News, Scholars Program

College Night 2015

On Wednesday December 16th, FLOC hosted its annual College Night, sponsored by PrepMatters, at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Over 50 parents, students, and alumni met to talk and learn about the college experience. The evening began with a college fair where staff, volunteers, and alumni represented their universities by answering questions posed by curious students. Students were also able to collect brochures and swag provided by colleges and universities all over the country. The fair was also a great place for parents to see just how many college options their students have to choose from.

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After the college fair, parents and students were split up into separate workshops designed to teach them about their role in the college process. The students got to listen to a panel of some our postsecondary students, alumni, an admissions representative, and staff. The students heard stories about how the admissions process works, how to pick a major, transferring to a new college or university, and finding financial aid.

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The students were also able to ask the panel questions. One student, Bethlehem asked “Which major do you pick when you have two things you really want to do?” Desiree on the panel answered that you can do both things. For example, if you’re interested in law and music, you can do music law. It’s more about picking a career nowadays and fitting your major to that. Students also had questions for our panel about college life; Joel, an 11th grader asked “what about the parties?” The panel answered that you’ll find what you’re looking for but you pay lots of money to go to college. It’s about making the right choice and balancing your school work with social life. Thanks to our panel, all of our students learned something new.

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In the next room their parents were also receiving new information from a panel of FLOC alumni, volunteers, and staff. The parent workshop was set up to help parents and family members learn how they can help and support their student through the application process, the financial aid process, and college life. In order to help parents understand how important their support is, Scholars program manager Lindsey Barclay explained the application process and the type of questions the applications ask students to answer. Postsecondary Success Coordinator Veronica Marin also explained that all students have a different process based their personalities and what they want in a college. All of this advice was well received by our parents, some of whom are currently going through this process with their high school seniors. So thanks to our panel, parents are more prepared to support their students on the college journey.

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In order to wrap up the night with a big red bow, we raffled off great gifts including gift cards and a DVD. This year’s College Night was a great evening filled with fun and new information. Thank you to all of our postsecondary students who gave up an evening of their winter break to share with our students, all of our volunteers who came out and shared their experiences, and all of our FLOC staff who represented well for their colleges and universities.

sponsors sign college night 2015

(Joh’nita Johnson is a FLOC Fellow with the Scholars Program. She works primarily with 12th graders and Postsecondary Scholars.)

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Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Scholars Program

Recognition Event Recap

On Friday May 29th, FLOC held its annual recognition event at the Woman’s National Democratic Club to celebrate all the amazing work our students, families, volunteers, and staff accomplished throughout the year. 11th grade Scholars Ghelatia and Johanna emceed, and FLOC staff gave out special awards to students and volunteers in four different categories: Visionary, Unity, Champion, and Empower.

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The Visionary Award celebrates students and volunteers who have a specific goal, a vision for the future, and have identified paths toward that objective.

NTP Student: Giselle
Scholars Student: Demarro
Volunteer: Gerald Mason

The Unity Award celebrates the people at FLOC who demonstrate exceptional relationship building or mentoring skills.

NTP Student: Valerie
Scholars Student: Jenny
Volunteer: Judith Blagrove
Student and Tutor Pair: Delchristoff and Jason Aiken.

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The Champion Award recognizes students and volunteers who are dedicated and committed to their program.

NTP Student: Wesley
Scholars Student: Joel
Volunteers: Bridgette and EJ Palmer

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The Empower awards are given to people who embody all of FLOC’s values. They go above and beyond in whatever their role is.

Partner: Acumen Solutions
Staff: Kimberly Davis
Family: The Ortiz Family
NTP Student and Scholars Student: A’Tyra
NTP Student and Scholars Student: Maura
Volunteer: Elese Sizemore

FLOC also recognized our 8th graders in Scholars and tutoring for an exciting time in their lives. They are all halfway toward completing their postsecondary degrees! To celebrate FLOC put together some High School Survival Kits. The kits included a FLOC notebook, a FLOC water bottle, a folder they could take on college tours, pens, pencils, and candy.

The night ended with time for chatting, eating food, playing games, and taking pictures at the FLOC photo booth. FLOC is excited to see what our students, families, and volunteers will accomplish in the future!

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(Tamarae Hildebrandt is an NTP Site Coordinator.)

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.)

Neighborhood Tutoring Program

Welcome to Saturday reading / Bienvenidos al programa sabatino de lectura

Note:  This blog post features one of our Spanish-speaking parents at FLOC, so we have posted the translated version underneath so he can share in the story telling. / Atención: Esta entrada se trata de uno de los padres hispanohablantes de estudiantes en FLOC por tanto hemos incluido una versión en español más adelante para que él pueda ser parte de esta historia.

