Meet Our New Recruitment & Outreach Staff!

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know our new year-long staff these last few weeks.  To finish up the series, allow me to introduce the two new members of our Recruitment and Outreach team, who are working this year to connect the community to FLOC and to support both the Neighborhood Tutoring Program and the Scholars Program by ensuring enough students and volunteers to have full, active, and thriving programs.

Jackie2Jaqueline Castaneda (Bilingual Recruitment & Outreach Associate) was born and raised right here in Washington, DC.  She attended Michigan State University (#GoGreen) where she majored in psychology and worked as a preschool teacher.  After graduating last winter, she wanted to move back to DC to be near family and pursue graduate school, and that step brought her to FLOC this year as part of Public Allies.  Jackie is most excited to see programs in action after working behind the scenes her first month with FLOC to recruit and onboard lots and lots of new and returning students and volunteers.  She’s excited to see what all that hard work produces!

VanessaVanessa Hanible (Recruitment & Outreach Associate) joins us here in DC after growing up in New Boston, Michigan.  She attended Tennessee State University where she majored in public health.  She moved to DC after college to be near family and to move forward in her career.  Most recently, she worked as a Community Outreach Representative for Health Services for Children with Special Needs.  Vanessa also comes to FLOC as a Public Ally, and she’s most excited to watch the tutors and students interact in NTP this year.

(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)

Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Trust Falls, Chicken Nuggets, and Building Community: A Day at the OEC with Middle School Scholars

On October 13th, 2014, FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center (OEC) welcomed 23 MS OEC 3Middle School Scholars and four staff members to the scenic oasis in West Virginia. Students were greeted by four enthusiastic OEC staff members who led them through engaging low-ropes course activities and games.

As Scholars slowly grew accustomed to bugs native to West Virginia woods, they also learned more about each other and how to solve problems as a team. Students enjoyed the “Trust Fall” activity, which prepared students to listen and
trust each other, two important skills for the infamous high-ropes course in the afternoon. All of that trust building left Scholars famished, and they thoroughly
enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken nuggets, macaroni, salad, and fruit.

MS OEC trip 1After lunch, the students were delighted to make their way towards the high-ropes course. Some students had attended summer camp at the OEC in the past, and excitedly shared memories from zip-lining last summer with the new students. Once we arrived at the high ropes course, Scholars helped each other with their helmets and harnesses
as they received safety instructions.
Students could choose from three levels of difficulty on the high ropes course, and everyone encouraged one another to participate despite initial uncertainty.

One student, Paola, stated she was too scared to do the high ropes course during summer camp, but with her friend’s encouragement, decided to give it a try this time. Paola gracefully made it across the first portion of the ropes course, and flew down the zip line with an enormous smile as her peers cheered her on.

All of the Scholars did a great job overcoming their fears, supporting one another, and building community. Judging from the amount of snoring on the ride home, our Scholars had an action-packed and enjoyable escape from the city!

(Kayla Blau is the Scholars Program Instructor for 6th and 9th grade)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Staff

Meet Our New NTP Staff!

Last month, the Neighborhood Tutoring Program welcomed three new AmeriCorps members to the team. They will serve as the site coordinators for our programs for the school year. Here is a little bit more about each of them and what brought them to FLOC.

FeliseFelise Ortiz
(Tuesday reading at WNDC, Thursday math at FLOC)

Felise comes to us from New Jersey, where she graduated from Rutgers with degrees in Political Science and Gender Studies, with a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she looked into AmeriCorps programs because she wanted service experience to help her find her passion and direction for pursuing higher education. During her time studying Political Science, she developed an interest in educational justice, which brought her to FLOC (via Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps). She is excited to learn about non-profits and how they run. However, she is most looking forward to seeing the growth of the students over the course of the school year. Outside of FLOC, she is getting used to life in Washington, DC and wants to learn about all the different neighborhoods that DC has. She also wouldn’t mind a Barack Obama sighting.

