News

Great Strides by U.S. Senate to Improve Education

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Great news from Capitol Hill!

Today the U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), a bipartisan overhaul of the long-expired No Child Left Behind education law, by a vote of 81-17. Citizen Schools commends the Senate for their leadership in producing legislation that preserves federal programs critical to expanded learning, and provides enough flexibility to support high-quality expanded learning time!

Following today’s vote in the Senate, both chambers of Congress are expected to form a conference committee to develop a bicameral agreement to send to the President. The Senate and House will have to find common ground among their two bills to ultimately ensure every child in every school receives an excellent education.

Branding a Leader

What does it take to be a highly effective leader? Confidence, integrity and action immediately come to mind. But according to Shraddha Nunziata, Citizen Schools’ Campus Director of Renaissance School of the Arts in East Harlem, New York, it doesn’t stop there. She shares her journey of discovering why a “personal leadership brand” is another important component in building leadership.

When I switched from teaching into campus leadership, my organization, Citizen Schools, invested in my professional development. I learned so much about myself as a leader, skills that I could have leveraged in the classroom had I learned them earlier. One powerful workshop I attended was, “Leadership Styles: Developing the Personal Leader,” facilitated by IBM. IBM performs philanthropy through sharing knowledge and expertise. In lieu of monetary donations, IBM conducts workshops for a range of groups on a wide variety of topics.

I found the IBM leadership workshop particularly compelling because I started the workshop by providing my goals for the session, and I left with a clear plan for myself and my team. The expertise of the presenters, the mix of attendees, and the combination of personalities, meant people were eager to contribute, honestly expressed their opinions, and shared insights into personal leadership development as well as the climate of our organization as a whole.

IBM photo

Workshop in action!

Having a leadership brand is a basic requirement, but as a teacher-turned-leader, this idea is a life-changing concept. The highly effective leaders around me all have their leadership brands. My principal’s is “get to the point and always say yes”.  My assistant principal’s is “confidence is key”.  What is mine?  My brand should drive my work as a leader; my roles and responsibilities should stem from my brand.  For example, my brand is “cultivating openness through personal honesty”.  It’s still a work in progress, but I know I am an open book and my honesty and openness makes others feel comfortable.

The bulk of my work as a leader should stem from this mantra, so my time should be spent in coaching conversations with my teachers, leading trainings on classroom management, and delegating tasks based on my team members’ personal strengths. I need to eliminate mundane, but surprisingly enjoyable, spreadsheet-based tasks and empower other team members to develop in those areas. To execute on my brand, I should spend the bulk of my time building relationships, fostering vulnerability, and coaching others to reflect on their practice and grow as teachers.

The facilitators of the IBM workshop based most of their key points on the Daniel Goleman article, “Leadership that Gets Results” from the Harvard Business Review. It has a great layout of six leadership styles and their impact on team/organizational climate. The results were surprising: an authoritative leadership style has the most positive effects on climate, followed closely by an affiliative and democratic styles. I had the personal realization that I can make my natural inclination toward affiliative and democratic styles work for me by being more authoritative: establishing a clear vision and empowering others to join me in executing the vision.

My hope is that people who are transitioning into new roles, particularly from teaching, know what’s out there for them in terms of professional leadership development. For any career changer or career advancer, building self-awareness in the context of working with others is key to making an impact. If you, the professional, can identify your strengths and your personal brand, it’s easier to adapt to any environment, flex communication styles, and create a climate that gets results. If you aren’t lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in an IBM workshop, read the Goleman article for a great primer.

 

Celebrate Ahmed Elsayed as the June Citizen Teacher of the Month!

Citizen Teachers

Citizen Teachers at the WOW!

Volunteer Citizen Teachers pair their personal passions with their expertise when teaching apprenticeships, helping to foster student excitement around new areas of study and future possibilities.

This spring, Ahmed Elsayed of Hikvision paired his enthusiasm for alternative energy with his engineering skills to teach an apprenticeship on alternative energy vehicles to students at Chase Elementary School in Chicago, IL. Students spent ten weeks learning about different ways to fuel and design a vehicle. At the final presentation, called a “WOW!”, students presented their designs for a car that used alternative energy. The apprenticeship was provided through a new partnership with Hikvision fostered through the leadership of Anna Boudinot, Content Manager.

