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

Creating a Personal Brand with Brenda Williams, the Citizen Teacher of the Month Providing students, particularly at the middle school level, with exposure to different professions and direction for thinking about their future is critical to preparing them for success in school and beyond. This is Brenda Williams’ goal every semester when she teaches “My Guided Personal Story” to male students at Carter G. Woodson Elementary School in Chicago, IL. With 25 years of experience as a business strategist, Brenda knows what it takes to create a compelling personal brand.

She teaches students to be the CEOs of their lives. “My Guided Personal Story (myGPS) provides a structure for the students to think about their talents, values, and dreams to ultimately tell an interesting story about themselves and who they are. The story effectively communicates who they are and where they want to be in five years,” said Brenda.

This month we celebrate Brenda as the Citizen Teacher of the Month for her passionate effort to prepare students for a successful future.

Meet Brenda...

How did you create My Guided Personal Story?

“Being a strategic planner is all about projecting a vision. I want to make sure students have something they created on their own, to remind themselves of the great young men they want to be and think about the paths they need to take to get there. It helps them to create a vision for an inspired future and think about the steps necessary to further their dreams.

Your brand begins in your mind. It’s not easy because many kids face challenges on a daily basis. They need a place in their heart and mind where they can go that says ‘I see the rainbow. I see a promising future for myself.’”

How have you seen the apprenticeship impact students?

“It’s introspective, immersive, and highly expressive. They have to use language they don’t necessarily use everyday. I work to get them a place where they can talk about themselves comfortably. We talk about how it’s okay to be vulnerable. We’ve been able to find out a lot about their lives and find out why they are the way they are.

I make them stand in their truth by getting them to describe themselves and their interests. If you want people to believe you, you have to stand strong in your truth and make people see you for who you are.

They talk to their family and friends about vision boards they create for a personal commercial. The commercial focuses on the statement: ‘This is who I am, this is what I stand for. This is my dream and this is what I want to be.’ They can keep it on their phones and easily go back to remind themselves during difficult situations.

What’s one of your favorite “aha” or “wow” moments?

“When I came back from my Citizen Teacher training, one of my former students ran up to me and said ‘I got my report card! You have to see it! I’m talking A’s and B’s. I got myself together Miss Brenda, I got myself together this time. myGPS helped me do this.’ I felt very, very fulfilled thinking about this. If you can get at least one student to move the needle that is success.

My second favorite moment is when I was starting my new course. It went from eight boys to 18 boys. The word got out and I thought it would be difficult, but three students even repeated the class. I’m not a pushover and thought they would find the apprenticeship difficult because of it. One of the students asked, ‘Miss Brenda, can I stand up and tell everyone how myGPS has changed my life?’ He stood up and did more than I could ever do for a class. He did a testimony for myGPS. It was one of those moments where I’m thinking ‘He’s got it. He gets it.’”

What advice do you have for other volunteers?

“Teaching middle school students is a lot more difficult than dealing with corporate executives. Success is defined differently. If we get one or two students to the next level in the lesson, that’s success. You have to adjust your communication to make sure you’re speaking to them at their level.

It’s not easy. This is the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve done. I got out there to be a contributor in hopes of moving the needle and I found out how hard it is. It made me a lot more empathetic and gave me a greater understanding. Utilizing tools and suggestions from Citizen Schools’ campus staff helped me reach the students more effectively and manage their classroom behavior, which can be challenging at times.”

Why should people volunteer to teach students?

“It helps kids understand why it’s important to go to school. There are a lot of interesting careers that they had never heard of before my class. By teaching them we are opening their worlds to different roles and are fortifying their experience with what goes on in the real-world. That kind of exposure is important. Many people are looking for ways to give back but spend a lot of time working or having hobbies that are really important to them. They don’t often realize that giving back can be sharing our experiences, knowledge, and passions with kids.

