Massachusetts

SPLATs: A Revolutionary Encounter Between Education, Technology, Fitness and Fun

SPLATs: A Revolutionary Encounter Between Education, Technology, Fitness and Fun

As each SPLATs lit up with different colors, so did the faces of our students who beamed with pride, joy, and curiosity as they began their unique SPLATs journey. SPLATs is a remarkable tool that exposed students to various STEM careers and academic pathways as they sharpened their skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. SPLATs didn’t just keep the students moving intellectually, they also were able to exercise physically. Some games focused on trivia, and others were speed-based competitions or obstacle courses. “Giraffes and Leaves” a game created by Mahdiat and Makayla allowed students to imagine they were in a safari, crawling over and around SPLATs as they ‘gathered leaves’ with their heads.

Citizen Schools Employee Spotlight: Vanessa Bishop

Citizen Schools Employee Spotlight: Vanessa Bishop

This month our employee spotlight goes to Vanessa Bishop, Regional Director of the Massachusetts region. When asked where she gets her inspiration from she had this to say, “My faith and students. When I think about both of them, they give me a purpose to keep going when things are challenging. My faith reminds me that there is a bigger purpose in everything that I do.  On the same note, our students our the center of all the work and they deserve the best we can give. “

Citizen Schools Hires Kathryn Gabriele as New Campus Director at East Somerville Community School

Citizen Schools Hires Kathryn Gabriele as New Campus Director at East Somerville Community School

Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Boston, is pleased to announce Kathryn Gabriele has been named the Campus Director at the East Somerville Community School. As Campus Director, she will oversee Citizen Schools out-of-school time programming at East Somerville Community School, where she will work with a team of AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and school administrative staff to provide hands-on learning experiences, taught in partnership with local volunteers, for students.  

An Evening of Mock Trial for Students in Citizen Schools Massachuetts

An Evening of Mock Trial for Students in Citizen Schools Massachuetts

On Tuesday, December 11th, Citizen Schools Massachusetts students from the Trotter Innovation School, East Somerville Community School and Orchard Gardens K-8 schools got the chance showcase all that they have learned and practiced in a Mock Trial at the Moakley Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts.

Benjamin Erazo: Real World Learning Experiences Inspire Passion for Business & Stocks

Benjamin Erazo: Real World Learning Experiences Inspire Passion for Business & Stocks

Benjamin Erazo was a 2018 summer intern at Citizen Schools headquarters in Boston. As a member of the Technology team, he was responsible for helping repair computers and assisting the tech team solve any problems. Benjamin attended the Browne Middle School in Chelsea, MA, and is now a sophomore at Chelsea High School.

Browne School Students Learn To Program Robots at Microsoft Thanks to Grant from All Points North Foundation

This semester, our students traveled to the Microsoft offices in Cambridge, MA, every Thursday to take part in the ‘Robotics with Microsoft’ apprenticeship. The students programmed their own robots alongside Microsoft engineers and programmers. They learned about sensor technology and fundamental coding skills. The students worked in teams and came up with solutions through their own design ideas.

GE volunteers help kids polish interview skills

GE volunteers help kids polish interview skills

General Electric volunteers went to Orchard Gardens K-8 School yesterday to conduct mock interviews with eighth-grade students as they prepare for the city’s rigorous high school application process

NVBOTS & Citizen Schools Partnership Continues as Joseph A. Browne School Welcomes NVPro 3D Printer

I first took notice of NVBOTS and their lineup of 3D printers a couple of years ago as they entered the educational arena, ready to offer accessibility to students everywhere, beginning with their donation of an NVPro toCitizen Schools, a nonprofit organization. Since, NVBOTS has gone on to receive significant seed funding andSeries A financing, offer a 3D printing workshop for Scouts, as well as taking on commercial metal 3D printing. As their momentum keeps rolling, they’re staying focused on keeping current relationships strong too, and that includes Citizen Schools, as NVBOTS announces they will be expanding the 3D printing program partnership.

