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:

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 3.55.12 PM


“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!

Read more…

Welcome Back to School!

5815617808_a53421e9c6_oWe’re going back to school! AmeriCorps members, aspiring teachers, and Citizen Teachers are venturing into another year of expanded learning to provide more enriching experiences to students across the country with the support of our great partners.

Our collaboration is ready to impact the lives of 5,098 students at 29 public middle schools in seven states. We are launching many new school partnerships this year including Quail Hollow Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chancellor Avenue Elementary School in Newark, New Jersey, and William Monroe Trotter Innovation School in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Our California region expanded to Greenleaf Elementary School in Oakland and William Sheppard Middle School in San Jose. We also opened two new school partnerships, in Chicago, Illinois, Carter School of Excellence and Chase Elementary School. Welcome to the Citizen Schools community!

Thanks to a generous increase in support from AmeriCorps, 261 Teaching Fellows are serving in the longer school day, the highest number of Teaching Fellows since the organization was founded in 1995. After weeks of training, the Teaching Fellows are beginning to meet with new and returning students and are eager to start the year with success.

Read more…

20 Memories for AmeriCorps’ 20th

On September 12th AmeriCorps is turning 20! To celebrate the service organization and the fantastic AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and members who have served with Citizen Schools over the years, we highlight the influential work of 20 members:

5reasons5 Reasons I’m Glad I Became a Teaching Fellow

George Ganzenmuller was a Second Year Teaching Fellow at the Edwards
Middle School in Charlestown, MA. 

“While it can be difficult to explain my job to friends or curious strangers, I think it is this breadth of experiences and responsibilities that made this the perfect post-college position for me.”

shetookthetimeShe Took the Time to Care: A Student’s Story

Esmeralda Soto, a Citizen Schools alumna from Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto will be the first to tell you about the impact that her AmeriCorpsTeaching Fellow Sarah Partin has had on her life.

“Through her encouragement and guidance, I feel am ready for tomorrow’s challenges.”

makingsurestudentssucceedMaking Sure Students Succeed by Serving

Malcolm Morse  served as a Teaching Fellow in Houston, Texas.

“I feel as if the ultimate reward for teachers is to see how much their students grow and succeed in life and that’s what inspires me to show up every day ready to make a positive impact.”

whyiserveWhy I Serve, and Why You Should Too

Marlee Henderson  served as a Teaching Fellow in Durham, North Carolina.

“My first year as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow has taught me a lot about the importance of this type of service. Everyone has different career interests, but at the root of all of them is wanting to create a lasting impact and contribute to society.”

Cs-Elle-Story-2-274x300Why I Get Up for Work in the Morning

Alyssa Pressman  served as a Teaching Fellow in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"For me, deciding to join the AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellowship was all about the people. It’s hard not to like the people you work with when you’re all there to make a real difference and serve the community. I instantly liked them and knew I had made the choice.”

oaklandI Moved Back to Oakland to Fight Inequality

Nhi Truong served as a Teaching Fellow in Oakland, California.

“I want them to know that we may not have the same struggles, but if I can make it, they can make it. And I’m here to let them know how powerful and beautiful they all are.”

2011-WOW-300x225Learning to Lead by Serving

Colin Jones was a second year Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools Massachusetts.

“I almost teared up right there. In that moment, I had an ephemeral treasure that reinforced everything I hoped to achieve.”

despiteshutdownDespite Shutdown, AmeriCorps Still Gets Things Done

Callie Kozlak is the Director of Public Funding Strategy at Citizen Schools.

“Now more than ever, national service programs like AmeriCorps should be celebrated and supported.” 

teachingrobotsWhat I Learned by Teaching Robotics

Jared Noll served as a Teaching Fellow at Eagle Academy in Newark, New Jersey.
“Teaching an apprenticeship certainly isn’t easy, but like most everything else in life, hard work pays off.”
Beach-Post2-300x225Finding Balance in the Classroom

Greg Beach served at Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

That being said, finding a balance between one’s own values and style and the practical demands of reality is essential to becoming a successful Teaching Fellow.”

notallrainbowsIt’s Not All Rainbows and Sunshine, But it’s Worth It

Jessica Eddy served as a Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools New York.

