Member Spotlight: Kaitlin Dugan-Murrell


As our School Partnership and Extra Hours Coordinator, Kaitlin is the primary contact for all communication with administration at West Philadelphia High School. She excels at maintaining strong relationships with school administration and relaying all pertinent information to her team and site supervisor. As the Extra Hours Coordinator, Kaitlin is always making sure that her teammates are up to date, consistently offering new and exciting professional development and service opportunities to engage with youth or with the Philadelphia community.

Because our team of four is short a member, Kaitlin has also taken a leading role in event planning throughout the year. She handled the logistics of college tours of La Salle University, Delaware State University, and Swarthmore College, and six trips to the Apple store for trainings. Kaitlin also spearheaded our initial National Service workshops, which informed students of opportunities and her own experiences within AmeriCorps, as a viable alternative to serving their country through military service. Always a wonderful team member to Promise Corps and administration, Kaitlin is above all devoted to the positive influence she has on her students.

On top of consistently, or at least—trying— to interact with administration, and keeping her team in the loop, Kaitlin also spends a good part of her day mentoring students who come in with problems. All of her students endearingly call her “Auntie,” and confide in her whenever they need advice. Whether the problem is related to drama between friends, or boy troubles, or future plans, or just life in general, she is always there to listen, empathize, and offer advice when it’s needed. At times, high school drama can be frustrating for adults to watch, let alone deal with, yet Kaitlin never talks down to her students or minimizes their problems. As a mother of a 2-year-old, she recognizes and integrates the knowledge that just because a young person’s problems may seem small to us, it doesn’t make them any less important to them.

In addition to volunteering at Promise Corps, Kaitlin also immerses herself in the Philadelphia community.  During the first few months of working at West Philadelphia High School, Kaitlin also worked part-time at the Eastern State Penitentiary.  The Eastern State Penitentiary is a landmark in Philadelphia, located in Fairmount.  It opened in 1829 and operated until 1971, at times home to infamous criminals like Al Capone.  It now operates as a museum.  Catch Kaitlin there around Halloween time, and maybe you can even see if you’re brave enough to go through the haunted house tour!

Kaitlin also just finished up volunteering at the Philadelphia flower show. The flower show has been a Philadelphia tradition since 1829.  It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually and definitely deserves the attention.  Kaitlin also brought us back owl rocks from the flower show and it was adorable.

Kaitlin is a wonderful member to have on the West team. Her passion for Philadelphia, and being involved in its history and culture just shows her commitment to service and the AmeriCorps values.

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

February Fun at Sayre

The Sayre Promise Corps Team hosted two major events during this fantastic month. This month was not only full of Little Known Black History Facts, but we also had a FAFSA/PHEAA presentation and college trip to Delaware State University (DSU). As a team, we made sure our events intertwined two key elements. One being entertainment and the second being education. We definitely nailed these events and our students benefited greatly from these experiences.

Ron Felder, the witty and charismatic PHEAA representative, came to talk to our students about financial responsibility, risks, and most importantly competency. The students were engaged with the presentation and receptive to the material being given. Felder’s playful banter and accurate responses was just the approach we needed when delivering this information to our students. This event was not only crucial to the education of our students, but it became a metaphorical caution sign. The caution being spend your money wisely and not becoming victim to irresponsibility when using student loans. With the vast majority of our students receiving this knowledge, we believe our students will use these pearls of wisdom to their best advantage.

A potential place our students can use these pearls of wisdom would have to be Delaware State University, an HBCU, which welcomed our students with open arms. The DSU trip was an overall eye opening experience for the students. They were granted the opportunity to see the campus, especially the famous dormitories. Delaware State University was our first ever HBCU college visit this year. We are glad our students had the opportunity to see a university where majority of the student population is African American, and had the same mindset to acquire higher education like our students. To conclude our experience at DSU, the students participated in an engaging scavenger hunt. This caused many students to have a greater appreciation for the university.

February was full of fun at Sayre High School, and our students’ spirits were enhanced and uplifted. We are glad to service our students and encourage them to be the change.

– Tyshae Hightower, College & Career Ambassador at Sayre High School

Black History Month at Future

This blog is dedicated to School of the Future. To celebrate Black History Month, the school has scheduled a Black History Month program. The program will take place February 28th, 2018. There will performances from students, and educators. Some performances taking place are spoken word, singing, dancing, and stepping. The learners and educators here at Future have been working extremely hard for this upcoming program, and everyone is excited to see the performances.

Along with the program, teachers have tailored their lesson plans to incorporate Black History which has been gaining the interest of majority of the students. One English class watched the documentary on the radical group MOVE, which is based in West Philadelphia. In another class a teacher has incorporated “Who am I” as a warm up activity. The “Who am I” is pertaining to historical black figures that have contributed to Black history.

City Year and Promise Corps also teamed up and came up with ideas and activities for the month. There have been math riddles from famous historical and current Black figures. Movies have been shown, the first being Selma, and we will round out the month with Hidden Figures.

