Monthly Archives: May 2011

Celebrating Artistry of DC Youth

(Ashley Bradfield is a Program Instructor in the Scholars Program.)

Earlier this month, FLOC and Sitar Arts Center held their First Annual Open Mic Night. This project has been my “baby” at FLOC for the past several months and the entire week before I was anxious, nervous and excited for the event to finally happen!

With a total of around a dozen performances, from both FLOC and Sitar students alike, the audience heard everything from poetry to piano to dance. We even got to see a moving theatre piece performed by a group of FLOC students who had been working with George Washington University theatre students.

The stage was graced with a variety of talents, the audience was highly receptive, and I was proud to have been involved in bringing DC youth, parents, community members and organizations together to celebrate the incredible artistic talents that young people have to offer.

I was touched by the support of the FLOC and Sitar staff and am hopeful that the event will be a start of a powerful collaboration between two organizations that are bringing some of the most essential services and unique opportunities to DC-area youth.

I chose to share a spoken word piece that I wrote in reflection to my work at FLOC and would like to share it with the media world also as a taste of what we saw that evening.

The State of The Youth

Though I try as a might these feelings I just cant fight
As I rest my eyes in the night I’m wishing this was out of sight

Out of sight out of mind, I was scared I might be out of my own rhymes
Until I start to write what I feel about these sad times

Misunderstandings and disillusionment
That confuse everyone but the muse

The muse of a youth that cannot seem to compute what it means to just BE YOU.
Without fear, fear of going to school, actin’ a fool, makin sure you real cool.

See, once we start to rewrite the whole meaning of life
We eliminate the strife of making sure we get each move exactly right

Because the moves ain’t always smooth—sometimes you’ll lose.
But if you pull it together you may just be able to cruise……

Have a good job, and a nice house, a small dog, and a cute kid.
But what if?

This is all a myth…of what happiness truly is.

*Note: DVDs of the event will be available. Please contact me at abradfield@floc.org if you are interested.

Tutoring at FLOC: A Whole New World


(Wynsome Brown was a FLOC intern and tutor this spring. She attends Howard University.)

On my first day of tutoring, I have to admit I was a bit nervous; I had no idea what to expect. Well, I pretty much knew that I was going to be one-on-one with a student helping them improve their education and learning skills. I wasn’t sure of how the student would respond to me. I questioned my teaching skills, my listening skills, and whether or not I was going to be able to identify where and what the problem areas were and how to fix them.

On my first day, I was a substitute for another tutor. My student was an eight year-old boy named Kevin. I was told beforehand that he was extremely smart and a fast learner, which gave me some relief. But there still was one problem – I was slightly intimidated by the fact that his normal tutor had already developed a certain learning pattern that I wouldn’t be able to mimic. I didn’t want to interrupt his way of learning, or delay his progress.

Once I introduced myself to Kevin, all of my nervousness quickly disappeared. I started to remember why I love being around children. We started off slow but in no time things began to warm up. He was a fast learner and extremely smart for his age. I gave him permission to choose a game. We began to play UNO, and I started to notice that he had his own rules and regulations of the game. I continued to play, and I figured the object of his game was for me not to win. We had a blast! He never wanted to stop, but unfortunately for Kevin, we had to get some reading done. It was fortunate for me though, because I couldn’t take another losing game.

We began to read the Vacation in a Volcano, which Kevin had picked out. We read until it was time to wrap up. I really enjoyed myself and all my worries were completely gone by the end of the session.

The second time I tutored, I was looking forward to meeting my new student and was excited about building a relationship with him or her. Nenis is her name, and she is the sweetest eight year-old girl I’ve ever met. It was her first day, so I could sense a little shyness. We jumped right into learning games and she also displayed a lot of intelligence. As we got more and more into the game, that shyness quickly turned into excitement. She even told me, “That game was fun.” I was glad to see her smile; it just made more excited about our time together.

Tutoring at FLOC has opened my eyes to a whole new world. It has shown me that there are children in the community who really want to learn. I simply love children; they don’t judge, criticize, or intimidate. They are filled with joy and happiness, which goes a long way.

Fractions Rap

(Tutors are always trying to find interesting and fun ways to teach concepts to FLOC’s students! This fractions rap was written by Kristin Brady, a Thursday PM and Saturday AM tutor.)

