Working with middle school students in East Palo Alto has been an eye opening experience. At Cesar Chavez Academy I have met some of the most mature and intelligent students I have ever worked with, and yet these same incredible 12 year olds can not do long division. There is a problem here, some kind of disconnect. This is why I believe in the mission of Citizen Schools to provide students like this with ACCESS to more opportunities, SKILLS that can improve academic performance and students' BELIEF in their own abilities.
Watching this video (to the right) always makes me smile. To me, it is not just a video, it is part of a long and ongoing story. Throughout this year I have worked with my students on public speaking skills and debate skills. I have also led a class called "Destination Graduation" once a week to talk specifically about going to college.
A couple weeks ago I challenged my students to create a "College Commercial" selling other students on the idea of college. I reminded them that they would have to use everything they learned this year, including their public speaking skills, argumentation skills and college knowledge. I told them that I would put the best commercial on my website, and this was the winning video. I should probably mention that, of the three students in this group, one was suspended earlier in the year for being involved in a fight, one frequently ditches my class and the other has a father who went to prison last month. Moments like the one shown in this video allow me to feel hopeful about their futures, and I think it allows them to feel hopeful too.
Whatever you are able to give will definitely make a difference in these students lives. I hope you will consider donating to Citizen Schools and support us in providing ACCESS, SKILLS and BELIEF to our students.