We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know our new year-long staff these last few weeks. To finish up the series, allow me to introduce the two new members of our Recruitment and Outreach team, who are working this year to connect the community to FLOC and to support both the Neighborhood Tutoring Program and the Scholars Program by ensuring enough students and volunteers to have full, active, and thriving programs.
Jaqueline Castaneda (Bilingual Recruitment & Outreach Associate) was born and raised right here in Washington, DC. She attended Michigan State University (#GoGreen) where she majored in psychology and worked as a preschool teacher. After graduating last winter, she wanted to move back to DC to be near family and pursue graduate school, and that step brought her to FLOC this year as part of Public Allies. Jackie is most excited to see programs in action after working behind the scenes her first month with FLOC to recruit and onboard lots and lots of new and returning students and volunteers. She’s excited to see what all that hard work produces!
Vanessa Hanible (Recruitment & Outreach Associate) joins us here in DC after growing up in New Boston, Michigan. She attended Tennessee State University where she majored in public health. She moved to DC after college to be near family and to move forward in her career. Most recently, she worked as a Community Outreach Representative for Health Services for Children with Special Needs. Vanessa also comes to FLOC as a Public Ally, and she’s most excited to watch the tutors and students interact in NTP this year.
(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)
Last month, the Neighborhood Tutoring Program welcomed three new AmeriCorps members to the team. They will serve as the site coordinators for our programs for the school year. Here is a little bit more about each of them and what brought them to FLOC.
Felise Ortiz (Tuesday reading at WNDC, Thursday math at FLOC)
Felise comes to us from New Jersey, where she graduated from Rutgers with degrees in Political Science and Gender Studies, with a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she looked into AmeriCorps programs because she wanted service experience to help her find her passion and direction for pursuing higher education. During her time studying Political Science, she developed an interest in educational justice, which brought her to FLOC (via Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps). She is excited to learn about non-profits and how they run. However, she is most looking forward to seeing the growth of the students over the course of the school year. Outside of FLOC, she is getting used to life in Washington, DC and wants to learn about all the different neighborhoods that DC has. She also wouldn’t mind a Barack Obama sighting.
(Wednesday math at Tyler Elementary, Saturday math and reading at FLOC)
Tamarae is originally from Faribault, MN (about an hour south of Minneapolis-St. Paul) and graduated from Carleton College with degrees in German and Linguistics. This is her second year doing AmeriCorps; she spent last year working with the Minnesota Reading Corps. She is hoping to pursue an advanced degree in Linguistics next year so she has enjoyed having these gap years to learn more about different organizations. For her second year, she wanted to explore a new city and to take on more of a manager role with volunteers and students, which is what brought her to FLOC (also via Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps). She is most excited to meet all of the students and volunteers and see how all the different personalities come together. Outside of FLOC, she is looking forward to taking advantage of all the Smithsonian museums, specifically the Air and Space Museum.
(Tuesday reading at FLOC, Thursday reading at Tubman Elementary, Saturday reading at SE Tennis and Learning Center)
Brandon joins us from Chicago, Illinois, where he graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in African American Studies. He focused his studies on Civil Rights organizations and leaders as well as Black Panther Party Survival programs. He is in second year with AmeriCorps, having spent last year with City Year at Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast DC. During his first year of service he realized that he has a passion for helping develop and mentor youth, so he decided to spend another year learning more about organizational development and coordinating programs for an education non-profit. This brought him to FLOC (via Public Allies). He is looking forward to learning more about the ins and outs of non-profit work; he hopes to one day run his own. He is eager to meet the students and volunteers and is excited to develop relationships with the members of his programs. Outside of FLOC, you can find him spending his time at Busboys and Poets or the MLK Library in Chinatown.
(Lauren Phipps is the NTP Curriculum Coordinator and site supervisor for our program on Tuesday nights at the WNDC.)
Every year, FLOC welcomes staff members from a variety of different programs, in a variety of different positions, for a year of service. Today, we’re excited to introduce the new staff members in our Scholars Program.
Kayla Blau is the Program Instructor for 6th and 9th Grade Scholars and is from Seattle, Washington. She attended Seattle University and comes to FLOC through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Kayla is excited about getting to know FLOC Scholars and helping them organize around issues they care about.