I’ll teach you everything you need to know about fractions

Fractions Fractions

I’ll teach you everything you need to know about fractions

Fractions Fractions

Everything you need to know, I’ll rap it

I’ll teach you how to get rid of an improper fraction

I’ll teach you how to add and subtract

Then multiply and divide

Fraction-what’s that

Lights camera action

This is a rap I wrote about fractions

Multiply and divide, addition and subtraction

With addition and subtraction it’s pretty cool

Because for the both of them, you follow the same rule

If it’s improper you’re gonna have to change it to a mixed number

I’ll be the one to explain that

Improper is when the top number is bigger than the bottom

You gotta take the bottom and fit it into the top

Say the bottom is 4 and the top is 18

How many times does 4 fit in between

Well let’s see that’s 4 so take that 4

And write it big on the line

With 2 left over from the 18

Put that 2 on top of the 3—and wow, it’s that easy (easy)

Listen to this song and you’ll believe me

You look at the bottom of fraction one and fraction two

Then find the lowest number that they both go in to

You gotta be fair to both the bottom and top

So if you multiply the bottom then you gotta do the top

Then you can add or subtract

Just like that

Multiplication and division the same rules go

Naaaaaw sike-I’m just playin’ but I rap for real though

The first step requires a very special action

If you have a mixed number you gotta transform it into an improper fraction

The next step is easy as pie

‘Cross the bottom and the top

Then you simplify

Division’s gonna try and be all difficult

You gotta take the second fraction and find the reciprocal

Then multiply and simplify just like you did before

Now as fractions are concerned you know we are good to go

FLOC Scholars Share Their Dreams

(Kelley Thompson is a Program Specialist in FLOC’s Scholars Program.)

As part of the Scholars curriculum, students participate in activities, discussions and field trips that encourage them to think about their futures. Through Scholars programming all Scholars students, from 6th graders to postsecondary students, reflect on their present successes, achievements and choices and how these things impact their future directions. They share their dreams with each other and gain valuable insights from their peers and from FLOC staff about how to pursue these dreams. In their own words, here are some of the students’ dreams:

• I will work at Microsoft as a designer for video game graphics.
• My plans are to own my own business and own a go-go club. The way that I would come by this is to go to Clark University in Atlanta to obtain a degree in business management.
• I want to be a doctor or even a lawyer.
• I want to be a college graduate.
• I want to go to places I’ve never been before.
• I want to be a pediatrician and I want to serve the president.
• I want to go to Princeton, study abroad and get my Bachelors, Masters, and PhD.
• I want to make new types of technology, including making a robot/cybang.
• I want to model in New York, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo.
• I will enlist in the Air Force as an officer. I want to major in a technical degree. I want to help fly unmanned Air Crafts to save the lives of those pilots who could have lost their lives by being shot down or by a malfunction of the plane.
• After finishing college, I am hoping to become a successful businessman and open up my own architectural firm.
• I would love to travel around the world.
• I want to start an organization to help poor/ low income people find a way to get on their feet to start a new life.
• I would want world peace because without it, we would be in a worse situation. We probably would be in another world war: with peace we can stop the wars.
• I want to get straight As in school because I want to be somebody in life. And I want to go to college.
• I am going to Africa to build a school for the children.
• I plan to go to Harvard University, majoring in law and minoring in journalism. I want to become an attorney and I want to study family and criminal law.
• I want to become the ambassador to the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua.
• I want to prove to the people that looked down on me that I am someone in this world. I want to show them that even someone like me can do it and so can others.
• I want to follow in my father’s footsteps.
• I would like to be someone who can change the world. I would like to change the world because I do not like to see people by the wayside trying to make a living. So I would like to educate them so they would be able to take care of themselves.
• I want to have a degree in Criminal Justice. I want to reduce the percentage of crime in the community I live in.
• I want to liberate and unite Latin America.
• I want to go to MIT to study aerospace engineering and chemistry.
• I want to own my own auto shop.

The Scholars Program encourages thoughtful dialogue about creating, developing and pursuing these dreams. Further, it provides opportunities to explore many aspects of these dreams. To this end, high school juniors in the Scholars program went on a week-long college tour last week. They visited a wide variety of colleges and universities, including North Carolina A & T, University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Georgia, Clark-Atlanta University, Georgia State, Oglethorp University and Virginia Commonwealth University. FLOC Post-secondary Scholar Tierra King attends Virginia Commonwealth and gave the students a tour.

They spoke to students, admissions officers and other school officials. They explored campuses and different types of campus life. They learned more about what they want in their higher education institutions and what it will take to get there. And, importantly, they explored these things together, thereby cementing a powerful and valuable bond they share with each other.

Every day, Scholars students demonstrate that they are making the connections, building the skills and exploring the passions that help them pursue their dreams.

