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

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

FLOC Students Take to the Hill

On Friday, April 17th, during DCPS and FLOC spring break, 8 FLOC High School Scholars had the opportunity to be lobbyists for a day.  They began their Capitol Hill visit with a working breakfast, learning and discussing about the U.S. legislative system, how to influence decisions and reach consensus, and the do’s and don’ts of lobbying.  Then the students broke up into teams of two and headed off to House and Senate office buildings to shadow some professional lobbyists and participate in meetings with congressional staffers on topics ranging from health care to cyber security to transportation infrastructure and more.

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One of our high school sophomores got to lobby a congressional staff member on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law (or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), which sets national standards for closing the achievement gap and provides funding for state and local school districts.  Joel had the opportunity to share his own experiences with DC’s annual assessment tests and his recommendation that Congress make college more affordable for all students.

After a full morning of learning and lobbying, it was time for a fantastic lunch in one of the Congressional dining rooms, including ice cream for dessert, and a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Our tour included some of the usual interesting stops, like the Capitol Rotunda and murals, Statuary Hall, the old Supreme Court Chambers,  and the exact center of Washington, DC. But it also included some extra special behind-the-scenes peeks that the general public doesn’t usually get to see, such as visiting the Senate Cloakroom and stepping onto the Senate floor, touring the Minority Leader’s office, and a ride on the Capitol subway.  Many thanks to the staff from the offices of the National Governors Association, Senate Sergeant at Arms, Senator Bennett from Colorado  and the staff of the Democratic Cloak Room for making this tour possible, plus the Senate pages who spoke to us about their lives as high school students living and working in DC for the semester.

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Our group of students included an aspiring politician and a young woman set on being the “second Latina Supreme Court Justice,” so the insiders glimpse into our political process was such a fabulous experience to help them on their career journey!

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

Scholars Program

Scholars Program Pilots New SAT Prep Model

Preparing for the SAT exam is a daunting process for many students. It requires a lot of practice and focused attention. This year the Scholars Program is excited to pilot a new SAT prep model that provides our 11th grade students with targeted reading and math instruction.

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With the help of our partner organization, Prep Matters, we were able to train six volunteers to tutor small groups of students for twelve weeks. As opposed to past years where students received both reading and math prep in one night, this year students will work on one subject for six weeks and then rotate, to ensure quality instruction of each subject.  And with the expanded number of volunteers working in SAT prep, students are able to work in smaller groups and receive more personalized instruction.

Photo Oct 23, 1 02 40 PMAlthough still in its first few weeks, student have mastered new concepts such as sentence completion and number theory as a result of our volunteer SAT Coaches and this new, more individualized attention.  We look forward to seeing continued growth as the weeks continue!

(Kimberly Davis is the College Access Coordinator for the FLOC Scholars Program.)

Scholars Program, Staff

Meet Our New Scholars Staff!

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.

kaylaKayla 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

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.

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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.

ianIan McPherson is the Program Instructor for 12th Grade Scholars and is from
Whiteville, North Carolina.  He attended Campbell University and Saint Louis University and comes to FLOC through Discipleship Year.  Ian is excited to celebrate postsecondary acceptance letters.

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Scholars Program, Staff Perspectives

FLOC celebrates 9th Annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards

Last week, FLOC held the 9th Annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards at the Woman’s National Democratic Club. The event was well attended with a great mix of students, families, and volunteers from both the Neighborhood Tutoring Program (NTP) and the Scholars program. What I loved most about the event was that we highlighted everyone together. All of our honorees were recognized for embodying the values of dreaming, advocating, and bridge building. For those who were not able to attend the event, I would like to share some of the important moments of the event.

The first is a sentimental moment where a colleague and I were able to honor one of our FLOC advocates who had recently passed away. Her name was Fanny Canar and she first arrived at FLOC’s door in the fall of 2006 to get tutoring support for her daughter. Although NTP was not the right fit for her daughter, she ended up enrolling her into the Scholars program and later became an advocate for many other families who needed FLOC’s free educational services. Over the course of 8 years, Fanny would ask questions about the enrollment process, take applications and she would even follow up with families when we needed help. She was a true believer of FLOC and she will be dearly missed. I am so blessed to have known her and to have participated in the portion of the ceremony commemorating her.

Another memorable part of our ceremony was when we honored our 8th graders for being halfway to college. We named that portion of the ceremony, “Halfway Day 2014”,  because that is exactly what my mentor did for me when I was in 8th grade. She bought shirts with our college graduation date on the front for everyone in my class and she encouraged us to dream and plan for that date. I was strongly impacted by her gesture and her involvement in my life that I thought it would be appropriate to replicate that with our 8th graders. Here is a picture of the four 8th graders who attended the event and received a shirt!

Eighth graders celebrate being halfway to college!
Eighth graders celebrate being halfway to college!

Finally, the event ended with a very touching and powerful video that showed our students, families, and volunteers talking about their dreams, their bridge-building skills, and their motivation to be advocates.