“Hikvision is growing fast in the U.S. We’re in the process of creating the identity of the company here,” shared Anna. “One important element we wanted as part of our growth is to create an environment supporting employees who want to give back the community. As a tech company, we wanted to team up with a non-profit dedicated to STEM education. The U.S. is lagging behind in this field and can’t address the growing need for people with training in STEM within the U.S. I started doing some research and came across Citizen Schools. I reached out to Hikvision employees and presented Citizen Schools at a national sales meeting to find interest.”

Students with Ahmed and Frank

Volunteers Ahmed (right) and Frank (middle) with their students.

Ahmed approached Anna, who was looking for a way to share his passions. “I always wanted to volunteer in the community and it was exciting to hear Anna was moving Hikvision in that direction,” said Ahmed. “I’m a huge proponent of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and getting into renewable energy. I do it at home and really wanted to pass it off in the classroom, as well as pass on my knowledge of electrical engineering.”

Join us in congratulating Ahmed Elsayed as our Citizen Teacher of the Month!

Why do you volunteer as a Citizen Teacher?

“I want to share my skills and give back. There have been people in my life that have gone out of their way for me. One person in particular is my father. He was a mechanical engineer and growing up we always did projects. I got in trouble for taking stuff apart and not always putting them back together. Our transmission was being reassembled in the kitchen one time and while putting it back we forgot the reverse. He was always a self-sustaining type of person and that helped launch my interest in engineering.

Has being a Citizen Teacher changed you?

“It’s made me want to get more involved. During the WOW! it was really cool to see how much the students had learned and to see them explain it to others.”

What is your favorite “aha” or “WOW!” moment from the semester?

“There was a group of girls really shy and reluctant to engage. One of the activities was building a structure that could hold the most weight. They didn’t really want to do it. We talked about what they could use as materials and I shared that anything that was on the desk could be used. That included chopsticks, tape, and rubber bands. The girls really thought outside the box because they ended up using the tape dispenser itself as a stand. That was their WOW moment. They ended up winning the design challenge. They realized that they could do it and after that moment they were much more involved and successful.

The two girls that were the most involved were very different from each other. One of them was the quietest girl in the class and she rocked it. The other was very high-energy. To see her take that energy and rechannel it into giving a very detailed explanation of how hydrogen cars work was pretty mind-blowing. It was awesome to see them explain it to Anna at the WOW!.”

Volunteer Card Ahmed

Ahmed’s Thank You card from his apprenticeship.

What is your favorite way to connect with students?

“My favorite is through hands-on design exercises. That’s the way I connect with my son. We’ll build birdhouses. When you hand them the tool, that builds the trust that builds the bond. Giving a student a little more responsibility and trusting them with it solidifies that trust, that bond.”

What advice do you have for new Citizen Teachers?

“Patience. That is a big one.

The kids come from all walks of life. Patience is the one I had to learn.  Find ways to keep an open mind, think outside of the box, and create ways to make the lessons fun.

The response was always the best when you could come up with an activity that involved them instead of standing up in front of the room and lecturing. Give very clear instructions and something that allows them to choose what they want.”

Anna had the chance to visit Ahmed’s WOW! and shared the following:

“What blew my mind was going to the WOW!, meeting the students in person, and having them explain the technology behind alternative energy vehicles. The students talked about the benefits and disadvantages and when these cars could hit the market. They were little encyclopedias. I asked them if they had known anything about alternative energy before starting the class and they said ‘nope.’ It was amazing what information they could soak up in the 10 week timespan.

I was thrilled to see the female students engaged in learning about STEM. I hope that the opportunity these girls received in the classroom taught them they are as equally capable as the males.”

STEM Advocacy Coalition

15820696688_46b3241edd_mDid you know that New Jersey has 1.4 STEM jobs for every one unemployed person?* The STEM Advocacy Coalition (SAC), which addresses New Jersey’s growing skills gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries, was created in partnership with Dale Anglin, Senior Program Officer, Victoria Foundation; Ross Danis, President, Newark Trust for Education; Catherine “Kit” Nugent, Director of External Engagement, Citizen Schools New York-New Jersey; and Sarah Keh, Program Officer, Prudential Foundation.

The Launch Committee is comprised of representatives from the Mayor’s office, Newark Public Schools, Newark Workforce Alliance, Urban League, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Schools Who Can, Students 2 Science, Newark Museum, Liberty Science Center, NPower, GlassRoots, PSE&G, and Panasonic among others.

