“At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu
A few weeks ago, the 7th Grade Scholars spent the evening identifying their personal strengths and weaknesses. After doing so, I told them to cross out the word “weakness” and replace it with “areas of growth” in order to encourage their ability to change.
Self-awareness is a skill students do not always have the opportunity of exploring on a day-to-day basis. One of the blessings for me at FLOC is to be able to see students express themselves and their personal interests. Whether it is talking to a student one-on-one or facilitating a strengths/weakness exercise, seeing the authenticity of students offers great inspiration.
I was impressed with the students’ self-awareness and transparency regarding areas in their life where they may struggle and in the places they know they thrive. It is so important for our students to become more self-aware at such a young age, so they are able to know the places in their lives in which they can thrive and grow.
(Kurt Guenther is a Scholars Program Instructor for 7th and 11th grade.)
Nicole, 10, is in the 5th grade at Capital City Public Charter School. This is her third year at FLOC, and this year she’s in Tuesday night program for reading and Thursday night program for math. Nicole loves the environment at FLOC, and she is always excited to be here. Nicole’s says that FLOC has helped her a lot in reading and math and that she now reads all the time and loves solving math problems. When asked what her favorite thing about FLOC was, she gave a whole list instead, which included FLOC giving away presents for the holidays, chocolates for Valentine’s Day, end of the year fiestas, and the FLOC store.
Outside of FLOC, Nicole enjoys reading, playing games, taking tests, sticking stickers, learning gymnastics, and, last but not least, cheerleading. Nicole’s bubbly personality is irresistible, and she is always eager to talk with others about what she is doing and learning at FLOC. She hopes to continue to improve in reading and math, as well as gymnastics, throughout the year.
(Jaqueline Castaneda is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate.)
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaign in the world. Over the past fifty years, the CFC has raised $7 billion to help neighbors in need around the corner, across the nation and throughout the world. The Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area (CFCNCA) is the local campaign for federal employees in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Last year, the CFCNCA raised $51 million for charities in our community.
Throughout the campaign season, FLOC is invited to several charity fairs throughout the metropolitan area hosted by different government agencies. These fairs attract hundreds of government employees where we can share our stories with others. It’s a great opportunity to not only gain new supporters but to connect with others in the community.
Many of our volunteers work for the federal government and contribute to FLOC through the campaign. John Connolly, a seasoned federal employee and Tuesday night NTP tutor, says “contributing to FLOC through payroll deduction is an easy and automatic way (like paying taxes or health premiums) to support FLOC financially, in addition to the joy of supporting DC youth as a tutor. I view these as complementary ways to contribute to supporting FLOC’s critical mission of providing one-on-one tutoring and support to underprivileged DC students needing a little extra personal help in attaining grade level in school or in applying to college.”
FLOC is extremely grateful to John and the many others who choose us as their charity of choice for the Combined Federal Campaign. The campaign runs from September 1 to December 15. To donate, you can simply visit the donation page on the CFC website. FLOC’s CFC member number is 72093.
(Kate Fleischer is the Development Assistant.)
There are many reasons why our students progress as much as they do here at FLOC’s Neighborhood Tutoring Program. Some attribute their success to their amazing tutors who work tirelessly to ensure their students are able to master the concepts they are learning at FLOC. Others are motivated by the idea of getting to college and they realize that the harder they work at FLOC, the closer they will be to attaining their dreams. There are others for whom those aforementioned motivators hold meaning, but they still need something else to get them going.
This is why FLOC has established the FLOC Incentive Store. At several points during the school year, the FLOC staff stocks up on inexpensive items at Target or Five Below that students might like as an incentive. During program, students are able to earn 0-3 stars from their tutors at every session based on their academic progress and behavior. Students can then exchange their stars every two weeks for an item at the FLOC Store. Our store has been very popular because not only can students get small incentives for their work every two weeks, but they can also put larger items on “layaway” until they have accumulated the necessary stars to win the item of their choice.