Kids are the future, and people who want to cultivate and shape the future should be involved with kids. If you need structure, Citizen Schools will give you that. I think it’s a wonderful way to contribute to the future of our society in way that makes you feel good.”

Expanded Learning Time Panel Discusses How Community Partners Can Make an Impact for Students "Extended learning may be the only reason some young people come to school." - Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education.

On May 19, the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a panel, All Hands on Deck: How Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Partnerships Work Together to Improve Outcomes for Students, to discuss how expanded learning time (ELT) and community partnerships can create a positive impact for students and schools.

The event featured remarks from Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President of Policy at CAP, and Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, US Department of Education. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Davis, Co-Founder and President of the National Center of Time and Learning, and included Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, Megan Bird, Managing Director of Program for Citizen Schools Massachusetts, Chris Caruso, ExpandED Schools Senior Vice President, and Kerri Ayn Seow,  Third Grade Teacher, Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.

The panelists discussed how community organizations, such as Citizen Schools, have partnered closely with schools and their administration to make an impact for students, teachers, and the community at large with an expanded day. The additional hours allow for more time for academics, more enriching activities, and more time for teacher collaboration and planning.

"ELT gives me the chance to teach what I wasn't able to during class and the extra activities enrich my lessons," Kerri Ayn Seow.

Read more about the event here.



Superpowers and School: Comics Empower Students to Academic Greatness

Would you choose super strength or the ability to turn invisible? Students at the Eagle Academy for Young Men in Newark, NJ carefully consider this and many other superpower-based questions. But for sixth-graders this January, the super hero alter egos they chose would affect the rest of their school year. Thanks to a unique project called 12 Comics and the expanded learning time provided by Citizen Schools, this team was getting energized about learning through comic art. The superheroes now represent their school achievements, and the better they do in class, the more powerful they become.

12 Comics CEO and Founder Mark Hair believes that comics are actually an effective way to engage students in their schoolwork and excite them about history, science, and literature. Since 2003, he has been leading projects that allow every student to create a superhero and then incorporate the superheroes into their lessons.

Student works during extended learning time on his superhero.

12 Comics offers students physical representation of their hard work and effort through trading cards and stories featuring their superheroes. Superheroes grow in strength and prominence based on student grades, test scores, and completed homework assignments. Students want to see their superheroes gain more power and that means doing well on their assignments, or missions.

The science mission involves students learning about the science of superhero abilities through the study of biology and physics. Students learn about historical events, such as writing a short story of what would happen if their superhero stopped the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy, Jr.  Adding a personal superhero into the curriculum inspires students to think about lessons in a new, innovative way.

Using comics to engage students in learning is unconventional, but it works. “I loved seeing how engaged the students were during the creative process,” said Allyson Cook, the Deputy Campus Director for Citizen Schools at Eagle Academy.

“The scholars began to be more proactive to excelling, knowing their progress reports and report grades directly affected their hero,” says Shakirah Islam, the AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow who led the comic art apprenticeship.

Eagle Academy student shows off his superhero.

“It was the only apprenticeship that I’ve experience where the students had to be basically kicked out of class because they wanted to stay and finish their missions.” said Islam. Students talked about the comic art program in the hallways and always looked forward to it. Students competed with each other about their word count, an indication of their superhero strength.

12 Comics and Citizen Teachers are natural allies brought together by the experiences of Eagle Academy for Young Men’s Operations Manager, Thomas Owens. Owen’s son went through the 12 Comics program and saw first-hand the benefits of stimulating creativity to raise school engagement.

With Citizen Schools' extended learning time integrated into the school's culture, innovative programs like 12 Comics can fit in seamlessly into the learning day. If the staff of Eagle Academy had superpowers, they would probably have the ability to make partnerships transform.

Video: HP Expands Students' Worlds

On Tuesday, April 29, 250 people gathered at the elegant Carolands Chateau in Hillsborough, CA, for Citizen Schools California's second annual gala, benefitEd. Citizen Schools California supporters and champions explored the halls of the exquisite chateau to see Bay Area middle school students showcase their Design Thinking projects, play with the android apps they created, and present the robots they built. The event celebrated the success of Citizen Schools students and honored our partnership with the HP Company Foundation.

