Monthly Archives: December 2014

Meet Florence, an 11th Grade Scholar

Florence, 16, is in the 11th grade and has been with FLOC for a year now. She is a student in FLOC’s High School Scholars program held Wednesdays nights. Florence enjoys coming to FLOC and looks forward to it each week. She loves how FLOC gives off a very family-like environment and that the staff is so nice.

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Having been at FLOC for a year now, Florence has appreciated learning how to prepare for college and for her future after. She has gained a better understanding of how to approach the college process and hopes it will get her into a good school.

Florence also enjoys meeting and hanging out with the other students in the Scholars Program. She likes sharing ideas with them and learning new things about them each week. During her free time, Florence enjoys reading, writing poetry, dancing, and playing drums.

(Jackie Castaneda is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate.)

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: FLOC Holiday Party Time!

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The students at Tyler Elementary School were full of smiles when they realized that they wouldn’t actually be doing math tutoring for our final program of the fall semester, but having a holiday celebration instead. Students and volunteers alike spent their last session of 2014 making Thank You/Holiday cards for one another, decorating gift bags, going head to head in a few serious games of Uno and Mancala, eating tons on sugary snacks, and receiving gifts to show our appreciation for all of their hard work and dedication and as an incentive for our students to keep up a job well done. This is definitely my favorite time of year!

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(Queen Travers is the NTP Program Coordinator and site supervisor of the Wednesday afternoon math tutoring program at Tyler Elementary School.)

Sounds of the Season, Sounds of Celebration

For our high school seniors here at FLOC, it’s that most wonderful time of the year—college application time! Deadlines are fast-approaching, but thanks to the hard work of our students and their Postsecondary Coaches, we have already seen a few acceptance letters make their way to our seniors. Thomas recently celebrated his acceptance to Allegany College and Chesapeake College in Maryland; Shante received a letter offering her a space at Livingstone College in North Carolina; Chardonnay received admission offers from three local schools (Montgomery College, NOVA, and Trinity) and Wilson just received a phone call confirming his acceptance to Albright University in Pennsylvania. Yes, a phone call! What a great way to receive the good news, actually hearing someone say, “Congratulations! We would love to have you join us next fall!”

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Sounds of celebration at FLOC quickly followed these offers from these colleges and universities. What a fitting addition to the cacophony our seniors have heard during their years at FLOC. Our weekly program spaces are filled with singing, dancing, laughing, snacking—these kids sure love Chipotle!—and, yes, even some shouting from time to time. We host a kind of controlled chaos, but it is within these spaces that lasting relationships are built and lives are changed forever.

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Throughout the winter and into the spring, we will continue celebrating the offers that our students receive, but these joyful moments will have been months—even years—in the making. This year, each of our high school seniors has been paired with an individual volunteer committed to supporting them throughout the application process. These Postsecondary Coaches have been invaluable to the success of our seniors here at FLOC. Providing our students with the resources they need to access quality postsecondary opportunities and career success is each Coach’s small contribution to the move for educational justice in D.C., but it is truly the laughter shared that keeps them coming back each week.

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So even as we see the days grow shorter and feel the air get colder, let us remember to listen carefully for the joyful sounds that surround us this holiday season—especially laughter, celebration, and those life-changing phone calls!

(Ian McPherson is the Scholars Program Instructor for the 12th grade.)

FLOC’s 8th Annual Book Festival: For Love of Reading!

On Saturday, November 17, FLOC celebrated its annual Book Festival with over 150 students and their families gathering at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. The evening was highlighted by our guest author, Debbie Levy, who shared her inspiration for the book We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song, a story of the racial history in America. She guided the students through an interactive presentation, reading excerpts from her book, sharing historical events in the civil rights movement, and even including a few musical interludes!

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Each student was able to collect up to 15 books to take home and expand their reading collection. The book festival offered books for our youngest students in Kindergarten all the way up to books about college for our high school students. The night also featured  guest appearance from PBS’s Arthur. The younger students especially were overjoyed to see one of their favorite TV and book characters at FLOC’s Book Festival.

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Inspired by We Shall Overcome, the students also did an activity focused on community action. In this activity, students were prompted to make a personal pledge that would address some aspect of change in their community, school, or personal life.

The book festival offered an opportunity for FLOC students to come and share an evening focused on improving literacy. Every student left with a smile on their face and a handful of books that will promote their interest in reading and academic success.

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The over 1,500 books that went home with FLOC students were generously donated by Sedgwick, LLP, M&T Bank, SIGAL Construction Companies, Raffa, P.C., Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, KEYS for the Homeless, and Geppetto Catering (who also provided delicious refreshments!) A huge thank you to WHUT – Howard University Public Television for bringing everyone’s favorite aardvark, Arthur! They also provided backpacks for students to take their books home.

We are grateful for all those who helped out with and attended this year’s book festival and look forward to continuing this event for years to come.

(Kurt Guenther is a program instructor in the Scholars Program and Kate Fleiscsher is the development assistant.  Both served on the planning committee for this year’s Book Festival.)

