Scholars Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Jessica, a Postsecondary Coach

JessicaKaushalJessica Kaushal currently serves as a postsecondary coach in the Scholars program where she is matched with a twelfth grade scholar to provide support on his journey towards a postsecondary education. Jessica joined FLOC last year, after a big move and change in industry encouraged her to give back to the community in a more direct way.

Jessica is no stranger to FLOC, though; this past summer she served as a math tutor to an energetic fifth grader in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program. While she loved NTP, Jessica decided to return as a postsecondary coach because she’s excited about providing the support she lacked to a high-school senior. “[Applying to college] is a complicated process,” said Jessica. “Going from a large public high school to a small private university, where it seemed like everyone already knew how to write a long paper, was a huge jump.”

This year, Jessica works with a student named Nicholas, who is interested in pursuing a liberal arts education, just as she did. Nicholas emigrated from Taiwan at a very young age, but after growing up in the city, he’s excited at the prospect of going to school elsewhere. He hopes to pick up some “non-euro-centric” history in college, and perhaps pursue his interest in behavior economics.

When asked why she originally chose to volunteer with FLOC, Jessica said that she appreciates the long-term relationship FLOC has with many of its students. Volunteering at FLOC has also given Jessica a more holistic perspective about the time and resources it takes to educate a child, which has influenced her mindset within the world of public policy.

We’re thrilled to have Jessica back for another exciting year at FLOC!

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)

Events, News

Fall Fun at Butler’s Orchard

Pop quiz: What’s the best thing about fall?

  1. A long awaited break from the swampy DC summer temperatures
  2. Crunchy leaves on the sidewalks
  3. Trick or treating!
  4. The annual FLOC Field Trip to Butler’s Orchard

hay ride
The obvious answer is the FLOC Field Trip to Butler’s Orchard! This past Friday FLOC families jumped on a bus and headed out to Germantown, Maryland, for an evening full of all our favorite fall activities. Welcomed by our generous friends at the Meltzer Group, we immediately hopped into tractors for a spooky evening hay ride around the orchard. Butler’s Orchard goes all out with their decorations for this time of year, complete with ghosts in the trees, abandoned wagons, and witches brewing potions in the woods! Some of our more seasoned Butler’s Orchard veterans were savvy enough to pocket some snacks and share with fellow hayriders during our harrowing adventure.

As the sun was setting and the fall chill set in, families gathered around huge bonfires to warm up and roast marshmallows for s’mores. Terrell (our 8th and 9th grade Scholars Program Fellow) roasted his very first marshmallow, and he was a total pro.

pumpkin patch

Families enjoyed a relaxed evening around cozy bonfires, catching up with friends, and enjoying delicious snacks and extra hayrides. When it was finally time to head home, we were surprised with a trick or treat line of candy bags to fill our bellies for the ride home. All in all, a successful fall field trip.

Huge thanks to our friends at the Meltzer Group for hosting us! Happy Halloween everyone!

(Madelyn Giblin is the Neighborhood Tutoring Program’s Bilingual Program Coordinator.)


Meet the New Scholars Program Team!

There are lots of new face in our Scholars Program this year! Get to know the team…

TikenTiken Savang is our new 6th and 11th Grade Program Fellow. He is from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a graduate of Emory University. Tiken is excited about working with students and getting them ready for college.


Shakia Asamoah is our new 7th and 10th Grade Program Fellow. She is
originally from Ghana and is a graduate of Denison University. Shakia is excited about getting to know our students better and helping them towards achieving their post-secondary goals.

TerrellTerrell Hawkins is our new 8th and 9th Grade Program Fellow. He is from Washington, DC, and is a graduate of Howard University. Terrell is excited to be working with our FLOC scholars.

2015-10-19 15.17.41

Joh’nita Johnson is our new 12th Grade and Postsecondary Program Fellow. She is from Washington, DC, and graduated from UNC-Greensboro. Joh’nita is currently attending Catholic University for her MSW and is most excited about working with the students to ensure their post-secondary success in the same way her advisors and mentors did for her.

CarolineCaroline Gomes is one of our two Social Work Interns. She is from Belo Horizonte, Brazil and is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Caroline is so excited to be working with children and families, where the parents have their children’s best interest in mind and support them in their educational career by bringing them here to FLOC.

2015-10-19 15.24.33Kathryn Wilderotter is our other Social Work Intern. She is from DC and Alexandria. Kat got her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She’s most excited about this year’s social justice workshops with our students.

2015-10-19 15.17.58Lindsey Barclay is our new Scholars Program Manager. She was born in Oklahoma but raised in Prince George’s County, and she’s a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Lindsey’s excited to work with an awesome team of people, who are committed to our students.  Most of all, she’s looking forward to getting to know the children at FLOC.