With 3D printers already in several other schools, now the NVBOTS NVPro will be finding a home at theJoseph A. Browne School which educates students from grades five through eight in Chelsea, MA. This will serve as a further extension in the partnership between the 3D printer manufacturer and the nonprofit organization as they continue an ongoing relationship in promoting 3D technology which began in 2013. Their goal together has been to give underprivileged students exposure to 3D printing and accompanying curricula and also to give them a chance to participate in the Citizen School Apprenticeship program, where they can learn hands-on.

“NVBOTS has always been passionate about inspiring students to turn their dreams into realities through 3D Printing,” said Chris Haid, NVBOTS director of operations and product management. “Our partnership with Citizen Schools is one grounded in inspiring students to learn through hands-on, experiential learning that teaches them to think differently – with confidence – and apply that way of thinking to other aspects of their life. We are proud of our growing partnership with Citizen Schools, as we give students the opportunity to innovate in ways they never imagined.”

citizen-schools-logoThroughout the years, NVBOTS has been able to create a classroom experience for students that ingrains STEM learning as they learn about design and engineering in a hands-on environment, creating products that actually make a difference. Their NVLibrary lesson plans offer introductory modules, including one that teaches students how to make 3D printed prosthetics. Their curriculum has even been used for students as young as the fourth-grade level, allowing them to learn about the technology and truly apply it to realistic issues we face in the world today.

NVBOTS has been recognized as a Top 10 Most Innovative Company in Education by Fast Company for their efforts. Students are given greater confidence as they learn new skills, as well as discovering strong new interests in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) subject areas—and seeing how challenging and fun the projects can be. Through working with NVBOTS, students truly are improving in their work, with student efficacy rates increasing, and deviation in classroom scores shrinking. In surveys given to students by the Citizen Schools organization, they noted that they had much more confidence in problem solving and felt better about their skill sets.nvpro

“NVBOTS has been a partner genuinely making a difference since day one,” said Megan Bird, executive director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts. “Not only have they donated 3D printers, curriculum and their time on a regular basis, they are inspiring our students to learn about technology, teamwork and leadership in a way that will stay with them throughout their life. This is why NVBOTS team members are consistently awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award and other accolades.”

The NVPro, while user-friendly and allowing students and teachers to print jobs from anywhere at anytime, is also the first end-to-end 3D printing system that features automated part removal—a huge benefit as it saves so much time and hassle, and also means there is no need for an onsite operator. Meant for the educational system, the NVPro offers reliability, accessibility, and simplicity in use for schools. Find out morehere about the ongoing work between NVBOTS and Citizen Schools, as well as reading the accompanying case study. You can also follow NVBOTS on Twitter @NVBOTS as well as at LinkedIn.

Chelsea Public Schools Annual Back To School Celebration

The Chelsea Public Schools held its annual Back to School Celebration on Thursday, Aug. 25, with thousands of students and families reporting to the Williams School for an afternoon of fun and free school supplies. Students met administrators and were introduced to after-school activities - not to mention getting hot dogs and time in the bounce house. In addition, Kronos Company and Citizens Schools combined efforts to give away some 800 new backpacks to young people who attended.

Chelsea record

Citizen Schools Helps Chelsea Students with Donated Backpacks

Students from Chelsea public schools, including those that participate in Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time, will kick off the new school year with 900 donated backpacks full of pencils, notebooks, rulers, and more. Citizen Schools, an organization that empowers public middle schools in low-income communities with longer learning days, received the backpacks filled with supplies as a donation from Kronos Incorporated, Mass.-based global leader in workforce management solutions.

Citizen Schools Receives All Points North Foundation Grant to Fund Programming at Browne School

Citizen Schools is pleased to announce it has received a one-year grant from All Points North Foundation (APNF), a small, private foundation based in Boston, to support Citizen Schools’ growth to serve more students at the Joseph Browne Middle School in Chelsea, Massachusetts in the 2016-2017 school year. The $60,000 grant is the first APNF has provided to Citizen Schools – a national nonprofit focused on enriching the education of middle school students in six states through Expanded Learning Time (ELT) programs held during after school hours.