Through our partnership with organizations like the HP Company Foundation, we are able to offer more engaging opportunities to students in the Bay Area. This video introduces us to HP’s dedicated volunteer teachers, who connect their passions for technology and photography to the dreams and aspirations of the Bay Area's young minds.

Film Credits: Director:Aaron Shadwell Producer: Colin Stokes

Special Thanks: Marlon Evans Amika Guillaume Sarah Partin Alison Townley Jim Vanides Alumni, students and teachers at Cesar Chavez Academy

Citizen Schools to Participate in American Graduate Day 2013!

Citizen Schools to Participate in “American Graduate Day 2013,” Live National Multiplatform Event to Keep Students on the Path to Graduation, Premieres September 28 on Public Television

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

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

American Graduate Day 2013, will premiere live this fall, Saturday, September 28 from 12 noon- 7 pm EST on public media (check local public television station listings),  marking a long term commitment to helping communities tackle the nation’s dropout crisis and preparing students for success with a high school diploma. Through the power and reach of public media, communities across the county will be invited to take an active role and become an “American Graduate Champion for local youth by volunteering their time, talent, or other resources.

American Graduate Day 2013 will be broadcast and streamed live from the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City. American Graduate Day is part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

“American Graduate through America’s public media stations, on air, online and in hundreds of communities is working in partnership with teachers, students, educators, business and community leaders to encourage, in measureable ways, our kids to stay on the path to a high school diploma,” said Pat Harrison, CPB president and CEO. “Together with our 1000 local and national partners, we are having an impact and moving toward the national goal of a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2020. American Graduate Day is just one example of how local public television and radio stations provide content that matters and engagement that counts.”

"American Graduate Day is shining a light on some of the most effective efforts to improve education," said Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. "It's clear that education can't be a spectator sport. Every one of us can play a role in putting students on a path to graduation and success." 

American Graduate Day is a multi-platform event featuring local and national programming, community partners, and celebrities focused on improving the high school graduation rates in America. The key component of the event is the participation of the community-based organizations. Citizen Schools, along with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year, Horizons National, and United Way are among the partner organizations that havealready agreed to participate in American Graduate Day 2013, which will feature nearly 30 national partner organizations, 14 local organizations, and celebrity guests involved in education and youth intervention programs.

American Graduate Day 2013 will spotlight Citizen Schools and the work it is doing in the community to help students stay in school until graduation. The special will feature a seven-hour “call to action” marathon focused around critical themes, including Expanded Learning Time (ELT) and After School Programs, Early Education, Mentoring, Career Readiness and College Completion, STEM Programs, Family Support, and Dropout Re-engagement and Prevention. Hosted by on-air personalities from PBS, WNET, and other media organizations, the broadcast and online event will be divided into 14 half-hour blocks featuring a mix of live breaks and pre-taped partner segments showing how community organizations provide support, advice, and intervention services to at-risk students, families, and schools. Within each of these half-hour blocks, local public media stations will have the opportunity to customize the national feed with a locally-produced live or pre-taped seven-minute segment.

On, the event will include live viewer generated video content submitted in response to questions such as “How has your life changed, or been changed by the power of volunteering?”

Throughout the day, viewers and online users will be invited to become American Graduate Champions by connecting with their local public television station and with Citizen Schools. Viewers will be encouraged to participate in the event by asking questions and sharing ideas before and during the broadcast on Twitter using the hashtag #AmGrad and on Facebook. Those interested in becoming an American Graduate Champion can also call the Toll free number on the day of broadcast or log on to to find out more about the national and regional organizations and how to help in their hometowns.

Visit the American Graduate Day Web site for more details on participating PBS and NPR stations as well as other television and radio programs:


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 volunteers 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

About WNET

In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.


