This week we want to highlight Shaquana, our second-year CCA here at High School of the Future. Shaquana is from North Philadelphia and attended Mariana Pracetti Academy Charter School. Her favorite subjects in high school were History and English. Shaquana was regularly involved in sports and clubs throughout her time at Mariana Pracetti Academy Charter School. She played basketball and participated in student government. After graduating from high school, Shaquana attended Temple University where she studied education, human development, and community engagement. On campus, she was involved in the National Honor Society.
Shaquana really enjoys working with the students at Future and spends her days attending classes to support them with their academic needs as well as helping them prepare for their lives upon graduation from Future. Shaquana explains that mentoring youth in West Philly is extremely rewarding and she really enjoys giving back to the community. When asked what students she enjoys working with the most she replied, “All of my students are awesome, they really know how to make me laugh”.
As we mentioned before, Shaquana is serving her second year as a Promise Corps CCA. She decided to come back to work with the new senior class that she worked with as juniors. She wanted to be able to work through the challenges and rewards of senior year with them, and to see them graduate. After this year, Shaquana wants to stay in the education field and impact even more students.
When she is not at work, Shaquana enjoys watching Netflix, online shopping, and spending time with family and friends. Shaquana is an amazing CCA; she is able to connect with the students and encourage them to do their work. She has been working hard to help them prepare for their future after Future! Thanks for all of your hard work, Shaquana!
This week we want to introduce corps member Rodney, one of our CCAs at Overbrook High School!
Rodney is from West Philadelphia and attended West Philadelphia High School. While in high school, Rodney enjoyed his History and English classes. Additionally, Rodney participated in the school’s cross country and track team. Rodney then moved on to Pennsylvania State University to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice; however, this was not his initial degree decision. Rodney took classes as a Psychology and Pre-Law major before taking interest in Criminal Justice. Besides focusing on his academics, Rodney decided to get involved on campus. He wanted to get involved because his campus was lacking diversity and inclusion, and his goal was to bring awareness to the issues students of color were facing. Rodney participated in the Black Student Union. This was one of the only clubs on campus that sparked his interest.
Rodney made the decision to serve with Promise Corps this year because he wants to give back to his community to show them that anything is possible! So far this year, Rodney has been working on forming positive relationships with each of his students and the school staff in the building. Rodney has very high expectations for each of his students. Rodney would like all of his students to have a plan after high school. He would like those of his students who plan on going to college to learn about independence and the importance of asking for help when they need it, as he knows from experience that nobody will hold their hand once they leave Overbrook!
Rodney enjoys serving with Promise Corps because he can give back to the West Philly community and can show the students that no matter where they are from, anything is possible. Rodney’s favorite part about being a CCA is meeting and working with the students. He says he enjoys each student he is working with; they are all unique in their own way, and they make him laugh.
After this year, Rodney would like to enroll in a Masters of Social Work Program. He is looking at several universities, such as California State University at Long Beach, University of Denver, and Long Island University-Brooklyn. Rodney hopes to become a clinical social worker to work with those who suffer from mental health issues.
When he is not busy with Promise Corps, Rodney enjoys reading, exercising, meditating and cooking. His favorite thing to cook is veggie fried rice. When asked why, he explained, “That’s my go to meal to impress anyone.”
We believe that Rodney is an exceptional CCA and we are very lucky to have him on our team this year!
With the new school year underway, seniors are not wasting any time preparing for life after West Philly High School. There has been a whirlwind of activity in the Promise Corps room since the very start. For the most part, students having been stressing out about their senior projects. In their eyes, this is the only thing standing between them and graduation. We have been striving to help students recognize the importance of taking the necessary steps to prepare for college. It has been a struggle getting them to multitask, while also trying not to overwhelm them.
One of our primary focuses has been on getting students to complete their FAFSA, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Many of our students did not know about the FAFSA, realize its importance or understand what information they needed in order to complete it. When we noticed this lack of exposure, we made it our mission to get the word out to the students. In order to reach seniors, we prepared in-class presentations, chased after students down the halls, brought laptops to the cafeteria, begged them stay for a few minutes after school, and did our best to make sure everyone stayed informed. Luckily, the mention of free money for college was all it took to give many students the motivation they needed.
For students who were still dragging their feet, we had to rethink our strategy. So we decided to have a FAFSA completion competition. Using a donation from a local coffee shop, we promised baked goods to the first fifteen students who showed us confirmation. Surprisingly, this was just the push that some of our students needed. In some cases, it seemed like the treat was the real prize, and the thousands of potential dollars for college was just a bonus.
Additionally, Promise Corps members from all four school sites came together on October 3 at the Philadelphia School District Office to assist with a FAFSA completion night. Hundreds of students showed up with their parents, grandparents, and siblings to get help with their FAFSA applications. We are so proud of the students who have already completed their FAFSA, and look forward to helping the rest of them get it finished.
From onboarding a new cohort of College and Career Ambassadors to supporting teachers and administrators bring in a new school year, from hosting workshops on the college application process to greeting families at Back to School Nights, and from attending intricate professional development sessions on topics such as navigating school environments and de-escalation techniques to performing physical labor at community service sites, Promise Corps has been BUSY!!
Take a look at our program timeline, from the start of the ’18/19 School Year to date, to get a snapshot of all that we’ve been up to:
On a humid late afternoon in West Philly, students, teachers, counselors and family members gathered at the Sayre High School gym, where they were presented with pendants, swag, candy and information about all things college. Arriving from all over the city, students and family members spent the evening chatting with representatives from over 40 colleges and universities, discussing the particulars of test scores, application deadlines, financial aid and campus life. Promise Corps members brought students from High School of the Future and West Philadelphia High School, accompanying them around the room and making key introductions. Always on the lookout for more opportunities to increase student access to colleges, several CCAs reached out to representatives, scheduling both in-school presentations and college visits for the upcoming months.
As the evening progressed, Promise Corps students reported back to their CCAS, noting specifically how beneficial it was to hear about different course offerings, opportunities to get involved with extra-curriculars and volunteer service, as well as compare campus cultures between all of the represented schools. A senior from West Philadelphia High came back after 45 minutes of networking with a stack of brochures, pamphlets, posters and a host of new connections, admitting that her list of schools had doubled! Throughout the evening, Promise Corps members hosted a table of their own, informing students and families about all of the services offered in Promise Corps rooms. A group of 9th graders at Sayre were excited to sign up for the new Girls Who Code after school program, a club that will teach students how to construct websites and apps.
Most importantly, representatives from the Military and from several job training programs were also in attendance, providing opportunities and pathways for those students who are considering other options besides college. Promise Corps is thrilled to work with the Philadelphia Job Corps, an amazing resource available to Philadelphia citizens that not only provides job and skills training, but will also fund future educational pursuits at the Community College of Philadelphia. It’s an amazing resource for our students and we’re excited to collaborate in the future!
A big thanks to all those who participated and made such a successful night possible!
On August 14, 2018, the newest group of College & Career Ambassadors arrived at 1234 Market St., the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, to begin their year of service. The new Promise Corps Cohort consisted of eight talented recent college grads, all of whom share values of community service, creative approaches to learning and putting students first. With two returning members, Drew and Shaquana, we welcomed Sydney, Rodney, Jessie, Shakeira, Anna and Maddie to the team.
Corps Members spent four days in orientation, learning about AmeriCorps and National Service, the history of Philadelphia Public Schools, and a comprehensive overview of today’s preeminent approaches to education reform. Practicing their elevator pitches, CCA’s developed their best strategies to building successful partnerships with teachers, administrators and students in their schools. Additionally, members participated in a respectfully energetic debate; one side argued in defense of Federal spending towards AmeriCorps, and the other side spoke in favor of cutting funding. Through this activity, CCA’s developed a shared understanding of, and belief in, the necessity of service programs like AmeriCorps.
The week capped off with an afternoon service trip to the Lutheran Settlement House Community Garden, where the entire Promise Corps team worked together to provide direct service in the garden. Corps Members reflected on the importance of doing service outside of their specific school sites, as a way to interact fully with the larger community of Philadelphia.
Lastly, members solved a variety of puzzles and activities in order to discover which of the four Promise Zone high schools they would be assigned to. We are thrilled to start this new year off with such an amazing team, and to be back serving West Philadelphia high schools.