This past week, I had the opportunity to sit with a group of rising Boston 9th grade girls, who were both graduates of our 8th Grade Academy program and summer interns at Citizen Schools. We gathered to talk about their experience with us and the ways in which Citizen Schools is – and isn’t yet – fulfilling its promise to help middle school students launch confidently into their high school years. They shared stories of their favorite staff members and apprenticeships, advice on where we could have offered more agency, and talked about the breadth of responsibilities they had as interns and at home as daughters and sisters. And they each shared details of their very different but equally onerous commutes on public transportation. “What, “ I asked, “has been the most meaningful part of this experience?” On this, they were fully aligned. “The people” they shared in unison. One girl elaborated: “We have people all around us who are kind, interested in our lives, and have high expectations for what we can accomplish. That gives us confidence.” Citizen Schools – and the amazing web of people it brings into students’ lives – is the ultimate launchpad.
Like these amazing interns, Citizen Schools is preparing for launch into a new academic year and a new set of adventures. This year, we are embarking on number of initiatives that, collectively, are designed to help us better deliver on our mission to ensure children are prepared to thrive as students and succeed as adults. All three will help us continue to build a broader community of citizens, educators and families committed to student support.
First, we are launching our expanded learning time programs in six cities across CA, NY and MA with a set of new AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and volunteer Citizen Teachers. Our students will receive additional academic support and engage in project-based apprenticeships, to help them develop the skills, access and beliefs they need to thrive in their classrooms and communities.
Second, we are starting a new pilot with teacher partners across the country eager to bring our apprenticeship-style learning into their classrooms. In partnership with research and evaluation firm, Transforming Education, we are engaging teachers across three districts in the co-design of a model that can reach more teachers eager for innovation and students desperate for inspiration.
Third, we will hold our third annual US2020 STEM Symposium and Awards on October 10. This event honors the work of the 8 communities and network partners who are expanding student access to STEM mentors and igniting a passion for STEM pathways. We plan to make an exciting announcement about US2020’s - and the STEM mentoring movement’s – growth in the coming year.
You can read stories about these initiatives and the people engaged in and leading in them – in this newsletter. You’ll meet our summer interns, a committed CA volunteer, and an ELT alumnus. Their stories will make clear what the rising 9th graders with whom I spoke seemed to understand intuitively: that the diverse network of people we rally around is our greatest asset… and the launchpad for their success.