American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen is helping local communities identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. American Graduate demonstrates public media’s commitment to education and its deep roots in every community it serves. Beyond providing programming that educates, informs and inspires public radio and television stations — locally owned and operated — are an important resource in helping to address critical issues, such as the dropout rate. In addition to national programming, more than 75 public radio and television stations in 33 states have launched on-the-ground efforts working with community and at risk youth to keep students on-track to high school graduation. More than 1000 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate, and CPB is working with Alma and Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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.





Design Thinking: The Future of Education?

Design thinking is a structured approach to generating, developing, and implementing ideas. Through  five phases -- discovery, ideation, interpretation, experimentation and evolution -- students use creativity, analytical skills, and teamwork to solve real-world problems. Katrina Schwartz of KQED’s MindShift blog, describes the process as one in which:

“students think for themselves, discover knowledge and continually revise and change their models and prototypes, just like they might if working on a project at work. With design thinking, students can learn how to interpret information they’ve learned, and continue to iterate and experiment with different solutions and ideas. In the process, students gain the confidence that everyone can be part of designing a better future.”

Students from Cesar Chavez Academy prototype a catapult

Citizen Schools is pleased to offer two new design thinking apprenticeships this fall. In Design Thinking, teachers from companies like EMC teach students how to design a product that will solve a problem during lunch or recess at school.

 In Creating Change That Matters, Citrix and Intuit volunteers teach user-centered design, highlighting empathy in the design process. Students must interact with members of their community in order to deeply understand an issue before delving into product design. In both apprenticeships, students pinpoint an area where they can create change, and proceed to develop, build, test, and evaluate their solution.

Ralph King, the driving force behind Creating Change That Matters and the producer of the PBS film Extreme by Design says that in design thinking,  “[famed anthropologist] Margaret Mead meets Steve Jobs.” He explains that, “design thinking is a way to solve problems, but the way you solve problems involves connecting with people that you’re trying to help.”

King notes that the design thinking process is especially important to teach in middle school because innate creativity still thrives at this age. In later years however, creativity is often stifled and “sacrificed for a test taking mentality, stress about colleges and SATs, and other outside pressures that build momentum in high school.” Students frequently learn risk avoidance behavior geared towards traditional achievement, but Citizen Schools’ design thinking apprenticeships provide a space where taking risks is is actually required! Students learn that  failing and starting over are merely small steps towards final success; a lesson we should all bear in mind during moments of stress and frustration.

The beauty of design thinking is that it’s relevant, it’s empowering, and it applies to countless problems in any setting. With applications in fields from engineering to visual art, it’s no wonder many see design thinking as the future of education. We are so excited to introduce these apprenticeships and can’t wait to let you in on our students’ innovative solutions!

Click here to view the Design Thinking curriculum.

Click here to read KQED’s Mindshift article.

Click here to learn more about Ralph King’s film, Extreme by Design.


VIDEO: Fidelity's Investments In Kids

Citizen Schools connects companies from every sector to middle schools. Some of the deepest connections have come through a partnership with Fidelity Investments. Citizen Schools' 2013 gala, A WOW! Affair, honored Fidelity for this partnership. This video introduces us to the company's dedicated volunteers, who connect their passions for writing, finance, and technology to the dreams of Boston's young people.

Over the last 15 years, almost 900 Fidelity employees have volunteered to teach Citizen Schools students across the country. That's about 7,000 volunteer hours, bringing to life more than 100 apprenticeships in topics ranging from financial literacy to drumming, from robotics to web design.

WOW! indeed.

VIDEO: The American Dream Team Sometimes education boils down to the basics: adults connecting with children to help them reach their full potential.

Here's one story of those connections.

Eli Martinez has gone to school at Orchard Gardens since kindergarten. During that time, the school was in turmoil; principals came and went, scores were low, and students' attention was scattered.

