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Think Tank 2018

Every year, Promise Corps holds an event called “Think Tank,” where teams of students from each of our schools present an issue in their communities and a solution that addresses it. This year, Think Tank was held at a former bank turned community space on Lancaster Ave. in West Philadelphia on April 13.

CCAs supported each of the four teams for months prior to the event, supporting students with topics such as increasing accessible community spaces in the neighborhood, increasing technical education for high school students, creating a peer-to-peer mentorship program, and increasing extracurricular clubs and activities for students.

Panelists were invited from various industries throughout Philadelphia, including representatives from Philadelphia Bike Works, The Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Lutheran Settlement House, The William Penn Foundation, the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, and a member of State Representative Vanessa Lowery Brown’s staff. Each student team had five minutes to present their problem and solution to the panelists, who then had five minutes to ask questions of the teams.

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West Philadelphia High School’s team presented on their plan to create a peer-to-peer mentorship program, which would connect the special and general education students at their schools. Sayre High School addressed the need for more extracurricular activities physically held at their school, and even surveyed their fellow students to see what type of activities would be most attended, with music production being the most popular answer. School of the Future addressed their peers increased interest in technical education and the practicality it provides with the increasing costs of college. Overbrook provided a detailed plan for upgrades to Tustin Community Center, which sits right across the street from their school.

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Feedback for the teams focused not only on their proposals and the plausibility of their plans, but on the students’ presentation skills as well. CCAs spent a great deal of time with students prior to the event, ensuring they felt comfortable presenting, and it showed. The students knew their presentations front to back, answered on-the-spot-questions with poise, and handled themselves with great confidence.

The event went off without a hitch, and allowed for students to practice research and presentation skills, and network with local professionals who can help see these plans into action.

 

A Bittersweet Ending: Panthers Forever

On June 4th, 2018 Promise Corps held our end of the year party to celebrate students who completed the program. In the morning we set up the room with games, balloons, and food that was kindly donated from Papp’s Pizza and Giant. We let students in at noon and had them enjoy an array of food, games, and music.

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This year, room 321 (the Promise Corps room), was a room that was filled with love, (so much) laughter, and support. We couldn’t have ended the year any other way, and this celebration embodied what our room stood for at Overbrook. This year we spent our days assisting teachers in classrooms, creating modules and workshops for the students, resume building, cover letter writing, SAT prepping, going on college trips, helping students through college applications and financial aid, supporting senior projects, and doing countless other things. We really tried to help wherever we were needed at the school.

As the assistant principal, Ms. McClenton, said, we “truly engrossed ourselves in the culture of Overbrook High School.”  The PC party was a good reminder to us all that the difficulties and obstacles we faced at the beginning of the year all had a purpose and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Ending the year is very bittersweet. Although our time at OHS is nearing the end, the relationships we’ve made with school staff, the strides we made with students, the love that was poured into all the work and time with our students, the amount of laughter we had as a team (even in the hard times), and the support we tirelessly worked to give our students and each other, are things that will always be a part of us.  Wherever we go next in our life Overbrook will forever have a piece of our heart.

– Yaczin Hernandez, College & Career Ambassador at Overbrook High School

The End is Near

The end is near for Promise Corps and this has been an experience that I will never forget. Coming into Promise Corps I had no idea what to expect, although I did read the description on Indeed, I still had no idea what I was in store for. However, Promise Corps has exceeded any expectation I had. The students I have come across, the teachers, the staff, the other Promise Corps members, and Bethany, Kerry, and Leya have made this journey memorable.

Working with the 10th and 11th graders this past school year has taught me a lot. If I were to go into teaching I know for a fact that I would want to teach 11th grade because it is such a critical grade in high school. I have learned so much from my students and I can only hope they have learned from me as well. Whenever I think about my students, I think about an 11th grader who I developed a close relationship with throughout the year. In the beginning this student’s anxiety prevented us from having any kind of communication to develop any kind of relationship. However, as the year went on, this student slowly but surely came out of his shell, especially after learning that I too have anxiety. Now, we communicate with one another better, he is more open to participating in class, his grades have even gotten better, and I finally got him to come into the Promise Corps room.

Getting him to come into the Promise Corps was a big deal because there are days when I am not able to come to his classes, so the fact that he came to me spoke volumes, especially considering his anxiety and how shy he is. It’s memories like that will have a lasting effect and will stay with me forever. Seeing this student’s progress from October until now has been one of my biggest accomplishments as a CCA, and I know whoever his CCA is next year will be lucky to work with him.

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– Shaquana Gantt, College & Career Ambassador at School of the Future

A Day in the Life at West Philly High

7:30AM – On a typical day, we arrive in the Promise Corps room at 7:30.  School at West Philadelphia High School starts at 8:00, so for the first 30 minutes or so, we unwind, organize our things for the day, and usually talk briefly as a team to lay out the plan for the day.  Around 8, a group of students, the “usuals,” come in to say hi and brighten up our day.

8:00AM – 1st block. We have built relationships with a few teachers who allow us to come into their classes and help the students with their work.  So for a few periods during the day, Drew and I like to stop in in classes to help out.  There is also a constant stream of students coming in to our room to ask for help on school work, resumes, college applications, scholarship applications, and just to talk about life.

