Life After Promise Corps

When we were younger, we knew our future jobs would be related to changing and fixing the world. Whether it was becoming a doctor, teacher, airline pilot, or even a chef, we knew change was a must! As College and Career Ambassadors, our mission is to find a path for our students for their future, but who is helping us figure out our future?

When we first started college, a lot of us went in with a plan about our future and where we’d end up, but once we got closer to graduation day, those plans changed. As AmeriCorps members, we know that we only have one full year of employment, and then it will be time to make a new decision. So while some of our students want to be nurses, plastic surgeons, and civil engineers, we thought it would be a good time to tell you the story of what we all want to be.

We sat and interviewed the CCAs at Sayre High School, as well as Alex, their Site Supervisor, to find out what their plans are after Promise Corps.

Dee Dee:

  • What you will be doing after Promise Corps: I will be pursuing my Master’s Degree at Harvard University in Public Health.
  • What do you want to be in the future: A scientist because I want to look at the relationship between the biology of illnesses and the lived experiences of those who are not getting the care they need.


  • What you want to do after Promise Corps: This summer, I will be facilitating career exploration workshops for middle schools students with the South Philly Prevention Coalition at Furness High School.
  • What do you want to be in the future: I’m not sure yet, I just know that I am living in the right now.


  • What you will be doing after Promise Corps: In the summer, I will be working with Upward Bound. After that I will be producing music and studying for the MCAT.
  • What do you want to be in the future: I want to do something that is helping other people.


  • What you will be doing after Promise Corps: In the summer I will be working as a Program Facilitator for Education Works at Harding Middle School, as well as working for the Youth Aid Panel. I will also be achieving my Master’s Degree at Widener University in Criminal Justice.
  • What do you want to be in the future: I want to do something dealing with juveniles. Maybe youth advocacy or something in Juvenile Law.


  • What you will be doing after Promise Corps: Similar work to what I do now (Site Supervisor). Either managing education programing or doing something with community development work.
  • What do you want to be in the future: Running service learning, community center, or educational programs.


Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. As humans, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. But as AmeriCorps members, we take the time to step back and realize what we can do to push ourselves to be successful in the end. From the wise words of our Sayre students, “We don’t fold, we stand 10 toes.”



ACES Panel

For the second year in row, Promise Corps hosted the Alternative Careers in Education and Service Career Panel – otherwise known as ACES – in early April. Panelists are recruited from various career fields to match the interests of current Promise Corps members, and all AmeriCorps members serving across all of Philadelphia are invited to attend the panel session, participate in Q&A and enjoy refreshments and networking immediately following the event.

This year’s panelists represented a variety of roles in social work, healthcare and government positions. Also represented were current and past graduate students that will soon be completing their Masters in Social Work and moving into their own next steps in their career fields.

Panelists responded to questions on interviewing, job searching and shared tips on what to work on now that members are starting to think about their future careers. Panelists were nearly unanimous in their advice to gain as much experience as possible and to not limit yourself in any way.

David Wengert, panelist and current social worker in the Housing Unit at Community Legal Services shared; “Build your expertise in the social work field. You can go in as a generalist and pivot towards your passion.” This was followed by similar sentiments from the Executive Director of WES Health System, LaJewel Harrison when she shared; ““It’s ok to not know, don’t stop. Keep trying to find that good fit for what feels good. Keep moving forward.”

On the topic of interviewing, David shared great advice to make sure you prepare using a format that includes the C.A.R. method; set the context, explain the action you took and be explicit about the result you received. It was discussed that too often excellent candidates are not able to point to specifics when interviewing for positions in this field, a place where problem solving and critical thinking are paramount. Using this method can help highlight the essential skills needed within any role you’re interested in.


After emphasizing gaining broad experience and not establishing limits as you start your career, the second theme panelists agreed on was their own personal reflection on their current role – again almost unanimously stating they had no idea they’d be in their current role but because of learning new skills and growing into new experiences, they’ve found their true passion and continue to grow as professionals.

Andrea October, Trauma and Resilience Coordinator from the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services wisely shared; “There is no crystal ball for your future. I thought I wanted to be in a different place but actually want to be right where I am right now, doing this. Try not to limit yourself to what you don’t want to do. Don’t focus on that.”

Promise Corps would like to thank all of the panelists for participating, sharing their perspectives and personal journeys and also thank all of the AmeriCorps and service programs that joined us, stay tuned for next year!