“Citizen Schools is deeply appreciative of this investment from All Points North Foundation,” said Megan Bird, executive director Massachusetts. “APNF’s focus on meaningful invention in the middle grades is directly aligned with Citizen Schools’ work to drive student impact through hands-on, project-based learning in under-served public middle schools.”

“All Points North Foundation is excited to fund Citizen Schools’ apprenticeship program for the entire 7th grade at the Browne Middle School in the 2016-2017 school year,” said Laura Staich, executive director at APNF. “We aim to help close the achievement gap for low-income middle school students in high-need communities like Chelsea, by providing them with access, experiences, and support that will prepare them for success in high school, college, and future careers.”

This new grant will help Citizen Schools continue to grow its apprenticeship program in Chelsea to serve more than 150 students at the Joseph Browne School – the entire 7th grade. Next year, in close partnership with the Chelsea Public School District and Superintendent Mary Bourque, Citizen Schools will serve all students in at the Browne School, and will serve the entire 5th and 6th grade at the Eugene Wright Science and Technology Academy, which amounts to over half of all middle school students in the city. Additionally, Citizen Schools aims to serve all middle school students in Chelsea by 2020.

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit http://www.citizenschools.org/

About All Points North Foundation

Established in 2011 in Boston, Mass., All Points North Foundation (APNF) is a small, private foundation that supports two distinctpriorities in the United States: evidence-based programs that measurably improve public middle school education and teacher training, and projects that promote solar energy awareness and implementation. APNF is dedicated to navigating communities upward. For more information, visit http://www.allpointsnorthfoundation.org.

Citizen Schools Receives All Points North Foundation Grant to Fund Programming at Browne School

Citizen Schools is pleased to announce it has received a one-year grant from All Points North Foundation (APNF), a small, private foundation based in Boston, to support Citizen Schools’ growth to serve more students at the Joseph Browne Middle School in Chelsea, Massachusetts in the 2016-2017 school year. The $60,000 grant is the first APNF has provided to Citizen Schools - a national nonprofit focused on enriching the education of middle school students in six states through Expanded Learning Time (ELT) programs held during after school hours. “Citizen Schools is deeply appreciative of this investment from All Points North Foundation,” said Megan Bird, executive director Massachusetts. “APNF’s focus on meaningful invention in the middle grades is directly aligned with Citizen Schools’ work to drive student impact through hands-on, project-based learning in under-served public middle schools.”

“All Points North Foundation is excited to fund Citizen Schools’ apprenticeship program for the entire 7th grade at the Browne Middle School in the 2016-2017 school year,” said Laura Staich, executive director at APNF. “We aim to help close the achievement gap for low-income middle school students in high-need communities like Chelsea, by providing them with access, experiences, and support that will prepare them for success in high school, college, and future careers.”

This new grant will help Citizen Schools continue to grow its apprenticeship program in Chelsea to serve more than 150 students at the Joseph Browne School - the entire 7th grade. Next year, in close partnership with the Chelsea Public School District and Superintendent Mary Bourque, Citizen Schools will serve all students in at the Browne School, and will serve the entire 5th and 6th grade at the Eugene Wright Science and Technology Academy, which amounts to over half of all middle school students in the city. Additionally, Citizen Schools aims to serve all middle school students in Chelsea by 2020.

Media Contact: Whitney Buckley whitneybuckley@citizenschools.org | 617-699-1373

About Citizen Schools Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit http://www.citizenschools.org/

About All Points North Foundation Established in 2011 in Boston, Mass., All Points North Foundation (APNF) is a small, private foundation that supports two distinct priorities in the United States: evidence-based programs that measurably improve public middle school education and teacher training, and projects that promote solar energy awareness and implementation. APNF is dedicated to navigating communities upward. For more information, visit http://www.allpointsnorthfoundation.org

Eye On Education: Students Learn Lessons At Google Via Citizen Schools Program

BOSTON (CBS) — Robots made of Legos, the math behind magic, and other classes are being offered to local middle schoolers learning fromtechnology powerhouse Google at their Cambridge headquarters. “I like the class,” one Charlestown sixth grader told WBZ-TV.

