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Bay Area Googler Fuels Student Success By Recruiting Others to Teach

Jeff Breau helps recruit California Googlers like the one pictured here to volunteer to teach Bay Area middle school students

Jeff Breau helps recruit Bay Area Googlers, like the one pictured here, to volunteer to teach middle school students

Jeff Breau, a Googler in San Francisco, has been a personal supporter of Citizen Schools since 2011. Over the years as a volunteer Citizen Teacher he taught three apprenticeships to middle school students in the Bay Area including Rockin’ Robots, Train Your Brain, and Reading the News. Jeff was recently promoted and found himself with a busy travel schedule, making it hard to commit to a semester of teaching. Asking himself “How much am I able to do?” he switched gears and began inspiring colleagues to invest their time volunteering with Citizen Schools. His encouragement worked. Since last spring, Jeff has helped our California team recruit 32 volunteers!

Citizen Schools: Who or what inspired you when you were young?

Jeff Breau: An experiment my dad did with my grade school class comes to mind. He was a professor of microbiology and brought experiments into my class from time to time.  I specifically remember getting excited about one where he brought petri dishes into the class.  We all rubbed our toes in our dish and waited for the cultures to grow, and then look at the different patterns they all made. That really awakened me to science and biology, the hidden micro world!

CS: Why do you think it’s important to provide students with real-world, hands-on opportunities?

JB: Kids aren’t always aware of what adults are doing, and what they could be doing when they get older. Citizen Schools is a way to expose them to more opportunities, creating a better chance for them to find what fuels them to succeed.

CS: What is one of your “aha” or “WOW!” moments from teaching?

JB: I taught an apprenticeship called “Reading the News.” I wanted to hook kids with topics that interested them, like music and sports, and transition them to bigger news stories on international and political levels. My “aha” moment happened when the students organically began debating Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea. They had a conversation about whether Rodman should have visited, if his visit was beneficial or not, and if his trip went against the wishes of the President. Making the leap from a basketball star to the political climate of North Korea with seventh and eighth graders made it apparent that these students were connecting to news stories at a deeper level.

CS: What was it that inspired your work as an organizer to engage more Google Citizen Teachers?

JB:  My new role requires me to travel a good deal and becoming an organizer seemed to be a natural segue. My experience managing teams and organizing events paired with support from Google and Faith [Lin], the Senior Manager of Civic Engagement in CA, made it possible for me to expand my impact. If I recruited 10 Citizen Teachers who impacted 25 students each, I am still doing something good.

CS: How does Google support your involvement with Citizen Schools?

JB: As a Citizen Teacher I had a ton of support all the way up through senior the VP and Executive levels of the company from Christina [Christina Wire, Director Google Helpouts] and Claire [Claire Hughes Johnson, Vice President Google X] who share my excitement for Citizen Schools’ mission. It wasn’t just the luck of also having a great manager, although I did have that, but they recognize that 1-2 hours of outwork time was beneficial and it had only been encouraged. They were all truly supportive of me giving time to the community. Additionally, Google has a tool to log volunteer hours and they give money to your organization based on the hours you work. [Google also supports Citizen Schools as a National Leadership Partner, providing $3.25 million since 2011.]

CS: How did your time as a Citizen Teacher affect your professional development or growth at Google?

JB: Obvious and tangible benefits were that I was able to work on leadership skills and work with different people across Google. Increasing the number of people I knew and worked closely with was great. I found that teaching made my normal job easier to come back to, after teaching I felt rejuvenated and recharged returning to my desk.

Each week I was exposed to so many different viewpoints from kids and I spent time trying to get each of them excited.  Making a subject interesting is a great skill to have, one that was shaped by the work I did with Citizen Schools. Bringing it back to Google, I was just applying it to a different audience.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Citizen Schools to Expand STEM Footprint Nationally with US2020

CONTACT: Holly Trippett, Citizen Schools, (617) 695-2300 x1161 or (301)-452-3904, hollytrippett@citizenschools.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CITIZEN SCHOOLS TO EXPAND STEM FOOTPRINT NATIONALLY WITH US2020

The National Organization Looks to Increase STEM Programming as it Enters its 20th Anniversary

BOSTON, MA – October 7, 2014 – Today Citizen Schools, a leading national education nonprofit, announced that it will be expanding its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming by retaining US2020 as a key part of its efforts to provide real-world STEM learning to middle schools in low-income communities.

Citizen Schools partners with public middle schools to dramatically expand the learning day, mobilizing a team of AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and volunteers who provide academic support and teach hands-on “apprenticeships” that help students make connections between what they are learning now and a future career pathway.

US2020 is an initiative that has been incubated by Citizen Schools since it was announced by President Obama at the 2013 White House Science Fair. Inspired by a White House call to generate large-scale solutions to the nation’s educational challenges in the STEM fields, US2020’s goal is to match 1 million STEM mentors with students by the year 2020.

As Citizen Schools enters its 20th anniversary year in 2015, US2020 will provide a unique opportunity to expand the depth of Citizen Schools’ services and extend its impact to new communities. There are important synergies including focusing on serving low-income communities and underrepresented minorities, a recognition that the STEM fields are vital to the growth of the country, and a commitment to connect mentors to students.

“It is crucial to expose middle school students to engaging learning experiences with STEM professionals, who connect the dots between the STEM subjects and everyday life,” said Steven Rothstein, CEO of Citizen Schools. “We are excited to expand our reach with US2020, which has already made great strides to positively impact communities across the country, including cities beyond Citizen Schools’ current footprint.”

“Millions of scientists and technology experts have the ability to inspire students who need their support most,” said Eric Schwarz, Executive Chairman of US2020 and Co-Founder of Citizen Schools. “US2020 and nonprofits like Citizen Schools are helping STEM professionals provide a level of engagement that can change the trajectory of STEM education nationally by equalizing access to STEM experiences and careers.”

