Outdoor Education Center

Happy and Healthy New Year!

 

December brought the Health and Nutrition Unit to a close for the WV Leaders in Action students, but not before some final lessons about the body’s need for a well-rounded approach to fitness.  Not only does health and fitness include cardio and strength activities, but stretching and flexibility activities as well.  They’re not just for gymnasts and cheerleaders, martial artists or dancers. Stretching is how a person maintains normal flexibility throughout life.

A person may not be able to function normally if a joint lacks normal movement. The ability to move a joint through an adequate range of movement (ROM) is important for daily activities in general.  Tightness or loss of ROM happens quite readily in our culture with much of our education and work happening in the sitting position at a desk.  The major areas of our hamstrings, hip-flexors, back, and neck are most commonly affected.  With losses of ROM, simple activities such as walking, biking, and playing can be restricted, more difficult, or even just less enjoyable.  As a point of remedy and wellness, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.1

stretching

So with all of this in mind, of course we headed outside with our students to learn some simple and easy active and static stretches to help them maintain and improve their capacity and ability to play and enjoy life.  How much they take care of their bodies is a decision that our students will have to make. But how might their health affect their education, I wondered?  After a bit a research, I came across this article2 which gives input into that very question.  Although complex, the answer is in short… of course their educational experience is impacted by their health.

As the semester came to a close, I wondered if there’s a larger lesson embedded in all of this as well.  Maintaining physical flexibility can be helpful to enjoy life and potentially take on new types of movements and activities more readily.  Can this be a metaphor for other aspects of who we are?  Mental flexibility can help us to think in new ways, adapt to different situations, or understand new concepts.  Emotional flexibility can help us cope with a variety of experiences or be less judgmental toward our peers. These skills can be important aspects on the path towards post-secondary education success.

So here’s to a brand new start filled with resolutions of all kinds that help us to loosen up in many ways. Wishing you, and all of our students, a happy and healthy new year.

References:

  1. http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise
  2. http://hubpages.com/health/Does-health-affect-education

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV) 

Neighborhood Tutoring Program, Outdoor Education Center, Scholars Program

Sparking Success in 2014: A Look Back at a Wonderful Year

imageAs we enter the last month of the year, let’s take a look back at all we’ve achieved together in 2014.  Today, FLOC joins the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates in telling stories of our students’ successes.  Some highlights of the year:

In our Neighborhood Tutoring Program,  77% of students made at least six months improvement in reading or math and 62% made at least one year of improvement in reading or math during the school year.

Our Scholars Program once again celebrated 100% on-time graduation of our 18 high school seniors in the class of 2014.

GamiLouBeli

High school seniors submitted 100 applications to public and
private postsecondary institutions, and 100% were accepted into a postsecondary institution.

One senior received the Posse Foundation’s full tuition scholarship to The University of Rochester.

Over 500 volunteers contributed their time regularly to our programs at some point in 2014, including spring semester, summer program, and the beginning of this current school year.

And we chronicled all our exciting moments on this very blog.   Some story highlights:

In January, we introduced you to a new community- and capacity-building effort some of our most dedicated volunteers were spearheading.

In February, you heard the news as brought to you by a talented and
confident student in our reading tutoring program.

In March, our Middle School Scholars investigated and reported on careers that interested them.

In April, we took you on a tour of our NTP school site at Tubman Elementary.

st joesIn May, we filled you in on all the exciting details of our 11th grade Spring Break College Tour to six schools and five states in five days.

In June, we were in celebration mode as we gave out awards at the annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards and also honored our graduates at the annual Fred Taylor Scholarship Dinner.

In July, we were hard at work (and play!) in our summer tutoring program.

In August, we introduced you to one of our outstanding High School Scholars and told you all about the summer writing workshops that he and his peers participated in.

In September, we took a look back at the many Scholars in the Workplace visits our students embarked upon this spring and summer.

In October, our Scholars kicked off a new school year by heading to MS OEC trip 1West Virginia for a visit to the FLOC Outdoor Education Center.

In November, we told you about a new model for getting our 11th graders ready for the SAT.

Which brings us to December…

Before the year is out, we’ll get in another two weeks of math and reading tutoring and college access and success programming.  We’ll celebrate our annual College Night event at GW and mark the end of the semester with festive holiday parties.  And we’ll keep our eyes on the future, continuing to empower our students to spark their own success stories and working to reach more students than ever before.