Google is one of several companies that has teamed up with the Boston-based non-profit group Citizen Schools.

Students learn lessons in computer programming, math and science at Google through the Citizen Schools program. (WBZ-TV)

Students learn lessons in computer programming, math and science at Google through the Citizen Schools program. (WBZ-TV)

“Education can be a game-changer for kids and the future overall,” says Yoelinson Castillo, Citizen Schools campus director for the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown.

Schools enrolled in the program get three hours of additional learning time   every day. Dozens of students from Chelsea and Charlestown also get a field trip to Google once a week to learn math, science, and computer programming.

“It makes me feel good to work here,” says Google software engineer, Patrick Dukes. “They don’t want to just occupy this building. They actually want to be in the community.”

The same Google employees who make our daily online searches possible take time out of their day to run these classes.

“We try to make it interesting, so that they will want to do it when they grow up,” he said.

Citizen Schools is partnered with 30 schools across the country, including seven in Massachusetts.

5 for Good: Man, machine bring imagination to life for Boston students

Watch the report BOSTON —A man and his machine are bringing imagination to life for lucky Boston middle schoolers.

Chris Haid is the COO of New Valence Robotics or NVBOTS.

His company, based in the Seaport District of Boston, offers 3-D printing solutions. He's offering a whole lot more than that to some Dorchester middle school students.

With Haid's help, sixth grader Eric Huyne has built things that until now he could only imagine.

"Hammers, houses, even Pacman."

That's a short list of items Eric has printed at McCormack Middle School.

Haid teaches a special 3D printing class at the school. He and some colleagues from MIT developed the first automated 3D printer. Haid donates his time, and through a crowdfunding effort, has donated a printer to the school because he believes deeply that technology should be accessible.

He said that "3D printers weren't sharable. They were hard to access, so we created the world's first automated 3D printer that can produce part after part after part continuously."

Haid comes to the school as part of an extended learning program called Citizen Schools, which helps kids develop key skills with a focus on technology, teamwork and leadership.

Whatever the kids think up, they can create. They sketch their ideas, build them on computers, and once they get the "go ahead" from Haid, printing begins.

Haid believes encouraging a new generation of creative minds can change the world. An inspiring message that's taking hold.

"When I grow up I want to be something like Chris who makes machines. So this is a good start for me," Eric says.

To that, Haid says "what can I say, the best part is just seeing that little spark light up in each of the student's eyes."

Very few schools have this kind of 3D printer in a classroom. NVBOTS also created a curriculum for teachers so the whole school can get involved, not just those in the Citizen Schools extended learning program.

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Bulldogs For a Day

Citizen Teachers Most students would be thrilled at the prospect of a day off from school, but a group of Boston-area 8th graders was even more excited to spend that mini-vacation learning in class. Instead of reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic at their respective schools, 40 students from Orchard Gardens K-8 School, Dever-McCormack School, and Edwards Middle School set off to take Psychology 101 at a prestigious Ivy League university.

Although the foliage lining the campus trees that November morning was full of bright reds, oranges, and yellows, the only colors on the students’ minds as the bus pulled up to Yale University were blue and white.

“A lot of them knew that it was pretty elite, and a lot of them knew that I went there. As we walked around they kept asking me ‘did you really live here? Did you eat here?’”, said Lucy Arthur-Paratley, a Yale alumna and current AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools.

They were in for a full day on campus, starting off with a tour of the Yale art gallery and a chance to sit in on a Yale class (in addition to Psych 101, the students also enrolled in several Freshman Writing Seminars including “Beauty, Fashion, and Ethics,” “Digital Childhood,” and “The Modern Metropolis”).

