Citizen Schools caught my eye from afar--from Beijing, to be precise--in early 2010, when I was a teaching fellow at one of China's premier foreign affairs colleges and an intern with a U.S.- based renewable energy organization. Based on observations of both my Chinese students' rigorous educational commitment and background, and China's increasing prowess in the design, manufacture and implementation of renewable energy technologies, it became clear to me that the U.S. was falling behind on both education and commitment to quality and relevance, notably to many immediate growth markets. Such realities did not align with my Chinese students' perception of the U.S. as a land of innovation, ingenuity and optimism. In my desire to prove my idealistic, pro-American Chinese students right about the U.S. as a land of opportunity for all, I recognized the need to build the competence, self-efficacy, work ethic and focus of U.S. students so that they could have the opportunity to fulfill their own American dreams. When I chanced upon a link to Citizen Schools on my college career services website, I discovered an incredible way to make these, my own dreams, come true.
I started with Citizen Schools at McKinley Institute of Technology (MIT for short) in August 2010 as a Teaching Fellow, and transitioned to the Deputy Campus Director role in July 2011. In this new role, I have been supporting several exciting pilots at MIT, including an Expanded Learning Time (ELT) pilot for our 6th graders, a credentialing pilot with the Reach Institute for School Leadership, and a SuperSTEM School pilot. The SuperSTEM pilot, funded by a very generous grant from the Bechtel Foundation, is an incredible opportunity for us to increase our STEM programming, including apprenticeships, off-campus explorations, and math practice. As we gear up for Spring programming, we're excited to be offering an excellent lineup of apprenticeships, 50% of which are STEM, and field trips, including an adventure to Cal Academy of Sciences in March.
The most sustaining realization that I have come to in the past year and a half is that all students can apply themselves and love to learn if content is imbued with relevance and if they are supported, held to high standards and held accountable for their performance. I have seen it during AIM when wide-eyed students realize that their Team Leaders have been talking with their teachers about those missing assignments; I have seen it during Math League when students parse word problems for the relevant information and confidently discard the details planted to trip them up; I have seen it during C3 when students map out the hoops between them and graduation from Stanford Medicine, police academy, or Parsons School of Design; I have seen it during apprenticeships when students struggling in their math classes recognize how math might be relevant (and fun!) when they learn how to change the radius of the paintbrush in their Android drawing application.
My appeal is for you to also see the benefit of investing in our youth, via relevant academic development, pride in achievement, and support in visualizing and preparing their path to their American dream, sustaining our own in the process.
Last year, friends and family provided incredible support to Citizen Schools, helping me to raise over $2200 through this campaign. This year, it is with great gratitude and excitement for the continued growth and impact of our program that I ask you to please join me in supporting Citizen Schools. I will do my best to keep you updated on its growth and successes, so you may see your investment at work. Many thanks for your time, consideration and generosity!