Daily Point of Light # 3096 Dec 16, 2005

Barbara Marker is a very active woman at Northwood Presbyterian Church and in her community of Silver Spring, Maryland. In spite of such a busy schedule, she still allotted time to tutor a student at Northwood Pathways School from October 2004 through June 2005, for one hour per week. She had no prior experience teaching or tutoring, but pulled upon the experiences of mothering and nurturing her own children.

The Principal, Laurie Mical, assigned Marker to tutor an at risk student one-on-one in reading. Though this student may have difficulties stringing enough words together in order to form a sentence, Marker believed she could reach this student anyhow. Marker believes you should bloom where you are planted, which means to make the best of a situation. Her mothering skills and sense of presence connected with the student, who in turn felt cared for. As a result, the student shared feelings of hurt and frustrations with Marker. The tutoring sessions almost developed into counseling sessions and formed a relationship of trust. The student’s self-esteem and self-worth grew.

Marker worked one-on-one with a student unable to read. She developed a trusting rapport with the student and got a good understanding of the complexity that special education can bring. Marker was willing to try a variety of approaches and techniques in order to best reach the student and meet her needs. In addition, Marker consulted with the speech therapist for suggestions and materials. This was extremely valuable and supplemented the speech goals well. Marker interacted professionally with all other staff and students that were in the building.

An opportunity for the relationship between Marker and the student grew out of a vision many years ago, and her interface with the student lived out that vision. In 1982, through relationship with a small school for children with emotional disabilities housed in their building, members of Northwood Presbyterian Church responded to a need and sought to develop a school that would meet not only the academic goals of these children, but would also provide a therapeutic environment in which they would grow and learn. Thus was born the Pathways Center, which later became The Pathways Schools as more and diverse needs were identified which required the varied programming that characterizes Pathways today.

The Pathways Schools, a nonpublic, nonprofit institution, is sponsored by Northwood Presbyterian Church and is supported by Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church. Students with emotional disabilities, regardless of gender, race or religious affiliation, may attend The Pathways Schools. Having grown from 80 to 150 students, Pathways now operates six school programs in Maryland’s Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Anne Arundel Counties. The programs are tailored to meet the specific needs of each child, whether those are challenging academics, vocational preparation, life skills instruction, or support facilitating a transition into public school. The schools are small, success-oriented settings staffed by an array of highly qualified professionals.