As much as they enjoyed the class discussions and the gallery’s art collections, the most rewarding part of their tour was interacting with the Yale students themselves. Finding a friendly group of people is just as important in college as it is in middle school, and on this point, the 8th graders were certainly not disappointed!

“What was interesting was that a lot of things surrounding racial protests at Yale were going on. People on campus were more sensitized to making students of color and first generation college students feel included and consciously asking themselves ‘what am I doing to make Yale a more welcoming place?’”

Another perk of this “boomerang effect” was that when Lucy invited some of her former campus mentees to lunch, more “Yalies” showed up than she had anticipated. The 8th graders spent their lunch hour with six current Yale juniors, and they immediately hit it off. Since there were bilingual students from both groups, the conversation flowed freely both in English and Spanish!

“It was a really relaxed and low key environment where they talked about everything from their favorite type of music to the best way to consume as much ice cream as possible in the dining hall.”

After lunch, the 8th graders had the chance to meet even more Yale students when they attended a panel discussion made up of first generation college students of color. Though this setting was much more formal than lunch, the 8th graders had the opportunity to ask questions about study abroad, jobs on campus, work/life balance, and picking majors. “A goal of ours is to introduce kids to students to share these experiences, and who can help them pinpoint these resources.” By the end of the visit, the students were skipping around campus courtyard singing Yale songs and cheers!

“It was a physical manifestation of their sense of belonging. I would say these visits give students a sense of ownership over the college experience and more inevitability. A clear sense that this is their path.”

Read more about the adventures of our students and teaching fellows here.

Around the World in 80 Days

From Hello Kitty and karaoke in Tokyo to rainbow plumed macaws and vibrant soccer fans in Rio de Janiero, the sixth graders in Tracy Horridge’s apprenticeship, “Know Your World with ThermoFisher” have seen it all without leaving their classroom at Collins Middle School! Unlike her colleagues at biotechnology giant ThermoFisher Scientific, Tracy does not wear a lab coat and goggles at work. In her role as export manager, she licenses products with defense contractors around the world and makes sure the company stays on top of international rules and regulations when doing research in other countries. In short, she carries out the company’s mission of creating a healthier, safer, and cleaner world through the art and science of international negotiation. Join us in congratulating Tracy as the Citizen Teacher of the Month.

Tracy got her start at Citizen Schools through teaching an engineering class with a group of coworkers.

“I felt like I was learning along with the students,” she said.

The engineering apprenticeship was also her first experience mentoring students one on one, and she found herself drawn to middle schoolers.

“I thought about myself at that age, and how much I could have benefitted from a program like this then.”

So it makes sense that the next semester, she would jump at the chance to teach “Know Your World,” a class originally geared towards social media and digital communication. Tracy, however, repurposed the apprenticeship to take the students on a trip through her world.

During the group’s travels, they danced to songs in languages other than English, celebrated major national holidays other than Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, and sampled all the delicious snacks each country had to offer!

“We all agreed that we would not go hungry in Brazil!  We weren’t so sure about Japan. I was surprised at the number of kids willing to try new things, most notably the sushi. (I was 48 before I tried sushi.)”

One student in particular, Jonathan, wanted to go beyond the local flavor and take a deeper look at facts and figures.

“He didn’t just want to know the “fun” stuff about a country, he asked questions about their financial system and economy.”

The main objective of the apprenticeship, though, was to teach an important 21st Century Skill: how to successfully collaborate with a group of people with diverse cultural backgrounds and values. She figured a middle school classroom would be an excellent place for the students to begin their intercultural education.

“Even in middle school you hear people saying ‘I don’t want to work with that person,’ but I tell them the world is just going to keep getting smaller. You have to work together here with people you don’t like.’”