When she started 7th grade, a new principal instituted a longer learning day, with Citizen Schools providing the programming for the middle grades.

A new team entered Eli's life, drawing lines between the classrooms and the real world. Those lines ponted the way to a richer future, helping her clearly envision her goals and take the steps necessary to get there.

On April 3, 2013, Team Eli reunited for an evening. They watched this movie alongside attendees of A WOW! Affair, Citizen Schools' annual gala. Then they stood on stage together and took a bow.

Thanks, Eli, Emili, Tony, Sheena, Sam, and Andrew. And everyone who's part of a kid's team. Their future is in our hands...and our future is in theirs.

Film Credits:

Directed by Aaron Shadwell Produced by Colin Stokes Audio mix by Matt Russell

Special Thanks:

Kelly Bernard Megan Bird Andrew Bott Sheena Gulati Stacey Harris Samantha Kingsbury Pat Kirby Cesar Martinez Eli Martinez Emili Melo Ingrid Melo Mintz Levin Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School Tony Ryals Hannah Smith Sarah White

Top 5 Marketing Apprenticeships

As a  marketing professional, I am biased towards the industry. But as it turns out, kids really do get a lot out of learning marketing skills in middle school. Over the years, our marketing apprenticeships have shown kids how to pitch and present like pros, a skill most adults grapple with. Thanks to partners like Jack Morton, McCann-EricksonCisco and Fidelity Investments our students have produced impressive PSAs, commercials, radio spots, ads and more. Middle schoolers across the nation know how to truly captivate an audience. After browsing through video after video of the best stuff on the market, we've pulled out our top five. Trust me, you'll want to buy what these kids are selling...

1. Fighting Child Obesity with McCann Erickson. For the past five years, the kids from Isaac E. Newtown Middle School in Harlem have been working with a group of volunteers from McCann Erickson in a program called Ad Lab. Last year the students produced not one, but five commercials about fighting child obesity.

In July, McCann-Erickson was recognized for their commitment to Citizen Schools at the prestigious 2012 IPG Inclusion Awards. The apprenticeship team was given the Silver Community Partnership Award, honoring their engagement with Citizen Schools. McCann-Erickson is a pioneer in the advertising industry, not just because of their innovative marketing campaigns, but because of their commitment to diversity and to the community.

2. Say No to Bullying, Say Yes to Tacos. With help from a team of Cisco volunteers, the kids at Campbell Middle School in California created four commercials in a campaign against bullying. They learned how to be an "ally" to those who are bullied and encouraged their fellow students to stop bullying at their school. Each commercial gives an example of how to be an ally, and uses what I think is the best tagline of all time.

3. A Garden Grows In Boston: Since 2007, Jack Morton has been transforming kids from Edwards Middle School in Boston, Massachusetts into experiential marketing executives. One of our all-star Jack Morton volunteers, Donald Gregorio, was recently recognized by Boston Magazine for his work with Citizen Schools.

With commitment from volunteers like Donald, our students can confidently say, "Look out Nike! We're coming for you," (as one of them adorably proclaims in this video).

4. Hugs for Thugs: In the fall of 2008, students from Edison Middle School in Brighton, Massachusetts teamed up with advertising executives from the firm, Almighty. After the students selected an issue they cared most about, bullying, they created a PSA.

By promoting one of the simplest human actions, they helped make their school a better place. After all, sometimes we just need a hug.

5. First Night, First Bite. Volunteers from Fidelity teamed up with the kids at McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, Massachusetts to create their own advertising firm called Citizen Agency. They created a campaign in support of First Night Boston, the annual New Year's Eve celebration.

Fidelity Graphic Designer, Cheryl Desjardin, helped the kids create the marketing plan from inception to execution. They even practiced their pitching skills in front of a live panel of judges.Talk about professional development at only 12 years old!

