Monthly Archives: April 2013

The 2013 Spring College Tour

The Scholars take a silly photo at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Scholars take a silly photo at the University of Pittsburgh.

On April 1, 2013, fourteen 11th grade Scholars students and four FLOC staff set off on a five day journey to explore colleges and universities in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The adventure began in Philadelphia, where students had the opportunity to visit Temple University, (a favorite among the students), to tour the campus, and to meet and talk to a current FLOC postsecondary Scholar. After visiting Temple, the group traveled through blizzard-like conditions to visit Syracuse University, where students took a snowy tour of the campus and got a good taste of what life at Syracuse University might look like if they chose to go to there. From there, students traveled to Buffalo (again through a snow storm…in April), where they spent the evening exploring the wonders of Niagara Falls and the downtown Buffalo scene. The following day, the group took a tour of Buffalo University and then traveled on to SUNY Fredonia, where students continued to gain deeper understandings of the offerings of various types of schools and refine their conceptions of the types of schools that might match what they want for their own postsecondary experiences. After visiting Buffalo University and SUNY Fredonia, the group traveled to Pittsburgh, where they visited the University of Pittsburgh (another favorite among the Scholars students) and Carnegie Melon. The group rounded out their tour of schools with visits to Penn State Beaver and West Virginia University.

Brittany, a FLOC postsecondary Scholar, gave the other Scholars a tour of Temple's campus.

Brittany, a FLOC postsecondary Scholar, gave the other Scholars a tour of Temple’s campus.

Throughout their travels, Scholars students did formal and informal advising sessions with staff to reflect on what they were seeing and learning at each school. For many students, this was their first real and intentional tour of college campuses, and they found that by exploring multiple types of schools in a variety of contexts they were better able to conceptualize their “ideal” schools. Because of this exposure to many different colleges and universities, Scholars students solidified their understandings of what it takes to get into the colleges of their dreams, and they deepened their commitments to work toward this goal.

FLOC Scholars in front of Temple's Alumni Owl

FLOC Scholars in front of Temple’s Alumni Owl.

Equally as important as fueling students’ excitement about going to college and enhancing their commitment to strengthening their applications, the five day tour of colleges facilitated the cultivation of deeper relationships among the students. They bonded in ways that are only possible when people spend 24 hours a day for five days together. They strengthened their connections, found common ground in areas previously unknown, shared their thoughts/dreams/fears about college with each other and learned how to better support each other.

Each student and staff member walked away from this journey richer in knowledge about colleges, about application processes and about each other.

(Kelley Thompson is the Middle School Scholars Program Specialist at FLOC).

Join Us for the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon!

The Harpers Ferry Half Marathon is just around the corner on Saturday, May 11. Don’t miss one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country!

The 13.1 mile course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry. The route includes close to 1,000 feet of total elevation gain and 2,000 feet of total elevation change. Participants will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed, gravel paths and will be able view the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers. The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will. The fun and challenging downhill sections will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run. Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, and mountains will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line. To register for $50 before April 21, visit http://www.harpersferryhalf.org/Registration.html.  After April 21 the price increases to $55. A t-shirt, beverages, fruit, bagels, pizza, and a medal if you complete the half marathon are included in the registration fee. Join us after the race at River Riders to celebrate with music, food, and good company.

If you’re not up for an entire half marathon, join us for a 4-mile run! This course runs along gentle hills and trail/road mix through the lovely Harpers FerryNationalHistoricPark. The low price for this race is $25 if you sign up before April 21, and after the 21st the rate increases to $30.

Our FREE Kids One Mile Fun Run will begin later that morning at 11:00am. Encourage your children to join us in this exciting race along the beautiful Harpers FerryNational Park. No need to pre-register, just sign up from 9:00-10:45am on race day at River Riders (408 Alstadts Hill Rd, Harpers Ferry, WV).

Be sure to check out the website (http://www.harpersferryhalf.org/) for a detailed schedule and registration. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer please visit the volunteer page at http://www.harpersferryhalf.org/volunteers.html. A huge thank you goes out to the many sponsors who are making this race possible: Pediatric Dental Center of Frederick, Grafton Integrated Health Network, Bank of Charles Town, Panera Bread, Two Rivers Treads, River Riders, and PizzaCity. This event is directly connected to the Outdoor Education Center of FLOC as all the proceeds will benefit our cause along with another local nonprofit organization, Eastern Panhandle Indigo Children (EPIC). Join us Saturday, May 11 in Harpers Ferry to help support the OutdoorEducationCenter!

(Sarah Nowicki is an AmeriCorps Vista at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center).

FLOC’s Curriculum Focus Groups

Last week a small group of tutors participated in a focus group about the Neighborhood Tutoring Program’s Elementary Reading Curriculum. Tutors came together to discuss the strengths and weakness of the “Language!” program, as well as the “WordlyWise” and “Reading to Learn” Components. We are excited to begin making changes to the curriculum based on tutor suggestions for more fun activities, grammar guides, and writing resources. We are also looking to improve our curriculum tests.

