April 30, 2012

Afterschool Program Helps Students Climb to New Heights

by Peak Johnson, The Huffington Post, originally published on 2/10/12

An immense collection of books fills the shelves of Tree House Books. From Best American Essays by Annie Dillard to Sula by Toni Morrison to a shelf dedicated to children’s author Lemony Snicket. Tree House Books, a nonprofit organization in North Philadelphia, works to “grow and sustain a community of readers, writers, and thinkers” through afterschool and enrichment programs. Neighborhood children participate in the literacy program called Life With Books.

“I like moving up a reading level,” said 5th grader Dominique Cooper. “I like reading and being able to do my homework.” Dominique, along with fellow student and friend, Ajalee Green, attends Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary. Dominique originally learned about Tree House from a friend at Duckrey.

The friends participate in the literacy program, and when a student reads 10 books or five chapter books, their name is placed on the “Limo wall.” As a treat, Tree House rents a limo for the students whose names are on the wall, whisking them away to an unnamed destination, only revealed to them upon arrival.  Students work with tutors from nearby Temple University. “My involvement with Tree House started when I was a graduate student at Temple University in their creative writing program studying poetry writing,” said Tree House Executive Director Darcy Luetzow

In 2006, Luetzow heard that her peers in Temple’s program were doing some afterschool writing with kids in North Philadelphia. She jumped at the chance to join, not fully knowing what she was getting into.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

April 26, 2012

Father-daughter duo serves as AmeriCorps tutors

Originally published on 2/10/12 in ValpoCommunity.com

AmeriCorps has had members from all walks of life and a range of ages. But this year, Porter County is benefiting from the efforts of a unique pair. Michelle and Bob Hynes are a father-daughter duo stationed at Valparaiso’s two middle schools.

Bob Hynes discovered AmeriCorps in his search for a meaningful way to help students improve their math skills. Retired from his job in management at a steel company, Hynes has an engineering degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and a desire to make a difference. “I was doing substitute teaching, but I realized I could contribute more if I could work one on one with students,” he said. “Tutoring seemed more effective, so I was happy to discover that AmeriCorps had openings for me to do that.”

Hynes now reports every school day to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, where he has a full schedule of tutoring sessions with individual seventh- and eighth-graders. “We’ve been working on slopes recently,” Hynes said. “When the light bulb moment comes — when they begin to understand — that’s when I know that what I’m doing is valuable.”

Michelle Hynes was glad her father found AmeriCorps. A recent graduate of Indiana University with a bachelor’s in both biology and religious studies, she hopes to become a doctor. Hynes wanted an opportunity to do something worthwhile while she waits for the outcome of her medical school applications. “I thought maybe I’d volunteer abroad, maybe in Haiti, but I found a way to help right here,” Hynes said. “Dad found AmeriCorps and told me there were slots for tutors. I knew that was right up my alley.”

Michelle Hynes now spends her time with sixth-graders at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, where she tutors youngsters who need assistance during the school day as well as with other teachers and counselors at after-school study sessions.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Government,K-8

April 22, 2012

Project Hope employees say tutoring program won’t pay up

By Francisco Alvarado, NewTimes Miami, originally posted 2/2/12

A Liberty City tutoring program is under fire from former employees who say not only has it failed to pay about $50,000 in wages, but also it employs two children of the program’s chief, Anthony Dawkins — both of whom have criminal convictions for fraud.

“There are folks who have suffered financial difficulties because they haven’t been paid,” says Adrian Alexander, a Miami-Dade Public Schools speech pathologist who says she’s owed about $1,000. “Dawkins doesn’t seem to care.”

Dawkins admits he hasn’t paid his bills and that his ex-con kids are on the books. But he says he’s trying to rectify the problems and blames the county for yanking a grant he needed to pay tutors. “We’re doing all we can,” says Dawkins, who heads Project Hope Outreach Ministry, which runs the program. “We have nothing to hide. Everyone will get paid very soon.”

The problems began around spring break last year, shortly after Project Hope received a $200,000 University of Miami grant to tutor at Lillie C. Evans K-8 Center. The program went over budget, Dawkins says, and then secured a $125,000 Miami-Dade County grant to balance the books.

But after Mayor Carlos Gimenez took office, he canceled the funds when he slashed the county’s budget. Dawkins wasn’t able to get the money reinstated until September. “That’s been the holdup,” he says.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Community

April 18, 2012

“Powerful Learning Practice” assists educator self-actualization and school improvement one project at-a-time

By Bob Lasiewicz, Managing Director, Crossroads of Learning

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, CEO Powerful Learning Practice

I recently sat down (virtually via webcam, that is) with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, CEO of Powerful Learning Practice, (PLP) a Virginia based company she co-founded in 2007 with Will Richardson. PLP utilizes a unique palette of research, group process and social technology to support educators bravely marching into a challenging digital future. It’s an approach that can be applied to many learning communities.

By incorporating elements of action research, appreciative inquiry and distributed communities of practice, PLP has created a laboratory for self-actualization via collaboration that extends past the boundaries of traditional education systems. They blend elements of connectivism and the “wisdom of the crowd” to support faculty and staff development as well as impact systems and processes that effect the communities of participants and the educational landscape at large.

In this interview you’ll read about the genesis of PLP’s approach, some of the obstacles encountered and solutions developed, and how choices were made.

As preparation for the interview, I set the stage with a short background on the social action/social justice nature of the JUST journal where this interview also appears. When I mentioned that “educators are often at the forefront of such issues,” Sheryl jumped right in…

“Not as much as [they] could be though. One of the things that I often think about is the legacy teachers could leave, if just half of them organized their curriculum around an outcome relating to social justice or working with marginalized populations or doing something that left the world a better place.

                     Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Click here to read more.

Filed under: Training/Education


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