Drew Gooden and PwC visit FLOC Tutoring Program

The generous and caring community that supports FLOC and its students provides the foundation for all our work. During this time of year, as we reflect on all the ways individuals and organizations help DC students, we are especially grateful for our wide and growing community of support. Before the Thanksgiving break, FLOC and its Neighborhood Tutoring Program (NTP) was lucky to host the Drew Gooden Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) for a wonderful event.

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NTP students were treated to a discussion with Drew Gooden about his life, professional basketball career, and the importance of education. Our students got a chance to question Drew at the end of the presentation, and they asked him thoughtful questions about balancing his career and his family, what his college experience was like, and, perhaps most importantly, if he would say “Hi” to Lebron James the next time they saw each other.

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After the presentation, wonderful volunteers from PwC led our students in financial planning workshops. The topics of these ranged from the basics of credit and saving to different careers’ earning potentials. FLOC is extremely excited to be able to partner with PwC and offer vital financial literacy education to our students.

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At the end of the night, our students and their families were surprised with a grocery store gift card to help provide Thanksgiving dinners. To say that we are all thankful for the generosity displayed by the Drew Gooden Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP would be an understatement. Their kindness and commitment to changing outcomes for D.C. youth is fantastic, and FLOC is excited to continue working alongside them and our students.

(Cody Laminack is the NTP Program Manager.)

Meet Madeleine

Madeleine FazioMadeleine Fazio serves as a math tutor with the FLOC Neighborhood Tutoring Program. She tutors one student on Thursday nights at FLOC and another on Wednesday afternoons at Tyler Elementary. Madeleine, a senior at the George Washington University, first heard about FLOC through GW’s DC Reads Program during her freshman year.

Madeleine has been tutoring at FLOC since the fall of 2011. This year, Madeleine works with two students: Asaah and Melvin.  Both are very motivated.  Asaah likes to fill Madeleine in on everything that is going on at school and talk like peers. This makes working with her very easy because she is very comfortable, loving to crack a joke to make them both laugh. Asaah loves Uno and the Monopoly game with the credit cards.

Melvin is also very motivated. He never says no to anything he is asked to do.  He is so determined to learn that sometimes Madeleine will offer to play a math game for a break, but he just wants to keep learning.

One of the best parts of tutoring, according to Madeleine, is when all of a sudden something just clicks. Asaah always complains about having to take tests, but when she comes out with her passing sheet, she is always so happy. “I think those are my favorite moments working with her,” says Madeleine. “My favorite moment with Melvin was when he won math war–he was so happy! Every week we play the card game war, only with addition and subtraction facts, and he is always very motivated to win that specific game. He will ask to play it just to try to win.”

In addition to tutoring with FLOC, Madeleine is the editor-in-chief of The Cherry Tree Yearbook at GW, which she really enjoys. She is also the president of the GW student chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics. Madeleine will graduate from GW in May.  Starting in September, she will be teaching secondary mathematics in New York City for Teach for America.

(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate.) 

Sparking Success in 2014: A Look Back at a Wonderful Year

imageAs we enter the last month of the year, let’s take a look back at all we’ve achieved together in 2014.  Today, FLOC joins the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates in telling stories of our students’ successes.  Some highlights of the year:

In our Neighborhood Tutoring Program,  77% of students made at least six months improvement in reading or math and 62% made at least one year of improvement in reading or math during the school year.

Our Scholars Program once again celebrated 100% on-time graduation of our 18 high school seniors in the class of 2014.

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High school seniors submitted 100 applications to public and
private postsecondary institutions, and 100% were accepted into a postsecondary institution.

One senior received the Posse Foundation’s full tuition scholarship to The University of Rochester.

Over 500 volunteers contributed their time regularly to our programs at some point in 2014, including spring semester, summer program, and the beginning of this current school year.

And we chronicled all our exciting moments on this very blog.   Some story highlights:

In January, we introduced you to a new community- and capacity-building effort some of our most dedicated volunteers were spearheading.

In February, you heard the news as brought to you by a talented and
confident student in our reading tutoring program.

In March, our Middle School Scholars investigated and reported on careers that interested them.

In April, we took you on a tour of our NTP school site at Tubman Elementary.

st joesIn May, we filled you in on all the exciting details of our 11th grade Spring Break College Tour to six schools and five states in five days.

In June, we were in celebration mode as we gave out awards at the annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards and also honored our graduates at the annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner.

In July, we were hard at work (and play!) in our summer tutoring program.

In August, we introduced you to one of our outstanding High School Scholars and told you all about the summer writing workshops that he and his peers participated in.

In September, we took a look back at the many Scholars in the Workplace visits our students embarked upon this spring and summer.

In October, our Scholars kicked off a new school year by heading to MS OEC trip 1West Virginia for a visit to the FLOC Outdoor Education Center.

In November, we told you about a new model for getting our 11th graders ready for the SAT.

Which brings us to December…

Before the year is out, we’ll get in another two weeks of math and reading tutoring and college access and success programming.  We’ll celebrate our annual College Night event at GW and mark the end of the semester with festive holiday parties.  And we’ll keep our eyes on the future, continuing to empower our students to spark their own success stories and working to reach more students than ever before.

Here’s to another exciting year ahead in 2015!

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(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager.)