News, Scholars Program

College Night 2015

On Wednesday December 16th, FLOC hosted its annual College Night, sponsored by PrepMatters, at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Over 50 parents, students, and alumni met to talk and learn about the college experience. The evening began with a college fair where staff, volunteers, and alumni represented their universities by answering questions posed by curious students. Students were also able to collect brochures and swag provided by colleges and universities all over the country. The fair was also a great place for parents to see just how many college options their students have to choose from.

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After the college fair, parents and students were split up into separate workshops designed to teach them about their role in the college process. The students got to listen to a panel of some our postsecondary students, alumni, an admissions representative, and staff. The students heard stories about how the admissions process works, how to pick a major, transferring to a new college or university, and finding financial aid.

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The students were also able to ask the panel questions. One student, Bethlehem asked “Which major do you pick when you have two things you really want to do?” Desiree on the panel answered that you can do both things. For example, if you’re interested in law and music, you can do music law. It’s more about picking a career nowadays and fitting your major to that. Students also had questions for our panel about college life; Joel, an 11th grader asked “what about the parties?” The panel answered that you’ll find what you’re looking for but you pay lots of money to go to college. It’s about making the right choice and balancing your school work with social life. Thanks to our panel, all of our students learned something new.

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In the next room their parents were also receiving new information from a panel of FLOC alumni, volunteers, and staff. The parent workshop was set up to help parents and family members learn how they can help and support their student through the application process, the financial aid process, and college life. In order to help parents understand how important their support is, Scholars program manager Lindsey Barclay explained the application process and the type of questions the applications ask students to answer. Postsecondary Success Coordinator Veronica Marin also explained that all students have a different process based their personalities and what they want in a college. All of this advice was well received by our parents, some of whom are currently going through this process with their high school seniors. So thanks to our panel, parents are more prepared to support their students on the college journey.

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In order to wrap up the night with a big red bow, we raffled off great gifts including gift cards and a DVD. This year’s College Night was a great evening filled with fun and new information. Thank you to all of our postsecondary students who gave up an evening of their winter break to share with our students, all of our volunteers who came out and shared their experiences, and all of our FLOC staff who represented well for their colleges and universities.

sponsors sign college night 2015

(Joh’nita Johnson is a FLOC Fellow with the Scholars Program. She works primarily with 12th graders and Postsecondary Scholars.)

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Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Holiday season at FLOC!

Everyone loves the holiday season. Maybe it’s because all of the lights adorning trees and signs across the city can put anyone in a good mood. Or maybe it’s because of the assortment of warm drinks that warm your heart at the first sip.

The holiday season marks the end of the first semester of programs at FLOC, and so we love to use this as a chance to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, give out some gifts, and take a break to enjoy one another’s company.

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During one of our tutoring program holiday parties last week, we asked our students and volunteers what some of their favorite things are about the holidays. Check out a few of their responses below.

“My favorite holiday movie is…”

Nightmare Before Christmas –Colin, Tutor
All of the Santa Clause movies –Sahira, 5th grader
The Grinch, both versions –Ammanuel, 6th grader
Frosty the Snowman –April, Tutor
The Nutcracker –Lucas, 2nd grader

“My favorite holiday song is…”

“Last Christmas” – Sarah, Tutor
“Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” – Yanel, 6th grader
“All I Want for Christmas” –Marley, 3rd grader
“Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer” – Amari, 7th grader
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” –Omar, 3rd grader

“My favorite holiday treat is…”

Pizza –Davis, 5th grader
Peppermint Hot Chocolate –Emily, Tutor
Cookies and Soda –Alexa, 3rd grader
Tamales… They’re not a “treat” but they’re still the best –Hernan, Tutor
EVERYTHING!! –Dylan, 2nd grader

“My favorite holiday gift was…”

Being alive with my family –Ammanuel, 6th grader
Movies, dolls, travelling, and a snow globe –Sahira , 5th grader
Barbie sets –Elizabeth, 4th grader
Cowboy boots –Omar, 3rd grader
Makeup and nail polish, but mostly my baby sister –Marley, 3rd grader

“My favorite holiday memory was when…”
…I stayed up late with my brothers before Santa arrived. –Colin, Tutor
…I got my first American Girl doll. –Samantha, 5th grader
…I went to Mexico for Christmas. –Yanel, 6th grader
…I watched it snow and went outside to play in it with my dogs. –Sarah, Tutor
…I went on a ski trip with my friends. –Cezanne Vahid, Tutor

Sat AM Cindy Lemus-Alvarenga and Anna Leigh Brown-EDITED

Thanks this year to the following partners for providing gifts to our students:

And special thanks to our friends at the Meltzer Group for throwing our Saturday programs a special holiday party. Happy holidays from FLOC!