Cassandra (Cassie) Degener is our new College Access Coordinator. She is from Hanover, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Shepherd University. Cassie previously worked at the FLOC Outdoor Education Center, and she’s looking forward to getting to know the students better! She is also looking forward to getting everyone excited about the Outdoor Education Center!

VeronicaVeronica Marin is our new Postsecondary Success Coordinator. She is from Washington, DC, and is also a FLOC Scholars Program alumna. Veronica is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park. She is looking forward to getting to know our 11th, 12th, and Postsecondary students and providing them with the keys to success for their education.

(You just met Veronica Marin. She also wrote this post!)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Scholars Program, Student Spotlight

Meet Ashley

Ashley is a lively, ambitious seventh grader, returning to FLOC for her second year in the Scholars program and her fifth year of tutoring. When she first came to FLOC, Ashley was quiet and reluctant to answer questions in school. Today, she says that her FLOC tutors and workshops have given her more confidence and made her excited to participate in class. “It’s great to raise my hand and know I have the right answer,” she said, grinning.

Ashley Ramirez

When asked what she’s most excited about doing in the 7th grade Scholars workshop this year, Ashley said that she’s looking forward to making new friends and learning skills that will help her succeed in school. The excitement in her voice was evident as she continued to explain that she wants to become a veterinarian for small animals one day. “My family helped nurse a baby bird back to health this summer, and I loved caring for it. Don’t you think it would be really fun to get paid to care for animals all day?”

Ashley’s other career aspiration is to become a teacher, because she would like to help other kids learn to read and gain confidence in school, just like FLOC has done for her. Ashley has many other hobbies, including playing volleyball for her school, but coming to FLOC remains one of her favorite activities. “FLOC is just the best,” she exclaimed, as her mother arrived to pick her up. “Can you write that down too?”

We’re looking forward to having Ashley back for another great year at FLOC!

(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator.)


Team building and skill building in Shephardstown

The team at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center are no strangers to facilitating team building activities for groups of young people and adults. Often these activities are conducted on site at the OEC, but on this particular day, we took the show on the road. Early, on a warm and muggy Wednesday morning in August, the OEC staff met at a patch of little used lawn on Shepherd University’s campus, equipped with a van full of “toys” to be set-up in preparation for almost 100 freshmen students to come and play with.  

This program was part of an optional extra- orientation program that these students signed up for which allows them to settle in early, get acquainted with some new faces, and not have to feel so overwhelmed when the masses of under and upper class students arrive not more than a week later.

The students were already placed into teams with designated enthusiastic leaders and their own colors.  The playful activities lined up for them are about having fun in a group setting, but they are, of course, also about a lot more.  Seven stations were set-up and all with a couple different initiatives.  These initiatives are games with a purpose, typically presenting their participants with a challenge or problem to be solved.  These challenges are presented or framed with contextual stories that the students find relevant and relatable.


The whole thing starts with a big group game, in this case a variation of Rock-Paper-Scissors, just for fun and to break the ice.  Then the teams spread out to their stations and start the rotation.  Many of the challenges and problems get completed or figured out.  We as facilitators then make it a point to ask good questions.  “How did you work as a team?”  “Did everyone feel included?” “How did you make decisions?”  “What was difficult about communicating together and what could you have done differently?”  “Were there any leaders that emerged during that activity?”  This is where the real learning takes place and the students can begin to reflect on how they can apply some of what just happened to their understanding of who they are and apply it to their upcoming first year of post-secondary education away from home.

The morning then finished with an active scavenger hunt around the campus and Shepherdstown proper.  This continued experience of camaraderie got the students out and about, getting familiar with all the great shops and local businesses that Shepherdstown has to offer them.  Good luck to them and all the other first-year post-secondary students out there.

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV) 


FLOC’s Beautification Day

On Saturday, October 17th, FLOC is hosting its first ever Beautification Day! We want those in our community to take ownership over the space they will learn and grow in throughout the year. Beautification Day is an opportunity for FLOC families, students, volunteers, and staff to come together, meet one another, and work on a few projects around the office to help personalize and spruce it up for the year ahead!


The event is from 4-6:30 p.m. and anyone in the FLOC community is welcome to join, if they don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty! There will be a raffle for families, some light snacks, and a FLOC giveaway after the work is done! The projects include adding chalkboard paint areas to program space, creating a dream wall for everyone to share their dreams for their or their student’s future, and making photo collages.


It should be a great afternoon filled with hard work and excitement as we begin a new program year. But we need your help! There are several items that we are in need of to help make Beautification Day a success! We’ve updated our wish list with the items needed most at the top of the list. If you’re able to purchase any of these items for FLOC and our students as they begin a new program year, we’d appreciate any support! The Wish List can be found here:

If you have any questions or would prefer to buy the items elsewhere, please contact Development Associate, Kate Fleischer (

Thank you again for all of your support and we hope you can join us for Beautification Day!

(Kate Fleischer is FLOC’s Development Associate.)