Thank you to our panelists:

Andrea October; Trauma Resilience Training Coordinator, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS)

Bernard Brown; State Program Director for the Corporation for National and Community Service, Philadelphia, PA

Christina Donaldson; adoption coordinator

David Wengert; Social Worker in the Housing Unit at Community Legal Services

Lisa White; Counselor, University of Pennsylvania Upward Bound Math & Science Program

LaJewel Harrison; Executive Director, WES Health System

Lindsey Anderson; MSW Intern, Therapist, CHANCES

Willa Beckman; Therapist, Joseph J. Peter’s Institute

Throwback Spotlight – AmeriCorps Conference!

On March 14th, all of the Promise Corps CCA”s traveled down to the University of Pennsylvania to attend the 2019 AmeriCorps Conference. This was a memorable experience because the conference is not held every year, and even if it is, is not always held in Philadelphia. We were joined by over 800 other AmeriCorps members from across the city and the state, with some members travelling from as far as Erie. The conference kicked off with an opening ceremony in which several members, including Promise Corps’ very own Rodney Babb, had the opportunity to talk about what their service meant to them. There were several distinguished speakers, and Mayor Kenney even made an appearance. Two other Promise Corps members, Emani Smith and Jessie Klein, volunteered to help direct members to the next events, and support the speakers.

Members had the opportunity to attend a total of three different workshops, which covered a wide range of topics pertaining to service. The topics included: understanding how to approach issues regarding race and gender, effective communication skills, self-care, and how to navigate life after AmeriCorps. Two other CCA’s, Shakiera Harden and Drew Schaub, even led one of the workshops, which discussed how to foster positive team dynamics. These workshops provided a valuable opportunity for members to reflect on their service and think about ways that they could make the most of their year of service. It was also a special experience because it gave members a chance to interact with people from different programs. Everyone was able learn about various AmeriCorps programs, share ideas, and just get to know one another. It was invigorating to feel appreciation for our service, and to share that with each other. It was a great chance to reflect, take pride in our service, and reaffirm that the work we do truly matters.


Think Tank 2019

Congratulations are in order!

Earlier this month, Promise Corps hosted the 4th annual Think Tank event, where teams of students presented solutions to a challenge they consistently face in their community. Students are encouraged to create and present with a team of their peers and share in front of a panel of judges and general audience members. This year’s teams featured students from each of the high schools hosting Promise Corps teams: Overbrook High School, High School of the Future, Sayre High School and West Philadelphia High School.


Regional Administrator of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Joseph DeFelice, kicked off the event with welcoming remarks and generous appreciation for the students leading the event that not only took time out of their day off to share their ideas but also stepped up to share their insightful ideas and perspectives.

Over the past four years, Think Tank presentations have focused on a wide array of topics, including local and national human trafficking, improved rec centers, water access and powerful programming for cancer patients. This year, unbeknownst to each other, every team presented on a topic related to education.


Students shared solutions to challenges they face during, after and beyond their typical school day experiences. One team’s desire for healthier lunches included photographs of examples of their meals at school; audience members had to guess what type of food was being served. If you remember the popular meme going around last year of the black or blue dress – there was division over a photo of extremely under-cooked pizza and various suggestions on what it might be!

Several other teams presented their ideas for extracurricular activities and after school programming, highlighting a need for classwork and projects that reflect budgeting and lessons on financial planning. One team highlighted a significant need for class time dedicated to social skill building and support. A student shared, “We’re constantly told not to fight but we’re never told how to manage our anger or how to better resolve issues. I know there are better ways because fighting isn’t the answer, but I don’t know what the other way is.”


Promise Corps would like to thank all of the students that presented their solutions and represented their high schools, and our panel of local professionals that provided feedback and comments to each team including: Eva Gladstein, Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services for the City of Philadelphia; Dan Schupsky, Outreach Specialist for West Philadelphia, Philadelphia Water Department; Rachel Viddy, Project Director, West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood, Drexel University; and Wes Somerville, Director of the LenFest Foundation.

Be on the lookout for the 5th anniversary of Think Tank next spring!