One of my favorite aspects of running both of our Saturday tutoring programs is the community atmosphere we have developed with both the volunteers and the families who participate in our programs. This past weekend, for example, the Saturday reading volunteers and staff shared with each other our aspirations for what house we would have been in if we had been characters in the Harry Potter series (shout out to the Hufflepuff house!) Because of our relationship, there are certain volunteers and families that have adopted roles in our programs without even being asked to help. This blog post is my opportunity to highlight a parent who has contributed to the efficiency of our Saturday Reading program since last year and has continued to be a familiar face to both our volunteers and other families.

Stefany and Juan_Sat PMEduardo has been involved with FLOC since his daughter, Stefany, was first enrolled in our Saturday reading program in October 2013. Although he and Stefany’s mother are separated, he takes advantage of the weekends he spends with Stefany and is very proud of bringing her to FLOC every Saturday.

Because of his circumstances growing up in El Salvador, he did not have an opportunity to study. Therefore, when he and Stefany’s mother realized that she needed more academic support, they applied to FLOC so that she could get help with her reading skills. Once she was enrolled, he took on the responsibility of bringing her to FLOC every Saturday – even though he lives in Virginia and she lives in DC. After a few weeks of bringing Stefany to program, he noticed that our staff struggled with welcoming everyone who walked in the door because we were always running around showing new students and tutors the procedures for program each week. So one day, he stood by the door, greeted everyone who walked in, and pointed to them where they needed to go depending on whether they were tutors or a family. Program ran very smoothly that day, and he has continued to help us ever since!

Eduardo shared with me that he helps FLOC because he is very grateful for the opportunity Stefany has here and he is motivated to help us because of how much we help his daughter. When asked about his commitment to FLOC, he said that he honestly does it because “If I die tomorrow, I want her to remember our walks to FLOC. I want her to remember that I used to bring her to this place that taught her so much. I want to be part of her memory of FLOC.”

Stefany also seems to appreciate having her dad around program because, as she says, “If there wasn’t a door helper, nobody else would help!” So if you are ever coming to FLOC on a Saturday after 12:30pm, please be sure to say “thank you” to Eduardo because he will be very excited to welcome you to our Saturday community!

(Aurin Agramonte is the NTP Bilingual Program Coordinator and the site supervisor for both Saturday tutoring programs at FLOC’s Adams Morgan office.) —-

Lo que me encanta más de ser supervisora de los dos programas sabatinos de tutoría  es la comunidad que hemos creado con los voluntarios y las familias que participan en esos programas. Por ejemplo, los voluntarios y nuestro personal pasamos el sábado pasado compartiendo nuestras aspiraciones de cuál casa de Harry Potter nosotros nos identificábamos más (saludos a los que se identifican con la casa Hufflepuff!). Por esa razón, hay algunos voluntarios y padres que han tomado responsabilidades en nuestros programas sin que yo se lo pida. Esta entrada es una dedicación a uno de los padres que ha contribuido a la eficacia de nuestro programa de lectura desde el año pasado y que sigue siendo alguien de confianza para los voluntarios y familias. Stefany and Juan_Sat PM

Eduardo ha participado con FLOC desde que su hija, Stefany, fue matriculada en el programa de lectura en octubre del 2013. Aunque Eduardo y la mamá de Stefany están separados, él se aprovecha del tiempo que pasa con Stefany durante los fines de semanas y está muy orgulloso de traerla a FLOC cada sábado.

Él reconoce la importancia del servicio que le proveemos a Stefany porque él no tuvo la oportunidad de estudiar mucho cuando estuvo más joven. Por tanto, cuando él y la mamá de Stefany se enteraron de que Stefany necesitaba más apoyo escolar, ellos aplicaron para nuestro programa de lectura. Desde el momento que la aceptamos, Eduardo se hizo responsable de traerla al programa cada sábado – aunque él vive en Virginia y ella vive en DC. Después de algunas semanas, Eduardo se dio cuenta de que nosotros necesitábamos ayuda con la entrada porque siempre estábamos ocupadas con ayudar a los tutores y a los estudiantes nuevos del programa – ensenándoles adonde firmar, cuales materiales usar, etc. La próxima semana, él se estacionó cerca de la entrada, les dio las bienvenidas a todas las personas que entraban al edificio, y les indicó donde deben ir dependiendo si eran tutores o estudiantes nuevos. ¡Desde ese día en adelante, Eduardo nos sigue ayudando!

