Be a Part of the Solution with Motorola Mobility!

Be Part of the Solution with Motorola Mobility!

For the past two years, Citizen Schools has partnered with Motorola Mobility Foundation to challenge students in grades 5-8 to be the social innovators of tomorrow! The Chicago Maker Challenge is a city-wide contest in which middle and high school students develop a hardware or software solution that solves a community problem or makes the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

Under the guidance of Motorola Mobility volunteers known as Citizen Teachers, students participating in Citizen Schools designed solutions such as stuffed animals equipped with bluetooth technology to combat depression, wheelchairs equipped with GPS systems and a mobile app that can help a police force identify crime trends in real-time!

The competition is fierce—students’ designs underwent two rounds of judging on the criteria of community impact, originality, design quality, and alignment of a solution to the identified problem. We congratulate Citizen Schools’ students and volunteers on earning several awards:

  •         Community Solutions Finalist: KAE Animals, Chase Elementary
  •         Best Video: Self Reliant Wheelchair, Woodson South Elementary School
  •         Best Design: Super Shovel, Chase Elementary School
  •         Best Product Name: Gun Glasses

Citizen Schools Illinois thanks Motorola Mobility Foundation for being one of our most generous financial supporters.  In addition to substantial philanthropic support, since 2013 more than 50 Motorola Mobility employees have given over 6,000 hours to impact over 170 middle school students in Chicago Public Schools. Citizen Schools is excited to continue our partnership with Motorola Mobility for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Motorola Mobility Foundation (MMF) is the philanthropic arm of Motorola Mobility LLC, a Lenovo company.  Motorola Mobility Foundation seeks to catalyze the innovative use of technology to improve lives and communities. We do this by leveraging employee expertise and talent, providing funding, and partnering with nonprofits, learning institutions, startups, government, corporate and civic organizations.

Congratulations to the Presidential Volunteer Service Award Winners!

As we say here at Citizen Schools, it takes a village to serve our students. Among the leaders in that village are volunteer Citizen Teachers, who play a critical role in introducing students to engaging opportunities and diverse careers. During the 2014-2015 school year, over 2,300 Citizen Teachers taught more than 1,000 apprenticeships, impacting over 5,300 students across our network.

psa eagle

Each year, The President of the United States recognizes those who volunteer for causes across the country through the President’s Volunteer Service Awards. Hundreds of our Citizen Teachers are among the recipients.  For some, this is their very first honor. For others, it is part of a collection of Presidential Awards, representing the many semesters they have returned to teach. For all, this is a testament to their civic leadership.

This year, 422 volunteer Citizen Teachers received recognition from the President at the gold, silver, and bronze award levels. Each level corresponds to a specific level of engagement – and reflects an incredible investment in the students we serve:

  • 61 Gold award winners for teaching four of the past four semesters
  • 70 Silver award winners for teaching three of the past four semesters
  • 291 Bronze award winners for teaching two of the past four semesters

Volunteers from our National Leadership Partners (Biogen, Cisco, Cognizant, Fidelity Investments, and Google) accounted for 66 awards, and 80 of our partner companies were represented in the overall total.

Winner breakdown by region:

  • California:  54
  • Illinois:  43
  • Massachusetts:  126
  • New Jersey:  20
  • New York:  76
  • North Carolina:  80
  • Texas:  23

We are celebrating these volunteers around the network throughout the summer at WOW!s and at Citizen Teacher social events. This award is a meaningful way to reinforce the impact Citizen Teachers have on the community, and a way to show our appreciation for their commitment to sharing their knowledge and passion with students.
Please join us in celebrating their dedication!

psa gold


Ailey Crow, CA – Pivotal Software, Inc.