Overall, the event was a success and I am so glad to have been part of the planning process. I couldn’t have done it without my co-chair Kimberly Davis, the Scholars Program College Access Coordinator, and the committee: Elizabeth Metz, the Recruitment and Outreach Manager, Jim Coleman, NTP Site Coordinator, Lauren Ballinger, Scholars Program Instructor, and Ibsaa Adam, NTP Site Coordinator. Thank you to everyone who attended the event and all of the FLOC staff who helped us bring the event to life! We couldn’t have done it without all of you!

(Aurin Agramonte is the NTP Bilingual Program Coordinator)

Development, News, Scholars Program

First Ever #ProofPointDay to Recognize First Generation College Students and Allies

Today, on May 30, 2014 first generation students and allies are helping to raise awareness of what it’s like being a first generation college student in the first ever #ProofPointDay. The idea for the campaign came from Chastity Lord, the current CEO of Achievement First Public Charter Schools in New York City. She wanted to have a day for “communities across our country where college graduation is not an expectation are surrounded by thousands of visible and vocal #proofpoint first generation students and allies – creating a new narrative about what is possible.”

FLOC is proud to support this endeavor as an ally to our own first generation college students in the Postsecondary Scholars Program and our future first generation college students in our Middle School and High School Scholars Programs. To learn more about #ProofPointDay you can visit the campaign website and to learn how you can get involved with FLOC’s Scholars, please visit our volunteer page.

We asked some of our students what being a first generation college student means to them, check out some of their responses below:

Kelsey – University of Maryland College Park

Being a first generation college student means beating the odds and achieving your dreams. It means making my mother proud; setting an example for my younger sister; and being a role model to other Latinos and undeserved minority that achieving a higher education is possible. It’s an experience that has impacted my life in the best possible way, and it would have not been possible without the help of FLOC!

Jennifer – Montgomery College

Being a first generation college student to me means ending the cycle of poverty that my family has been in.  I am setting the example for the future generations to teach them that being successful is the best thing there is and that education is the key to success.  Going back to that poverty is not the answer and I will show them that. That’s what being a first generation college student means to me.

Erica – Pace University

To be a first generation college student means that I can carry out the knowledge that I have gained from so many people.  It’s an honor to say that I made it to college and will graduate.  It will give me opportunities that I could never imagine and for that I am grateful.

Adam – Salisbury University

As a first generation college student I learned the importance of education. I see opportunities that I have in the future for me and help people as they help me throughout my struggle times.  By going to college I can succeed as an individual and become a better student.

Alayna – Penn State University

It means to me, that there is more pressure.  Since you’re the first you have to set an example for yourself and your family, to try to overcome adversity.

David –Trinity Washington University

Being a first generation college student means a lot to me, because I am opening the door for my young siblings and showing that that if I can do it they can too.  Also for them to see how an education can change someone’s life.  Being a first generation student allows me to make my family be proud of me for the great things I have achieved.  It has allowed me to go out their help inspire other kids and show them the importance of an education.

Jasmine– Washington Adventist University

People didn’t think I was going to attend college, because I was so in love with dance.  They thought I just grow up to be a dancer and nothing else.  Being a 1st generation student, allows me to show people that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.  I am glad that I am a college student; that I am a 1st generation student.

Nicholas – Sewanee: The University of the South

For me, it means that my parents aren’t able to help me in some aspects of my college life.  But it’s also a source of motivation from my parents as they want me to take advantage of opportunities they never had.

(Kate Fleischer is the Development Assistant at FLOC).

News, Scholars Program, Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Caroline Fichtenberg

caroline

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.”

Caroline represents Princeton University, her alma mater, during FLOC College Night.
Caroline represents Princeton University, her alma mater, at FLOC College Night 2013.

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).

News, Scholars Program, Student Spotlight

Meet Tewabech: A Self-Determined and Artistic Scholar at FLOC

Tewabech

Upon first interaction, Tewabech doesn’t strike you as a typical high school student. She’s reading George Orwell’s 1984 a second time for fun – this time outside of class to get more meaning out if it. If for some reason you needed ceramic carving tools, Tewabech could pull hers out of her backpack for you to borrow.

Tewabech is currently an 11th grader at arts-magnet high school Duke Ellington and this is her fourth year partaking in FLOC programming. Although her school lets out later than most, she makes the effort to come to FLOC each Wednesday for SAT prep.

She is a talented artist who is also passionate about science.  We witnessed her eyes light up as she learned of the Smithsonian’s prestigious summer internship opportunity called the Youth Engagement through Science (YES!) program. She was diligent and determined in completing her application and we wish her the best of luck.

Not only does Tewabech take her academics seriously, but she also places strong value on her relationship with teachers at school and staff members at FLOC. She is articulate in conversation and possesses maturity beyond her 17 years.  She emphasizes the importance of her family, and serves as a great role model for her younger sister, who she picks up every Monday from the Middle School Scholars Program.

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FLOC staff members unanimously agree that Tewabech has a bright future.  As a 10th grade student in the Scholars Program last year, she combined her drawing skills and her ambitious dreams to create an exemplary “10 Year Plan.”

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Tewabech wrote about getting good grades and building strong friendships in high school, and envisioned herself extending her college-going years to attend medical school and become an anesthesiologist.  She planned to never lose sight of her passion for art, and when making her budget for life after college, she recognized the importance of both saving and spending smart.

(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).