Here’s to another exciting year ahead in 2015!

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(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager.)

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.

kurt

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.

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

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, Scholars Program

Scholars Kickoff Spring Semester with Theme Workshops

scholars1-16

In the Scholars Program we began this spring semester with theme programming: four weeks of project based learning.  Before break we had students rank topics they were most excited to learn about. Starting this week Scholars were placed in mixed grade level workshops.  Students were able to expand their intellectual curiosity and build new relationships through exploring various topics and interacting with students from different grades.

On Monday night, Middle School Scholars re-created the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in “Wonders of the World” workshop, while students in “Political Art and Music” created artistic posters and poems in response to bullying. Our final group learned the difference between whole and processed food while competing in Scholar’s own Top Chef: “You are What You Eat”.

Scholars enjoyed getting their hands messy and engaging in thought-provoking discussions that pushed them to think outside of the box. We are excited to introduce theme programming to our High School Scholars as they are going to participate in similar workshops, with the addition of yoga to get their mind and body centered for post-secondary success.

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

Events, News, Staff Perspectives

A Look at College Night 2013

High school students during the roundtable discussions.
High school students converse with post-secondary students during the roundtable discussions.

On Wednesday, December 18th, FLOC held a College Night for our Scholars Program at George Washington University. The program was divided into two blocks: a college fair for the first hour, followed by age-specific workshops and roundtable discussions. Overall, the night was a resounding success—we had 121 guests attend, over 25 post-secondary schools represented, and effective workshops for all involved. As someone who wasn’t involved in the planning process, I was able to fully appreciate the night with no added stress. Here were my five biggest takeaways:

1. The Spanish speaking parent workshop was met with tremendous optimism.

Spanish speaking parents participate of a workshop facilitated by Aurin Agramonte and Lisvette García.
Spanish speaking parents participate in a workshop facilitated by Aurin Agramonte and Lisvette García.

As we integrate more Spanish speaking families into FLOC, it’s our job to find ways to accommodate their presence at our events. The college process is more than a student experience, and it’s important that students’ families are just as informed as they are. The Spanish speaking workshop provided nearly identical content to the English version next door, giving information parents’ were extremely receptive to as well as a platform for them to share their thoughts and experiences. It was so well received that many of the parents requested additional workshops in the future for more chances to learn and communicate, something we’re now in the process of implementing.

2. The post-secondary networking workshop was the highlight of the night.

In this workshop we had FLOC volunteers meet with our current post-secondary students to learn about potential avenues stemming from their studies, and to learn about jobs that may or may not be directly tied to their majors. Both sides felt the time was very worthwhile, and it’s always exciting to continue to help our students beyond high school.

3. The number one question I was asked during the college fair concerned my alma mater’s athletic program.

Jim Coleman addressing questions from a student during the College Fair.
Jim Coleman addresses questions from a student during the college fair.

And that’s totally OK. The vast majority of the students that came to my booth weren’t entirely sure what they wanted to study, and handing them a list of seventy undergraduate programs can cause more than just anxiety. Comfort on campus can be hugely influential in the mental well-being of a college student, so I was more than happy to talk about my school’s demographics, clubs, and sport teams.

4. Our students have high aspirations.

This was self-evident when the biggest complaint from the students regarding the event was that there weren’t enough Ivy League schools represented during the college fair. I fielded a lot of questions in regards to certain majors, specific professors, the sincerity of advising departments, and professional placement. Overall I was very impressed.

5. FLOC is awesome.

Najé, a FLOC alumni, represents her school during the college fair.
Najé, a current post-secondary Scholar, proudly represents her college.

So maybe this isn’t something I just figured out but how amazing is it that FLOC can offer help and guidance from first grade through high school until a post-secondary degree? These same individuals come back to help current students navigating the same process they went through, while simultaneously creating some type of beautiful, organic, self-sustaining network. FLOC now has a Postsecondary Success Coordinator who is working to expand this network to not only help current college students, but to aid in job placement as well. There’s a reason I chose to suspend my life for a year to volunteer here, and nights like these make it easy to remember why.

(Jim Coleman is an NTP Site Coordinator at FLOC).