As you probably know, this year has been full of changes for me. I graduated from Oberlin, moved to Boston, and began a new job as a National Teaching Fellow for Citizen Schools. You're most likely reading this now because I've sent you the link, so I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU right off the bat for taking time out of your busy day! In the interest of saving you some of that time, I've broken down this page into three sections:
1. Why Citizen Schools is awesome
2. What exactly it is that I do every day, and a bit about my amazing students
3. What you will accomplish by donating to Citizen Schools
Part 1: Why Citizen Schools is Awesome
Citizen Schools is a nation-wide education non-profit that partners with public middle schools in order to give students in urban areas more time in the classroom, more time with inspiring adults, and more time learning 21st century skills during the afternoon hours of their days. Citizen Schools was founded in Boston in 1995, and currently has 10 locations in the city as well as locations in California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Texas.
Citizen Schools provides supplemental academic support classes and hands-on apprenticeships that have been proven to lead to a student's success. A recent study on the impact of Citizen Schools (CS) in schools such as mine has found that educationally at-risk students (based on their performance on state exams) who participated in the program in middle school had consistently higher attendance rates in high school AND outperformed students who did not attend CS on their 10th grade state exams. Additionally, in one recent cohort of former CS students, 75% of participants graduated from high school in four years compared to 58% for the Boston district overall!
The best part of the program is that our students also get to learn with volunteers from the community who come in to teach what they are passionate about. For example, I helped support a class last semester where my students wrote and performed their own monologues about the roles they play within their community in front of a huge audience! I also helped a group of college students from Harvard teach our students how to be leaders by organizing and implementing their own projects within the school, including asking every single classroom to plant a tree and teaching them how.
Citizen Schools also provides its partner schools with the resources to take students on field trips all over the city to museums and on college tours. Most Boston public schools are not able to do this more than once a year- our students go off campus once a month. (The picture on the right is a group of my students on a tour of the New England Conservatory!)
Part 2: What I Do, and a Bit About my Students
As a National Teaching Fellow, I spend my days at the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown. Every afternoon I teach a class of 16 6th grade students; we call ourselves Team LDV, after Leonardo da Vinci. My role on our campus staff is to act as a liaison between Citizen Schools and the Edwards teachers and administrators. I also write the curriculum for our College to Career Connections program, which is a series of lessons we teach our students about why it's critical to start thinking about high school and college now, so that they can be prepared when they get there.
In the few short months since September, I have seen so many incredible things come from the effort, determination, and teamwork of my students. Because of our dedicated Citizen Teacher volunteers, members of Team LDV have programmed video games with Google, participated in mock trials at the Court House in front of real judges, written and performed monologues, designed and created runway fashions out of recycled materials, confronted the school Principal about implementing recycling at the Edwards, and so much more. I am extremely proud of them, and what’s more important is the pride and confidence they have gained in themselves!
Part 3: What You will Accomplish if you Donate
Because we are a non-profit, Citizen Schools depends upon (tax deductible!) donations from the public to continue supporting urban youth. That's why I created this fundraising page. The money I raise through this effort will be used to expand opportunities for my students, as well as students all over Massachusetts who are enrolled in Citizen Schools. Below is a handy breakdown detailing some examples of just how far your money can go- as you can see, NO donation is too small to make a big difference!
$1 buys a prize to celebrate a student for showing respect, tenacity, pride, courage, or teamwork.
$5 buys supplies for a classroom such as pencils, paper, expo markers, etc.
$10 buys a backpack full of school supplies (calculator, notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, etc.) for students who need them.
$40 funds an entire 8-week unit, taught by a Teaching Fellow, on subjects like Italian Cooking and Culture, A Cappella, Kung Fu, and Creative Writing. (I am currently teaching a Myth Busters unit, where students learn how to apply the scientific method to every day myths).
$80 funds a full 10-week Apprenticeship, taught by our wonderful Citizen Teacher volunteers.
$100 provides one month of food and supplies for family events.
$300 covers the cost of school buses so that all of our students can leave campus for a field trip to the Museum of Science or tour a college.
$500 buys a brand new projector for a classroom! This also comes with the eternal gratitude of Eric Schwartz, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, and a life-sized bronze statue of you in our national headquarters.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and thank you in advance for your donation! If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask me!