- 2 days ago
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We are always happy to see a longer school day featured in the news, such as in today’s piece by Scot Lehigh. But too often these articles don’t tell the full story.
Lehigh describes Expanded Learning Time in terms of three basic models, each of which are based on different ways of paying teachers for the extra time. However, Lehigh doesn’t consider a fourth model – partnerships between schools and non-profit organizations, including Citizen Schools, with a proven track record of improving student outcomes without overworking teachers.
- 5 days ago
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The best job you can get after college is serving as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools. As a Teaching Fellow alumna, I can say this from experience: this work is challenging, rewarding, and totally awesome. With help from my fellow Difference Makers from all over the country I will tell you why…
- 2 weeks ago
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In Susan Frey’s recent article on EdSource, also picked up by the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, and The Hechinger Report, Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time (ELT) partnership with a middle school in Oakland, CA, is highlighted as a model that works.
Elmhurst Community Prep’s principal, Kilian Betlach, describes his vision to close the opportunity gap for low-income students by bringing a variety of experiences to life. Partnering with Citizen Schools is a powerful alternative to traditional after-school programs, he says, because it allows him to create an integrated longer school day filled with academic support and enrichment like apprenticeships:
Rodzhaney Sledge, dressed in the light-blue school uniform, is new to the school as a 6th grader, but she already understands how the after-school part of the program supports her academic work. For example, she took a class called Tools for Peace, where she learned to meditate. Meditation, she said, has helped calm her so she can focus on academics. She also appreciates the help with her homework she receives for at least an hour each day.
“I don’t understand the students who have problems staying after school until 5 p.m.,” she said. “You can do your homework and don’t have to do it when you get home. You’re free.”
Betlach and community partners – primarily Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that focuses on providing quality expanded learning programs for middle school students in low-income communities – have cobbled together federal, state, local and private funding to support the unique program…
What makes the expanded school day economically possible is the school’s reliance on AmeriCorps teaching fellows like [Ashur] Bratt. The fellows are funded by the federal government and receive special training from Citizen Schools staff on how to teach in an urban environment. They are involved in both the academic morning program and the after-school classes from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, helping to provide a seamless transition for students. The schedule also allows the regular academic teachers an hour each afternoon, from 2 to 3 p.m., to work collaboratively and plan.
In exchange, the AmeriCorps fellows will have earned their intern teaching credential at the end of their two years at Elmhurst.
Edgard Vidrio, a sixth grade history teacher who joined the Elmhurst staff this year, said he appreciates the variety of opportunities the program is offering his students…Vidrio says the young, dynamic AmeriCorps teachers develop deep relationships with their students. If a student in his class is upset, he or she will often ask to talk to one of the teaching fellows, Vidrio said…
AmeriCorps teaching fellow Jeannette Aames, who is finishing her second year and hopes to teach high school math in Oakland Unified in the fall, said teaching a math intervention class was her most rewarding experience at Elmhurst. The class of three girls and nine “rowdy boys” could not grasp the concept of negative numbers.
“Direct instruction didn’t work with them,” Aames said, requiring her to develop more hands-on approaches to teach the concept…
The students also get opportunities through Citizen Schools to participate in apprenticeships with “citizen teachers,” any adult from the broader Bay Area community who has a passion, such as robotics or radio reporting, to share with the students. The citizen teachers receive basic training on how to teach from Citizen Schools staff before they begin the after-school class.
The citizen teacher is partnered with an AmeriCorps fellow who assists the teacher with handling classroom management. At the end of the apprenticeship, the students make a presentation (called a “WOW!”) to their parents and business and community leaders, showcasing what they have learned.
In addition, local companies invite students to their offices for apprenticeship experiences. At Pandora, students learned how to make an app.
“It was a video game where you dodge fireballs,” Betlach recalled.
The positive school culture that Frey captures is the result not of a miracle education reform formula, but of a committed collaboration of human beings, caring and working really hard. The students, AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows, and teachers whose voices fill the story bring that to life better than most research briefs and infographics. We’re proud every day to serve alongside Principal Betlach, Mr. Vidrio, and the rest of the ECP community, meditating, dodging fireballs, and dreaming big!
Apply to the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellowship today and you can join next year’s team at ECP!
- 2 weeks ago
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Alyssa Pressman is a first year National Teaching Fellow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I go to work every day with a purpose and leave every day excited about the next. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but when I made the decision to be an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools, I knew it was the right choice thanks to the people I get to work with every day– my team, and my students.
- 3 weeks ago
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Ricardo Benavidez is the government and community relations manager at Cisco, and a long-time volunteer and supporter of Citizen Schools.
If you walk through my neighborhood of East San Jose you will hear this same story told again and again. The story of men and women who have come to this country in search of a better life, in hopes of securing a better future for themselves and their families. Often this never amounts to more than a hope, but in the case of my parents the goal of securing a better future was secured.
I have the fortune of writing this not only as the government and community relations manager for Cisco, but as a testimony to what one can achieve if given the proper tools. My parents migrated to the US in the ’70s from Mexico– my dad a butcher and my mom a janitor. Neither had much schooling when they arrived to the United States. I took note at a young age how hard they worked and how little they made.
Years later after having been given a strong foundation, I found myself wondering what can I do with the opportunities I have in some cases been handed, in others had to fight for, and in many ways have just been lucky to receive. The answer was a simple one, pay it forward. By sharing my time, my experiences, and my resources I have become a part of a movement to help inspire under-served students to achieve.
Time: When I was 10, my neighbor, Mr. Adkins, took an active interest in my education. He challenged me to raise my C’s to A’s and B’s. His interest, paired with the belief that I was capable of excelling, was the push I needed to perform. For over a decade I have been trying to do the same by serving as a mentor to at-risk students. We each live busy lives, but I know from experience, that sometimes something as subtle as a person sharing their time, can be enough reason for one to believe in their own worth.
Experiences: In a family where survival was the first priority I had to utilize the experiences of my teachers, such as Mr. Swienciki, to help me navigate the college application system and explore careers. Even today I look to my personal network to guide me through opportunities and avenues that are new to me. Each of us possesses a wealth of knowledge that we may not see as being valuable to others, but the reality is the teens are desperate for advice and answers to questions that we most likely can resolve. I know this by inviting students to my work place to gain hands on experience into the corporate world. I take students on college tours, help them with SAT preparation and course selection that will assist in college attainment; as insignificant as this may have seemed to me 10+ years ago, I have been told that without my help, many of them would not have had the additional insight to choose a career.
Resources: For some time and personal experiences are difficult to extend, and financial resources is often the easiest way to give back to the community. It is also one of the greatest ways. Even with the time I was given by Mr. Adkins, and the knowledge that was shared by Mr. Swienciki, I would not have been able to reach the goals and hopes that my parents set forth back in Mexico and instilled in me without grants and scholarships. The reality is, without financial resources, many dreams are unattainable. While my own personal wealth is not large, I am fortunate. I make it a priority to give to nonprofits that provide access and opportunity to under-served students.
The foundation of time, experiences, and resources can be the difference between a student struggling for survival or exceeding all expectations. I like to believe with the foundation given to me, I have done the latter and I urge you to do the same. At the very least you will have the opportunity to positively influence another, and if you are as fortunate as I have been, you will be blessed to have them influence you in return.
You can make an impact like Ricardo by signing up to teach an apprenticeship with Citizen Schools.