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Insights from a Beautiful Girl

This is the second post in a series of blog posts featuring Citizen Schools’ program in New Jersey. This installment features a Q&A with a student who took the "Beautiful Girls" apprenticeship this fall. In light of the article, “Why Striving to be Perfect is Keeping Women out of STEM Jobs,” it has become apparent that we need to close the “confidence gap” in young women in order to close the gender gap in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industry.

The Beautiful Girls apprenticeship, aimed towards building positive self-esteem in young girls to help them achieve their personal and career goals, is closing this “confidence gap” for thousands of students across the country. We sat down with Beautiful Girl, Georgina (age 11), to ask about her experience in this apprenticeship.

Georgina with her volunteer Citizen Teachers: Meeghan Salcedo from Cognizant, Vanessa Ackon and Nina Barber

What are you learning in Beautiful Girls?

I’m learning that it’s not about how you look on the outside, but how you feel on the inside, about personality and self-esteem. We’ve been learning about true friendship and how we need to be a good friend in order to have a friend. We learned how to voice our opinions proudly, and that we can be whatever we want to be!

How have you changed since taking this apprenticeship?

I’m more true to myself and I’m able to express my feelings. I’m not trying to fit in or be like other girls; I’m just trying to be my old, silly self. I’m learning to face my fears. At the beginning of my apprenticeship, I thought no one would like me. I don’t talk to a lot of people, but I learned how to make new friends. In Beautiful Girls, we’re learning S.P.E.A.K. We have to present for the WOW!, so we have to practice proper speaking skills.

Georgina with her role model Teaching Fellow Ms. Evans.

I want to be a singer or an author, because I like to sing and write. To be a singer, I have to try a lot of new things, I have to have good grades and succeed.

How can you apply this to your goals in life?

I want to be a singer or an author, because I like to sing and write. To be a singer, I have to try a lot of new things, I have to have good grades and succeed.

What makes you a Beautiful Girl?

My personality and how I feel when I accomplish something. I like to be a hippie, take away the negative energy and enjoy my life!

What has been your favorite moment during Beautiful Girls?

My favorite moment was when I was talking to [volunteer Citizen Teacher] Ms. Vanessa during girl talk. We’re both from Ghana, so we talked a lot about Ghana. I liked that moment because most people in my school aren’t African, so I got to share my culture and connect with someone. I don’t get to do that a lot in school.

Cognizant is a proud National Leadership Partner of Citizen Schools. Thank you Meeghan for your leadership!

Read more about the “Confidence Gap.”

For more information about apprenticeships contact Ashley Drew, Civic Engagement and Operations Associate, at ashleydrew@citizenschools.org.

Citizen Schools Texas Fills in the Blanks of Student Success at Luncheon

Citizen Schools CEO, Steven Rothstein with student speaker, Michael As 8th grader, Michael, stepped away from the podium at the conclusion of his speech, a roar of applause could be heard throughout the venue. He was the student speaker at the Citizen Schools’ Texas Grad Libs Luncheon: Filling in the Blanks for Student Success. Melba Navejar followed with an equally moving account about the impact that Citizen Schools has had on her son, Sebastian. See the full speech below.

Held at the Junior League of Houston on November 11, 2014, the luncheon was a tremendous success! Steven Rothstein, Citizen Schools CEO flew in from Boston to share his vision for the organization’s future with the 300 guests in attendance. The event was an inspiring demonstration of Citizen Schools' incredible impact and a look at its continued efforts.

Texas luncheon slideshow photo_bigger

A special thank you to our luncheon co-chairs and principal sponsors: Abbi and Rob Antablin, Anne and Andy Calder, Sharman and Derek Wilson, Bobbie Nau/Liz Stepanian and Silver Eagle Distributors, Nicole and Jim Perdue, Perry Homes, Selwyn Rayzor and Rick Moses. A heartfelt thanks to all of the individuals and organizations who gave generously to help us raise more than $125,000 to support our efforts in closing the educational and opportunity gap for Houston middle school students.

Parent speaker, Melba, addresses the crowd

Melba's remarks:

I wish to begin by briefly describing Sebastian as he was in elementary school. As a result of his being an only child, Sebastian grew into a very shy boy. By nature of him spending a lot of time by himself, he would tend to isolate himself in school. He also acquired the habit of moving at his own pace, and doing things on his own time-frame.