Environmental Education: Collaborating Across the State

(Rob Stull is the Outreach Coordinator for the Outdoor Education Center.)

The West Virginia Environmental Education Association (WVEEA) works to connect and unite environmental professionals, teachers, informal educators, professors, and interested others in order to collaborate on projects, discuss and disperse information, share research, and strengthen the environmental community in West Virginia. In addition to building strong networks within West Virginia’s boundaries, WVEEA connects West Virginia educators to the global community of environmental education through affiliation with the North American Association for Environmental Education.

According to WVEEA, Environmental Education (EE) increases public awareness and knowledge of ecological issues and challenges. EE enables people to gain an understanding of the physical world around them and how their individual actions affect the environment on local and global scales. EE fosters the skills one can use to weigh differing sides of an issue and become prepared to make informed decisions about consequential actions and lifestyles. EE also gives individuals a deeper knowledge and understanding of the environment, inspiring them to take personal responsibility for its preservation and restoration. 1

The Outdoor Education Center has been heavily involved with the development of WVEEA since its inception in 2006. Along with many other dedicated individuals and resource providers, OEC staff were successful with assisting in the development of WVEEA’s annual conferences. On March 25 and 26, WVEEA once again hosted another quality conference. This year’s theme was Engage, Excite and Explore —steering conference participants to many great sessions including Growing Up Wild, Mapmaking with Children, The Body Farm, and Alternative Energy in Education.

Of the nearly 100 attendees, many had tremendous things to say about the event. This year’s conference was hosted by Canaan Valley Institute and proved to be a perfect, natural setting for environmental educators to gather. Several attendees commented on the diversity of sessions, the natural beauty of the location and the quality of the keynote speaker—David Sobel, Director of the Center for Place Based Education at Antioch University.

For more information about the West Virginia Environmental Education Association, please visit their website at http://www.wveea.org

1 http://www.wveea.org

FLOC’s Fundraiser Luncheon Video

As part of a series of blog entries about For Love of Children’s Fifth Annual Fundraising Event, we wanted to show you a few video highlights.

-Scholars student Imani Charles gave opening remarks at the luncheon, detailing FLOC’s graduation rate statistics versus DC statistics. She was accepted into 12 colleges.

-Tutor John McCook and his Randle Highlands Elementary student, Ny’Kiah, interviewed each other and we learned that Ny’Kiah wants to be a senator when she grows up.

-Carl Cash is a parent to two Scholars students, and said how much it has made a positive difference in their lives.

-Unique Bexley, a FLOC alumna, talked about her experience at FLOC starting when she was 7 years old to her college graduation day.

A Different Approach to Fundraising

FLOC tutor John McCook, FLOC founder Fred Taylor, and former FLOC student Unique Bexley

(Ellie Haga is FLOC’s Executive Assistant and Development Associate.)

Before I started working at FLOC three years ago, I admit, fundraising was a foreign concept to me. I was a teacher and the only fundraising I did was soliciting my own parents for help with the cost of grad school on a teacher’s salary!

When I began working at FLOC, part of my job was to be a member of the fundraising team. Truth be told, I was terrified. When I thought about fundraising, all I could think of was hours of phone calls, knocking on people’s doors, and generally “bugging’ people for money.

Fast forward to today, and I see a very different picture. Fundraising is more about “friend raising” at FLOC. It’s about telling stories about the impact FLOC is having and then having people who genuinely want to give money, resources, or time do so.

FLOC just held its 5th Annual Fundraising event, “Beyond the Classroom: Redefining How Today’s Kids Become Tomorrow’s Leaders.” Yes, it was a fundraiser, but it was also so much more than that. It was the gathering of nearly 200 caring partners, donors, parents, volunteers, and families that listened to stories of inspiration and success. It was about inspiring people to be their best selves in their own communities, but mostly it was about FLOC’s kids. The event was truly inspirational, and I walked away more committed to FLOC’s mission than ever before.

Because of FLOC’s approach to telling stories and rousing action, I continue to come to work every day knowing I’m not going to have to convince people to donate money, but rather, just tell them what we’re doing to make a difference. People will choose the ways they want to get involved, and we’ll be there to make it happen.

While many other nonprofits continue to take a different approach to fundraising, at FLOC we’re content to continue in the tradition that Fred Taylor began more than 45 years ago. We’ll continue to tell our story and know that people will continue to feel inspired and find a way to give back.

To learn more about FLOC and our friendraising efforts – check out a FLOC 101 session! http://www.floc.org/get-involved/floc-101