Eduardo me dijo que la razón por la cual él ayuda a FLOC es porque él está muy agradecido por la oportunidad que Stefany tiene aquí y él se motiva a ayudarnos porque nosotros ayudamos a Stefany mucho. Cuando le pregunté específicamente sobre su compromiso con FLOC, dijo que él nos ayuda porque “si me muero mañana, quiero que ella se recuerde nuestros paseos por DC. Quiero que ella se recuerde que fui yo que la traje a FLOC. Quiero ser parte de sus recuerdos de FLOC.”

Stefany también valoriza el puesto de su padre en nuestro programa, porque ella dice que “¡si él no ayuda con la entrada, nadie los ayudara!” Entonces si usted visita a FLOC un sábado después de las 12:30pm, ¡por favor salude a Eduardo porque él estará muy encantado en conocerle!

(Aurin Agramonte es la Coordinadora Bilingüe del Programa de Tutoría y es la supervisora de los dos programas sabatinos de tutoría en oficina de FLOC en Adams Morgan)

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News

FLOC Book Festival: A Great Success

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Students had the opportunity to take home their favorite books.

Our 7th Annual Book Festival took place at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery on Saturday November 16th. Over 130 people attended the event including FLOC students, volunteers, parents, and board members. This year we were able to celebrate our annual literacy event by distributing over 1,170 books to the 73 students who attended.

Marc Tyler Nobleman shared his anecdotes about how he became a writer to the students and their families.
Marc Tyler Nobleman shared his anecdotes about how he became a writer.

One of the highlights of the event was the presentation by author Marc Tyler Nobleman. He explained his start into writing by winning a contest in elementary school and how his love for writing and comic books characters grew over the years into a prominent career. All students were able to walk home with a signed copy of one of his books such as Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. After Nobleman’s presentation, the students rotated through the different areas to meet and take pictures with Super Why from PBS; choose their books; and dress up like super heroes for our FLOC photo booth.

Super Why from PBS and our students.
Our students were very excited to meet Super Why.

We are extremely grateful for getting to partner with PBS this year and to receive extra activities for our students. All students were able to leave with a reading chart which they can send back to PBS after they have read a certain number of books to receive a prize.

The Book Festival was made possible by many great sponsors this year. Over 400 books were donated through book drives held by Raffa, Sedgwick LLP, SIGAL Construction, and University of Maryland’s Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society. We also received over 300 books from Books for America. We would like to thank First Book DC  for a wide variety of new books as well as providing volunteers for the event. Special thanks to JBG Companies for sponsoring the event, especially our board member, Matt Blocher, for making it possible.

Finally, we would also like to thank all of our FLOC families and volunteers for coming out to the event. We hope you enjoyed getting to mingle with some of our staff as well as meet students that are also in the program. We hope to see you all next year!

(Catherine Brenner is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Staff Perspectives

Students and Families Enjoy a Friendly Evening at Butler’s Orchard

Students and their families enjoy the hayride at Butler's Orchard.  Picture taken by Mike Stagnitta, Director of Marketing at The Meltzer Group.
Students and their families enjoy the hayride at Butler’s Orchard.
(Photo by: Mike Stagnitta, Director of Marketing at The Meltzer Group)

Last month, we all took a trip to Butler’s Orchard, courtesy of The Meltzer Group. The trip was a lot of fun! Before we departed FLOC on our way to the pumpkin patch, the families were excited to spend time getting to know each other as they waited for the bus. They enjoyed having the opportunity to chat about their lives and their children outside of the formal events we have at FLOC. The students, on the other hand, used the time to play games like Monopoly, Connect 4, Life, and their version of an office environment.

The fact that they became so comfortable and friendly with one another before the trip helped when assigning folks to different groups. My main goal in forming groups of families was to ensure that every child and parent was accounted for before and during our trip. However, I did not realize that because they had spent so much time together before the trip, the groups helped families get to know each other on a more personal level.

(Photo by: Mike Stagnitta, Director of Marketing at The Meltzer Group)
(Photo by: Mike Stagnitta, Director of Marketing at The Meltzer Group)

Once we arrived, we were greeted by the very friendly staff of The Meltzer Group and Butler’s Orchard. They welcomed us with delicious hot dogs, apples, baked goods, beverages, and smiles! We also had an opportunity to make s’mores and warm up by the two fire pits that were closest to us. After eating, we took a fun hayride trip around the orchard, which ended up being creepier than we had anticipated.

The families and I were extremely grateful to have the opportunity to attend this event, and we look forward to attending it next year!

(Aurin Agramonte is the NTP Bilingual Program Coordinator at  FLOC).