Sat AM Brian Roberts and Alex Lara-Merino-EDITED

(Adrian Hunter is a site coordinator in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program. She works with NTP’s programs on Thursday nights at FLOC, Wednesdays at Tyler Elementary, and Saturdays at the Southeast Tennis & Learning Center.)

 

Development, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Scholars Program

Looking back, looking forward: end of the year at FLOC

The holiday season is a time of reflection at FLOC. It gives us an opportunity to pause and give thanks to those who’ve helped our organization and the students we serve. We count ourselves extraordinarily lucky to be supported by such a vibrant and passionate community. The remarkable achievements of our students are a reflection not only of the tireless work our students put forth, but it’s also a testament to the generosity of our donors and volunteers.

Nationwide, 81% of students now graduate from high school. Inarguably that’s an important milestone and an indicator that things are moving in the right direction, but it also shows the work that remains. We are failing one-fifth of the young people in this country. The numbers are even worse in Washington, DC. In our city, a city that has more college degrees per capita than anywhere else in the country, only 64% of students will achieve a high school degree. Even fewer will earn a postsecondary degree. A failing of this magnitude is hard to fathom, and it’s even more difficult to create and fight for the lasting, systemic change necessary to rectify it. However, in the push for sustainable and lasting change, we cannot lose sight of the thousands of students in classrooms today who are living the reality of these statistics.

9th grade Scholars group

At FLOC, we believe that the only thing separating students who struggle and students who succeed is opportunity. Over the past 50 years, we have served over 10,000 children, talented young people who thrive when exposed to quality out-of-school-time programming. Thanks to continued and new support, another class (the ninth straight!) of FLOC high school seniors achieved a 100% graduation rate. We’re proud of their hard work and grateful that our donors have allowed us to continue supporting these tremendous young people. Across all our programs, this support and partnership have led to remarkable results.

  • Our Neighborhood Tutoring Program served a total of 380 students and recruited more than 349 volunteer tutors.
  • Those 380 students made more than a year of improvement after just three and half months of steady tutoring.
  • Thanks to a new program model for SAT prep, students improved their composite scores on the SAT by more than 100 points.

math tutoring

This growth is fantastic, but preparing students for postsecondary success requires a lot more than just raising test scores. Today’s student are leaving high school and entering a highly competitive, quickly moving world. They require new skills and new experiences to help them navigate it. Jason, one of our recent high school graduates, is a great example of the ways that FLOC is working to fully prepare students for postsecondary success.

GW

Ever since he started coming to FLOC, Jason has been a presence. Sometimes this was a positive thing, like when he would encourage his classmates across our high ropes course. Other times, it was a challenge, like when he would take over a workshop with his jokes. In his school life, he struggled to find his place, to share his talents and to achieve success.

As a freshman in high school, Jason had to deal with the death of his older brother. The loss was devastating, certainly distracting and not surprisingly a major factor in his lack of motivation in the classroom. FLOC has been a part of the village that supports him and his family. Jason was motivated by basketball and the special caring relationships he’d formed with his peers and the staff at FLOC. We fought to help him recognize that he still had a path to success, that he had the capability to achieve great things if he challenged himself and remained focused. It didn’t happen overnight, but he began to heal and to grow. Jason’s senior year of high school was his strongest academically, and he graduated on time. He applied and was accepted to a community college, where he intends to get his associates degree before moving on to a 4-year institution to study psychology. We asked Jason what he believes will be his key to success. He shared that he finally realizes the power he has to be great, to make his brother proud and to help others; Jason plans to become a therapist for children who have suffered from traumatic loss. We believe in him and will support him throughout his journey.