As a result, the students not only had to learn facts and figures about different countries, but they had to work together to learn them. Each student was randomly assigned to one of three countries, and were paired with students with whom they would not ordinarily sit in the cafeteria. In order for the rest of the class to truly experience a new country, each group had to figure out a way to work together to research it, including delegating tasks and actively communicating with each other.

“My favorite things were those that we learned together. While I work with Brazil, I had never really studied it. It was interesting for all of us to learn about.”

All of this research and collaboration was meant to prepare them for their biggest challenge as a group: presenting their findings to Tracy’s boss at ThermoFisher at their WOW! event.

“They were so nervous. They had worked so hard on standing up to speak and speaking loudly.”

In the end, though, all that hard work paid off when Tracy’s boss complimented the group on how much their presentation impressed him.

As for the curious Jonathan?

“I’m going to be working for him one day,” Tracy laughed.

 

Citizen Schools Names Emily McCann New CEO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BOSTON, Mass—February 4, 2016 – Citizen Schools’ National Board Chair, Lawrence H. Summers, announced today that the board has unanimously selected Emily Buxton McCann as the organization’s next Chief Executive Officer. McCann, who has served as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Office and President over her 13 year tenure at Citizen Schools, will assume her new role effective immediately. McCann succeeds Steven M. Rothstein, who, as CEO, led the organization through the leadership transition from Co-Founder Eric Schwarz. Rothstein will continue to serve as a senior advisor to Citizen Schools.

“I am deeply appreciative of Steven’s hard work, innovation and leadership,” Summers said. ”While at Citizen Schools, he played a critical role in expanding the number of students served, improving our financial model, raising our profile in the national discussion of educational policy and attracting strong partners. We look forward to Steven continuing his work as a senior advisor to our organization."

“I am humbled by the board's appointment and the opportunity to lead the next phase of Citizen Schools' efforts to reimagine middle school learning in this country,” said McCann. During her tenure, Citizen Schools has tripled in size and has expanded from a boutique after-school program in Boston to serve students across seven states in 12 districts. McCann has been instrumental in launching new regions, building the organization’s infrastructure and regional support structure, and overseeing growth strategy, business planning, and financial management.

“As we work to close the opportunity and achievement gap for middle school youth, the board and our staff are excited to embark on Citizen Schools’ next chapter with Emily’s leadership,” continued Summers. “She is uniquely suited to assume this role given her experience, character and deep understanding of Citizen Schools’ students and partners.”

“Our mission of providing quality education to under-served students is both inspiring and uniquely worthy,” shared Rothstein. “I am proud of the work we have done to write the newest chapter of Citizen Schools, but have decided it is best that I transition from the CEO role and I am confident the organization will be in excellent hands with McCann at the helm.”

Prior to joining Citizen Schools, McCann led business planning and development at the Walt Disney Company and served as an analyst in Mergers and Acquisitions at J.P. Morgan. She serves on several national non-profit boards including Teach Plus and Good Sports. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A seven-time marathoner, McCann lives in Needham, Mass. with her husband Sean, a secondary school history teacher, coach and admissions officer and their four children.

“Steven has helped navigate the organization through the challenges of transition and I am thankful for his energy and his commitment to our mission,” said Co-Founder and former CEO Eric Schwarz. “I am confident that Citizen Schools’ best days lie ahead. Emily is a seasoned, strategic leader whose passion for educational equity and expertise will position Citizen Schools as a leader in serving middle school students.”

Media Contact:  Matt Ellis Ellis Strategies, Inc. matt@ellisstrategies.com | 617-278-6560

About Citizen Schools Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visit http://www.citizenschools.org/

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Three Pre-Career Tips for Mentoring a Middle-Schooler

8th grade student networking with Boston area professional. Think middle school is too soon to prep for college? Think again. At Citizen Schools, we're working to close the opportunity gap by reaching students at the crucial time between 5th and 8th grade, providing academic support and real-world apprenticeships. That's why we recently helped bring together over sixty 8th graders for a networking event where they picked up practical tips and inspiration from working professionals. We followed along; here are three takeaways to help you mentor a young person.

