If you've ever been to Newark, New Jersey you will notice one thing very quickly-- this community cares about each other. Over the past four months, 400 middle school students have gotten the chance to experience the impact of a community that cares about their success. Thanks to volunteer "Citizen Teachers" from community organizations and corporations, these students have transformed into solar engineers, esteemed bloggers, and masters in martial arts through the Citizen Schools apprenticeship program. With guidance from these experts who come from all walks of life, they've gained real-world knowledge and built skills necessary to succeed in a 21st century workplace. On June 15, 2013 the young men of Eagle Academy showed off what they learned during their apprenticeship classes at a community-wide celebration. These students took guests down their path to discovery as they presented their final products and presentations. Here is a peek at a few of the featured apprenticeships...
Networking can lead to big opportunities--even for 6th graders! Every week a group of students headed down to the Prudential building to meet with volunteers from the Black Leadership Forum, which is a business resource group within the company dedicated to professional development of its black employees. The volunteers made deep personal connections with the students, showing them how to present themselves professionally and confidently. After ten weeks, these students have big dreams and they are "six degrees" closer to achieving them.
Jared Noll, Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow said, "Our students have really grown over the last ten weeks in our Six Degrees apprenticeship. Many of them have already established career goals and began making connections with professionals to further those goals. I look forward to partnering up with Prudential again next year and seeing how much further we can push our students! Good job, Eagles!"
Piyush Modak, a Laboratory Engineer at the medical technology company Endomedix, made science come to life for students as they learned how to build real solar cars. The students had the unique opportunity to present their cars at the New York Academy of Sciences to a room full of scientists, engineers and even NASA Astronaut Charlie Camarda, who has been into outer space and back. They even had a special visit from the CEO of the company who shared brand new technologies that are being used in operating rooms to help save lives.
Piyush said, "It was an amazing opportunity. To be able to share my passion for science and engineering and critical thinking with the kids was an unparalleled experience. Some days I struggled and on some I triumphed, but seeing the kids apply their minds to create "something out of nothing" was truly rewarding. I made them think."
Sensei Jim has been a member of the Citizen Schools family since 2009, bringing his love of martial arts to students in Newark. Over the past several years he has taught 20 apprenticeships! Twice a week, students not only learn the discipline of martial arts, but also learn the value of giving back to the community by writing letters to the elderly in nursing homes, cleaning the local Jesse Allen Park, and making pet toys for a local animal shelter.
Sensei Jim said, "A friend was speaking to a colleague about me and the H.E.A.R.T. Martial Arts program and how I teach the students for free. His colleague's response was, 'Your friend is a rich man!' His colleague is right, I have many golden moments over the years where the students have made me so proud. The joy of teaching and the experiences that Citizen Schools has afforded me cannot be measured in a monetary sense."
The students of these three apprenticeship classes and more truly WOWed the crowd as guests witnessed the magic of bringing schools and communities together to impact the lives of students.