Corporal Betty Covington helps high school girls succeed at school, life

Betty Covington is a woman who wears many hats.

The more visible one is what she wears to work, as a newly-promoted corporal of the Baltimore City Schools Police Department.

"I love what I do. I cannot imagine doing another job," Covington said.

Another hat she dons that is not so visible but is no less important is the one as founder of GEMS, Girls Expecting More Success.

"I found myself arresting the same kids everyday and I said there has to be a solution. So I came up with a mentoring group."

GEMS is for any high school girl in Baltimore City and Covington operates the program out of Digital Harbor High school. She served as the officer there for 19 years before her promotion. She and her team work with girls on their academics and personal growth.

"She helped me with school so much," said 11th grader Egypt Williams. "10th grade was my best year!"

"It helped me with my attitude," said 11th grader Kaia Jones. "If I'm going through something, I can always talk to her. If I don't want to talk to my mom, I can talk to her."

GEMS also offers a free summer camp to girls ages nine through 12.

"That really helps keep the girls off the streets," said Covington. "We do math, reading and STEM as well as trips."

Her little GEMS look up to Covington as a role model, mentor and second mom.

"She's an inspirational lady. She's like a teacher, if you don't understand something she always has your back," said 11-year-old Salima Goode. "She's the one who pushes you to do your best."

"(GEMS) broke me out of my shell," said 9-year-old Kaylee Jones. "It teaches you about sisterhood and being social and being nice to each other."

It takes a lot of work to run GEMS on top of her everyday job, but Covington's colleagues say she finds the balance to make it work.

"She's just driven, she really wants to make a change, impact lives and empower the youth in Baltimore," said Cookie Colbert, VP of GEMS.

And Covington has no plans to slow down.

"I'm passionate about what I do and I'm in it until I'm gone," she said with a big smile.

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