Two CCAs that I would like to shout out are Marylissa and Sophie. They have been working closely with Mrs. Macgilberry, an educator who was in charge with the planning of the program. During the learners’ lunch periods, Marylissa and Sophie would gather those who are performing for meetings and check-ins. Marylissa has sat in on the auditions, she has critiqued their performances, and supported Mrs. Macgilberry with this entire process, and the show was planned in a little under two weeks!

We are all positive that this show will be a success and everyone will enjoy it!

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

An Eventful 2 Weeks at West Philadelphia High

Module week at West Philadelphia High School. With the benchmark closing in and Kaitlin, Camila, Drew, and I so close to meeting it, we put on our workshop hats and hit the classrooms. We are very grateful for the teachers at West for having such a warm and welcoming attitude with us, and for them allowing us to use their class time to do our presentations. Our team broke in half and we covered all the workshops, except military. My favorite module this week was our interview workshop in Ms. O’s class. The students were very excited to practice their interview skills, and really got into the workshop, making it a positive and productive experience.

I want to shout out our team for working so well together, and rolling with whatever obstacles came our way. On a few occasions, Camila had to call an audible. Despite this, our team always responded well, and made sure the students didn’t know about the craziness that went into us presenting in their class. As the new member on the team, this was my first time presenting a workshop.  My team was great, and very supportive of me.  Their module plans and outlines were very clear, well put together, and made it easy for me to just jump right in.

I also want to shout out our team for volunteering as judges at the TSA (Technology Student Association) competition. It was a great experience for our students, and it was nice to be involved. The TSA is a city wide technology competition, where the students compete in a wide variety of events. Drew, Kaitlin, and I judged the design build competition, which was a lot of fun. Students were given materials and had to construct a tower, trying to make it as tall as possible, while remaining structurally stable. We also had a Tesla engineer on our judging team who took the competition very seriously, but was a lot of fun to talk to.

As an added bonus, two students for West Philadelphia High School won their competition! Shout out to Lauren Scott-Joyner and Taylor Crane for getting first place in their competition!

IMG_20180209_134912Our team had has a busy, but successful last couple of weeks.  We’re working well together and accomplishing a lot. Our program at Paul Robeson High School has begun, and is going great. The students there are excited to have us there, and we’re getting quality work done. With more trips and events planned in the near future, I am excited to see what our team will accomplish.

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

Student Spotlight: Overbrook

Lansana Kromah is an 11th grade student at Overbrook High School. He is a dedicated student and member of the track and field team. His work ethic and determination show in everything he does. Lance is one of the students that takes his studies seriously, even setting up a meeting with a teacher to discuss why he got a 97% instead of 100% when he got all the questions right. The grade was an “A” either way, but he refused to settle and wanted to get the grade he deserved.

Lance dreams and hopes to go to Villanova University and study engineering. With this clear goal set in the future, he continues to make strides every day to achieve that goal. In the Promise Corps room you can see him getting extra help with assignments and projects, and preparing for the college process (researching schools, internships for the summer, FAFSA, and SAT and ACT requirements).

In December Lance was admitted to the VESTED program, an engineering program held at Villanova University where students can get hands on experience into the field. Recently he applied and was also accepted to the NovaEdge Diversity in Engineering program for the summer! This program is a one-week, on campus program to introduce a diverse population of students from different ethnic and social backgrounds to the traditional fields of engineering.

His determination and commitment to do better in everything he does, is what made Lance stand out from the beginning. I believe it is what will continue to set him apart in the future. I’m confident that Lance will continue to achieve anything he sets his mind to. CCA’s at Overbrook and I are so excited to see what his future holds.


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

Member Spotlight: Dionna Sanders


Here at Sayre we would like to spotlight our member Dionna Sanders. Dionna came to us from our sister site at West. She’s been here for a little over a month now, and we are so happy to have her on our team.

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Dionna is a recent graduate of West Chester University, where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in Psychology. At West Chester she was an executive board member of the Black Student Union and a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Dionna is serving this year with Promise Corps because she believes one of the best ways to give back to your community is through education.  After this year, Dionna plans to pursue a job for the City of Philadelphia in their Communications Department. Dionna is also the founder of Let Me Ask My Sister, a young women’s mentoring group focused on at-risk young girls from the age of 11-19. Their mission statement is “Let Me Ask My Sister started out by my close friends and family continually asking me for advice on a range of topics. Realizing my talents, I felt compelled to create this program to share my expertise with you all. Here at Let Me Ask My Sister, we are committed to giving quality advice and dropping gems. So, feel free to ask for advice on anything you would like. No question is too big or too small.” Dionna implemented that program at West where she worked with girls on the cheerleading team.

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Since joining us, Dionna has worked with team members to plan a college trip to Delaware State University. She has also been assisting the School Counselor with registering students for the SAT and ACT tests. In addition, Dionna has made tremendous efforts to build her new caseload by attending classes, getting familiar with faculty, and observing lunch periods. Dionna is excited to start her mentoring group here at Sayre in the next few weeks. She believes the young girls here will value this program and it will have a strong impact on their lives.

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– Dionna Sanders, College & Career Ambassador, Sayre High School