These videos represent five of many marketing apprenticeships Citizen Schools has provided over the years. By learning and experiencing the fast-paced "Mad Men" industry, our kids have become excellent communicators, a skill they'll need in high school, college and any career. Now I bet they'll think twice before fast-forwarding through commercials.

Student Speech: How Citizen Schools Helped Me Flourish

Agostinha DePina is a senior at John D. O'Bryant High School in Boston. She will be attending Clark University next year. This is her speech from the Citizen Schools  2012 A WOW! Affair Gala.

"Let me take you to my homeland. Bare feet feeling the hot sand, Chasing chickens, riding horses. These are my roots.

My name is Agostinha DePina, and I’m a senior at John D. O’Bryant High School.

I spent the first eight years of my life on the island of Fogo in Cape Verde where my parents grew up, and only my mom went to high school. We were really poor. I remember sleeping on the floor, hungry some nights with one dress and no shoes. But I also remember feeling free and happy.

I immigrated to the US when I was nine years of age. My parents brought me here for the opportunity. But I was terrified. I remember my first day of elementary school being in the big yellow bus in the middle of strangers, without knowing a word of English, and entering a classroom where I did not know what to do or what to say, so I placed myself in a comfort corner.

I might have gotten lost right away if it weren’t for my second grade teacher, Ms. Gomes. With her charismatic and intellectual teaching, she taught me English, and helped me see what was possible in my new country. In the Cape Verdean culture, women are taught that their dreams of success are their husband’s dreams, that they don’t need a voice because the man has a voice. But in the United States, I saw things I had never seen before: girls of all ages going to school, mothers being independent and working, and women striving to be a part of something. Ms. Gomes showed me that women can become queens without a king. But I was still shy—a quiet girl with a lot to say, but with no voice.

For several years I was a passionate student, always eager to go to school. My mom and my dad were always supportive of me. I could see how hard they worked for my six siblings and me—my mom is a housekeeper at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel and my dad is a cleaner at UMass Boston. They told me every day that I am responsible for my future and my success.

However, as classes became more rigorous and the material was harder to understand, my parents’ motivational speeches were not enough. In sixth and seventh grade, I couldn’t keep my grades up, and I began to lose my drive for school.

In eighth grade, though, I was lucky. I got a support network that kept me from going off track. A group of people believed in my potential and gave me the knowledge and skills that have gotten me where I am today. These were the people of Citizen Schools.

My team leader, Julianne, would always come over and talk with me. Every time I had a test or quiz at school, Julianne would help me study. Then professionals from Putnam Investments came and taught us interview skills. Two volunteers from Choate, Hall, and Stewart—Eleanor and Cara—worked with me on writing essays that would be published in a magazine. They became my mentors.

And every Tuesday and Thursday, I took apprenticeships. I measured my school's carbon footprint one semester, and I tried creative writing. We created stories by observing regular day people during their daily activities. My Citizen Teacher Jennifer made me read my poem to my peers, where I overcame my shyness.

Julianne and the Teaching Fellows took us to visit eight different colleges. I loved visiting Brown and Trinity. A panel of Trinity students talked to us about their experience. Initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college. But, I remember one student talked about how Trinity College really made it possible for her to attend college and persevere. I knew that if she could do it, I could overcome any obstacle I face.

I am proud to say that I've just been admitted to Clark University, where I’ll major in communications.

But I would not have made it into Clark, or even be graduating from the great high school I attend, without Citizen Schools. I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for writing. And most importantly, the people I saw coming to my school and giving back made me realize that my aspiration in life is to give back. I am currently writing and performing with Teen Voices Magazine, where I use writing to empower other teen girls. My dream is to start a non-profit for girls, to help them find the confidence that others have helped me find, and give other girls the opportunities that many women never receive.

All these people—Jennifer, Eleanor, Cara—they saw my talents and potential at the right time in my life, and they helped me reveal it. I’m especially grateful to my team leader Julianne, who came over and sat next to that shy girl. I’m excited to say that Julianne is here tonight.

