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Work Ready, Summer Ready!

If you’ve been following along with us this year you’ve seen how our programming with young people has grown and expanded and also changed dramatically as we shifted away from in school, daily work with students to sporadic virtual outreach and engagement. We’ve ebbed and flowed and remained committed to supporting the young people we’ve formed relationships with this school year.

 

Imagine the world in February 2020. It was still cold outside but we somehow avoided snow days. Sports were still very much exciting. We were eager for the spring and at the height of field tripping outside of schools to visit colleges, universities and various employers for career exposure activities. During this same time we learned we would have the opportunity to grow and expand our summer work experiences for youth in partnership with the Philadelphia Youth Network as a Work Ready provider!

 

Our excitement to provide opportunities for youth this summer in work experiences and internships hasn’t changed under our new circumstances – the way in which we’ll be engaging young people in these areas however, will.

 

We’re excited to be fully in the planning process to offer incentive based activities and project based learning to young people on topics like financial & digital literacy, college and career exposure and entrepreneurship. Over the next few weeks as we close out the school year and prepare for summer we’re building programming to attempt to leverage the experiences of young people spending more time at home than previous summers by building a program that provides experiences for young people to learn a new skill they can leverage to support this new lifestyle! Topics like baking, sewing, car and home maintenance and other “adulting” considered topics will be provided. In addition, we’re exploring the idea of approaching home management in similar ways to running a business. We’d like to promote young people to become CEO’s of their homes and learn how to best maintain home operations, make improvements, be a team player and sustain a thriving environment for all!

 

There’s much more to come on our summer plans and we hope to leverage this time in fun, safe and meaningful ways for young people and their families. Be on the lookout for our program announcement and other exciting things to come! If you’re an adult and think you have something to offer to the “adulting” offerings for young people, reach out and let us know!

Staying Safe While Staying Connected!

As we are all doing our best to stay home and stay safe as we power through this COVID-19 pandemic, Promise Corps has been staying informed, staying equipped, and staying in contact with our students and school staff as we continue to guide our high schoolers towards their post-secondary goals.  

At a time like this, where life as we know it has been uprooted and spun in circles on its head, our Promise Corps team understands that our students need us now more than ever as they are facing new and unique challenges that could be leaving them in a state of confusion and dismay. In response, our team has been working diligently to remain a resource that our students can count on. 

Last week in particular was a highlight, as we really began to get the ball rolling with notifying our students and staff on how we can best be reached. With our Promise Corps Office Hours, each College and Career Coach (CCC) has designated times throughout our week where we can be reached by students to work on their post-secondary goals. We also shared this week with the official start of the Philadelphia School District’s next phase of online learning, where teachers are hosting live lessons and posting assignments online for students to complete. We hope that these elements will prove to evoke a sense of normalcy in the midst of such an abnormal situation.  

Our team has also gotten back into the swing of having Professional Development Sessions for us CCCs. With these weekly sessions, we as coaches are informed on all of the new information developing about the appropriate precautions that are advised for staying safe during this time. We will also be utilizing this time to have workshops and guest speakers come to work on skill development with us. During our second week of PD this past Thursday, we had the pleasure of participating in a workshop led by our Director, Bethany Housman, on the CDC Guidelines for reopening camps, childcare facilities, and schools.  

As a coach, I personally am looking forward to our next Professional Development Session where we will have a guest speaker join our conference call and discuss networking, email etiquette, and using LinkedIn effectively. As a young professional, I am excited to learn new ways to expand my professional network!  

 

Until next time, stay safe and stay connected!  

 

Ciera M. Osborne, College and Career Coach – Sayre High School 

 

Promise Corps Social Media!

Since the Pandemic of COVID-19, the Promise Corps administrative team has been working with the College and Career Coaches (CCC’s) on finding ways to engage students both academically and mentally. We want our students to know that despite us physically not being in school, it does not mean that our support of them stops. That being said, Promise Corps has begun to prepare and execute a ramped up social media plan to increase our interaction with our students.  Teens nowadays go to social media for everything, which is why our focus is reaching them through our Instagram, Twitter, and our Blog. With this social media push the goal is to engage our students as much as possible and to remind them that the Promise Corps team is still here. We also hope that including ourselves on social media will just cheer up our students overall seeing a friendly face. 

Coaches were given a plethora of different types of posts to start drafting in order to generate as much content as possible hitting a wide variety of topics. One of these topics include: wellness, post-secondary, resources, inspirational quotes, and recruitment material for future coaches! Us coaches spent days and days searching the internet and reaching out to our networks to help get the best material possible to share with our students through these social media posts. 

