About J.D. 

John David (J.D). Merrill was born and raised in Baltimore City, in the Wyndhurst neighborhood.  J.D.’s father, John, was deeply involved in negotiations on behalf of the musician’s union, first winning substantial contractual improvements, and then working to minimize the deterioration of wages and working conditions during the Great Recession. It was the power of organized labor that afforded J.D.’s family the financial security and resources they needed to provide a strong foundation for their kids.

 

J.D. went to Roland Park Elementary, the Gilman School, and Baltimore City College, where he was inspired by his teachers to become a public school teacher. After graduating from Davidson College where he studied Education Policy, he came back to Baltimore through the Teach for America program and landed right back at his alma mater, teaching high school social studies at City. He quickly became a favorite teacher among students and earned a reputation as both an engaging educator in the classroom and a mentor outside of it. Many of his students were so deeply impacted by their relationship with “Mr. Merrill,” that they’re now devoting their own time and energy to volunteering on the campaign.

 

J.D. also earned a reputation for being a hard-worker and problem-solver. One student remarked, “If something in the school needed to happen, everyone knew to go to Mr. Merrill to get it done.” After his first year teaching, Baltimore City Public Schools offered a $300,000 grant to the school to rehabilitate the library, which had been deemed unusable. The grant would repair the holes in the floor and install wireless internet. J.D. had bigger plans - he saw how the grant from the city could be leveraged into a larger fundraising opportunity that could make serious improvements to the library. J.D. took charge and led the fundraising and project management for a new library. Just 18 months later, J.D. had helped raise $2.2 million dollars for the library and supported its design, construction, and opening. The new space included three peer tutoring centers, college-level resources, and space for students to engage in independent and collaborative work. One year after the new library opened student achievement on the toughest research assignments at the school increased by 158%.

 

As a teacher at Baltimore City College J.D. was also tasked with spearheading recruitment efforts at local middle schools. One day, while giving his recruitment pitch at Collington Square Elementary/Middle School, a young man in the back raised his hand and said, “City College is clearly a great school, and I'd love to go there, but I don’t stand a chance of getting in. But don’t I deserve a great school too?” This question -- and the belief that every child deserves access to an excellent education -- led J.D. from the classroom at City College to the district office on North Avenue, where he sought to leverage what he learned at City College to bring change to schools across the city. At North Ave, J.D. quickly became a trusted partner to those both inside and outside of the school system. But shortly after he arrived at the district office, the district realized a structural budget gap of one hundred and thirty million dollars -- a structural budget gap that led to fewer resources, not more. Recognizing that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that every child has access to an excellent education falls on the state, J.D. decided to step up to run for State Senate. Now he’s fighting for every child and every family to get the resources they need to thrive.

 

J.D. and his wife Grace live in the Wyndhurst neighborhood in North Baltimore with their energetic dog, Mila.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

Education

  • Homeschooled (K)

  • Roland Park Elementary (1-3)

  • The Gilman School (4-8)

  • Baltimore City College (9-12)

  • Davidson College (BA in Educational Policy Studies)

  • Johns Hopkins University (MS in Educational Studies)

  • Johns Hopkins University (Graduate Certificate in School Administration & Supervision)

 

Work Experience

  • Social Studies Teacher, Baltimore City College, Baltimore City Public Schools

  • Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Baltimore City Public Schools

 

Personal

  • Parents played in Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

  • Wife is a former Baltimore City Public School teacher

  • Lives in Wyndhurst, one block from childhood home

  • Member of Stony Run Friends Meeting

Authority: Friends of J.D. Merrill, Josh K. Russakis, Treasurer.

P.O. Box 5685, Baltimore, MD 21210