Spring at OHS!

spring ohs 1On Friday, March 22nd, in partnership with High School of the Future, we took 30 of our students, including seniors and juniors, to visit East Stroudsburg University. While visiting, there were students who didn’t like the distance of the college, but there were also students who were ecstatic to be far from home. There were two seniors from Overbrook who were happy to visit their dream school, including one student who has been accepted into ESU! We also had two juniors who were ready to apply to ESU after the tour, because they were so blown away by the campus. Our juniors loved that this University is far enough from Philadelphia, but is also close enough to catch a bus home. All of the students who spring ohs 2attended this trip loved the dining hall food as well as the culture of the campus. While on tour, we even got a chance to meet the President of the University! Overall, our trip to ESU was a major success.



spring ohs 3Next up, Promise Corps welcomed Ms. Ariel Peterson, from Year UP, to OHS on Tuesday, March 26th. Our room was overwhelmed with senior students from Mr. Craighead’s history classes as well as Ms. Dickens’ art history classes. Throughout the presentation, students were educated on the amazing opportunities the Year Up program offers! Students were even given time to begin filling out applications for the program if they wished to do so. The Year Up program is a one-year, intensive training program that provides young adults, ages 18-24, hands-on skills development, coursework eligible for college credit with Peirce spring ohs 4College, corporate internships, and overall support. Students also earn an educational stipend while they are active in the program. Overall, the students were extremely pleased with Ms. Peterson’s presentation and were eager to begin the application process.

Lastly, Promise Corps took another college visit to Cabrini University, where we were lucky enough to run into our old supervisor, Kerry! Students were very pleased with their tour of Cabrini University, a small private school in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Along the tour, students caught a glimpse of several buildings at the University, such as the library, the rec center, and Cabrini’s mansion, a building previously owned by the Campbell’s Soup family! Students were even able to sit in on a biology class with Cabrini students and learn about the different resources available in the classroom. Overall, students enjoyed the university because of its small size and its proximity to home.

Currently, OHS students are busy preparing for their senior project presentations this month as well as their presentation for Think Tank, happening on Friday, April 12th!


Teacher Spotlight at Sayre High

At William L. Sayre High School, there are a variety of exceptional administrators and staff. One of these extraordinary educators is Dr. Andrew Schiera.

Dr. Schiera went to University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate education and majored in History, then went to graduate school for History as well. However, he later realized that he loved teaching, and went back for a Masters in Teaching Education. Before he came to Sayre, he worked at University City High School for three years where he taught Social Studies. When UCHS was recommended for closure and they lost by a 3 to 2 vote, Dr. Schiera was out out of a job. That summer, he taught at a bridge program called Leaders of Change College Bridge, which prompted Sayre students to talk about these teachers that pushed them to their limits, including Dr. Schiera and Ms. Jada Warfield.

Dr. Schiera has been with the Sayre family for three years since the fall of 2016. At Sayre, Dr. Schiera has an abundance of responsibilities, such as teaching AP Government, Psychology and a Foundation of Education course with Penn Undergrads, serving as the Roster Chairman, as well as teaching a course at UPenn.

Dr. Schiera 3

“Teaching at a University is different.” Dr. Schiera observed.  “I’m teaching future teachers. Not the same as being in a school, with teenagers who are excited about what they’ll do next, and it’s a different feeling. There is tension between what feels as though I’m making an impact with the skills I have, and the skills I want to learn. There is nothing like building a relationship with students and being able to connect it with their lives. In a perfect world, I would like to teach high schoolers in the morning, and future teachers in the afternoon. I would like to create a program like this to do it in a way where the university does not take over, letting teachers do it their way and use their opinions. Institutional factors in schools and work that keep them in separate worlds… PD school that tries to do it that way.. Out there somewhere.”

Even though he has so much on his plate already, he has thought about becoming a principal. When it was time to put in his application, he applied too late, and the applicant poll was full. He had to ask himself if he wanted to be a principal, and the answer was no.

“The needs to be able to be a principal in the Philadelphia School District, make me not envision myself in that role. Being a teacher is something special for me to leave. There was a brief flicker of a moment where I thought about being a principal. It was so easy for schools to be ran, and I appreciate the leadership here and my colleagues. It’s easy to listen to students and build from there. My goal is to keep doing that, and I see a renewed energy in those students. That’s something you lose if you leave. As Forest Gump said, That’s all I have to say about that.”

We appreciate all the hard work that Dr. Schiera puts into his classes and for his students. We love collaborating with him on class assignments, college trips and after school activities!! Thank you Dr. Schiera!!!