BSA’s Crew Period finds some successes, still building the program


By: A. W. Taylor

In the 2021-2022 school year, a new period was added to the schedule at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The advisory period—known to BSA as the “crew” period—aimed to give students a space to debrief, talk about the challenges of life, and get to know their classmates better.

Editor’s Note: For the purpose of this article, the terms “advisory period” and “crew period” will be used interchangeably. 

According to the Baltimore City Public School System, the idea of the advisory period came out of the feeling of isolation students felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, BCPSS implemented some virtual activities in hopes of improving students’ social-emotional learning. 

But, when it came time for students to come back to school, City Schools realized that they had to redefine what schools and students would need.

To do this, they put in place their Reconnect, Restore, Reimagine plan, which outlined different strategies to accommodate student’s social and emotional needs, one of which was the advisory period. The plan stated that the advisory period would include “wellness activities, opportunities for individualized learning, and college and career exposure.”

“The year 2020 really peeled the layer off of what our students, teachers, and school communities value as necessary and important,” said Monique Crawley, an educational specialist at City Schools, in an email. She expressed that many students felt like they were missing a sense of community due to schools being closed. 

At BSA, the advisory period took the form of the crew period, a 36-minute period where students got together with their “crew,” a group of around 20 students from the same grade level, and two faculty advisors. 

In an email announcing crew to the student body, Thomas Askey, the assistant principal for academics at BSA, wrote that crew was a chance to “meet new adults, peers in other art areas, and build a community within a community.”

Ileana Imhoff, a Spanish teacher at BSA, recalls the introduction of crew being unclear. During those early days of crew Imhoff and fellow BSA teacher Jocelyn Providence volunteered to design the format and curriculum for the period. They helped develop announcements and guiding slides for advisors to use during the crew period. 

Imhoff, who has previous experience in advisory and crew-like activities, is an enthusiastic supporter of crew. She believes that students should have a space to talk about the happenings of the world, process moments of crisis, and a time to just “play.” She also enjoys guiding her group of students throughout their four years of high school.

Senior Brayden Hamilton, the vice president of BSA’s student government, enjoyed Crew when it was first introduced last year. She liked the opportunity it gave her to bond with other students. 

The crew period at BSA is not just used for bonding. The school administration, the student government, and other groups use the crew time to host all-school performances, town halls, assemblies, and other events of the like. 

Imhoff expressed that, while she hopes crew can be a time for students to connect to their peers and advisors, there is not much time to do that.  

“In reality it’s a very short period of time. We, I think this month, only had one meeting,” Imhoff said. “I think the building up or the cohesion of the curriculum or the values or the things that we want to do it’s just not there because I don’t remember when we saw crew last time, but it won’t be until maybe April or after spring break.”

Another criticism of the crew period is that it disrupts the schedule. In order to fit the crew period into BSA’s 10-period day, every period is shortened. Hamilton feels that this disturbance is hard on students.

“I feel like when we’re ripping and running that fast sometimes we could miss things or we could overlook things, and that’s not one hundred percent good for the student mind. So, I think we could slow down just a little bit sometimes,” expressed Hamilton.

Hamilton also believes that there should be set guidelines for crew, as she feels that the activities in each crew change from group to group. 

Imhoff also mentioned that there are differences between the crews, but she feels that this is natural.  

“Some teachers might want to be low key and do a homeroom kind of thing, like where everybody does their homework, others are more community-building oriented, others may be social justice or sports-oriented, so I think we always have these suggested activities, but it really is subjective because groups have to evolve in a way that feels organic,” said Imhoff.

Even though there are some students and staff that are skeptical about the crew, Imhoff believes that more people will buy into it. According to her, “Everybody should have somebody.”

To contact these writers email Muse Newspaper at

Photographs taken by Audrey Weiss for the BSA Muse.