It was in that moment, for the very first time, that I recognized the value of my work. If nothing else, I came to know that I represent a steady force in students’ lives, someone they look forward to seeing everyday just as much as they look forward to driving crazy, and someone they know will stick it out with them and for them when times are hard.”

teachfellowreflectsTeaching Fellow Reflects on Two Years of Service

Amanda Worrell served as a Teaching Fellow at De Vargas Middle School in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“My love for teaching really began to resonate with me when I witnessed my first “aha” moment with my students.”

pursuitofhappinessThe Pursuit of Happiness: Students Give Back to Community

Sarah Partin served as a Teaching Fellow in East Palo Alto, California.

“As a second year Teaching Fellow, I can say that this apprenticeship has been a truly transformative experience, not only for my students, but also for myself, my Citizen Teacher, and for any community members that were impacted by these students.”

aspartanfightsA Spartan Fights for Educational Equality

Liz McNeil graduated from Michigan State in August, 2006. She is a Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow Alum.

“I think more than anything, I have stayed in the teaching profession because I value the relationships formed with students and families and believe that mutual responsibility and respect for learning is key to success.”

chasethemDon’t Follow Your Dreams, Chase Them!

Ashley Kirklen served as a Second Year Teaching Fellow at Eastway Middle School, Charlotte, North Carolina.

“As I embark on the next phase of my life, as scary as it may be, I remind myself that I have a responsibility to live out what I teach to my students.”

tenthingsTen Things I Learned as a Teaching Fellow

Jessi Worde served as a  Teaching Fellow at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque, NM.

“Being a middle schooler is very hard.  The more people are kind to you, and care for you, the greater your chances of surviving adolescence with grace and success.”

ateachingfellowreflectsA Teaching Fellow Reflects on Fall Semester

Sylvia Monreal served as a Teaching Fellow at MLK Middle School in Newark, New Jersey

“I hope I never forget the afternoon that a 6th grade boy, blind in one eye and all too quick to fight, ran up to me to show me a complete 3D puzzle, shouting, ‘I did it! I finally did it! It just took patience, just like you said!'”

thegoodthebadThe Good, the Bad, and the Motivation: Tales of a Teaching Fellow

Destiny Waggoner served as a Teaching Fellow at Sharpstown Middle School in Houston, Texas.

“As a Teaching Fellow, you’ll have good days and bad days. You’ll have days when you love coming into work and days when you really don’t want to, but you do instead.”

sometimeswhenplansSometimes, When Plans Break Down – Learning Emerges

Oscar Robles is the Manager of Non Profit Partnerships for Us2020. He served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member in New Jersey.
"I learned a lot from that day – mostly, the power of flexibility."

alastinglegacyA Lasting Legacy

Jaleesa Jones served as a Teaching Fellow at Ivy Hill Elementary School in Newark, New Jersey.

“Through Project Playground, each of our students learned what it takes to become legendary.”



“Do the teachers like you?”

Written by Eric Schwarz, Founding CEO of Citizen Schools and author of The Opportunity Equation, launching Sept. 2

Of all the questions I get about Citizen Schools, perhaps the most frequent is: “Do the teachers like you?” Many questioners seem conditioned to expect the worst of public school teachers and assume that a second shift of educators, offering different approaches and taking less or no pay, will inspire resentment from the full-time teachers who lead classes for a majority of the day.

Generally, however, America’s teachers have embraced Citizen Schools and embraced an expanded learning day and citizen power in their schools. While a few teachers may react defensively and hide behind the closed door of their classrooms, the best teachers welcome any help they can get. Teachers’ unions as well have generally embraced Citizen Schools. As stated earlier, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten visited the Edwards ELT [Expanded Learning Time] campus and declared it in a New York Times column, “one of the most impressive schools I have seen in America.” The Boston Teachers Union has gone so far as to explicitly advocate for a nine-plus-hour learning day for all students, with the extra time delivered either by teachers receiving extra pay or by outside programs like Citizen Schools. 

Read more…