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.)

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Scholars Program

New Year, New 6th Grade Scholars!

“What’s a New Year’s resolution? Anyone know?” I asked our animated 6th grade Scholars.

“Um…a goal!”

“But it’s a fake goal! My mom says they always get broken,” another Scholar offered.

A debate about what a New Year’s resolution is quickly ensued, and we decided a New Year’s resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit, and is generally meant to last for the whole year. One Scholar shared it’s important to think about what you want 2015 to be so you’ll have a better chance of achieving it. Building upon this, our Scholars brainstormed academic, athletic and/or extra-curricular, and personal goals for 2015. Through dialoging and journaling, Scholars decided what is most important for them to work on this year and shared with their peers.

 2015-01-06 11.29.092015-01-06 11.33.46

Each Scholar received a paper “brick” to artistically portray their New Year’s resolutions. Next, we collaboratively created a “6th Grade Scholars Wall of Resolve.” Our community of Scholars proudly taped their resolutions on the Wall of Resolve, squealing with delight as they read each other’s goals. One Scholar resolved to learn more in Robotics Club while another vowed to help out more at home and “shine bright like a diamond” in 2015. Each Scholar’s unique brick was pieced together with the others to make a giant puzzle of goals and dreams. Happy New Year from our Scholars community!

(Kayla Blau is the Scholars Program Instructor for the 6th and 9th grades.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Mark

MarkFabrosMark Fabros serves as a tutor with the FLOC Neighborhood Tutoring Program. In this role, he tutors high school student Bryant on Saturday mornings in Math.

This is Mark’s second school year tutoring with FLOC. He heard about FLOC through his girlfriend, who knew he wanted to volunteer in math tutoring.  Mark has always enjoyed and been good at math, so he felt it was important to help improve students’ math skills. Mark feels that a big problem this country is currently facing is income inequality, which is driven by inequality of educational outcomes.

Mark enjoys seeing his students persevere through concepts they struggle with and ultimately make progress.  “It’s even rewarding to see how they learn from their mistakes when they don’t pass the test the first time around.”

Bryant, Mark’s student this year, is the oldest student Mark has worked with since joining FLOC, and so they relate to each other easily.  Bryant is really smart, works hard, and is always anxious to learn something new. They are currently working on multiplication with larger numbers, and Bryant is doing well, so he and Mark are very excited to be moving onto long division soon.

(Vanessa Hanible is the Recruitment and Outreach Associate.)

Scholars Program

Fostering Self-Awareness

“At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu

A few weeks ago, the 7th Grade Scholars spent the evening identifying their personal strengths and weaknesses. After doing so, I told them to cross out the word “weakness” and replace it with “areas of growth” in order to encourage their ability to change.

student awareness worksheet

Self-awareness is a skill students do not always have the opportunity of exploring on a day-to-day basis. One of the blessings for me at FLOC is to be able to see students express themselves and their personal interests. Whether it is talking to a student one-on-one or facilitating a strengths/weakness exercise, seeing the authenticity of students offers great inspiration.

students writing

I was impressed with the students’ self-awareness and transparency regarding areas in their life where they may struggle and in the places they know they thrive. It is so important for our students to become more self-aware at such a young age, so they are able to know the places in their lives in which they can thrive and grow.

(Kurt Guenther is a Scholars Program Instructor for 7th and 11th grade.) 

Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Trust Falls, Chicken Nuggets, and Building Community: A Day at the OEC with Middle School Scholars

On October 13th, 2014, FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center (OEC) welcomed 23 MS OEC 3Middle School Scholars and four staff members to the scenic oasis in West Virginia. Students were greeted by four enthusiastic OEC staff members who led them through engaging low-ropes course activities and games.

As Scholars slowly grew accustomed to bugs native to West Virginia woods, they also learned more about each other and how to solve problems as a team. Students enjoyed the “Trust Fall” activity, which prepared students to listen and
trust each other, two important skills for the infamous high-ropes course in the afternoon. All of that trust building left Scholars famished, and they thoroughly
enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken nuggets, macaroni, salad, and fruit.

MS OEC trip 1After lunch, the students were delighted to make their way towards the high-ropes course. Some students had attended summer camp at the OEC in the past, and excitedly shared memories from zip-lining last summer with the new students. Once we arrived at the high ropes course, Scholars helped each other with their helmets and harnesses
as they received safety instructions.
Students could choose from three levels of difficulty on the high ropes course, and everyone encouraged one another to participate despite initial uncertainty.

One student, Paola, stated she was too scared to do the high ropes course during summer camp, but with her friend’s encouragement, decided to give it a try this time. Paola gracefully made it across the first portion of the ropes course, and flew down the zip line with an enormous smile as her peers cheered her on.

MS OEC 2  MS OEC 5
All of the Scholars did a great job overcoming their fears, supporting one another, and building community. Judging from the amount of snoring on the ride home, our Scholars had an action-packed and enjoyable escape from the city!