Our hope with these posts is that we can stay engaged and continue to further our students academically and with their post-secondary planning. One great example of resources we hope to connect our students with via social media is college and SAT resources. Due to COVID-19 many of our Promise Corps campus visits were forced to be cancelled. Just because we can’t physically be on campus, many colleges are offering virtual campus tours for free! Those types of resources are things students might not as readily find and we hope to make that search easier for them.

Another great example of post-secondary resources we hope to share via social media is webinars and online lectures! Many universities and organizations are offering online conferences and workshops to students. These are great ways for students to get some great information on topics that directly relate to their post-secondary plans. For example, there is an upcoming virtual STEM event coming out that we hope to get students who are particularly interested in STEM to attend. These types of resources are so great and free and we want to make sure our students are as connected to these opportunities as possible.

Another great social media strategy we hope to put into place is hosting a Promise Corps Virtual Spirit Week. With everything going on in the world, Promise Corps figured virtually lifting everyone’s spirits would be a great idea! The idea of virtual spirit week would be to have a theme every day and have our members engage and post themselves participating and therefore hopefully inspire our students to share in the spirit! 

We are also planning on posting self-care and mental wellness posts. During such a difficult time, some people struggle to remember they need to take care of themselves before focusing on others or daily tasks. That being said, posting self-care tips, examples, resources and other wellness material that is so important for our students. 

While physical school is on halt, life still goes on. Seniors are still graduating and moving on to their post-secondary plan, 11th graders will still have to take the SAT, and 10th graders are still trying to push through to the next grade level. Our goal is to make sure our students can still achieve these goals and have the support necessary to do so.

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Abbey Piro- College and Career Coach at School of the Future

Sorry its been so long but, WE ARE BACK!

Friday, March 13th 2020, at 5:28am, the Promise Corps college and career coaches received word that they would not be going into service that day. At the time, we thought it was temporary, an early spring break if you will. But as the 2-week post mark approached it quickly became more and more real that we might not be returning to school. We left that Thursday prior not realizing that that would be the last time we saw some of our students in person. I know personally, I felt nervous and unsure as to how the rest of the year would play out service wise and if I’d ever get to interact with the student I had such a bond with. 

Flash forward to the day I’m writing this on April 29th. I have been exposed to numerous professional development resources, been able to collaborate with my team on presentations, write blog posts, and most excitedly interact with my students (and I hope to continue to interact with them more and more). 

The start of our virtual service was definitely a little rocky for everyone. No one quite knew what it was going to look like or how things would go. But we all learned to adjust together. For the first 2 weeks of virtual service it involved a lot of great articles, webinars, Ted Talks, and Documentaries on a variety of topics. Some of these topics included, The Neglected Race Gap, talking about the Corona-virus, classroom management, building confidence, and mentorship. These resources allowed us to hear, see or read about a topic from experts or from other’s personal experiences and then use guided questions to help us really reflect on the information we were engaging in. 

That being said, the topics weren’t solely about our interactions with our students. The Promise Corps administrative team was sure to add plenty of resources to help us with our own professional development. One of my favorite professional development activities we participated in, talked about how we as Americorps members can use our experience and frame it in a way that shines to potential employers. When I first considered Americorps, that was one of my biggest fears. I was scared that adding this year of service to my resume wouldn’t be as impressive to future employers. And I was more scared that I wouldn’t feel equipped to explain my service to future employers, but after going through that resource I feel more confident! 

Our virtual service then transitioned into beginning outreach to students, most coaches’ favorite activity. We utilized google voice to reach out to our students by phone and email. These calls involved checking in on students mentally, academically, and physically and seeing how we can help and if we can point them in the direction of resources they may need. 

Currently, we as a team are working to find ways to incorporate ourselves into our students google classrooms in order to both be a help to teachers and to encourage our students to stay engaged in school. Different schools have been joining school staff on meetings to stay up to date on school and school district protocol. Some schools have also already begun hoping to google meetings with classes and grade levels for town hall meetings. These opportunities are great ways to let students and teachers we are still there to support.

Overall, I think I can speak for the whole Promise Corps team in saying this is not how any of us saw this year going. But we are working diligently to take these changes gracefully and be able to support our students as much as physically possible through this difficult and unclear time.

 

Abbey Piro – College and Career Coach at School of the Future

Member Spotlight: Abbey Piro

There has been a lot going on at High School of the Future. For instance, we would like to welcome our newest team member, Abbey Piro! Abbey joins us from serving the first half of this school year at Overbrook High School. During her journey transferring from one school to another, Abbey fits right in like a glove. Despite not having a caseload of students right away, she pushed herself by getting to know students and creating a Peace Corner in our room filled with stress-relief items, coloring books, and empowering quotes for our students to see such as “I refuse to quit,” “Live your best life,” and “I learn from my mistakes.” Once she received her caseload of students, Abbey was on fire. Without hesitation, she met with all her students within her first few weeks.

Abbey is from right outside of Washington, DC and has also lived in New York, Chicago, and West Philadelphia. She graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a degree in Communications Studies. While in college she participated in weekly service and the student-run theatre company. Her favorite subjects while in high school were English and art. She is serving this year with the Promise Corps team because she has always loved working with youth and wants to give back to the community that has been her home for the past four years.

After this year, she plans to get her Master’s degree in secondary or urban education.  Something interesting about Abbey is that she has never left the country. Her hobbies include writing, photography, graphic design, and music. She lives by this quote: “The most effective way to do it is to do it” -Amelia Earhart.

abby

 

~ Truth Tea with Abbey ~

Q: What is your favorite TV show?

A:   My favorite TV show is DEFINITELY Criminal Minds because it is simply the best show in existence. I love crime shows and I love the psychological aspect of the show in comparison to shows like SVU. The shoe made me want to be a criminal profiler until I realized I don’t like blood.

 

Q: Any advice would you give to future Promise Corps members?

A:  Be real with your students. They can smell fakeness from a mile away so just be genuine about who you are and with your interactions. That’s really the only way to create strong relationships with your students.

 

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: In five years I hope to see myself working in a youth-centered organization working with high schoolers in at-risk communities. Working for Promise Corps has strengthened my passion for working directly with students and creating an environment where learning can be fun.

 

Q: Why did you join Promise Corps?

A: I joined Promise Corps because I wanted to explore my passion for education and working with youth. I went to college for communications and never ever imagined myself wanting to pursue education as a career. In my Junior year of college, I really found that passion and I thought Promise Corps would be a great way to test out that passion before going back to school for education.

 

Q: What inspired you to work with youth in education?

A: What inspired me was an internship I had summer going into my Senior year of college. I was in desperate need of an internship for the summer and my professor had a connection at a youth center in Camden, NJ. She connected me with them and I was able to acquire an internship. At the time I was just doing it to have some income for the summer but ended up coming out of it with a whole new perspective on education and the world. Working with the kids there really made me realize how flawed our education system is and made me determined to be the change for those students. The students I encountered there are so hardworking and inspiring, and it really drove my desire to continue working with youth in education.

 

Q: What are your future career goals?

A:  My future career goals are to one day open up a youth center for at-risk youth in an intercity. I saw the impact the youth center in Camden had on the kids and I want to bring that environment to another community of youth in need.

 

Q: What was your college experience like?

A:  My college experience was a roller coaster.  When I came into college I thought I had my whole life planned out. I wanted to be a music journalist for Rolling Stone Magazine. But through classes and different experiences, I slowly but surely realized my passion for working with youth to better our world. Saint Joe’s really helped expose me to so many different places, people, and experiences, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Antaneyah Johnson- College and Career Coach at School of the Future

West Philly High to Orleans Technical College

Last Thursday on 2/28, Promise Corps at West Philadelphia High School made a very memorable trip to Orleans Technical College, a private technical school run by the JEVS Human Services agency. Nine students attended, and our architecture teacher Jess McCollum kindly volunteered to help chaperone. Our team member Jada Grice took the lead in organizing this trip – thank you Jada!

We started the day at 8am with breakfast generously sponsored by Manhattan Bagels’ end-of-day donation program. The bagels were chewy and pristine, and really helped fuel us for the day.

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We arrived late morning at Orleans Tech, a crisp, inviting space, and were greeted warmly by staff at the school We went on to attend a helpful introductory session. We got an overview of the five Building and Construction trades Orleans Tech offers training programs in: Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating, Building Maintenance, Carpentry, Plumbing and Heating, and Electricity. 

or5We also learned that there are expected to be 70,000 new jobs in these fields in the coming years – now is the time to be in the building trades! And as an accredited institution, Orleans Tech is a reliable pipeline towards such careers. Admission to the program has just two prerequisites: a high school diploma and very importantly, PASSION.

Next we toured the various labs and work spaces at the school, buoyed by such exciting training prospects. There was also a career fair going on, so we got to see the lively recruitment process first-hand – a lucky coincidence!

or2Each room was a new adventure. Our guide Dennis showed us the nitty-gritty of how things works, gave industry updates, and shared fun anecdotes. Do you like math and are you good with heights? Then you’d do well in our electricity program. 

For the rest of our visit, we returned to the seminar room where the introductory session was held. Over lunch Promise Corps presented a local workforce module. It was an interactive session about professional networking, job searching, and traditional vs. non-traditional careers. 

“It was a nice trip.”, says Makel, 11th grade. “I’ve visited colleges before but never a technical college. I think I’d do carpentry…I like building with my hands. It looks fun to me, something I would wanna do.” 

 

– Ivy Tse, College and Career Coach at West Philly High