 

The summer before Sebastian went to middle school, I sat him down for one of those talks. I wanted to prepare him for the transition to middle school. Most specifically, I wanted to warn him that the differences between elementary and middle school could be somewhat traumatic for a student his age.

 

To be honest, I was preparing myself for the transition as well. Watching Sebastian as he readied to leave the comfort and familiarity of elementary school and set-sail for the great unknown of Middle School raised a lot of apprehension.

 

As a parent, I believe we all have some fears that we always carry with us when it comes to our children. I was constantly worried that Sebastian would be bullied when he went to Middle School.

 

I became more at ease when we both attended an orientation at Jackson. During the orientation, it was touched upon that JMS was anti-bullying school. Hearing that definitely put my worries to rest.

 

It was also at this orientation that the school mentioned some of its programs that provide students with a variety of experiences. One of these programs specifically for 6th graders was Citizen Schools. We raised our hand to request a brochure, I looked it over, and told Sebastian that this was the program for us.

 

Right away I could see that my son would benefit from being a part of Citizen Schools. I’ve always reminded Sebastian how important it is to be involved in all kinds of activities at school. I believe that the more included a student feels, the more likely they are to excel. Students with commitments tend to stay busy, keep out of trouble, and ultimately become a better, more involved people.

 

This is precisely what Citizen Schools has done for Sebastian. Upon enrolling, we instantly gained five more adults that were committed to ensuring his success. I know that if I ever need an additional copy of his report card, I can call the CS office, and someone will take care of it.

 

I also rely on CS as a means to communicate with other Jackson teachers. I believe in the old saying, now more than ever, that it takes a village to raise a child. My village is made up of Citizen Schools, Jackson teachers, and of course, my family. We work as a community to ensure Sebastian is able to achieve the utmost success.

 

More than just helping Sebastian to feel like he belonged, Citizen Schools has helped Sebastian come out of his shell, and find what areas he excels in. The first apprenticeship Sebastian joined was “So You Think You Can Dance.” Sebastian decided to brave this class made up of mostly girls because he wanted to improve his agility for football next season. And it worked! He is one of few 7th graders that played for the 8th grade team!

 

After dance came Mock Trial. Sebastian put on his best suit and traveled with his class to South Texas College of Law to state his arguments declaring why his client Veronica was actually innocent, despite what Betty had to say on the matter.

 

Watching him practice diligently for both of his apprenticeships has made all of the difference. The seriousness he applied to both dance and Mock Trial, Moving Making and CSTEM have done so much for him. This was confirmed again for Sebastian when he took home a  prize at the national CSTEM Challenge. Not only has he come out of his comfort zone and has found multiple categories in which he excels, but he also began practicing the life-long cycle of working hard and getting results.

 

As a mother, I am very in-tune with Sebastian and all the ways he changes from day to day, year to year. It is when others begin to notice, that I know we’re really on to something here. Sebastian’s teachers began to approach me and ask what we were doing differently. Not only had he begun taking more positive risks in class, but he was becoming more focused and more studious.

 

This summer Sebastian attended a week-long summer camp session at Chinquapin Preparatory.  If you would have asked me if I thought this possible in the summer of 2013, my answer would have most certainly been no. Ask me now that he’s in 7th grade, and I’ll tell you we’re getting ready to apply to magnet high-schools.

 

Through his continued involvement with Citizen Schools, Sebastian has taken risks, experienced success, felt supported--and we’re not stopping. Stay tuned to see how my son continues to forge a path of success--bringing others along with him as he goes.

 

While I can only speak on behalf of my own son, I know my story is not the only one of its kind. There are stories of students just like Sebastian happening in other schools in HISD and across the nation. But let’s not get comfortable. As a parent, I want more and more students to be able to access Citizen Schools so that their parents may too have an opportunity to brag about their children like I am today.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

 

Citizen Schools to be Featured on American Graduate Day 2014!

