Every year, Citizen Schools honors the impact that Andrew Balson and Sherif Nada have had on Citizen Schools in their former roles as National Board chairs and in their current roles as Directors Emeriti with the presentation of two awards - The Andrew Balson Leadership Award and Sherif Nada Legacy Award. These awards are presented to two current and two former Citizen Schools Massachusetts students, respectively. This year, the award ceremony was held on May 22, 2018 and members of the community, staff, family and friends joined our National Board to celebrate at Citizen Schools headquarters in Boston.
The Andrew Balson Leadership Award
This year, the award was presented to Desayna and Maria, two 8th Grade Academy (8GA) students at the Browne Middle School in Chelsea.
Desayna describes the trip to MIT and her experience in the Writing & Mentoring Program at Northeastern University as the most impactful aspects of her Citizen Schools’ 8GA this year. Her 8GA Team Leader, Mr. Jones, shares, “I always have individuals come to me and highlight Desayna’s confidence and professionalism... She has taken every opportunity presented by Citizen Schools and has excelled at them all. She continues to surprise me with her independence and forward thinking.” Next year, Desayna will attend Chelsea High School.
Maria cites college explorations and her Generation Citizen 8GA Elective as two of the most impactful moments of her Citizen Schools’ 8GA this year. Her 8GA Team Leader, Ms. Adams, explains, “One of [Maria’s] greatest attributes as a leader is her ability to encourage all students in the classroom to participate. Maria recognizes that good leaders help their entire team be more effective by encouraging each team member’s best effort, making informed decisions, and resolving conflict with fairness and empathy. Next year, Maria will attend Beacon Academy.
Desayna and Maria each received $250 and will have their names on a plaque at Citizen Schools’ National Headquarters. The Andrew Balson Leadership Award was established in 2014 to honor Andrew Balson’s role as Chair of the organization’s National Board of Directors from 2006 to 2014.
The Sherif Nada Legacy Award
Linette Peralta and Samantha Little were presented with the Sherif Nada Legacy Award. Linnette is currently a senior at City on a Hill Charter Public School and previously participated in Citizen Schools’ 8GA at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School. Samantha is currently a senior at Snowden International High School.
At Citizen Schools, Linette learned that “it is important to make the next generation better than the previous because we are the future.” Linnette aspires to be a lawyer to assist immigrants like herself who come to the United States at a young age. She wants to ensure that immigrants can gain access to the many opportunities they dream of when they leave their home countries for the US. Next year, she will attend Providence College.
Samantha attributes Citizen Schools for helping her “realize that I could make it in places where I did not have the belief before that I would succeed in those environments.” She wants to become a teacher to “make people feel more alive” and to address systemic oppression in the school system with can often leave students feeling discouraged and disconnected. Next year, Samantha will attend Merrimack College and plans to go into the field of education.
This award was created in 2006 to honor Sherif Nada’s leadership role as Chair of Citizen Schools’ National Board of Directors from 2001-2006. The Sherif Nada Legacy Award recognizes two Citizen Schools Eighth Grade Academy Alumni who are current seniors in high school. Recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship to use towards covering first-year college expenses and will have their names on a plaque at Citizen Schools’ National Headquarters. Recipients of the award will also have the opportunity to receive guidance and advice from Sherif and Mary Nada, who have helped past winners find internships and jobs.