This brings us to Delchristoff: one of our more energetic students in the Saturday Math program who has been with FLOC for a few years now. He is excited about our program and the opportunity to meet new staff and tutors each year. Last fall, he met Jason Aiken, a new tutor with FLOC, and they have been inseparable ever since. This year, they have been working on Regrouping with Subtraction so that Delchristoff can gain mastery of this concept.
Last Saturday, Delchristoff came to store with 4 stars. He noticed that we had a new item in our store that he really wanted – a Redskins hoop set – valued at 40 stars, so he asked me to put it on layaway for him to purchase in December. Although it seemed unlikely that he would be able to earn 36 stars in the next 4 sessions, I asked him what he needed to do in order to get the necessary stars for the set. He told me that all he needs to work on is sitting on his chair – more specifically he needs to sit still and do all of his work. Jason, his tutor, laughed and agreed. It seems that Delchristoff gets very animated when working on Math and he prefers to learn through games instead of the traditional worksheet method. While we definitely encourage the use of games during program, his tutor would like Delchristoff to also get more comfortable with the worksheets in order to work on his mental math skills (i.e. stop counting on his fingers) and to work on his very large handwriting.
If Delchristoff is able to work on these goals, Jason believes that he will be able to get 40 stars by the end of the school year in May. Let’s hope Delchristoff sticks to his goals so that he can earn more stars each week for his hoop set… and, of course, get closer to grade level in math!
(Aurin Agramonte is the Bilingual Program Coordinator in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program and the site supervisor for the Saturday morning math program.)
Jennifer Tolentino serves as a Postsecondary Coach with the FLOC Scholars Program. In this role, she’s matched with a 12th grade Scholar to provide individual support on her journey to post-secondary education. Jennifer found FLOC through VolunteerMatch.org. Three years ago she had recently moved to DC, found a stable job, and was ready to volunteer. She settled on FLOC because she thinks the mission and work that FLOC does are so important.
Jennifer brings to us her passion for ensuring children are given equal opportunities to succeed. For her, volunteering at FLOC helps her be a part of the solution to bring quality out-of-school-time programming to DC students.
This is Jennifer’s third year at FLOC. In her first year, she tutored an awesome 5th grader in our math program. Last year, she decided to switch to being a Postsecondary Coach and loved it! She worked with a student a few hours a week, getting to know her and what she wanted to get out of college.
This year, Jen works with a student named Sadiah. Sadiah is very enthusiastic about finding a career that will allow her to incorporate as many of her interests as possible. She has a passion for fashion design (she sews her own clothes), art, and history. Jen is confident that Sadiah will find a university that will expose her to all of these areas and allow her to find something she’s passionate about. Jennifer is “constantly impressed by her work ethic and ability to manage so many extracurricular activities.”
In addition to her weekly time in program, Jen has participated in our Scholars in the Workplace program by connecting a few high school Scholars to her previous employer, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is a great place for history buffs to work.
We are excited that Jennifer is joining us for another year!
(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC.)
Preparing for the SAT exam is a daunting process for many students. It requires a lot of practice and focused attention. This year the Scholars Program is excited to pilot a new SAT prep model that provides our 11th grade students with targeted reading and math instruction.
With the help of our partner organization, Prep Matters, we were able to train six volunteers to tutor small groups of students for twelve weeks. As opposed to past years where students received both reading and math prep in one night, this year students will work on one subject for six weeks and then rotate, to ensure quality instruction of each subject. And with the expanded number of volunteers working in SAT prep, students are able to work in smaller groups and receive more personalized instruction.
Although still in its first few weeks, student have mastered new concepts such as sentence completion and number theory as a result of our volunteer SAT Coaches and this new, more individualized attention. We look forward to seeing continued growth as the weeks continue!
(Kimberly Davis is the College Access Coordinator for the FLOC Scholars Program.)