Albert Ching, CA – Google

Alfonso Perez, MA – New Valence Robotics

Amelia Molina, TX

Andrea Folmer, NC – Bank of America

Anne Bowie, MA – WilmerHale, LLP

Arthur Everett, NC – EMC

Arun Joseph, NC – EMC

Becki Holub, NY – Google

Bill Good, MA – Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization

Bin Wu, CA – SanDisk

Brian Smith, TX – Dominion Solution Corporation

Carol Lenox, NC – US Environmental Protection Agency

Christopher Haid, MA – New Valence Robotics

Coleman Poag, NC – EMC

Daniel Oldman, NC – EMC

Donna Fontana, NY – Fidelity Investments

Douglas Campbell, CA

Douglas Reagan, NJ – Cisco

Ed Lau, NC – Microsoft

Emily Hodge, MA – Choate Hall + Stewart LLP

Emily Thomas, TX – Rice University

Eric Frackleton, MA – Microsoft

Eric Teasdale, MA – Choate Hall + Stewart LLP

Erin Buckman, NC – Credit Suisse

Gayle Moberg, NY – GDM Market Solutions

Harry Bullen, NY – Google

Hong Zou, NC – EMC

Jacqueline Mantica, MA – Choate Hall + Stewart LLP

James Reid, NC – Credit Suisse

Jerry Diehl, NC – EMC

Jesse Nocon, MA – Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization

Joe Darko, NC – Microsoft

Joseph Eveillard, MA – Cambridge Adventure Day Camp

Josh Glazer, NY – Bank of America

Katherine Kelley, MA – Digitas

Kelley Coyne, CA – Women’s Audio Mission

Kelly Flook, CA – Thermo Fisher Scientific

Kerry Laidlaw, CA

Kimone Gooden, CA – Cisco

Kirstin Frazell, NY – Facebook

Leanne Measroch, NC – Microsoft

Linda Lazor, CA

MacCalvin Romain, MA – Digitas

Martin Stanton, NJ – Cisco

Melanie Closs, NY – The Other Side

Michael Bevilacqua, MA – WilmerHale, LLP

Neil Jacobs, MA – WilmerHale, LLP

Philip Armstrong, NC – Bank of America

Prateek Sachdeva, CA – Oracle

Rachel Stout, TX – Houston Public Library

Rachele Louis, CA – Gensler

Rebecca Dodder, NC – US Environmental Protection Agency

Robert P. Mersereau, MA – Aldrich Estronomical Society

Rosema Hermano, CA – EMC

Ruth Gitlin, NY – Angelo, Gordon & Co.

Shivani Mehta, NJ – Johnson & Johnson

Sonya Johnson, NC – CPCC STARS Alliance

Susan Dickey, CA – Google

Victoria Ho, CA – Google

William MacKrell, NC – SAS Institute


psa silver


Adam Richlin, NY

Aisha Davis, NC – Microsoft

Alex Lawing, NC – UNCC

Amanda Kaufman, NC – US Environmental Protection Agency

Ana Lopez, MA – Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky + Popeo PC

Andree Fryar, NC – Wells Fargo / Wachovia

Angela Berry, NC – City of Charlotte

Anne-Marie Stevenson, NC – Latta Plantation Nature Center

Aric Sangruchi, CA – Space Systems/Loral

Audrey Hoiles, MA – Cambridge Associates

Aya Rothkopf, CA – Space Systems/Loral

Bara Reyna, TX – NASA

Benjamin Eld, MA – Digitas

Bill Stitson, MA – Trip Advisor, LLC

Brian Conley, MA – Microsoft

Brianna Muhlenkamp, TX – Shell Oil Company

Chris Casanova, NC – Microsoft Corporation

Cindy Gabriel, IL – Deloitte

Cody Spencer, IL – Chicago Public Schools

Daniel Davison, NY – Bank of America

David Konczal, IL – Motorola Mobility Foundation

David Rahmani, TX – Shell Oil Company

Erika Schroeder, NY – Pratt Institute

Ethan Apter, MA – Google

Faris Werr, NC – Wells Fargo / Wachovia

Genevieve Aguilar Reardon, MA – Choate Hall + Stewart LLP

Gifty Mansaray, MA – Edwards Middle School

Giovanni Green, NY

Hall Cherville, NY – AB

Jared Cohen, MA – WilmerHale, LLP

Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi, MA – Microsoft

Jennifer Blood, NY

Jocasta Conyers-Johnson, TX – The Women’s Fund for Health Education and Research

Jody Weber, MA – Bank of America

Justin Forman, NY – Google

Karen Nee, MA – Bank of America

Kesha Diamond, NY – Apthorp Pharmacy

Kiara Byrd, IL – Project Exploration

Kim Kiesow, NC – EMC

Kweku Ulzen, NC – Microsoft

La Rue Ragan, CA – Raven Works Field Sports Ministry

Lauren Kupersmith, MA – Goodwin Procter LLP

Leora Rodenstein, MA – WilmerHale, LLP

Lisa Berkshire, IL – Motorola Mobility Foundation

Mark Melfi, NC – Fidelity Investments

Martin Lopez Diaz, Jr., CA – LifeLong Medical Care

Megan Petrik, NC – Bank of America

Micaela Warton, MA – YWCA Boston

Michelle Hocking, CA – Google

Molly Berman, NY – Planned Parenthood

Nanelle Napp, NC – Bank of America

Olubukola Ashaolu, NY – National Employment Law Project

Onalie Sotak, MA – Google

Rachel Klooz, NY – Google

Richard Carey, MA – Thermo Fisher Scientific

Robert Mersereau Jr., MA – No 9 Park Restaurant

Robert Shames, MA – Choate Hall + Stewart LLP

Roland Labana, IL – Motorola Mobility Foundation

Roy Fralin, NC – Fidelity Investments

Ryan Futrell, NC – Fidelity Investments

Samantha Powers, MA – Microsoft

Sanjay Kadiwala, IL – Motorola Mobility Foundation

Scott McConnell, MA – Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Sowji Karumuri, NC – EMC

Susan Freeman, MA – Northeastern University

Tanisha Myers, NC – Wells Fargo / Wachovia

Tayeb Karim, MA – Google

Valerie Peicher, TX – Baylor College of Medicine

William Davis, NC – Credit Suisse

William Merritt, NC – Bank of America

Great Strides by U.S. Senate to Improve Education


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.”