US2020 is helping to build the national supply and demand for STEM mentors by partnering with Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits, matching committed volunteers with quality programs and evaluating volunteer and student impact. To create powerful STEM movements at the local level, US2020 launched a City Competition and identified seven winning cities in May. As a part of this “City Network,” the cities have access to a variety of resources to help scale high-quality STEM mentoring efforts, ranging from financial and consulting support to an increase in capacity with AmeriCorps VISTA members.”

Discovery Communications, the parent company to the Discovery Channel, joined the initiative in May as an exclusive media partner. On October 1, Discovery released a Public Service Announcement, starring MythBusters’ co-host Kari Byron, promoting STEM education and mentorship. The PSA will air nationally across Discovery’s portfolio of 13 U.S. networks.

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit http://www.citizenschools.org/.

US2020 and Discovery Communications “Connect The Dots” of STEM Education with New PSA

US2020, an organization with the mission of matching 1 million STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) mentors with students at youth-serving nonprofits by the year 2020 that is being incubated within Citizen Schools, partnered with Discovery Communications to release a new PSA to promote STEM education and mentorship. The “Connect the Dots” PSA draws connections between hands-on STEM learning and everyday life to inspire student interest in the STEM subjects and careers. Watch “Connect the Dots” and find out more about how you can get involved: http://bit.ly/1rnrsHP

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Citizen Schools to be Featured on American Graduate Day 2014!

Live from Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in NYC, airing September 27 at 3PM EST

Day-long Multiplatform Event Celebrates the “Stories of Champions” — Individuals and Organizations Committed to Improving Outcomes for Youth and Raising Graduation Rates   

National Broadcast to Showcase Citizen School’ Efforts to Address the Needs of At-Risk Kids

This video will appear during Citizen Schools’ segment on American Graduate Day.

American Graduate Day 2014 returns this fall for its third consecutive year. Wes Moore, best-selling author and U.S. Army veteran, will host the all-day broadcast on September 27 which will feature Citizen Schools at 3pm on public television stations nationwide. The annual multiplatform event is part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, helping communities bolster graduation rates through the power and reach of local public media stations. Featuring seven hours of national and local programming, live interviews and performances, American Graduate Day 2014 will celebrate the exceptional work of individuals and organizations across the country who are American Graduate Champions: those helping local youth stay on track to college and career successes.

“Every child deserves a quality education and an opportunity for success,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). “The high school graduation numbers are moving in the right direction because people have stepped up as champions for students on behalf of their communities, committed to improving outcomes for all of our nation’s youth. On American Graduate Day, local public media stations will be celebrating the inspirational stories that are contributing to the progress.”

“We are proud to be included in American Graduate Day as an organization that is lifting opportunities for middle school youth in low-income communities,” said Steven Rothstein​, CEO of Citizen Schools. “Individuals and organizations have a vital role to play in ensuring that students are prepared and supported on the path to graduation and future success.”

During Citizen Schools’ segment, NBC News education correspondent, Rehema Ellis, will interview a Citizen Schools 8th grade student, volunteer, and program leader about the STEM (science, engineering, technology, and math) education focus of Citizen Schools’ program at partner school Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark. Eighth grader, Jacor will demonstrate the fun and hands-on way he learned about math and science through building a model solar and racing it at competition. The volunteer who teaches Solar Cars, Piyush Modak from Endomedix, will share the joy and professional growth she has experienced through teaching and learning from the students each week, and seeing the impact that her passion for STEM can have on kids. They will be joined by Citizen Schools Deputy Campus Director, Chanelle Baylor, to discuss the partnership between Citizen Schools and Eagle Academy that furthers student learning, while supporting teachers, and providing hands-on project-based learning. Projects like what Jacor did with solar cars allows students to transform into young scientists, engineers, astronauts, business owners, and programmers, helping them see the connections between their academics, real-world careers, and how they can achieve their dreams for their future.

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“Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach”

From “Amazing Mazes” to “Life on Mars,” Citizen Teacher Haggai Mark has developed and taught a variety of computer science apprenticeships for over four years. His experience with Citizen Schools impacted his decision to transition from 30 years as an engineer to a full time Computer Science Curriculum Developer and teacher in California!

Name: Haggai Mark

Title:  High School Computer Science Curriculum Developer and Teacher

What was the most recent apprenticeship you taught? A STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and programming apprenticeship I developed, called “Meet Me on Mars”. Students learned how to write a game/program using Scratch (developed at MIT) to simulate a simplified solar system, and a launch of a rocket from Earth to Mars.

How did you hear about Citizen Schools? Through work (I worked at Cisco Systems in San Jose, CA. Cisco is a National Leadership Partner of Citizen Schools).

Why do you think it’s important to provide students with real-world, hands-on opportunities?

We as human beings learn a lot by doing, regardless of age. Exposing students to new areas of knowledge and new experiences is like opening windows for them, and letting the light shine in. Giving them hands-on opportunities and examples for doing things with this knowledge is like giving them the wings to fly through these windows.

As Albert Einstein said: “Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.” I think that Citizen Schools enables and supports this kind of mindset.

What surprised you most about the students and teaching experience?

An important insight I got after teaching different courses and multiple classes is that you never know exactly which “seeds” are going to fall on fertile ground and grow. In other words, in the complex interaction between your personality as a teacher, the material you are trying to teach, the ways you are teaching it, the students you are interacting with, the knowledge and interests they have, and their personality, it’s very hard to predict which “nuggets” of knowledge and skills are really going to take hold, and make an impact on them. And that’s why it’s important to try different ways and different things, and most importantly – persevere. Sometimes you think you are not reaching them and then they totally blow you away with their actions and insights!

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