Bilal and Shepard are separated by 46 years, but both are in the process of evolving.
Since Shepard is remaining in Baltimore, she'll have to walk a fine line. She'll have to detach emotionally, even though her friends are still employed at the school and accustomed to taking their problems to her. Neither does she want to undermine the new director.
"I'll have to keep my distance," she said.
Like a house, a job can be a place to live, providing shelter and sustenance. Recently, Shepard and her friends have talked about how to find the ideal structure: not so vast that it requires constant maintenance or so small that it's cramped.
"We're all worried about Leslie," TWIGS coordinator Georgia King said. "How does someone go overnight from a job that's too big to nothing? We don't have an answer for that yet."
Shepard has spent three decades helping other people achieve their dreams, and her staff wants her to know that now it's her turn. So they sneaked into her office during the last week of school and attached white paper flowers to every surface from her computer monitor to her stapler.
Shepard appreciates the display of affection and concern but is sure she'll be fine.
"I don't think I'm going to get depressed," she said. "I do think I'll go through a period of grieving. But I will continue to work, most likely in the arts.
"Though I don't know what I'll be doing yet, this is my time for exploration."
Who: Leslie Shepard
Title: Director, Baltimore School for the Arts
Birthplace: New York
Education: Bachelor's degree in Spanish, 1969, Lake Forest College, Chicago; master's in community planning in social work, 1974, University of Maryland School of Social Work at Baltimore
Note: In an earlier version of this article, information about Leslie Shepard's master's degree was incorrect. The Sun regrets the error.
Awards: Honorary doctorate in fine arts, 2011, Maryland Institute, College of Art
Accomplishments: Spearheaded $30 million building and renovation campaign that in 2008 added 29,000 square feet of classroom and studio space
Personal: Has two younger brothers
The school by the numbers:
Ranking: Named one of the five best public arts high schools in the U.S. by the Doris Duke and Surdna foundations
Residence: 75% live in Baltimore
Racial makeup: 56% black; 36% white; 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic; 1% other
Gender: 60% female; 40% male
Receiving free lunch: 35.3%
Graduation rate: 99%
Percentage entering college: 89% attending four-year schools, 5% 2-year schools