(Kayla Blau is the Scholars Program Instructor for 6th and 9th grade)

News, Scholars Program

10th Grade Scholars Make Connections

Each year around this time, FLOC partner College Summit organizes a Career Week, bringing professionals from the community into high school classrooms and after-school workshops to share their journeys through high school, college, and the world of work.  Last Wednesday, as part of this effort, three professionals from Deloitte, Blackboard, and Howard University volunteered an hour of their evening to visit the FLOC Scholars 10th grade workshop.  One by one, the panelists spoke of overcoming challenges in high school in order to get to and succeed in college and career.

One of the panelists instantly scored points with a student when she said she attended Woodrow Wilson High School, where he currently attends.  She spoke of how academic mentors, professional connections, and her personal persistence helped her realize her potential, turn around her grades, and obtain jobs working with students after college.  Her words of wisdom were well-received; she encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunities that a college access and success program like FLOC provides.

The second panelist caught the attention of the students when she told her story of changing course; she started school wanting to be a doctor, but when she struggled in her chemistry class, she decided to change her major and become a personal trainer instead.  And after graduation she was exposed to work and new experiences abroad and then made her transition into the field of consulting.  She taught the students the importance of adapting but never giving up when our paths get rocky – and they will get rocky.

And last but not least, the third panelist lent her perspective about college life to the students.  Although she emphasized the importance of time management, she also explained how college coursework was more interesting, thus allowing her to grow as a person.  After college, she landed a job at a growing company and, before long, was recognized for her good work and promoted to a management position.  She also demonstrated her love for learning, sharing that she is currently working toward a master’s degree.

After listening attentively, the students jumped at the chance to ask the panelists questions about their future goals and dreams.  After an engaging hour of high school, college, and career talk, it was clear that the work the students had been doing all year was paying off.  The 10th grade students were more eager than ever to get back to work on their “10 Year Plan”, researching and preparing for how their own path might play out over the next decade.

(Jessie Garrett is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).

News

14 Reasons to Volunteer at FLOC in 2014

(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)
(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)

In the beginning of a new year people often make resolutions. Many want to improve their lives as well as the life of others. Engaging in volunteer work is perhaps the best way to do this. Here are 14 reasons why volunteering at For Love of Children (FLOC) should be one of your resolutions for this new year.

14. Give back to the community

When we volunteer in our community we feel the satisfaction of making a difference by helping those in need. It is a good way to support your own community and see the results at first-hand. Many of our volunteers have highlighted this as their main reason to volunteer at FLOC.

(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)
(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)

13. Work with kids

If you enjoy spending time with kids and youth this is a great opportunity for you. Volunteering at FLOC is a great way to be in a fun and cheerful environment.

12. Grow professionally

Volunteering provides the opportunity to explore new career paths and gain experience in a different field. Many people have discovered their passion while doing volunteer work. A recent report by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) shows that “unemployed individuals who volunteer are 27% more likely to find work than non-volunteers.”

11. Meet new people

Whether you just moved to DC and want to expand your network or you already live in the area and want to improve your social skills, volunteering can help you to make new connections and strengthen your ties to the community.

10. Learn about yourself

When we volunteer we are often exposed to a different environment and we face new challenges. This can help us to learn more about ourselves and discover hidden skills and talents that can be transferred to your personal and professional life.

9. Learn about the community

Providing direct service can help you gain a better understanding of the community that you are serving; including their needs, strengths, limitations and resources.

8. Stay healthy

A report published on 2007 by the CNCS showed that “volunteers are more likely to experience positive health benefits. In fact, serving others may increase longevity, lead to greater functional ability later in life, and strengthen one’s resilience when dealing with health problems.”

7. Increase your self-confidence

Serving others can help boost your sense of accomplishment. When we feel that we are making a difference we feel better about ourselves and the community that we are serving.

6.  Help us serve more students

When you volunteer at FLOC, you allow one more student to have the opportunity to improve their reading and math and have the necessary skills to excel in their academic, professional and personal life.

5. Save resources

Your help is needed and valuable. According to a study by the Independent Sector, the estimated value of a volunteer hour in DC is $34.04.

4. Inspire others

Volunteering allows you to inspire others by sharing your knowledge and passion. Whether you love to read or enjoy math you will have a chance to make a positive and lasting impact in the lives of our students.

(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)
(Photo by: Tanjot Bhatia, a tutor in our Thursday Night Math program)

3. Invest in the future success of the students

One-on-one tutoring is an efficient way for students to improve their competency. On average, only 22 hours of tutoring are needed for students to improve one year in competency.

2. Escape from the routine

Engaging in volunteer work can provide a positive and fun way to escape from the everyday routine. A recent study by the UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute revealed that volunteering helps people to manage and lower their stress levels.

1. Find purpose

When we help others we also help ourselves. Dedicating a few hours from our time can make a big difference and help us identify our purpose. This can increase our sense of well-being and bring joy to our lives.

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Participating in volunteer work allows you to put into practice your unique skills, ideas and experiences while gaining new perspective and helping others. It certainly benefits you as well as the community that you are serving.

Consider volunteering at FLOC this year. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities and complete an online application at floc.org/get-involved/volunteer.

(Lisvette García is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Associate at FLOC).