Students at VTECH

This year, another group of twelfth graders is preparing for the next steps in their academic journey. Throughout the city, there are thousands more who have the potential to excel, but lack access to the programming that will allow them to do so. Again, the only thing that separates a student in a failing school from one in a top-tier school is opportunity. FLOC represents that opportunity for more than 600 students in the city. We need your support to reach even more students in 2016. Today, during this season of giving, we ask you to make a special gift so that more children can get the tools necessary for academic success. With your gift, FLOC’s dedicated staff and volunteers will be able to better serve even more children. With your support, even more people will hear our message that a high-quality education is the birthright of every child, that viable pathways to postsecondary success should be the bar by which any community of educators is judged.

girls with map

Thank you for your support of FLOC and the work we do, and from our family to yours, happy holidays!

Scholars Program, Staff Perspectives

Scholars Tackle Fitness

My name is Terrell Hawkins, and this year I’m a program instructor for FLOC’s Scholars Program. As a FLOC instructor, some of my responsibilities include helping to motivate students in achieving goals in within the classroom and in life, helping them to mature into young adults, and helping them graduate and go onto post-secondary education. My work has included helping students with their homework, getting to know students outside the workshops on field trips, and most recently, planning and leading an elective hour with the 6th through 8th graders.

In connecting with the students early this year, I noticed they have a great respect for me as a graduate and former student-athlete of Howard University in Washington, DC. The kids question me frequently about school and football, so I felt a fitness elective would be fun and relevant to their interests.

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So far in this elective workshop, students have learned important stretches that are good for those who play sports, as well as general health and wellness. We have played dodgeball and worked on the skills used for dodgeball (such as hand-eye coordination, agility, strength training and aerobic training) which are also applicable to other sports that the kids are interested in.

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Between the numerous papers on my desk requesting to be in my elective and kids saying they are having a great time and learning, I know I’m impacting kids in a positive way, and this means everything to me.

(Terrell Hawkins is a program instructor in the Scholars Program.)

Outdoor Education Center

Empowerment and Health

Students today are faced with many decisions in their life. FLOC aims to help students understand that they constantly have many choices, even when it comes to their health and the health of their community. Part of the youth empowerment programming adopted by FLOC’s West Virginia Leaders in Action program includes the self-awareness and knowledge that they do have power to make good decisions and affect change.

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Here in WV, the statistics for childhood obesity rates reached close to 18.5% in 2011 placing the state high on the list at number 13 compared with the 50 other states. For the same year, DC youth obesity rates were just above 21% putting the district at 4th highest among other states.   Poor health and nutrition and lack of activity can also be major determining factors in a person’s ability to focus, to sleep well, and have energy and motivation. The link between education and health is well documented, but it would not be surprising that students’ health could affect their education as well.

For the second half of the fall semester, our Leaders in Action programs have been immersed in the Health and Nutrition unit. Students looked at the consequences of added sugars with the enhanced visuals of actually measuring out the numbers of teaspoons of sugar in a variety of familiar foods and products. They also discussed standard dental hygiene practices and strategies for caring for our protective tooth enamel such as avoiding sugary acidic beverages. Everyone was surprised to learn that most fruit juices and sports drinks are comparable to sodas when it comes to acidity and sugar content.

The focus this month is on the importance of movement and activity in our lives.  Learning or developing unhealthy habits as a child can set a person up for a lifetime of difficulties and disease.  Play and movement can be fun, and implementing healthy habits can increase a child’s energy and confidence.  So last week, in honor of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, we visited a local county park’s indoor playground and got active for one hour.  After learning how to measure their heart rates and get them up to beneficial levels, with the help of a moon bounce and some fun games like clothes pin tag, all those present got the recommended 60 minutes of activity in for that day.

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The health of a population is affected not just by education and awareness, but also by economic inequalities, and access to healthy food and safe, active, appropriate spaces to play, among other things.  We don’t want our young people to be limited in life by preventable health issues.  Their potential is at stake, so let’s move towards a more healthy and just society together.

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

News, Scholars in the Workplace, Scholars Program

10th Grade Scholars Learn About Careers at the Zoo

FLOC’s Scholars Program offers students many field trip and events to attend. In 10th grade, students have the opportunity to visit 4 work places in the D.C. area in order to get a better sense of the work place, ask career related questions, and create networking opportunities. This year students have visited FLOC, Kube Architecture, and Omni Hotel & Resort.