Jasmine Cornell is the Program Instructor for the 8th and 10th Grade Scholars and is from Los Angeles, California. She attended Spelman College and comes to FLOC through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Jasmine is excited to get to know her Scholars.
Kurt Guenther is the Program Instructor for 7th and 11th Grade Scholars and is from Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Gonzaga University and also comes to FLOC through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Kurt is excited to see the growth of his Scholars throughout the school year.
Caroline moved to DC five years ago to start a new job. She grew up in Paris; her father is French and her mom is American. Caroline currently works at the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization. She places high value in education and helping children succeed in school.
FLOC seemed like a great program and a perfect fit for her. She joined our team last fall. Since then, she has been in the Scholars program every Wednesday as a Program Assistant where she assists Jessie, our 10th grade instructor, to facilitate fun workshops for the students to help them start thinking about their future academic and professional goals.
Caroline enjoys spending time at FLOC because of its fun environment “where I see the Scholars’ positive energy of possibility and achievement.” For Caroline, spending time with youth has been a refreshing and inspiring experience.
One of her favorite activities while working with the group of 10th graders is when they play Jeopardy, which helps them to “talk about issues and reinforce ideas that we’re working with. They work together and you see what they have learned and what they are thinking.”
For Caroline, the Jeopardy game “is a good way to see their curiosity to learn and share what they know. There is a balance of competition and support for the other team, which I think shows a lot of maturity.”
During this school year, Caroline has shown a great commitment to help our students in different dimensions. She represented Princeton University, her alma mater, and participated in a speed networking activity with the post-secondary Scholars during the last College Night, held on December 18th. We are glad to have her on board with us and thankful for her willingness and passion to work with our students.
(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).
On Wednesday, December 18th, FLOC held a College Night for our Scholars Program at George Washington University. The program was divided into two blocks: a college fair for the first hour, followed by age-specific workshops and roundtable discussions. Overall, the night was a resounding success—we had 121 guests attend, over 25 post-secondary schools represented, and effective workshops for all involved. As someone who wasn’t involved in the planning process, I was able to fully appreciate the night with no added stress. Here were my five biggest takeaways:
1. The Spanish speaking parent workshop was met with tremendous optimism.
As we integrate more Spanish speaking families into FLOC, it’s our job to find ways to accommodate their presence at our events. The college process is more than a student experience, and it’s important that students’ families are just as informed as they are. The Spanish speaking workshop provided nearly identical content to the English version next door, giving information parents’ were extremely receptive to as well as a platform for them to share their thoughts and experiences. It was so well received that many of the parents requested additional workshops in the future for more chances to learn and communicate, something we’re now in the process of implementing.
2. The post-secondary networking workshop was the highlight of the night.
In this workshop we had FLOC volunteers meet with our current post-secondary students to learn about potential avenues stemming from their studies, and to learn about jobs that may or may not be directly tied to their majors. Both sides felt the time was very worthwhile, and it’s always exciting to continue to help our students beyond high school.
3. The number one question I was asked during the college fair concerned my alma mater’s athletic program.
And that’s totally OK. The vast majority of the students that came to my booth weren’t entirely sure what they wanted to study, and handing them a list of seventy undergraduate programs can cause more than just anxiety. Comfort on campus can be hugely influential in the mental well-being of a college student, so I was more than happy to talk about my school’s demographics, clubs, and sport teams.
4. Our students have high aspirations.
This was self-evident when the biggest complaint from the students regarding the event was that there weren’t enough Ivy League schools represented during the college fair. I fielded a lot of questions in regards to certain majors, specific professors, the sincerity of advising departments, and professional placement. Overall I was very impressed.
5. FLOC is awesome.
So maybe this isn’t something I just figured out but how amazing is it that FLOC can offer help and guidance from first grade through high school until a post-secondary degree? These same individuals come back to help current students navigating the same process they went through, while simultaneously creating some type of beautiful, organic, self-sustaining network. FLOC now has a Postsecondary Success Coordinator who is working to expand this network to not only help current college students, but to aid in job placement as well. There’s a reason I chose to suspend my life for a year to volunteer here, and nights like these make it easy to remember why.