Sharon Buie (Board President, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) is the parent of a current fourth grader. She works for the Baltimore City Parks and Recreation Department, and she has a background in human services, recreation management, and counseling and treatment services. As a parent, community member and advocate for families, she is “fully vested in the betterment of all collectively and individually.” She is a neighbor and friend to Park Heights, and she has volunteered at a number of events both in the Park Heights community and at Creative City. She lists her skills and interests as positive communication, grant writing, the outdoors, active listening to the concerns of her community, and resource development.
Brandon Johnson: (Board Vice President, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student, Resident of Park Heights) Brandon is parent to one current student, a third grader, and a resident of Park Heights. He is an active volunteer at Creative City, and is committed to improving outcomes for children. He is a critical thinker with excellent communication and problem-solving skills. Brandon works in security, protecting assets, and he is eager to protect our children’s greatest asset, their futures. As a Board member, he is interested in serving on the Governance, Hiring, and Teaching and Learning Committees.
Aimee Harmon-Darrow (Board Treasurer, Founder, Parent/Legal guardian/Family member of a current student) Aimee is a founding parent of Creative City, and she served on the Board prior to the school’s opening and has served as chair or co-chair of the Facilities Committee since before the school received its charter. Her fifth grader has attended the school since it opened, and her younger child is a kindergartner. Aimee has worked to establish relationships with various Park Heights organizations, including Park Heights Renaissance and the Park Heights Community Health Association. She is skilled in outreach and organizing and is keenly interested in ensuring our school’s success through our current contract and into our next renewal. She is also interested in continuing to work on our eventual expansion to the middle grades. Aimee works as a Financial Analyst with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and she has served on various nonprofit boards in the past. As a member of the Board at Creative City, Aimee intends to continue to serve on the Facilities Committee as well as participate in the Outreach Committee.
Julie S. (Board Secretary, Parent/Legal guardian/Family member of a current student)
Julie is the parent of third graders who have been attending Creative City since kindergarten. During that time, she has been part of the School Village Association and has volunteered in her sons’ classrooms and at other school-related events, including serving as a Den Leader for Boy Scouts. Julie appreciates the school’s sense of community and is interested in joining the Board to help the school continue its mission. She has a background in writing and substantive editing, development, and communications, and she is familiar with grant-writing and has helped implement fundraising campaigns. Julie has experience in both print and electronic publications, and has worked on social media plans and content for nonprofits. As a Board member, Julie anticipates being most closely involved with the Finance Committee.
Tammie Szafran (Founder, Former Board Officer, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) works as a Paralegal Specialist in the Appellate Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), supporting post-conviction and collateral litigation in criminal court. Since joining PDS in 2003, she has been responsible for training development and implementation, providing direct client services, and supporting litigation on systemic criminal justice issues affecting low income and minority populations. She has also recently worked as a volunteer attorney with Catholic Charities, providing pro bono legal services to low income and indigent immigrants. Tammie earned her B.A. in psychology with a minor in visual arts from Boston University and her J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She is a member of both the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.
Abdul Sissoko (Former Board Officer, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) is a parent of three children, one of which is a Creative City student. He manages the Patterson Park Branch of M&T Bank. In his current position, Abdul is responsible for hiring, developing employees, and promoting the Bank's presence within the community. In addition to his work at Creative City, Abdul also serves on the board of The Malian Community Association of Baltimore as Vice President. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Graves School of Business and Management Honors Program at Morgan State University and his MBA at Loyola University of Maryland.
Michael Klima (Former Board Officer, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) is a lighting designer for opera and theatre and is deeply committed to integrating the arts into our school’s educational experience. He has spent twenty-five years in various roles in the entertainment industry. He holds an M.F.A. in Theatrical Design from Brandeis University and a B.A. in Technical Theatre from Appalachian State University. From 2008 until 2018 he worked as a part-time faculty member for Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts where he has enjoyed guiding students—through the reading and viewing of plays—to look at the lives of various characters with empathy, understanding, and acceptance, ideas he feels appropriate for any grade level. He is now full time at Coppin State University. Michael has taught theatre history and design courses to department majors, as well as introduction to theatre and introduction to theatrical design courses to the general student population. He has served on the executive committee of his neighborhood association (Abell Improvement Association) for over ten years in roles that have ranged from president to committee chair to member-at-large. Michael is also the proud parent of a student at Creative City Public Charter School.
Marisa Canino (Executive Director, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) has a passion for service, a commitment to seeing Baltimore City and its residents thrive, and a demonstrated track record in fundraising and nonprofit management. She has shown her commitment to the Baltimore community for 15 years through her professional and volunteer work with nonprofits serving Baltimore families. In her 11 years at Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, she progressively served as Development Director, Deputy Director, and Chief Operation Officer, garnering resources of up to $12 million annually, and managing programs that enabled more than 100 low-income families to purchase safe, decent, affordable homes of their own.
Her volunteer experience, most notably, includes her oversight of the community effort to rebuild the playground at Stadium Place from the ground up with hundreds of volunteers after an act of arson in 2008.
Marisa holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Franklin & Marshall College, and a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University.
A mother of three, Marisa is also passionate about education and the opportunity for parents to be able to choose the school that is best for their child. She was a parent-founder at Creative City for two years before a broad search led to her being hired in the role of Executive Director.
