Monthly Archives: February 2016

4 Scholars Life Lessons… through Theater

All the World’s a Stage

Theater is a way of life. For those of us who have taken a theater class or have had any exposure to theater, we know that performing in front of an audience — no matter how small — ultimately affirms our character. Do we tend to move toward the spotlight or away from it?  Last semester, FLOC Scholars had the opportunity to participate in a theater elective. They learned the basics of acting and used those skills to perform short plays, which they themselves wrote. Little did our Scholars know they would intentionally receive life lessons along the way.

Noel

Expect the Unexpected

As the semester began, elective participants familiarized themselves with the concept of improv, a branch of acting that utilizes the unexpected as a gateway to performance. Improv prepares actors to expect the unexpected and to remain calm when things don’t go as planned. In one activity, scholars were tasked with creating a never ending story (think telephone, but in narrative form). One scholar would start the story and the next scholar would add on and so forth until time was called. Stories went in all directions. One started as a story of a boy in a farmhouse but ended as a story of a giant octopus destroying D.C. Another began with an evil witch on a mountain but concluded with a family trying to keep their fried chicken restaurant open. The activity taught students that no matter what was thrown at them — whether a witch or a farmhouse — they had to make it work and fit within the context of their ultimate goal.

cindy

Emotions Make Us Human

Students transitioned from improv to acting and were given multiple skits to exercise their acting muscles. Acting requires a lot of an actor; it requires looking into your own emotions and pulling out the ones that are most appropriate for a particular scene. Acting, therefore, can be a very introspective activity. Scholars explore their personal backgrounds and must figure out which memories and experiences inform specific emotions. What do you need to think about in order to feel anger, for example, or excitement, or grief? One Scholar mentioned her most recent birthday party as a source of happiness. Another mentioned being bullied as a source for sadness. Whichever memory they chose, Scholars had the chance to figure out what triggered certain emotional responses and then to decipher if those responses were appropriate for that situation.

Abdul_Jasmin

Take Pride in Your Work

After practicing their acting skills, Scholars were asked to write and perform their own plays. They used their creativity to develop stories, dialogue, staging, and even props. At the end of the process, scholars had created a multitude of plays set in a variety of locations and genres. Some clever titles included Mom and Orangina Save Mars, an epic story about a mother and daughter saving Mars from alien invaders; The Crazy Adventures of Bob and Dave, a thinkpiece on the relationship between a boy and his pet dinosaur; and Empire, a reimagining of the hit network drama of the same name. When it was time to perform, Scholars used the skills they had learned previously to deliver well thought-out and one-of-a-kind plays that showcased their imagination and creativity. Their energy was magnetic. By performing something they had written themselves, Scholars took ownership of their work, which built up their confidence. They took pride in the fact that hard work and effort truly did pay off in the end.

(Tiken Savang is the Scholars Program Fellow working with grades 6 and 11.)

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Meet Brenna

BrennaBrenna began tutoring math at FLOC this past fall, after coming across the opportunity in a volunteering newsletter at Deloitte, where she works, and hearing her coworkers’ wonderful stories. Having worked with children in the past, Brenna was excited to work with today’s students and reengage in education, while also giving back to her community.

While she has tutored several different students over the course of the school year, Brenna said she enjoys finding things in common and bonding with her students. “The first student I tutored, Emmanuel, has the same favorite cartoons and television shows as I do,” she said. “I enjoy being able to connect with kids where they are; it reminds me to laugh a little and not to take myself so seriously all the time.”

Brenna is looking forward to volunteering with FLOC in future years as well. Because of her interest in higher education, she hopes to become a postsecondary coach and work with an individual student as he or she prepares for college.

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

Welcome to Savoy!

This school year at FLOC has been the start of a new partnership with Savoy Elementary in Anacostia. While this is a smaller program it allows us to work in a school to help kids who may not otherwise be able to make it to the FLOC office. With FLOC being during Savoy’s after school program, the kids are already out of class by the time we get there and there are always a couple kids waiting excited. There are very few things better in tutoring than seeing kids excited for tutoring.

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One student in particular is not the biggest fan of reading but her tutor decided that one way to get her more interested in reading was to have her create her own story. Each week they spend time working on the story making sure she has proper grammar and that the story is making sense. This has allowed her to grow her own sense of creative thinking and help the tutor discover more about what she is interested in. Seeing all of the different ways to get these kids to learn without them necessarily feeling like they are in standard classroom  has been a lot of fun.  Not only are these kids enjoying the one on one contact but the tutors are having a lot of fun getting to know the kids and learning what works and doesn’t work.

There are four months left in the school year and it will be interesting to see how much these students improve in this time and how that directly affect their grades and progress in school.

(Nicole Morgenstern is an NTP site coordinator, working with FLOC’s tutoring programs on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Wednesday afternoons at Savoy Elementary.)

Meet Niya

Niya 2Niya is a sixth grader, who participates in both the Neighborhood Tutoring and Scholars programs here at FLOC. Niya’s favorite subjects in school are math and science, because of their real life applications. When asked what she likes the most about FLOC, she grinned and replied, “My math tutor, Nick! He always laughs at my jokes and encourages me to keep trying, even if I don’t get the answer right the first time.” FLOC’s tutoring program has also helped Niya to become more confident in the classroom; she’s often one of the first to raise her hand and try to answer a question.

The middle school Scholars program just completed a drama unit, which Niya also loved. “I’d like to become an actor, or singer… or a pianist!” she said. All of the sixth grade students wrote skits, and Niya created a story about a girl who was both a popstar and an undercover superhero. “I love everything about FLOC,” she said. “I hope I can come back every year, because I know it will help me get into college one day!”

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