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.” 

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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.”

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

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Scholars Program, Student Spotlight

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.)

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)

Scholars Program

Scholars Spring Semester Recap

The Scholars Program had an eventful spring filled with exciting workshops and field trips. The sixth grade Scholars participated in workshops about leadership and identity.  Students enthusiastically identified qualities of a good leader and provided examples of leaders in their families and communities. 6th grade Scholars also created an identity box which included a personal timeline, lists of their favorite things along with a poem about their feelings, desires, and goals.

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The 7th grade students learned how healthy eating and physical exercise impact their performance in school and overall wellbeing. To alleviate personal and academic anxieties, students created stress balls. 7th grade Scholars also researched career fields in education and hospitality where they eventually created their own education nonprofit and toured Omni Hotel.

8th grade Scholars participated in Mock Admission activities where they had the 2015-03-23 19.25.16opportunity to design their own colleges. Students reviewed sample applications and decided who to accept waitlist or deny. 8th grade students also explored what it means to have a healthy verse an unhealthy relationship in all aspects of their life: dating, family, friends, and school.

The 9th grade workshops included discussions about positive self-expression with the help of metaphors; navigating life events and “what if” scenarios; building a timeline of their life experiences; and themes concerning police brutality, how to formulate arguments in a debate, and how to navigate various personal preferences that can help narrow students’ postsecondary choices.

10th grade Scholars spent time researching and developing a 10 Year Plan. Students started the project by talking about what it means to be a self-advocate, the importance of knowing your behavioral style, and creating logos and tag lines that represent who we are. Students wrote about graduating high school, what experiences they would like to have in college and what career they would like to aspire to. Additionally, they built a fictional budget based on the salary of their ideal job and learned how to make a paycheck stretch. 2015-03-18 18.38.58

The 11th grade Scholars focused on their college search.  Each student created a list of ten postsecondary institutions they are interested in applying to during their senior year. They familiarized themselves with the application process, and learned how to determine whether an institution would be a good fit for their career goals, academic skills, and personal interests. Scholars also developed an understanding of the purpose of a personal statement and identified the experiences, activities, and accomplishments that make for compelling and one-of-a-kind essays.

12th grade workshops are designed to introduce seniors to key themes that they will encounter in their postsecondary careers and help them transition successfully from high school. One of our Postsecondary Scholars, India Ellsworth, came to present some information to the seniors about her postsecondary experiences at Penn State-Altoona. She shared valuable insight concerning college life, choosing a major, and time management. The following week, students continued their conversation about the differences between time management in high school and their postsecondary institution and discussed how they defined success personally, professionally, educationally, and socially.

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As the school year comes to an end, we are busy planning for our summer workshops, OEC camps, and SYEP students. Here’s to a great year and an ever better summer!

(Kimberly Davis is the College Access Coordinator with FLOC’s Scholars Program.)

News, Scholars Program

The Middle School Transition: Parents Learn, Share, Advise

One of the greatest challenges that students face when transitioning from elementary school to middle school is organization. From switching classes more often to having a locker, students need support to ensure they are developing healthy habits that will continue for their entire life.

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In March, Bethel Tafari, the Scholars Program Social Work Intern, hosted a middle school parent workshop to share the importance of organization and to provide useful tips so parents can better support their child through this transition. The material that was presented to parents consisted of learning styles, brain development stages, and organizational skill strategies for adolescents.

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Following the material, there was an open discussion. Everyone was able to reflect on the material presented, discuss with each other, and give each other advice on different strategies they have used and worked. They were able to walk away with new information that will help their children in organization with school.

(Sara Dia is the Scholars Advisor.)