Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

How One West Baltimore Principal Is Helping Her Students Make Sense Of It All

Crystal Harden-Lindsey, 35, is the principal of Green Street Academy in West Baltimore.
Shereen Marisol Meraji NPR
Crystal Harden-Lindsey, 35, is the principal of Green Street Academy in West Baltimore.

Editor's note: Code Switch reporter Shereen Marisol Meraji is spending the day with a West Baltimore principal who's charged with a huge task today: helping her middle and high school students, who are overwhelmingly poor and black, make sense of what's happening in Baltimore right now. We'll be updating the post over the course of the day.

Part One

It's 7:12 a.m. on Wednesday morning and Crystal Harden-Lindsey rolls into the parking lot of Green Street Academy in West Baltimore, which she's headed since 2012. Today is a big day: school's back in session after shutting down all day yesterday in the face of protests and unrest. Harden-Lindsey, who's 35 and grew up in East Baltimore, knows her kids are going to have lots of questions; a few of them were texting with her yesterday, sending her their cell phone videos of the looted stores and burned buildings.

It helps that she knows where they're coming from. Harden-Lindsey has roots in this city. She grew up across town, right around North Rose and East Monument Streets. Her grandmother lives right by Southern Baptist Church, near the senior center that was engulfed in flames on Monday. And throughout her life she's been no stranger to violence. When she was just a kid, she recalls seeing a dead body in the street. It's nothing new, and this sort of violence still breaks her heart, she says.


But on a day like today, it's all about looking forward.

"If we can get today under control, we'll be okay until Friday," Harden-Lindsey says. On Friday, the Baltimore Police Department is expected to release the findings of its investigation into Gray's death, according to the Baltimore Sun. Depending on what those findings say, the weekend could be fairly quiet or embroiled in further protests.

Stay tuned for the next dispatch from Green Street Academy.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit