Students at West Finish the First Marking Period, Set Sights on Further Success

The West Philadelphia High School Team wanted to shine a spotlight on all of the West students in this week’s blog post. As the first marking period comes to a close, students are working very hard to get all of their remaining assignments completed by the deadline! The West Philadelphia High School College and Career Coaches have been working with students the past few weeks on tutoring and assignment completion.

Kelly Maiello Architects: New West Philadelphia High School

Some students were struggling with specific subject areas. Ali Zubair, a 10th Grade Student at West, said: “The coaches have been a great support for my tough history project.” The ability to have extra help outside of the classroom was clutch for Ali, as he later reported doing very well on the assignment.

Other students were very excited by the opportunity to work with Promise Corps Coaches outside of the classroom setting. Jasmine White-West, a 10th grader at West Philadelphia High School, said: “the extra support on these assignments at the end of the marking period helps me stay calm about my schoolwork.” Jasmine also said that she couldn’t wait till the marking period was over so that she could use the extra time with Coaches to focus more on her Promise Corps goals for the year.

27 Quotes That Will Change The Way You Think About Success |

The Promise Corps Coaches are always eager to talk with students about their college, career, and life goals. Achieving strong grades each and every marking period at school is crucial to that goal! The West Philadelphia High School Coaches want to give a big shout out to all of the students for soaring to success in the first marking period. Go West!

-Harry Levant

Virtual FAFSA Events Deemed a Success

This past month the Promise Corps team of coaches and supervisors came together to host two virtual pop-up FAFSA events for the entire school district of Philadelphia. Since the FAFSA application opened October 2nd, helping students and parents complete the application as soon as possible has been a main priority for Promise Corps. Like many people are experiencing with a multitude of tasks this year, helping with the FAFSA application in a completely virtual space comes with a new set of obstacles.

The first event took place on October 7th, and the second on October 29th. Several students and parents from different schools were in attendance. The event was hosted on Zoom and coaches were split into break-out rooms with small groups of parents and students to go through the application step by step. For anyone that has completed the FAFSA application before, they know how tedious, overwhelming, and confusing it can be.

When asked what the hardest part of the application is, one senior at School of the Future said, “getting my parents’ information and having them fill out their part of the form.”

Another student expressed gratitude for the virtual FAFSA events because they found it easier to get their parents’ information: “It helps them better understand why their personal information is required for completion, and they are more willing to participate”.

One mother joined the first event stressed out and worried because she knew the application was important, but not much else about it. By the end of the night she had completed the application for her son and I was lucky enough to hear her profusely thanking Z, Tameka, and Marylissa for hosting such an important event: “There should be a survey or something we can fill out so people can know how helpful this was!”

Even though we had a small turn-out, I am happy to know that we helped a handful of people complete the application and therefore get a step closer to their goal of attending college!

By Emma Cottone, College and Career Coach at School of the Future

Member Spotlight: Olivia Chandler

Meet Olivia Chandler, one of the coaches at School of the Future! Ms. OIivia was born and raised in Philly and attended Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where she got a Bachelor’s in Political Science. She graduated earlier this year with her Master’s in Educational Leadership – College Student Affairs from Bloomsburg, too, and was very active in different honors societies throughout undergraduate and graduate school. When asked what influenced her transition from political science to education, she said it was when “the president of Bloomsburg University [of Pennsylvania] asked… if I ever considered receiving my master’s in education…” Though it was not on her mind at the time, she went for it and “fell in love with education and assisting students in their personal, professional, and academic growth.”

     Upon finding her true love in working with students and in education, Ms. Olivia was motivated to apply to Promise Corps and to continue to serve as a role model and mentor for students. With Promise Corps, she gets to utilize her learned experiences to guide and support students to the best of her ability and continue to pursue her passion. This passion for students is supported tenfold when it comes to being part of the School of the Future (SOF) family. Ms. Olivia admired the school spirit found in every staff member, student, and educator at SOF, and wanted to be part of the supportive environment. So far, she has been part of seminar classes and met with some students on her caseload, and has enjoyed every part of the experience. In her own words, Ms. Olivia is most looking forward to “witnessing students discover their passions and dreams while becoming their best self!”

     Besides working with students, Ms. Olivia is a gym junkie! Outside of class time you can find her working out or planning a workout- she is a true fitness fanatic. She also loves watching 90 Day Fiance, snacking on Chomp’s grass fed jerky, and spending time with loved ones. Here is to an amazing school year with School of the Future coach Ms. Olivia!

Sierra Serna, College and Career Coach at School of the Future

Spotlight on Z!

Promise Corps 2020-2021 has some of the dopest people. Of course, behind every group of amazing individuals has to be more amazing individuals. Our manager, Zoraida, is one of the many people who have been creating a safe space for us to grow as professionals. In fact, we spent 9 days completely getting to learn from her. It might be fair to say that Zoraida played a big role in how comfortable we are as coaches today.  

Our group of coaches had much to say about “Z”, here are the highlights: 

“Zoraida has been consistent in her positivity and inclusivity towards all of us new PromiseCorps members. During these rapidly changing and ever-turbulent times, she has made constant efforts to: check in with us emotionally, create safe spaces for discussing current events, and make herself personally available during “Z time” every week.”