Take risks Taking risks sounds like the obvious answer to getting out of your comfort zone. But the unknown can also be unnerving. The good news is that there are varying degrees of risk, and some low-risk chances can have a high reward. If you're shy, volunteering to answer a question and possibly having the wrong answer can feel like the end of the world. But diving in like that should be encouraged!

For another student, taking a risk may be signing up for a different class or sport. We all have our areas in which we excel more than others. Being flexible about trying new activities means that we can avoid tunnel vision and learn about new interests, and middle school is an especially great time to hone new skills as you consider the many potential opportunities and paths ahead.

Gain hands-on experience Academics aren't just intense study sessions at the library - they also include hands-on practice. For some students, academics include designing and coding a video game, and diversifying your academic portfolio can do a lot to impress college admissions staff. When college admissions are considering applications grades are only part of the equation. Proving you can think as well as do will give a certain edge over the competition.

Student test gel electrophoresis

This is why apprenticeships are key to Citizen Schools’ model to close the opportunity gap. By bringing in passionate professionals to teach practical applications of 21st century skills, not only do middle school students earn a marketable skill they may not have otherwise, but it will serve to expand their horizons. Even if students don’t become what they studied as a career down the line, they still opened doors to new professional horizons.

Ask Questions “Why is the sky blue?” “Why is ice cold?” “Why do tigers have stripes?” Anyone that has spent time with a young person knows that one of their favorite things to do is ask questions. Encourage students to keep curiosity alive by continuing to be inquisitive.

Great questions can include what you do for work, why you enjoy it, and what you wanted to be when you grew up. It’s ok to talk about both successes, and scenarios that offered lessons for improvement. The more students are exposed to different career profiles, the more they will feel comfortable stepping outside of their own comfort zones and shaping their own journey.

Modern life offers new challenges and stresses for young people, and mentor/mentoree relationships are powerful bridges between the professional world and our next great generation of thinkers, makers and doers. You can help start the conversation, and middle school is an especially good time to make that happen. And, it's a discussion that is relevant at any age! What advice would you share for someone starting out on this journey? Add your tips in the comments!

Find out more about changing student's lives with Citizen Schools.

Student Ideas Take Shape in 3D Printing Apprenticeship

When he was attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chris Haid and his friends spent what little spare time they had tinkering and building what would become the world’s first fully automated 3D printer. Years later, he is bringing this technology into middle school classrooms in Boston through a 3D printing apprenticeship with the company he co-founded, NVBOTS. 13928389447_9e35dfedab_z

Chris is the Chief Operating Officer of NVBOTs, handling daily operations, customer service, and ensuring manufacturing meets demand. He has broken his routine once a week for four semesters to volunteer as a Citizen Teacher. His goal is to teach middle school students how to design and build with a 3D printer.

Chris is helping to extend NVBOTS' impact with the installation of an NVPro 3D printer at McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, Massachusetts. The printer is stimulating creativity and providing hands-on learning for many students. It is “one of many” that will be installed in Boston middle schools through the company’s partnership with Citizen Schools.

We recognize Chris as the March Citizen Teacher of the Month for his dedication to teaching students and increasing student access to the state-of-the-art 3D printers!

Meet Chris…

What apprenticeships have you taught?

I teach an Introduction to 3D Printing Apprenticeship. We teach the students how to go through the design process. We help them decide what they want to create and sketch out what they want to design and print. Once we get them through the design process, we teach them how to 3D print the parts. They get to take it home the following week.

This is my fourth time around. We’ve done two classes per semester a couple times around.

Do you have a favorite WOW! moment? Did anything surprise you about the students?

I get to see them go home and come back the next week only to tell me that they got so interested in this 3D printing design that they went home and looked up new part designs. They’re coming up with new ideas on their own. That’s one of the biggest things for me.

Chris Haid keeps souvenirs of his apprenticeships on his desk.