Live from Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in NYC, airing September 27 at 3PM EST

Day-long Multiplatform Event Celebrates the “Stories of Champions” -- Individuals and Organizations Committed to Improving Outcomes for Youth and Raising Graduation Rates   

National Broadcast to Showcase Citizen School’ Efforts to Address the Needs of At-Risk Kids

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q9eCXn0G24&feature=youtu.be

This video will appear during Citizen Schools’ segment on American Graduate Day.

American Graduate Day 2014 returns this fall for its third consecutive year. Wes Moore, best-selling author and U.S. Army veteran, will host the all-day broadcast on September 27 which will feature Citizen Schools at 3pm on public television stations nationwide. The annual multiplatform event is part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, helping communities bolster graduation rates through the power and reach of local public media stations. Featuring seven hours of national and local programming, live interviews and performances, American Graduate Day 2014 will celebrate the exceptional work of individuals and organizations across the country who are American Graduate Champions: those helping local youth stay on track to college and career successes.

“Every child deserves a quality education and an opportunity for success,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). “The high school graduation numbers are moving in the right direction because people have stepped up as champions for students on behalf of their communities, committed to improving outcomes for all of our nation’s youth. On American Graduate Day, local public media stations will be celebrating the inspirational stories that are contributing to the progress.”

“We are proud to be included in American Graduate Day as an organization that is lifting opportunities for middle school youth in low-income communities," said Steven Rothstein, CEO of Citizen Schools. “Individuals and organizations have a vital role to play in ensuring that students are prepared and supported on the path to graduation and future success."

During Citizen Schools’ segment, NBC News education correspondent, Rehema Ellis, will interview a Citizen Schools 8th grade student, volunteer, and program leader about the STEM (science, engineering, technology, and math) education focus of Citizen Schools’ program at partner school Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark. Eighth grader, Jacor will demonstrate the fun and hands-on way he learned about math and science through building a model solar and racing it at competition. The volunteer who teaches Solar Cars, Piyush Modak from Endomedix, will share the joy and professional growth she has experienced through teaching and learning from the students each week, and seeing the impact that her passion for STEM can have on kids. They will be joined by Citizen Schools Deputy Campus Director, Chanelle Baylor, to discuss the partnership between Citizen Schools and Eagle Academy that furthers student learning, while supporting teachers, and providing hands-on project-based learning. Projects like what Jacor did with solar cars allows students to transform into young scientists, engineers, astronauts, business owners, and programmers, helping them see the connections between their academics, real-world careers, and how they can achieve their dreams for their future.

This year’s American Graduate Day topics will include Early Education, Caring Consistent Adults, More and Better Learning, Special Needs Communities, STEAM (A for arts) Programs, Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement and College and Career Readiness. Citizen Schools will be featured during the STEAM segment of the broadcast. The program will also devote time to areas not covered before, including the special needs community and the work of such organizations as Autism Speaks, Best Buddies, and Special Olympics, and the importance of the arts in STEAM as a key component to More and Better Learning that can compel kids to stay in school, reflected in programs like Exploring the Arts and VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and more. In addition to “Stories of Champions,” other new features include live performances by The Raise Up Project, a spoken word group also being honored the following day at The Kennedy Center, and the Trenton Public Schools Marching Band.

Viewers and online users who are interested in connecting with local organizations and youth as American Graduate Champions can send a text on the day of broadcast or log on to AmericanGraduate.org to find out more about the national and regional organizations and how to help in their communities. Viewers will also be invited to participate in the discussion via Twitter and Facebook using the #AmGrad hashtag and on.

CONFIRMED MODERATORS:

Wes Moore (PBS and OWN), Juju Chang (ABC), Rehema Ellis (NBC), Bianna Golodryga (Yahoo!), Lyn May (PBS), Stone Phillips (news anchor), Hari Sreenivasan (PBS NewsHour Weekend), Rebecca Jarvis (ABC News), Susie Gharib (Nightly Business Report), William Brangham (PBS NewsHour Weekend) and Lauren Wanko (NJTV).

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Among the national organizations featured are: 4-H, 100K in 10, America SCORES Cleveland, America’s Promise Alliance, AmeriCorps, Autism Speaks, Banister Leadership Academy, Best Buddies, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Citizen Schools, City Year, Communities In Schools, Exploring the Arts, FIRST, Gateway to College National Network, GEAR UP, GRAD Cincinnati, Horizons National, Jobs for America’s Graduates, Junior Achievement, My Brother’s Keeper, National Academy Foundation, Omaha Empowerment Network, Project SEARCH, Publicolor, The Raise Up Project, Reach Out and Read, Reading is Fundamental, Roadtrip Nation, Special Olympics, Samsung Electronics North America, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens™, United Way and VH1 Save The Music Foundation.

CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS

Tony Bennett and wife Susan Benedetto will be interviewed about Exploring the Arts; Gen. Colin Powell and Alma Powell will be interviewed about their organization, America’s Promise Alliance; Brian Williams (NBC) and Jane Williams, daughter actress Allison Williams (HBO’s Girls) and son Doug Williams (YES Network) will be interviewed about their organization, Horizons National; Michael Bloomberg (former Mayor of New York City) will appear on behalf of Publicolor; Reggie Bush (Detroit Lions) will appear on behalf of Taco Bell Foundation; Ingrid Michaelson (singer/songwriter) will give a testimonial about VH1 Save The Music Foundation; CC Sabathia (New York Yankees) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Olympic gold medalist) will appear on behalf of Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Miral Kotb (dancer/choreographer) will be interviewed about Girls Who Code; Andy Grammer (singer) will host the VH1 Save The Music Foundation segment.

American Graduate Day 2014 is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET. Michael Kostel is executive producer.  Colin Powers is broadcast producer.  Chris Brande is national segment producer. Helen Maier is co-producer. Anna Campbell is local segment producer. From the Education Department, Kimberly Mullaney is project manager and Carole Wacey is vice president, education. Neal Shapiro is executive-in-charge.

American Graduate Day is part of American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen - a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help more kids stay on the path to graduation.

Visit the American Graduate Web site for more details on participating PBS stations as well as other television and radio programs: http://americangraduate.org/american-graduate-day-2014

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 American Graduate

American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen was launched in 2011 with 25 public media stations in high need communities to spotlight the high school dropout crisis and focus on middle and high school student interventions. Today, more than 80 public radio and television stations in over 30 states have partnered with over 1000 community organizations and schools, as well as Alma and Colin Powell's America's Promise Alliance, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Alliance for Excellent Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation to help the nation achieve a 90% graduation by 2020. With primetime and children’s programming that educates, informs, and inspires public radio and television stations — locally owned and operated — are important resources in helping to address critical issues facing today’s communities. According to a report from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, American Graduate stations have told the story about the dropout crisis in a way that empowered citizens to get involved, and helped community organizations break down silos to work more effectively together. In early 2014, CPB and PBS KIDS committed an additional $20 million for the “American Graduate PBS KIDS Fund” to also help communities connect the importance of early learning as part of a student’s long term success. In addition to station grants for local engagement, the Fund will support the creation of children’s content and tools to help parents, particularly those from low income communities, better prepare their young children for long term success. Fourteen American Graduate station grantees have also been awarded CPB early education grants to reach children ages 2-8 with programming and services developed through the Ready to Learn Initiative, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,300 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

What Happens After Middle School? A Student Alumni Success Story

Mavelin Godinez is a Citizen Schools North Carolina alumna from Eastway Middle School who will be starting her freshman year at Queens University in Charlotte this fall. When Godinez learned in January that she was accepted to Queens, her first-choice college, she was thrilled. She attributes the accomplishment to her relationship with Eastway Campus Director and former Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow, Melissa Verea.

Godinez was enrolled in Citizen Schools during her 7th and 8th grade years at Eastway Middle School. She recalls being shy and quiet in her classes and in Citizen Schools. Middle school wasn’t an easy time for her and her family. Her mother had recently re-married and given birth to a baby girl while also battling with depression. With so much going on at home, Godinez was happy to have a place to go after school.

During her time with Citizen Schools, the staff nominated Godinez for a mission trip to Cape Town, South Africa. When the Citizen Schools staff handed her the application and told her about the nomination she was shocked. She said, “It was the best trip I ever took. I was the only one from Eastway to be accepted. I was the quietest one and I didn’t even know the staff noticed me. It showed me they actually cared.”

