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The Council of Elders has had a partnership with the Howard County Public School System since 2004. The goal of which is to create an environment in which African American students are recognized, supported, strengthened and empowered to meet and exceed high standards of academic excellence and student citizenship. At 10 Celebrations in December and January, the elders recognized 3,400 Black students in the county for high achievement during the 2014-2015 school year. To qualify, students had to earn A’s and B’s in all four quarters or on their final grades in their English or math classes, or achieved advance scores on the science portion of the Maryland State Assessment. One participant, the Black Student Achievement Program in Howard County schools, recently indicated that this type of program goes a long way toward closing the achievement gap as it encourages honorees to continue to achieve and set goals for other black students. Being recognized and participating in the celebration sets the stage for long-lasting feelings of accomplishment for our youth as they grow. Believing that education is the intergenerational transmission of the wisdom of the ancestors beginning with the original message from the Creator to our ancestors, we go to our elders for information, solace, guidance and support.

The Council of Elders (TCOE) is a circle of men and women of African-American or other African lineage in Howard County seeking to develop, strengthen, guide and advance the education and well-being of our community. The Education Committee of the Council works constantly to monitor student progress, and program growth.
For instance in 2016-2017 Celebrations of Achievement, The Council’s Education Committee, worked closely with school administrators and staff, set up 13 Celebrations in 6 schools for 3,920 students. Those who qualified were recognized, ranged from grades 4 through 9 distributed as follows:

High school  596 students; Middle school  2,073 students; and elementary school 1,251.

During 13 celebrations in 5 different school locations, students gathered, with beaming smiles and excitement to receive their certificates. When asked if they wished to come to the stage to sing a prayerful song of triumph, they grinned and clamored to reveal their pride in their African heritage by singing Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Parents were well represented as staff from every school. The Council of Elders members were held after the ceremonies as parents flooded members with gratitude, and to tell them how pleased they were with our efforts. 

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