9:30AM – 2nd block. Camila and Kaitlin usually take the lead on trip planning.  We have trips pretty regularly, so they are always busy reaching out to the schools/museums that we visit, working everything out with the school’s administration, and doing all the administrative work that goes into planning a trip.  We are super grateful for the work they do. They’re also

11:15AM – During the lunch periods, there is always an influx of students to the Promise Corps room. It’s always nice to have the room full of students, and we usually just make sure they’re staying focused and doing something productive (i.e. not playing fortnite or watching basketball videos), help them with their work, and talk to them about school, life, and their plans for when they graduate.

1:30PM – 5th block. At the end of the day, we have a regular group of students who come to our room a before school ends to do work and prepare for their after school activities.  The end of the day is usually pretty hectic as students like to leave their classes early and wander. We always have to be diligent about who we’re letting in and making sure they’re actually doing work, and not just wandering.  However, the last hour or so of the day is usually devoted to helping students with their work.

3:00PM – It’s a Tuesday, so after school, the West Philadelphia High School team goes to Paul Robeson High School for an after school program.  We offer the same support for students at Paul Robeson as we do at West. Today, I help a student apply to two colleges.  We also tutor students and help them with their senior projects.  It’s fun to change it up during the week and meet with more students.  There’s a different atmosphere at both schools so it’s also a learning experience for us, and it’s good to see the way different schools run.

If there’s time, we’ll spend the rest of the afternoon meeting and planning out our events after all the students leave. At 4:30, our day ends, but sometimes we stay late to work on things like data, or this blog!

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– Patrick Ambrosio, College & Career Ambassador at West Philadelphia High School

 

A Day in the Life at Sayre

6AM: As I wake up in the morning, I slide on my Promise Corps t-shirt and watch an episode of New Girl before I leave for work, trying to summon my inner Jessica Day before I leave.

7:30AM: As I walk into William L. Sayre High School, I am greeted by the students, staff and security guards. I walk into the Promise Corps room and greet my teammates with a “Good Morning” and a smile. Students slowly trickle in, stopping by to say hello before they head to their classrooms for first period. After this point, every day is different. I often don’t see students on my caseload until lunch time, so my mornings often focus on finding extra hours opportunities, in-kinding, writing blog posts, and creating modules to offer for our students in topics like college access, military, national service, the local workforce, and jobs and internships. I also typically meet with students that are on my teammates caseloads if I am available, having created relationships with most of the students who walk into our room.

12PM: Lunch rarely comes at the same time each day, as we are always tending to the needs of the students. I’ve also created relationships with the teachers, and observe and assist in classes. The classes I attend usually contain a student who is struggling in that class or has requested that I be there to help with the material they are learning.

1:30: After lunch, more students arrive. I work with tenth graders, focusing on academic support and resume writing. When I first met with the students in the beginning of the year, we discussed their interests after they graduate high school so I can best help them to start building their path for success. I also helped them each complete an individualized student success plan with each student, establishing several goals for them to work on throughout the year. Then, if we’re not meeting to focus on academic work, we are working on accessing opportunities to help build their resumes or focusing on SAT preparation.

3:00: The students run out of the school, we usually have a few stragglers that stick around, looking to spend some time with us, or hoping to finish some school work before they head home.

4:30: At the end of the day, I have been taking 10 minutes to meditate to help relax after an always changing day.

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– Haley Snyder, College & Career Ambassador at Sayre High School

A Day in the Life at Future

7:30AM – The day at Future usually starts off with CCA’s checking our emails, working in America Learns, and planning out our day. This usually takes no longer than thirty minutes to an hour. School starts at 7:34, so sometimes we head to a first period class as well.
8:30AM – Every day, students have an advisory that lasts about 10 minutes. This is the time important information gets out to students. Our caseloads are grouped by advisory, so it’s a great time to get to all of them at once. CCA’s make their way to their designated advisories to deliver essential information to their students about upcoming Promise Corps events. It’s also a chance for CCA’s to speak with students that they may find hard to locate during the school day.
8:40AM – By third period most CCA’s are in classes with their learners. Marylissa, who works with 11th and 12th grade learners, usually goes down to the senior English class to help with senior project. All seniors must complete their capstone senior project in order to graduate. They complete a research paper, conduct field work, and present on their chosen issue to a panel near the end of the school year.
Francis, who works with the 10th grade learners is usually in one of the 10th grade classes, like Algebra 2. I (Shaquana), work with 10th and 11th graders and am usually in an 11th grade English class working with students on their various assignments. Most recently we worked on a resume workshop!
10:41AM – Once the students’ lunch periods roll around (5th and 6th periods), we make our way down to the student support center, which is a huge space for students to come and work in. This is where CCA’s are most utilized. Students come in for support with academics and post-secondary plans. Students also come in for support for SATs. Doron, who works with 10th and 11th grade learners, is also the SAT coordinator. He’s been doing a great job of ramping up support for the juniors, who are preparing to take the SATs for the first time. Joelle and Sophie, who both work with seniors, are usually helping with college support or senior project support.
12:40PM – I usually grab a quick lunch before heading to another class. For the final two periods of the day, CCA’s are either back in classes with students or they’re in the Promise Corps room working one on one or in small groups with students. Since, most students and even teachers prefer to have CCA’s in the classroom, we’re usually in the classrooms more than the Promise Corps room.
2:34PM – The final bell rings. After school is when most seniors will come in for support with their senior projects. They will usually stay until 4:30pm, when the day ends for CCA’s. However, there are cases when students need to stay longer to get whatever it is they are working on done, and we are more than glad to stay late and help.

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– Shaquana Gantt, College & Career Ambassador at School of the Future