Some students don’t see the path to get to higher education. That’s how a lot of students start off in the beginning of the class. They say “before I was uncertain about 3D printing and how to design everything.” And now they want to go to college for 3D printing.

That’s really heartwarming. Just seeing the kids get excited about engineering. They’re not constrained in life and they have every ability to create things and bring their own ideas to life. Our apprenticeship shows them they can do that and it’s not that hard. There’s failing but at the end of the day it’s about taking something in your mind and making it into reality.

Why do you think students should engage in hands-on learning?

I think all students have an idea of something they want to create, but they’re often constrained. They don’t have all of the necessary tools at their disposal, but once they see that they have the ability to make something,knowing that they can create those designs gives them confidence.

A student of Chris Haid's shows off 3D printed objects as he explains how they are made.

What advice do you have for new Citizen Teachers?

Get to know your students. Teach something you’re passionate about. Try to build a personal connection with the students and get to know them while still maintaining your role as teacher. That really help to keep the  students engaged.

Why should people volunteer to teach students?

I believe it’s the most important thing to do. The students will be living in the future we’re building and it’s important to arm them with the tools and abilities they need to make a difference.

One day I brought in a prosthetic hand and said, “I designed it but it could be better. This is an application of the tools I’m teaching you right now. That’s why we’re doing this, so we can help each other and make the world a better place.”

Learn more about volunteering with Citizen Schools here!

PRESS RELEASE: White House Welcomes Citizen Schools and DigitasLBi 5th Grade Apprentice as Honored Guest at National Science Fair

White House Welcomes Citizen Schools And DigitasLBi 5th Grade Apprentice As Honored Guest At National Science Fair

BOSTON—March 23, 2015—The White House will welcome Toni-Chanelle Suncar, a 5th grader from Browne Middle School in Chelsea, Massachusetts as an honored guest at the 5th Annual White House Science Fair. Toni-Chanelle will be recognized for her leadership skills while participating in a three-month apprenticeship with Citizen Schools, a leading national education nonprofit, and DigitasLBi, a global marketing and technology company.

Since 2013, DigitasLBi Boston employees have taught seven apprenticeships focusing on marketing, creative arts, and Raspberry Pi technology, which teaches students components of computers and basic programming.

Toni-Chanelle received guidance and mentorship from MacCalvin Romain, DigitasLBi’s Senior Tech Analyst, while learning fundamental elements of programming during the ten-week program. Utilizing SCRATCH, a tool developed by MIT to teach basic computer coding skills, Toni-Chanelle created “Flappy Unicorn,” a single player game. In this game, players earn points by progressing through an obstacle course and avoiding challenges along the way.  Toni-Chanelle developed programming skills that allowed her and her teammates to customize the game (game coloring, sound bites, and point structure), de-bug it as problems arise, and make changes in real-time.

The White House Science Fair hosts incredible inventions from some of America’s youngest scientists and engineers and will be live streamed on today, March 23 at 10am at wh.gov/science-fair.

The White House Science Fair will feature remarks from President Obama, and will give participants the opportunity to interact with other talented students, senior Administration officials, and leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) communicators, advocates, and educators from across the country.

Hosted by President Obama, the Fair will feature innovative projects, designs, and experiments from students all across America. With students from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, this year’s Fair will also include a focus on diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams. For more information, please visithttp://www.citizenschools.org/

About DigitasLBi

DigitasLBi is a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age. We help companies of all shapes and sizes decide What’s Next… and then we take them there. Also a top ten global agency, DigitasLBi is comprised of 6,000 digital and technology experts across 40 offices in 25 countries worldwide.
 
DigitasLBi is a member of Publicis Groupe, [listed on the Euronext Paris Exchange – FR0000130577 – and part of the CAC 40 index] the world’s third largest communications group. With approximately 60,000 professionals spanning 108 countries on five continents, Publicis Groupe offers local and international clients a complete range of communications services. http://www.publicisgroupe.com @PublicisGroupe