Tiffany Williams, a second-year student in the Master of Community Planning Program, was named the winner of the 2007 “Outstanding Student Leadership Award”, presented by the American Planning Association (APA) National Capital Area Chapter in November. Tiffany won the award on the basis of her Student Planning Association work and her pivotal role in a highly successful partnership between the University of Maryland and Norwood High School in Montgomery County.
The Norwood Project, entitled “Connecting Children to Community”: Community, Character, and Change”, began three years ago under the directorship of URSP faculty member Alex Chen. Dr. Chen worked with Norwood H.S. faculty on field survey protocols and curriculum material to involve the school’s students in studying recent revitalization efforts in the Wheaton, MD area, the community in which the high school is located. The project had three main objectives: 1) to involve the Norwood Students in the local planning process through their analysis of their community; 2) to provide students with a variety of skills to apply in community analysis, including survey design, interviewing, and Geographic Information System (GIS) and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) technology; and 3) to enhance community revitalization efforts through a University / high school partnership.
As Dr. Chen’s research assistant, Tiffany played a critical role in the project. She was the key person in developing the class materials used by the students. Specifically, she developed a set of class modules that introduced students to the concept of “community”, and trained them to do the following: conduct a community audit and in-person interviews with residents, business owners and service providers; prepare a “Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)” analysis; assess the impact of recent revitalization efforts on residential and business conditions in Wheaton; and prepare and present their study results to the Wheaton Redevelopment Agency. .