Final Reflections of Summer 2012
Summer 2012 is coming to an end as the Fall school year is approaching. While some of us are leaving our internships, the work is still not over. We will be going into the Fall semester with more experiences that will only make us stronger people in general. For me, this summer is only part of my transition phase. It is only the beginning for what is to come in the future.
Every day I’m with my team, I believe that the education system will get better. I believe in their innovation. I strongly believe that with the help of our own students, we can turn the school systems around. I want to continue learning about the student leadership culture and how it can positively change schools, which is why I’m focusing on this topic for my own senior thesis.
The next few weeks are going to be a little hectic. Professional development in my school is coming up and I’ll be leading one of the sessions. I will get to meet the students in the school and start the entire process of selecting the influential student leaders. I anticipate many challenges, but it is definitely my time to rise to the occasion.
I’ve watched the Executive Director be successful throughout the entire year and he’s taught me so much this summer. I’m excited to model it and help these students set the vision for their own school. It’s amazing for me to reflect on my experience. It was only a few years ago that I was a nursing student struggling to find my way. And now that I’ve found my passion, I can confidently say that I’m ready to help change the mindset of education.
I’m in it for the students. I’ve watched many of them become frustrated of the schools they are in. They want to learn. They want a quality education. But sometimes as adults, we don’t give them a voice. I promise them I will. And SLP has started that process. We will work on it together.
Family. Pride. Performance.
I want to personally thank the Show Me Campaign for giving me the opportunity to be a fellow this summer. I hope you all learned a lot about the Student Leadership Project! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Additionally, I want to give a big shout out to my SLP team/family: Paul Dean, Bobby Erzen, Naeha Dean, and Kim Griffiths. You guys are definitely one of the most influential people in life and I am grateful that I’m learning from the best in the business. You push me to be my best every single day and believe in me even though I sometimes don’t believe in myself. I am looking forward to another great year with you all :)
Sorry for all the posting-spam! But you should also check out this YouTube video of our work last year. And you get to meet some of the kids and their teachers!
I can’t believe the summer is almost over! This summer was very busy on top of entering data and preparing for the SLP school year. I was doing a lot of training up till now and learned a lot of new useful skills thanks to my mentor and Executive Director. Perhaps the most important for skill I learned this summer is organization - a training that happened over the last few days. I am abadprocrastinator sometimes. My excuse is usually because my best ideas come at the last minute. But since this year is going to be especially hectic, I need to become more organize and prioritize things. My Executive Director is amazing at this. He utilizes every minute of his day for productivity. It is important for me to follow this model because I want my instruction, leadership, and students’ results to be successful!
In the last few weeks, I ran some sample meetings in front of my team. This included team building, leadership competencies, and action planning. I have to admit it’s very hard for me to run this in front of adults. I always get nervous! However, when I am in front of the students it is a much different story. They always calm me down and we have great conversations. But the students and I know when it’s time for business.
I am truly excited to make a difference this year from a different standpoint. Last year, I was just an intern helping my Executive Director. Now, I get to help run the program on my own at another school. Time really flies by (just look at this summer!!!).
Pic with my team last year :)
School as a COMMUNITY
This past week I started my training sessions in preparation for my role in the Fall. I’m pretty excited about it, but I just wanted to share with you all a conversation I had with my team while at this meeting. Paul Dean, the Executive Director, brought up the idea of student and teacher collaboration. He challenged new team member Kim Griffiths (Student Leader Consultant) and myself to think about ways we can get the school as a whole to work as one team. Can a school be effective with just the weight falling on the adults?
I’ve seen many schools operate from the “adult mindset.” Of course it is important for the adults to take care of the big issues. They already have a lot on their plate too: lesson plans, grading papers, preparing students for standardized tests, and classroom management. How about giving some students more responsibility? The idea seems very daunting - students in charge? No way. However, after volunteering with SLP this past year, I realized how important it is to get students in the mix.
The mindset of many students is that the teacher makes rules and they have to listen. There is no plan to allow students to help solve major problems. They are the students - they know first hand what is wrong and probably know ways they could improve them. Administrations can tighten hallway transitions and create a whole new set of rules. In the end, students will be the ones influencing each other to follow them.