The staff did care, and they still do. Godinez still stays in touch with Melissa Verea and her 8th grade Team Leader, Angel Johnson. Verea and Johnson are still part of her life even though she graduated from Citizen Schools at Eastway four years ago. Verea even accompanied her to an information session at Queens University when she was accepted and takes her out to lunch for her birthday every year. “I get very attached to people. The staff was my favorite part about Citizen Schools. I’m happy I still get to see them!” Godinez said.

Mavelin Godinez is the first member of her family to go to college in America. Her parents didn’t pursue higher education and her older brothers and sisters moved home to Guatemala. Godinez plans to major in chemistry at Queens University and is enrolled in the pre-med track. Her family is extremely proud of her.

Godinez has a bright future before her, and she is eager to start the next chapter of her life. When asked why she wanted to go to Queens University she said, “Because Ms. Melissa went there and she always talked about it. It made me want to go too.”

Melissa Verea is a positive and caring role model to Godinez and to all of the other Citizen Schools students at Eastway Middle School. Encouragement, support and love go a long way for a middle school student. In Godinez’s case it took her all the way to college and one step closer to reaching her lifelong dream of becoming a pediatric surgeon. Her advice to current and future Citizen Schools students is simple: “Get to know the Citizen Schools staff and let them get to know you. It makes all the difference.”

From Struggle, Growth: How Students are like Butterflies

Heather Cook is a volunteer Citizen Teacher at De Vargas Middle School in Santa Fe, NM. Follow her blog here. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was excited too. I looked forward to my class of 12-year-olds taking up a form of lacemaking that was last popular when their great-grandmothers were 12. I also knew from hard-won experience that they would face a steep learning curve. Once you learn the basic stitch, it is very simple. But mastering the basic stitch is a challenge that leads many adults to throw up their hands in despair and curse the scoundrel who invented this hellish craft.

I also knew that the payoff would be high: Well-earned self confidence, patience, determination, a new skill, potentially a new hobby if they kept it up, and clear bragging rights over their friends.

Tatting is a form of lacemaking made with a ball of thread and either two hand-held shuttles or a long needle. It is great for making jewelry, decorations, edgings, and much more. Currently, several of the girls are churning out earrings while the boys are determined to get good enough to make rosaries.

While watching these brave (and sometimes frustrated) pre-teens attempt to conquer this time-honored art, I have been struck by their resemblance to butterflies. Not in how they dress in bright colors, though they do, or in that they flit from flower to flower gathering nectar, though that is on their minds. Rather, in that the struggle to learn something new is akin to the process of a butterfly's birth.

Have you ever watched a butterfly break out of its cocoon? It is slow and tortured work. The butterfly has to fight hard, take many breaks and claw his way into the light. If you were watching, you might be tempted to give the little fellow a hand; maybe make the crack wider to give him more space. However, it turns out that providing a shortcut would kill the newborn butterfly. The struggle itself is necessary for life. In straining against the cocoon, certain essential fluids are pushed out into the wings, and if you help him get out, the wings will not fully develop and the butterfly will die.

Every time we learn something new, we struggle. Whether it is tatting or chemistry or balancing a checkbook. It is in this struggle that we learn who we are, what reserves of strength and character we have. We learn how to overcome difficulties and what it takes to succeed.

When we struggle hard to make something, learn something, become someone new, we not only gain that skill or knowledge, we gain something even more valuable: We grow and live more fully. The next time these kids try to learn something difficult, they can look back at this experience, remember what it took to succeed, and think, "because I learned tatting, I can do this too." That is the power of the butterfly.

The next time you are tempted to hand your student the answer or give them a shortcut to success, remember the butterfly's life and death struggle and remember that your student too is struggling for her life.

Celebrate the butterfly!

 

Making the Video: How Students Grew While Making a Documentary

Jessica Lander is a Teaching Associate at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, MA

What happens when you pass out hot fuchsia flip-cameras to eleven sixth graders with the plan to make a movie?

If you are in Room 213 you might see shots of bright yellow Jordans, impromptu rapping, or angled dance moves filmed covertly while a teacher is talking.  There will be close ups on a nose, or a blinking eye, and classroom whiteboards spun into vortices.

Having grown up assembling Marx Brother-esque shorts and PlayMobil stop-action epics, I jumped at the opportunity to co-teach an apprenticeship on documentary filmmaking.  Little did I know what I was getting into.

