Redmond C. S. Finney and William Greene were visionary educators whose prescience and influence transformed Gilman. Finney, a Gilman class of 1947 graduate and longtime faculty member who served as headmaster from 1968 until 1992, is largely considered as one of the primary architects of integration at Gilman. In one of his early appointments as headmaster, he hired William Greene, Gilman’s first African-American faculty member.
Greene, who retired in 2001 as assistant headmaster, pushed the School to take crucial next steps to ensure that boys from high-poverty families and families of color would enroll and flourish as part of an inclusive Gilman community.
The new Finney-Greene Scholars program honors the legacy of these two Gilman greats in both name and intent. Thanks to the support of the France-Merrick Foundation, which gave a $1 million cornerstone gift to the First Things First campaign to establish the program, the School is able to provide young men from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds additional support throughout their educational journey at Gilman. The inaugural group of Finney-Greene Scholars formed at the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Plans are to grow the program from the first cohort of seven scholars to a full complement of 20 total scholars in the Middle and Upper Schools.
Finney-Greene Scholars are the caliber of young men whom Finney and Greene helped to shepherd through Gilman: boys with academic potential, grit, and commitment; boys with strong character and an interest in school community contributions; and boys with an apparent gap between prior experience and the demands of a Gilman education. These boys are capable young men who have a record of academic success, exhibit exemplary character, and moral traits, and possess unique or special talents.
Finney-Greene Scholars receive supplementary academic support through an additional layer of adult guidance provided by Upper School English and history teacher Michael Molina, who directs the Upper School program, and Middle School Dean of Students Eric Marner, who leads the Middle School program. Scholars also receive financial assistance for those costs not related to tuition and not covered by the School’s financial aid program, ensuring these boys have open access to the School’s full academic, athletic, artistic, and social programs.
The first cohort of scholars is thriving. “These are boys who excel academically, as well as in sports and music co-curricular activities,” says Molina. “They serve as mentors to younger students, have already built strong relationships with peers and teachers, and hold themselves to high standards as members of Gilman’s community.” The scholars promise to contribute greatly to the intellectual and academic, athletic, and artistic environment at Gilman:
One scholar travels to Gilman each day from Aberdeen, Md., and has committed his full attention to varsity football and wrestling and to his studies, working hard to meet the significant uptick in academic expectation from his public middle school.
A competitive chess player and youth mixed-martial artist, another scholar is an “infectiously enthusiastic presence” who is deeply invested in his own academic success. He also is mentoring and tutoring a third-grade student.
This scholar, whose older brothers attended Gilman, played the family sport of baseball, and chose a new athletic path, making varsity on a highly competitive Gilman soccer team.
Another scholar comes to Gilman only two years after immigrating from China; he succeeds academically despite challenges with both spoken and written English and unfamiliarity with the subtle idiosyncrasies of American culture and the English language. He also runs cross country.
One scholar is a gifted musician, a natural trombone player, who joined the Drum Line, the Middlemen, the Middle Ts, the Jazz Band, and the Concert Band, while continuing to participate in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra OrchKids program.
This scholar has hit the ground running as if he had attended Gilman since kindergarten. He has made friends quickly and immersed himself into the community by joining the band and the football team. He approaches each day with visible appreciation for his opportunities and his surroundings.
And this scholar is very reserved, possessing a quiet demeanor that belies the fact that he is perhaps the best basketball player Gilman has seen in the last two decades or so. His focus is academics, and he is determined to make the best of his time at Gilman.
Molina says that their peers regard them as engaged, enthusiastic, and respectful. The boys set a high bar for those who follow them into the Finney-Greene Scholars program as the second cohort next school year. The program provides each scholar with extra resources he may need to overcome obstacles to fully participate and thrive at Gilman, to become his best self, to explore and fulfill his own talents, and to reach his potential within an inclusive, supportive community.