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At Kube Architecture earlier this fall, Elshadie, John, and Jada learn how architects use computer graphics to create their work.

For the 10th graders’ last visit on December 2nd, they had a rare opportunity to visit the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park. Our Scholars met 4 zookeepers who work in Asia Trail, Small Mammals, Bird House, and Amazonia. The keepers shared more information about potential careers options at the Zoo and some of their personal experiences on the job. One keeper has been working at the zoo for 24 years.

Diversity Panel & 10th grade discussion

They also talked about diversity in their workplace. For example, there are now more women and minorities in STEM careers. The zookeepers are also members of their diversity committee and they shared their own personal insights. Our 10th graders were engaged and asked many questions including:

  • What experiences prepared you for your job?
  • What would you say to a high schooler who is interested in a career in science?
  • What internship opportunities are available to us?

10th Scholars exploring the Amphibian Exhibit

After the panel, the students had their own private tour of the Amazonia exhibit and learned more about animal enrichment and conservation. The Zoo was excited to work with our students and encouraged them to come back to visit anytime!

Zoo- 10th grade & Diversity Panel

(Cassie Degener is the College Access Coordinator with the Scholars Program.)

GW Interns/Tutors, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Tom and Jess: Tutors & Team Leaders

For nearly 20 years, FLOC has had an invaluable partnership with George Washington University’s DC Reads program, a program of the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service. Through this partnership, GW students (both volunteers and federal work study employees) are placed as tutors in nonprofits like FLOC. This year,  more than 30 GW DC Reads tutors are placed at FLOC.

Tom Guettler and Jess Williams are serving this year as team leaders for FLOC through the DC Reads program, and they both tutor reading at FLOC during the week.

Tom and Jess

How did you first become involved with For Love of Children?

Tom: I first heard about FLOC through Community Building Community, which is a pre-orientation program for freshman at GW. FLOC sounded like a great way to get involved in the DC community, and some of the guides had great things to say about DC reads as a whole!

Jess: I was looking for a way to get involved in community service when I came to GW, and some friends told me about DC Reads! From there, I chose to work with FLOC, because I was shocked that a city as educated as Washington, DC still has such a high illiteracy rate among children.

What does being a DC Reads Team Leader entail? What do you enjoy about it?

Tom: Generally speaking, we help promote FLOC and generate student interest. Jess and I are also here to be a resource for the GW students who work at FLOC. We help students with their federal work-study arrangements, rescheduling trainings, and facilitate contacting the FLOC office.

Jess: I really enjoy being a resource for students, and having people come to me for help! As coordinators, we also host events within the GW FLOC community. We’ll have movie nights where we share food and watch an educational film, and recently we had a reflection event. Students brought food, and we spent the afternoon discussing out tutoring experiences and sharing stories.

Speaking of reflection, do you have a favorite FLOC memory?

Tom: Last winter, my schedule changed and I wasn’t going to be able to tutor the same student anymore. After I had told both my student and site-coordinator, I ended up changing classes, and was able to return on the same day the following semester. My student was expecting to have a new tutor, and he was excited when I showed up! The coordinator had not told him I was returning, and it meant a lot to know that he cared about having me as a tutor, specifically.

Jess: My story is similar! Last year, I was explaining to my student that I had to go home for summer break. She became a little upset, and repeatedly said she would miss me, asking why I had to leave. I hadn’t realized how close we had become in such a short amount of time, but it meant a lot that she cared whether or not I was there.

Imagine you have sixty seconds to convince someone to tutor with FLOC. What do you say?

Tom: Do it! Tutoring with FLOC has changed the preconceived notions I had about non-profits–FLOC is well-organized, easy to work with, and makes a tangible impact. Tutoring is a wonderful way to give back to the community, and you grow as a person as well.

Jess: Tutoring with FLOC is an excellent way to get out of the “Foggy Bottom bubble,” that you so often hear about here. There is so much more to DC than our neighborhood, and I’m proud to say that I’m invested here. I feel as though I’ve become a citizen of DC, not just a student.

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