It’s important to us to hear feedback from the people who use the curriculum most. We anticipate holding future focus groups to learn more about the Adolescent Reading Curriculum (Wilson), FLOC testing, and the new math curriculum.

Have feedback to provide on the curriculum? Let us know what you like or dislike. Contact the tutoring program’s Curriculum Coordinator, Kyla at kwasserman@floc.org.

(Kyla Wasserman is the Neighborhood Tutoring Program Curriculum Coordinator at FLOC).

A Huge Thank You to First Book DC!

It’s never too early to start thinking about the 7th Annual FLOC Book Festival! Luckily, First Book DC didn’t think so, either! FLOC is the recipient of a generous gift from First Book DC to purchase books from the organization’s online store. This is FLOC’s second grant from First Book to help us select books for FLOC students and families to take home to add to their own personal library.

First Book is a national organization that has local branches in many cities. The First Book DC Advisory Board raises funds locally in order to provide eligible programs high-quality, brand new books to distribute to the children they serve. Since 1992, the organization has provided more than 80 million new books to disadvantaged youth in thousands of communities nationwide. The DC Advisory Board works to promote and facilitate the distribution of new books to literacy programs in Washington, DC.

FLOC is grateful for the partnership with First Book DC so that our children and families can receive new books during the Book Festival. Although it is still a while off, this year’s Book Festival will be hosted at an offsite venue to accommodate more students and their families. Past events have included a story read by a local author, a guest speaker, arts and crafts, and an opportunity for students and families to select books that have been generously donated. Mark your calendar for this year’s event on Saturday, November 16th, 2013.

Thank you again to First Book for your generous support! We can’t wait to select books for our students to take home!

(Kate Fleischer is the Development Assistant at FLOC).

Career Shadow Experiences for High School Scholars

Sadiah, Meredith and Dominic at Maga Design.

Sadiah, Meredith and Dominic at Maga Design.

Do you love what you do?  Now’s the perfect time to share your passion for your job with a high school Scholar. Here at For Love of Children, we are working on putting together career shadow experiences for as many of our high school students as possible this spring and summer.

We have already been able to arrange a few very worthwhile experiences for students.  One 12th grade student, Alem, went with volunteer tutor Brian Persse to the Peace Corps Headquarters in DC and learned more about international humanitarian work.  Another two students, Sadiah and Dominic, accompanied tutor Meredith Kirchheimer to Maga Design in Adams Morgan.  As our high school Scholars approach graduation and begin to think about potential colleges and career paths, the chance for them to see different fields and careers firsthand is invaluable.  We would love to be able to provide this opportunity for every one of them, but we’re a little stuck on the following few careers/fields:

  • Journalism (preferably print)
  • Fashion merchandising
  • Art galleries
  • Music business
  • A judge
Brian and Alem at Peace Corps Headquarters.

Brian and Alem at Peace Corps Headquarters.

If you or anyone you know works in one of these fields or may have another helpful connection for us, we’d love to hear from you! There’s a lot of flexibility around what this experience could look like—the student could visit one person the whole time, check in with several staff members at different times, get a tour of the workplace and have lunch with someone(s) to discuss their career path, or something else entirely.  We’d work closely with you to put together the best plan for everyone.  If you think you could help us out, please email sdia@floc.org. We truly appreciate the time and energy you put in to making a difference in the lives of our students.

(Rachel Baxter is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Assistant at FLOC).

Meet Dylan from the OEC’s Leaders In Action Program

When I asked Dylan, a 6th grader at Harpers Ferry Middle School in our Leaders In Action program, why he enjoys attending our weekly program, he had many reasons: whether it was trying guacamole for the first time during our Global Connection Unit or learning what kind of leadership style pertains to him, he enjoys having the opportunity to experience new things. Dylan was especially surprised by his interest in our local government curriculum, a topic not taught in the Jefferson County School System.  Dylan said, “I actually found government to be interesting. Who knew?” He appreciated our hands-on activities that focused on differences between state and local government as well as the countries and continents discussed in our global connections unit.

Our next unit is Health and Gardening, and Dylan plans to get very involved in gardening at The OEC and possibly at home. He is very excited for his first overnight camp this summer at The Outdoor Education Center, where he’ll spend a week appreciating the outdoors and enjoying our adventure programs such as canoeing and zip-lining! Dylan is also looking forward to our Alternative Spring Break Trip this week to Charleston, WV, where he will be participating in multiple community service projects and visiting the West Virginia Capitol Building with thirteen other Leaders In Action students.

Dylan has dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.  We talked about how Leaders In Action might help him grow closer to reaching his ultimate goal. Our main conclusion was that our program helps Dylan focus on his teamwork skills through our hands-on activities, as well as learning vital leadership techniques that may assist him to become the team captain in high school and beyond.

Our Leaders In Action program helps each middle school student in a unique way. Fortunately, we have the ability to reach a variety of students and teach them critical life skills by providing them valuable experiences through hands-on activities.

(Sarah Nowicki is an AmeriCorps Vista at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center).