SAC’s mission is to develop Newark’s future STEM workforce by closing education, access and opportunity gaps by utilizing cross-sector collaborations between STEM industries, institutions of higher education, school districts, and workforce development agencies to align STEM education with New Jersey’s projected economic growth and global leadership. The overarching goals of SAC in formation

  • Align STEM education with training programs and with necessary job skills.
  • Explore and scaffold existing mentorship programs to opportunities in apprenticeships, internships, job-shadowing, and more.
  • Create a pipeline for talent recruitment and professional development.
  • Advocate for mutual policy positions which champion education, equity, and workforce readiness.
  • Develop “real time” communications and marketing materials, which feature collaborative STEM Newark “good news”, highlighting programs and best practices for reaching across sectors, agencies, and partnerships.

17070976939_fceb38a0ab_mTo date, SAC has had three launch committee meetings in order to collect information, share ideas and identify resources. This organization hopes to galvanize educational institutions, community-based organizations, businesses, and parents to inspire and train Newark’s young workforce to become the nation’s next innovators in science, engineering, and technology.

Listed below are the panelists that met on June 16th to address the need for alignment of STEM education to workforce readiness job skills in STEM.

  • Kendall Ademu-John HR Specialist, Diversity Outreach & Talent Acquisition, PSE&G
  • Stephen Cafiero Group Manager EEO/AA Diversity & Recruiting, Panasonic
  • Sally Nadler Manager, Workforce Development, PSE&G
  • Evo Popoff Chief Innovation Officer and an Assistant Commissioner, NJDOE
  • Jennifer L. Stegers Accounting Manager, NJ Chamber of Commerce Foundation

For more information contact: Barbara Glassman, Managing Director of External Engagement at Citizen Schools New York-New Jersey at barbaraglassman@citizenschools.org

The SAC is a work project of Kechia Gay, STEM VISTA. Citizen Schools appreciates Kechia’s leadership and support of this effort.

*Source: Change The Equation’s Vital Signs

Citizen Schools Sets Sail with Lending Club

Close your eyes. You’re stepping onto the netting of a 105-foot trimaran sailing boat. See the white sail majestically swell above you. Hear the seagulls call out, echoing against the hull. As the boat gains speed on the water, feel the spray of the San Francisco Bay against your skin. This morning, you boarded a school bus in East Oakland with your classmates, and this afternoon, you are no longer a 12-year-old middle schooler. You’re a young sailor on your first expedition out to sea.

Lending club blog photoOn June 17, 2015, 12 students from Greenleaf K-8 School in Oakland and their families had the unique opportunity to go on their first sailing adventure, thanks to Lending Club, a new corporate partner for Citizen Schools California headquartered in San Francisco.

CEO Renaud Laplanche and co-skipper Ryan Breymaier chartered the maxi trimaran–now called the Lending Club 2–and they have selected an international team for a racing program to take place over the next 7 months. The crew has journeyed from Europe to both the East and West coasts of the United States, hosting sailing trips for colleagues and friends, which now includes Citizen Schools students, families, and AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows.

This year, Citizen Schools welcomed Lending Club as its 2015-2017 Financial Education-Banking Apprenticeship Sponsor in California. Citizen Schools is the company’s first official education non-profit partner, helping to launch its “Doing Good” program, which supports Lending Club employees’ efforts to make a difference in their community. Laplanche spoke about the need for these efforts: “An opportunity gap exists in financial education. Lending Club and Citizen Schools share a goal to narrow that gap, and we’re very excited to launch this partnership and get started.”

Lending Club employees will be forming teams to teach financial education apprenticeships across Oakland and San Jose in the 2015-2016 academic year. This summer, Citizen Schools and Lending Club are collaborating to develop an interactive apprenticeship curriculum that introduces youth to basic financial concepts like “credit”, “debt,” and “savings.”

Citizen Schools California knows the value of intentional partnerships with companies like Lending Club. The apprenticeship model thrives and benefits our students most when we partner with individuals, across a multitude of industries, who understand our mission and recognize the larger implications of sharing their specific knowledge and resources.

“An overwhelming number of low-income students don’t have access to educational opportunities at the same level as upper-income students,” says Laplanche. “Citizen Schools has built an admirable program that effectively addresses that gap. We look forward to having a hand in leveling the playing field and helping Bay Area students develop their financial literacy.”

About Lending Club

Lending Club is the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors. They’re transforming the banking system to make credit more affordable and investing more rewarding. They operate at a lower cost than traditional bank lending programs and pass the savings on to borrowers in the form of lower rates and to investors in the form of solid returns.