe Albornoz!
Newly Renovated Ross Boddy Community Center Reopens in Sandy Spring
November 7th, 2016 | By MyMCMedia Staff Writer
The ribbon cutting of the Ross Boddy Community Center, which AIM fought so hard to win. Thank you to County Executive Leggett, the Montgomery County Council, Recreation Director Gabe Albornoz, and everyone who helped transform this building from falling apart to state of the art.
Bethesda Downtown Plan Garners Public Support at Second Hearing
October 20, 2016 | By Douglas Tallman
The Bethesda Downtown Plan, which faced searing criticism from residents Tuesday night, received far more support Wednesday night during the second of three Montgomery County Council hearings on the land-use guide.
AIM leader Jane Lyder, who spoke about the need for affordable housing, was among those who testified. Read her testimony below.
Action in Montgomery Advocates for After School Programs
March 15, 2016 | By Willie James Inman
Over 200 people turned out for a meeting at Gaithersburg Elementary School on Monday night to discuss funding for the Child First after school program. Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman and Montgomery County Councilmember Sidney Katz attended the meeting to hear concerns from parents and advocates.
Child First is an initiative organized by AIM, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the Recreation Department that would provide affordable high quality access to after school programs for children in need.
Scotland’s Bette Thompson spent a lifetime fighting for her community, leading by example.
Potomac lost one of its most devoted community activists when lifelong Scotland resident Bette Thompson died last week. She was 80.
Thompson will be remembered for a lifetime of local activism, including her role in modernizing Scotland from an undeveloped rural patchwork of homes without running water, and her years-long effort to build a new community center in the neighborhood.
Bette Thompson, activist who helped transform black Md. enclave, dies at 80
Bette Thompson, an activist who helped transform the historically black Montgomery County enclave of Scotland, Md., from squalor and near-condemnation into a comfortable community for low- and moderate-income families, died Feb. 3 at her home there. She was 80.
Protesters hold rally outside District Heights gun shop
Tuesday morning, protesters in Maryland called on gun manufacturers and distributors to take action to prevent gun violence, part of what they called a “National Day of Action.” The group included many faith leaders.
They gathered across the street from Realco Guns. They said they chose the location because of a 2010 Washington Post investigation citing 18-years of police records that showed 86 guns sold by Realco had been linked to homicide cases. The report also found hundreds more guns sold by the shop were used in other violent crimes.
Gun safety advocates rally for distribution changes at Realco
Representatives from 40 civic and religious organizations gathered at the headquarters of Realco Guns on Tuesday to rally the gun industry to change their distribution practices.
The rally was part of the Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB) campaign and held as part of a nation-wide day of action on gun violence. Speakers concerned with gun violence in their communities called on the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the largest gun manufacturers in the country to release information about incentives, concerns or pressure they place on their major suppliers to upgrade their distribution practices, as well as any safety technologies they might be developing.