In the past year, I've been frustrated to see stalemated progress on revising the "No Child Left Behind" education reform legislation as our country's deep achievement and opportunity divide has continued to persist. If the recession has taught us anything, it is that young people now must have more skills, more networks and more motivation in order to compete in today's global economy that ever before.
I deeply wish that education was pushed more towards the forefront of our national consciousness.
Impact: In my past three years at Citizen Schools, I’ve been fortunate enough to see real, on the ground, impact-- from my work leading a team of 8th Graders at the Rogers Middle School (who are now 10th grade students at their respective high schools) to my current work supporting our 6 middle school campuses and managing our Massachusetts 8th Grade Academy and Alumni Services programs,
The picture above is the final shot taken at our Bridging Magazine Launch Party in Spring 2010. Each year, we capture this image of all students, parents, volunteers, teachers and staff, holding up our magazine, and celebrating a year’s worth of achievement. One of my old students, Nicole, a current sophomore at City on a Hill Charter Public High School, graced the cover that year. She was one of the 60 or so 8th Grade students who had written personal statements for top-tier high schools and an article about her future goals. For me, the impact of this part of our program is not merely that students learn to organize an essay or use punctuation correctly (though these skills are certainly important). It is the coupling of these essential writing skills with the access to professionals and experiences that student in our writing program receive when they are paired up one-on-one with a mentor from Boston’s professional community. These volunteer “Citizen Teachers” help students weigh high school options (a decision which has life-long consequences), motivate students and provide access to a broader network of support.
Nicole chose to attend a challenging high school and was armed with the skills and motivation to succeed there.—in fact, she texted me just a few nights ago to share that she was selected as a member of National Honors Society!
Education reform has been my passion since college, and will continue to be part of my life’s mission. I am proud to be part of an organization that addresses both the achievement AND opportunity gap, and works to expand our program to as many students as possible.
I invite you to support our work by making a donation today. A mere $30 donation will cover the cost of transportation on the subway for a team of 18 students to travel downtown for one writing session. Your support will allow us to continue to make a strong, long-lasting impact on students like Nicole. Thank you in advance for your generosity!
What is Citizen Schools?
Expanding the learning day. Citizen Schools utilizes the 80% of children’s waking hours spent out of school—time when children keep learning even if we don’t keep teaching. Our trained staff of AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows and Teaching Associates forms a second shift of afternoon educators who integrate deeply into school and community life, engaging school staff, families, and volunteers to bring resources into education, building student skills in Math, English Language Arts and Science and motivating students to take their future seriously. and
Promising Results. Our results are immediate as well as long-term. Last year we launched Citizen Schools at the Orchard Gardens K-8 pilot school. Orchard Gardens was one of the worst performing schools in Boston, and was deemed a Turnaround school. Andrew Bott, the new principal of the school, had worked at the Rogers with Citizen Schools and worked to bring it to the Orchard Gardens. This time, we wouldn’t have just 90 students participate in the program, but all six and seventh grade students stayed an additional three hours a day four days a week for extra math instruction, team-building, trips to local colleges and high schools, and volunteer-led apprenticeships ranging in topic from crime scene investigation to mock trials and marketing.
In 2010 (before the Orchard Gardens was named a “turn around” school), only 24% of sixth grade students and 12% of 7th grade students at the Orchard Gardens were proficient or advanced in math. In 2011, 41% of sixth grade students and 30% of seventh grade students at the student were proficient or advanced in college. I’m confident that the proficiency gains will continue at the Orchard Gardens this year, our first year serving half of the 8th grade students.