Thank you all. All of you in this room tonight are making it possible for teens to stay on track. You who volunteer, or send your employees to volunteer, are changing kids’ lives. Your donations bring Citizen Schools to more schools, and help students discover the drive to go to college. You realize that there is nothing more important than education, and you know that you have a role to play in helping teens learn what they want to become in life.

The girl who walked barefoot on the heat of the Cape Verdean sand With one dress to wear, no money in her hands Is the same girl who is now making her dreams come true Now it’s my turn to give back so that everyone can see How this Cape Verdean girl who was a slave to poverty Is now the master of her destiny.

Thank you all for supporting Citizen Schools. Please be generous tonight."

This year at A WOW! Affair, over 400 people were in attendance including many of our biggest supporters. In addition to Agostinha's inspiring speech, the event honored Citizen Teachers and corporate sponsors for answering the call to transform education. Donald Gregorio, Executive Assistant at Jack Morton Worldwide, was recognized as Citizen Teacher of the Year for his work on the Brand You apprenticeship. As a National Leadership Partner of Citizen Schools and one of our leading providers of volunteer teachers, Cognizant was also honored for applying the same kind of passion and innovation to improving learning for students as they do to their business. Francisco D'Souza, CEO of Cognizant, accepted the honor on behalf of the company.

Other corporate sponsors at the event included Bain Capital Chidren’s Charity, WilmerHale, LLP, ArcLight Capital Partners, Edwards Wildman Palmer, LLP, EMC Corporation, Jack Morton Worldwide, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, PC, Ropes & Gray, LLP, and State Street Corporation.

Video: Who Says you Can't Make Work Fun?

Ann Lambert is a Second Year Teaching Fellow at the Irving Middle School, Roslindale, MA

Work is work… but who said it couldn’t be fun?  During a staff retreat before the school year started, I was given the challenge of presenting myself and my life to my new staff team in ten minutes or less.  HOW?  A PowerPoint?  An abridged autobiography?  Interpretive dance?  Or… do I dare… showcase my skillz*… at work?  Little known fact to people outside of my closest circle of friends: I got flow.  However, repressed by the misconception that “social Ann” and “professional Ann” should be kept distinct, I had yet to fully come out of my shell and reveal my true self to my coworkers.  Embarking on year two of the Teaching Fellowship, I took a “positive risk” as we like to say at Citizen Schools: I decided to unleash my inner rapper and creative lyricist in the workplace.  This music video is the result.  Enjoy!"

*slang for "skills", a set of competencies that enable one to be well versed and very proficient at accomplishing a goal

Beastie Boys lyric: I got the skillz to pay the bills


In what creative ways have you brought your true self and joy into your workplace?

Cheryl Desjardin, Citizen Teacher: Video

Cheryl Desjardin is a graphic designer at Fidelity Investments. Once a week she and two fellow Citizen Teachers from Fidelity hosted students from the Dever-McCormack K-8 School in Dorchester, MA, and taught them a 10-week marketing apprenticeship to middle school students. Watch Cheryl's journey here!

Across Boston, five Citizen Schools program sites had marketing apprenticeships - and they all were preparing to compete in the same competition: who could make the best marketing campaign for First Night Boston (the Boston New Year's Eve Celebration). The apprenticeships culminated with a marketing WOW! presentation, where each apprenticeship class revealed their campaigns a panel of judges from marketing and PR agencies and an audience of hundreds of people.

While it wasn't smooth sailing the whole way through, Cheryl's team learned the ins and outs of marketing, interviewed an official from the beloved Boston celebration and came up with the plan to add food to the occasion (which has never been done) and promote the news. The kids came up with the slogan, "First Night, First Bite," and acted out an energetic commercial. During the Q&A session after their presentation, Cheryl's students were almost fighting over the microphone for the opportunity to speak. After one of her students explained his multichannel strategy, celebrity judge Steve Mooney from Jack Morton Worldwide shouted, "You're hired!"