This is where the Student Leadership Project comes into play. We select 12-15 influential students to be the bridge between the students and the teachers. Student leaders work with each other to come up with ways to improve school culture and then work with the faculty to make them work. Plans and implementation ALL student driven. At this point, the teachers are on board because they will have the backing of the students. Generally, if students see one influential student doing the work diligently in class, they will do the same. Conversely, if the students see one influential student being defiant and putting the work to the side, they will also do the same.
The point: Instead of having a 90% adult, 10% student mindset, why not make it a 50/50? Teachers holding students accountable, but students also doing the same for their teachers AND their school. Now wouldn’t that be a great sight? That to me sounds like a school acting as a community.
SLP is making that happen one school at a time :)
Family. Pride. Performance.
The Student Leadership Project is a non-profit organization that “systematically develops and leverages a student led culture.” I started volunteering with them in the Fall of 2011 and the ride has been absolutely amazing. I had the opportunity to work at both of their school sites - KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory School and Camden Freedom Academy. My role at the time was to be an implementation intern. I basically had my own group of students and worked with them as they created their own action plans to improve their schools. They learned important skills, taught by the Executive Director Paul Dean, such as running a meeting, delegating, and managing a group of people. As I watched them grow over the school year, I was amazed by how much they learned! Additionally, they were learning concepts that I started encountering during my high school years!
Here I am working with one of the 7th graders at KIPP. Her name is Rolanda. She is just one of the student leaders and really cares about making the school a better place for learning. These students from both KIPP and Camden were coming up with very complex and interesting solutions to creating an excellent learning environment. For example, KIPP student leaders came up with the idea of creating a homework tree. Each student would be assigned to a student who usually forgets to do homework and every night they would call other students to remind them about the work due tomorrow. They were able to raise homework completion by 15%! In Camden, the student leaders created a conflict mediation program, where students would come to them for basic problems - such as fights, bullying, and drama. Thanks to the program, Camden Freedom Academy was able to lower bullying and school violence by 76%! The power of students is crucial to the success of any school. After volunteering with them for one year, they definitely made me a believer.
This summer I decided to volunteer with the Student Leadership Project because I strongly believe in their mission. I wanted to help in any possible way. I believe that the Student Leadership Project will be a key component in changing the face of education. Right now, we are wrapping up the work from this past school year. I am entering the survey data from both KIPP and Camden. Soon, I will be analyzing it to make recommendations for improvement for the next school year. Simultaneously, I am doing training for my role as the Student Leader Consultant for the 2012-2013 school year. I will be able to run the SLP program for a partner school in the Fall. I’m really excited for that! In this upcoming month, I will be participating in curriculum meetings and professional development. I will also work on writing grant proposals with the President of SLP - Robert Erzen.
I am extremely excited to be working with such a talented and experienced staff. The title of my blog is Family. Pride. Performance. These are the three principles we as a staff live by. The students also know about this as well because it is the foundation to their leadership community. Family because we all must be able to trust each other and hold each other accountable. Pride because we must always be proud of what we do, celebrate successes, and work on mistakes to make them better for the future. And finally, performance because we must always set high expectations and goals for ourselves! With hard work, dedication, and patience, we execute all the objectives we set!
I love working for SLP because it motivates me to become a teacher. I absolutely love working with kids and love giving them the realization that they could do anything. Below are some more pictures from this year! I am going to post some more about what I’m doing and some of the stories I have from this year’s successes.
I look forward to sharing our journey with you all!
This is a picture of me working with my student leader group - Rolanda, Brianna, and Chanell.
And here is a picture of the Camden Student Leaders getting ready to start their Saturday meetings.
They are all an amazing group of student leaders :)
Announcing our 2012 Show Me Campaign Fellows
Congratulations and a warm welcome to our 2012 Show Me Campaign Fellows! Visit the Fellows page to meet these 10 amazing students and learn about the organizations they will be supporting this summer. From Philadelphia to Paraguay, they will be working hard to improve education and alleviate poverty using innovative solutions.
Follow this blog all summer to read about the Fellows’ unique experiences and gain new insights into how YOU can help change the world for the better.
The Show Me Campaign Team