Traci Johnson Mathena (Principal) joined Creative City as its Principal on July 20th, 2015. Prior to joining our school, she served as an assistant principal at Towson Law and Public Policy High School in Baltimore County (2009-2015). During her tenure, she supervised various academic departments as well as the school’s Student Support services, Special Education Department, Student Activities programs and the Testing Program. She also developed the Academic Commitment Creates Empowered Successful Students (ACCESS) Program, an after-school academic intervention where teachers, peer tutors and university students worked with struggling learners.
Traci has been an urban educator for over 20 years. She started as a teacher in 1994 after working as a metropolitan reporter for the Baltimore Sun for six years. In Baltimore City, she worked at her alma mater Western High School (Class of ‘88) and Canton Middle School. She was a teacher and Language Arts Department Chairman at Dumbarton Middle School in Baltimore County for eight years before joining the Towson High School administrative team. Her appointment to Creative City returns Traci to the Park Heights area where she was raised.
Since 1995, Traci has written curriculum for both Baltimore City and Baltimore County public school systems, mentored teachers, led professional development seminars about Differentiated Instruction, and taught graduate courses in education for Towson University and, most recently, the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
Traci is a National Board Certified Teacher of English Language Arts/Early Adolescence and earned her master’s degree in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame University of Maryland. She is the proud alumna of University of Maryland College Park and the even more proud parent of a current Terrapin, a Linguistics and Psychology major who will graduate in 2017.
John Rhodes (Founder) is the Director of Technology Systems and Services at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from MICA. He has worked at MICA for over fifteen years and manages a team of technicians and other staff that support a variety of technologies across the campus. These includes the Help Desk, the Digital Print Lab, AV checkout services, smart classrooms, and all of the campus’s over 2,000 administrative and academic computers. He provides leadership and direction for campus technology purchases and collaborates on the technology and infrastructure components of new and renovated campus spaces.
John is also a community organizer who has been active on board and committees of neighborhood-based organizations in northeast Baltimore City. Under his leadership as the neighborhood association president of Hamilton Hills, he brought in public and private resources for a variety of neighborhood beautification projects. He currently resides in northeast Baltimore along with his wife Julie Lin, a CCPCS founder, raising their two children.
Veronica White (Former Board Officer, Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a degree in Human Services. She has been employed at Sinai Hospital since 1987 and is currently a Vocational Specialist II in the VSP department. She provides vocational counseling for a caseload of 150+ individuals, 85% of whom are diagnosed with some form of disabling condition. She also provides services for the staff and family members of staff upon request. During her tenure with Sinai Hospital, she has assisted with a variety of staff positions while maintaining her caseload. These other staff positions include maintaining an additional caseload of thirteen individuals at any given time for specialized work training, Job Development & Job Placement, and Project Management; overseeing several multi-million dollar federal and state contracts.
Veronica oversees the Children’s Ministry at her place of worship, a position that she has held for the past 10 years. Prior to that she taught Sunday School for more than 10 years. Veronica has always been involved with children. She was a Girl Scout Leader just after graduating High School and a Cub Scout leader in her early twenties. Currently the current Lead Girl Scout Leader at Creative City Public Charter School she oversees four volunteers and 32 girls. She is also the Pack Committee Chair for the Cub Scout Troop at the school.
In 2005, Veronica became a Foster Care parent for the City of Baltimore. She has fostered several children. She is the also the proud parent of a son, who is a Cub Scout leader at CCPCS, and an adopted daughter who is an attending student.
Benjamin Jancewicz (Parent/Legal Guardian/Family Member of Current Student) is the parent of two current students, a fourth grader and a fifth grader. He is interested in contributing positively to the growth of Creative City and says, “Education quality and treating children of all backgrounds in ways that will help them is very important to me.” Benjamin is a graphic designer who splits his time between his artwork and social activism. His activist work is centered on issues like jail reform, police brutality, minimum wage increase, and housing rights. He is also a former art teacher with a technological bent. This past year, Benjamin participated in the book club on racial justice, and he plans to continue doing so next year. Benjamin is originally from Northern Quebec, and he and his wife settled here in Baltimore after falling in love with the city.
Samantha Ritwo (Faculty Representative) is a 5th grade teacher here at Creative City. This is Ms. Ritwo's second year with Creative City and fifth year as an upper-elementary teacher in Baltimore City. A Maryland native, Ms. Ritwo graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Writing Seminars & History before entering the Baltimore City Teaching Residency to eventually earn her Standard Professional I Teaching Certificate. Ms. Ritwo returned to school to obtain her Master of Science in Elementary Educational Studies from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and is currently pursuing a part-time Master of Business Administration from the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. At Creative City, Ms. Ritwo also serves as a mentor teacher for newer staff and developed the Place-Based Arts-Integrated Trimester projects for the 4/5 Enterprise Team.
Barry Norman Jr (Faculty Representative) is part of our REST team here at Creative City. This is Mr.Barry’s second year with Creative City.Mr.Barry was the former Unit Director at the Boys and Girls Club location in Towanda Recreation Center.. He is interested in contributing to the growth of Creative City and the Park Heights Community. He is the owner and operator of Charm City School of Self-Defense, a community based martial arts program that holds class at Creative City.