“Not only has she been a steady foundation as well as an invaluable source of advice for us coaches, but Zoraida also brightens our days with her energy. She has done this since our orientation and I could not imagine PromiseCorps without her!”

“I love that Z emphasizes the importance of creating a safe space for us. She makes sure everyone’s voices are heard and thanks each individual for their input which is a quality I think we all appreciate. She is always trying to make things fun!”

“Z cares about us as more than just employees and cares about our well-being whether that be with a check-in or helping us with self care. I also appreciate that she does her best to make herself available when we need to despite her busy schedule.”

“I appreciate the way Z makes space for all perspectives to be shared and valued. She really understands being able to have two truths in one space. Z makes everything/everyone welcome when we are in any setting together and I appreciate everyone being heard!”

If it isn’t clear by now, the intention of this blog is to do a spotlight on our awesome manager Z! Since day one, Zoraida’s energy has been consistent and keeps us energized. Your work ethic is inspiring!! 

Z, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. All of the coaches here at Promise Corps appreciate your relentless effort in helping each and every one of us. 

Ke’Ana Robinson- College and Career Coach at Sayre High School

West Philadelphia High School Welcomes New Promise Corps Cohort

The West Philadelphia Promise Corps has launched for the 2020-21 school year with a brand
new cohort of College and Career Coaches. The members of the Promise Corps are working
with four high schools in West Philadelphia to mentor and guide students as they plan and
prepare for post secondary life. Although COVID-19 continues to keep us apart physically, the
new cohort is bringing exciting energy and new ideas to the schools they will serve at. Members
recently completed a two week long orientation in preparation for their service year with the
Promise Corps. Below, the team members at The West Philadelphia High School reflect on
what they learned and appreciated the most about this year’s orientation.

What was your favorite professional development training and why?
The members of the West Team took part in several professional development training on a
variety of topics, such as Cultural Competency, working in a school community, and active
listening skills. One speaker who received great praise was Brandon Brown, a technical
consultant for the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

Kim Brask says “ I liked the active listening Professional Development because I think genuinely
listening to someone can be a profound gift and is a skill that needs constant strengthening.
Brandon Brown is so engaging and knowledgeable so it made the workshop very powerful.”

Gabe El Sheikh says “ My favorite part of training was the active listening work we did with Mr
Brandon. While active listening is a skill that will help me as a college and career coach, it is
something that everyone should practice to improve their relationships.”

Nijah added “My favorite professional development training was Active Listening. I feel that it is
an undervalued skill that we can all improve on.”

What was your favorite team building activity and why?
The teams also took part in several team building activities to get to know each other and better
understand our team dynamics. One team builder involved mapping your life’s journey through

Nijah and Kim both enjoyed the opportunities to get to know their teammates through these
activities. Nijah says “My favorite team builder activity was the “How well do you know your
teammate” activity led by The School of the Future. It was fun and got everyone involved”.
Kim added that she “ most enjoyed the down time in our teams that allowed us to build a rapport
and get to know each other.”

Some members preferred the more competitive team building opportunities, like Gabe who says
“My favorite team builder activity was our intense game of jeopardy. There were alliances,
betrayals, several plot twists, and it was a crazy time.”

What are you looking forward to this school year?
There is a general consensus among the members of the West Philadelphia High School Team
that building relationships and getting to know students is the part of the work they are most
excited for.
Kim said “This year I’m really looking forward to building supportive relationships with students
that encourage and challenge them to strive to be their best selves”. Gabe adds that he is
“looking forward to doing creative group activities and just chillin with the students of West.”

Nijah added that she is “ looking forward to developing strong and effective relationships with
my students. I am also looking forward to finding new and interesting ways to engage students
in a virtual setting.”

If you had to describe your team in just three words, what would they be?
The team really enjoyed getting to know each other through orientation! Here’s how they
described their new squad in just three words each!
Kim: Positive, Dedicated, and Supportive `
Gabe: Sociable, Stylish, and Visionary
Nijah: Balance, Passion, Integrity

Harry Levant – College and Career Coach at West Philadelphia High

Newest Member to the Coolest Team!

We’re excited to welcome a new staff member to the Youth Strategies Unit at the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. Jerome Walker joins the team as the Career Pathways Manager and will be leading the units annual career exposure, job readiness and internship opportunities for young people.  

Jerome is a North Philadelphia native that brings years of experience in Higher Education from Black and Latino/a student recruitment and programming at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, academic/career advising, program management, and community initiatives at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, and partnerships, alumni connections and post-graduate career planning from Temple University College of Liberal Arts. Jerome also has experience with social entrepreneurship and innovation from time spent at City Startup Labs that he notes have helped him rethink career options and success for African American communities.

In his own words, Jerome shared:   

“My return back to Philly has deepened my appreciation of our rich culture and an unapologetic passion to combat income inequality. I’m excited to join the CEO family and look forward to developing intentional programming, partnering with companies and organizations that will help our youth gain practical experience. My goal is to arm our youth with many resources, experiences and opportunities with hopes that they recognize their talent and skills to assist in identifying the best career option post high school!”

Welcome Jerome!