KSDS Teacher and her Commitment to the Community
The following article was features in the December issue of JMore. Read the full article here.
“Paying it forward and multiplying the impact.” That’s Jodi Wahlberg’s credo in her role as director of bridges and community partnerships at Krieger Schechter Day School. A Stevenson mother of five and KSDS teacher for two decades, Wahlberg, 43, is tasked with coordinating community service projects for the student body.
“We really try to listen to what the community needs,” she says. “My role is to bring resources and opportunities to our school. We have a school full of families who want to make a difference.”
Projects include a pajama drive every winter with the Casey Cares Foundation that has collected nearly 300 new pairs of PJs for critically ill children, as well as asking students from each grade to bring in a food item for Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids. The latter is a nonprofit founded by former KSDS teacher Sandie Nagel with the goal of feeding food-insecure homeless children in Baltimore.
The students also help assemble the backpacks. “They see it all come together and put it into Sandie’s car,” says Wahlberg. “When you fill up a van with 300 lunches, it makes you realize how impactful you can be.”
Wahlberg also coordinates KSDS’s involvement with Jewish Volunteer Connection’s “Bunches of Lunches” program. Students’ families are asked to pack an extra lunch on particular school days, and volunteer parents deliver them to shelters identified by JVC.
“What’s exciting is we’re building a culture of service that can be replicated at other synagogues, schools, camps and programs,” says Wahlberg, noting that J Camps and Jewish and non-Jewish preschools have reached out to KSDS about replicating the project. “The impact is multiplied because another organization is doing it.”
For hands-on experience in the community, KSDS sixth-grade students participate in “Reading Buddies,” in which they visit Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in Reservoir Hill and read with kindergarten and first-grade students. “They go and see how they can make a difference,” Wahlberg says. “And they form relationships with their buddies all year long. It’s such a beautiful program.”
In a similar vein, seventh-grade KSDS students travel regularly to the Edward A. Myerberg Center and are partnered with seniors to create a digital portfolio of the latter’s life. “This teaches [seniors] about technology, while the students learn about history and the senior’s life,” Wahlberg says.
Middle school students also participate in a day of service annually with JVC around Thanksgiving, performing community service at such venues as the Baltimore Humane Society and Paul’s Place, which provides programs, support and services for individuals and families in Southwest Baltimore.
Wahlberg says she works closely with a team of colleagues to conceive and implement the community service projects at KSDS. But she also sees where this component of her job has ripple effects at home. For instance, her CPA husband, Dan, recently helped create a day of service at his firm, inspired by Wahlberg’s work at KSDS. In addition, their daughter, Hannah, 16, recently was selected for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program.
“I love this is part of my job because I want my life to be meaningful,” Wahlberg says. “So much of our tradition is about helping others in the community. I want to pass that on to my kids.”