Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Student Perspectives, Student Spotlight

My Experience at FLOC (Libby’s Report)

Libby is a FLOC 8th grader and future journalist. She’s reporting to us today from the Saturday Afternoon Reading program. Here’s Libby:

Libby and Sarah Post Test 1Hello, my name is Libby, and I’m in the eighth grade. Today, I will be telling about my experience in FLOC and how it helps me learn.

This year, I have learned a lot in FLOC. I have improved in my vocabulary and in my reading in school. My teachers were really excited when I improved in my reading. I think FLOC is a great place for someone who needs help with reading or math. I also improved on my writing because my tutor Sarah and I do journaling. Journaling is when you have to pick a subject and write about it and then your tutor checks for any mistakes and how you can improve. I think improvements will help me because I want to become a journalist or a lawyer, but for each one you need reading and writing. FLOC is the best place to improve on reading or math.

My favorite memory of FLOC is when I met Sarah. Sarah was really nice to me when I met her and that was my favorite memory because it was the first time meeting someone from the government (Sarah works for government when she’s not volunteering). Sarah is really a understanding person. She’s nice, caring, radical, makes delicious cookies and is THE BEST TUTOR EVER!!! If Sarah is in FLOC next year I hope I’ll be with her again.

Libby and Sarah College Week

In conclusion, I think anyone who reads this should take my advice because FLOC is a great way to catch up to your education.

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News, Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Middle School Pen Pals

For the third year in a row, FLOC Scholars in Washington have been pen pals this semesterhello with FLOC Leaders in Action students in West Virginia. These middle schoolers live less than two hours away from one another, but those 70 miles represent a significant difference between the urban environment of DC and the rural environment of Jefferson County. As program wraps up this month in both places, we thought we’d take a look back at the letters these middle school students have written over the last few months and the relationships they’ve formed in the process.

DC Scholars 6th Grade Pen Pals Project (2)

The letters begin with lots of questions:

“What is your school like?”  “What is your favorite thing to do outside?” “What do you want to do when you grow up?” “Who likes Chick-fil-a?” “Do you like to read? Do you like to play? Do you like homework?”

And continue with requested answers:

“When I grow up, I want to be an underwater mechanic.” “My winter break was good. I did watch The Hunger Games. It was good, but it was a bit sad.” “We’ve missed about a week and a half of school because of snow. We went sledding, snowboarding, and shoveled snow.” 

group of letters

They’re chatty, inquisitive, friendly, and colorful, punctuated with drawings and P.S.’s and  jokes. They talk about their favorite foods and TV shows, video games and YouTube stars, Star Wars and Deadpool and Alvin and the Chipmunks, winter break snow and spring break plans. They shatter misconceptions (No, the West Virginians don’t live in barns. Yes, there are places to sled in DC.) There’s even a little touch of election politics conversation.

WV LIA Charles Town Middle School Pen Pal Project

Most of all, it’s clear that for all these students live in different communities, they have a lot more in common than not. It’s also clear that friendships are blossoming via their writing.

“It has been a good experience to communicate with you… I hope to see you in summer camp.”

SAP-8811

(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Kevin

Kevin Mayer-edited

Kevin is a Thursday night math tutor, who has been volunteering at FLOC ever since he moved here from the Midwest a few years ago. During the week, he is an engineer at a company that designs solar panels, but he always had an interest in tutoring. One day, Kevin came across FLOC in the comments section of a Reddit article on volunteering in DC, and the rest is history!

For Kevin, tutoring is a nice change from his day job; he enjoys hanging out with the kids, and being able to give back to the community by volunteering. One of his favorite FLOC memories is from summer tutoring a couple of years ago: Kevin wished his student luck at her upcoming track meet, and she melted his heart by responding, “Good luck at your job! I know you’ll do well because you’re so smart!”

Tutoring at FLOC has helped Kevin to grow both personally and professionally.  Professionally, he feels as though he is better able to explain complicated concepts to others outside of the engineering sphere. Personally, Kevin said that he has enjoying gaining a better perspective about his community and a greater appreciation for his own education.

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

Scholars Program

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.)

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!

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.

20151104_191012_001
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.)