Our class of eleven was a middle-school microcosm.  There were the best friends and the loners.  There were the troublemakers and studious types. There were students so quiet it took minutes of cajoling to get them to share a thought and others who required constant reminders not to call out.  We had Spanish SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) students, Chinese SEI students who spoke limited or halting English, and one autistic boy who dreamed of becoming a filmmaker.

By week five I was dubious that any movie would result.  Class seemed to be more about juggling emotions and attitudes than an intense study of cinematography.  We finally settled on a fitting topic: what it was like to be a sixth grader.

And, slowly, a movie emerged.

Students climbed onto chairs or lay, backs flat to the creaky wood floor, to capture the most interesting angled shots.  They fanned out silently to record daily life: homework help in the cafeteria, the step-dance team in the hallway and a range of apprenticeship lessons in the classrooms.

 

At the culmination of ten weeks, we presented our movie to students, parents and teachers.  All the elements were there: a storyline, interviews, b-roll, voiceovers, odd angles, even bloopers so as to include the yellow Jordans and the covert dance moves.  But more than that, the movie held together as passionate and playful portrait of 6th grade life.

What the audience did not see, however, was the ten-week transformation of the film crew who sat, bashfully, near the front of the stage during the premiere.

No, they weren’t suddenly all best friends. But over ten weeks I had witnessed subtle shifts in their attitudes and their assumptions of each other.  I saw mainstream students reach out to Chinese SEI students and take the time to listen and respond to their halting English.  I saw the shyer students improvise eloquent voice-overs when the talkers of the class grew hesitant.  And I watched as the autistic boy in our class, who struggled constantly to stay on task, walked purposefully and silently through the halls and classrooms of the school, camera in hand.

It is this still-unmade documentary I wish the audience could see.

Here is the documentary that the students did create:

http://youtu.be/VpW_laX-9G8

Teaching: There's an App for That

Otto Katt is a Second Year Teaching Fellow at the Irving Middle School in Roslindale, MA

At Citizen Schools there are some things we do really well, and one of those things is apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are 10 week classes where students learn from volunteer experts and then present what they have learned to an audience. Like the applications that make your smartphone - well smart, apprenticeships are what make learning dynamic and impactful. Phone apps and apprenticeships share more than a prefix, they are accessories that enhance and improve. Apps make your phone into more than a device that makes calls, they transform it into a device capable of a incredibly wide range of functions. Just like apprenticeships bring volunteers into the classroom to transform learning into an incredibly wide range of 21st century subjects.

Need to know when the bus is coming, there’s an app for that. Want to find amazing tacos, there’s an app for that. Have a predilection for creepy dolls, yes there is an app for that too. The variety and dimensions of phone apps is endless, as is the gamut of apprenticeships.

One reason apprenticeships are so special is because they not only impact the student, but also the volunteer, the teacher, families, schools, and communities. Apprenticeships, because of their vibrant nature, are a powerful way to make lasting impressions on multiple constituencies.

I’ve had the opportunity to support a variety of apprenticeships. One of the most successful experiences I had was with my database design apprenticeship. At the beginning I was nervous. I knew nothing about databases, let alone designing one. But, I was extremely fortunate to work with a volunteer who was not only passionate about her field, but also compassionate towards exposing students to opportunities and experiences they would otherwise never have. It was a struggle explaining to students cardinality versus optionality. I still don’t understand what entity relationships are. And don’t ask me why there is a crow’s foot on my database design.

What I do know, is that for 10 weeks my student learned and were exposed to material and opportunities the vast majority of their peers will never have known even existed. I saw how a local business was able to make connections with a community and its school. I heard from thrilled parents who shared that their child was so excited about the potential to work in field that will only continue to grow as technology progresses.

As an educator you are often limited to working in your subject area.  Apprenticeships allow you the opportunity to teach subject matter you may have no familiarity with. You are forced to collaborate and come up with ways to engage students.  Apprenticeships are a microcosm of what learning should be: exciting, hands-on, relevant, engaging, inclusive, etc. etc. I know that learning is a complicated process. What is simple, is learning that is diverse and exciting- is learning that will make a difference.

Otto is interested in crazy phone apps you’ve encountered, and ideas that would make great apprenticeships.