TamaraeTamarae Hildebrandt

(Wednesday math at Tyler Elementary, Saturday math and reading at FLOC)

Tamarae is originally from Faribault, MN (about an hour south of Minneapolis-St. Paul) and graduated from Carleton College with degrees in German and Linguistics. This is her second year doing AmeriCorps; she spent last year working with the Minnesota Reading Corps. She is hoping to pursue an advanced degree in Linguistics next year so she has enjoyed having these gap years to learn more about different organizations. For her second year, she wanted to explore a new city and to take on more of a manager role with volunteers and students, which is what brought her to FLOC (also via Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps). She is most excited to meet all of the students and volunteers and see how all the different personalities come together. Outside of FLOC, she is looking forward to taking advantage of all the Smithsonian museums, specifically the Air and Space Museum.

Brandon2Brandon Scates

(Tuesday reading at FLOC, Thursday reading at Tubman Elementary, Saturday reading at SE Tennis and Learning Center)

Brandon joins us from Chicago, Illinois, where he graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in African American Studies. He focused his studies on Civil Rights organizations and leaders as well as Black Panther Party Survival programs. He is in second year with AmeriCorps, having spent last year with City Year at Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast DC. During his first year of service he realized that he has a passion for helping develop and mentor youth, so he decided to spend another year learning more about organizational development and coordinating programs for an education non-profit. This brought him to FLOC (via Public Allies). He is looking forward to learning more about the ins and outs of non-profit work; he hopes to one day run his own. He is eager to meet the students and volunteers and is excited to develop relationships with the members of his programs. Outside of FLOC, you can find him spending his time at Busboys and Poets or the MLK Library in Chinatown.

(Lauren Phipps is the NTP Curriculum Coordinator and site supervisor for our program on Tuesday nights at the WNDC.)

Scholars Program, Staff

Meet Our New Scholars Staff!

Every year, FLOC welcomes staff members from a variety of different programs, in a variety of different positions, for a year of service.  Today, we’re excited to introduce the new staff members in our Scholars Program.

kaylaKayla Blau is the Program Instructor for 6th and 9th Grade Scholars and is from Seattle, Washington.  She attended Seattle University and comes to FLOC through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  Kayla is excited about getting to know FLOC Scholars and helping them organize around issues they care about.


Jasmine Cornell is the Program Instructor for the 8th and 10th Grade Scholars and is from Los Angeles, California.  She attended Spelman College and comes to FLOC through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.  Jasmine is excited to get to know her Scholars.


Kurt Guenther is the Program Instructor for 7th and 11th Grade Scholars and is from Phoenix, Arizona.  He attended Gonzaga University and also comes to FLOC through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  Kurt is excited to see the growth of his Scholars throughout the school year.

ianIan McPherson is the Program Instructor for 12th Grade Scholars and is from
Whiteville, North Carolina.  He attended Campbell University and Saint Louis University and comes to FLOC through Discipleship Year.  Ian is excited to celebrate postsecondary acceptance letters.

Student Spotlight

Meet Samantha

SamanthaSamantha, 8, is in the fourth grade at Brightwood Elementary. She’s beginning her third year with the Tuesday night reading and Thursday night math programs at FLOC.

Samantha’s favorite subject in school is math, and she says FLOC has helped her learn to like math. Outside of school, Samantha likes to play tag and other games with her friends. She enjoys being in nature and likes to find worms and other insects outside. In her free time, Samantha likes drawing, painting, and other arts and crafts.

Samantha says that FLOC has “helped my reading a lot”. Asked to pick a favorite activity at FLOC, Samantha says there are “too many to chose from”.
Samantha loves to talk with other students and FLOC staff and is very eager to share her experiences with others. She never fails to put a smile on everyone’s faces. When she grows up, Samantha hopes to be either a doctor or a police officer.

(Benjamin Harris, a student at the George Washington University, was a volunteer tutor in the Thursday Night Math program in the spring of 2014.)