2010-2011 was such a fantastic year for CFK, it seemed only fitting to give our stats a little swagger. Below, a roundup of our favorite numbers from the previous school year.
Every week five fabulous tutors from Fordham’s Center for American Catholic Studies arrive at P.S. 73 to mentor a select group of 5th graders in the joys of writing. Together they create projects that encourage community service and academic excellence, including this year’s school newspaper and a book of original poetry. In a feat of educational alchemy, our hip and enthusiastic tutors have managed to make persuasive writing and poetic form the preferred topics of conversation on Friday afternoons. Even better, our tutors’ general awesomeness and the group’s annual field trip to the Fordham campus have inspired our 11-year-olds to set their sights on college.
Last year when we checked in with Jenny Portillo, founder of the Fordham group, she
Those of you who’ve been attending our school beautification days have no doubt met Wright Harvey, the artistic guru frantically prepping mural spaces, weighing in on color choices, and adding a few more dabs of paint to his already over-the-top messy work pants. You may have asked yourself, “Who is this mad artist in the paint-splattered jeans with the preternaturally organized girlfriend?” Herein, everything you ever wanted to know about Wright Harvey.
This Naples, FL native grew up a mile from the beach and came to art early in life through the efforts of his cousin April. Together they killed long afternoons with art projects and bracelet knotting, and when he went to the University of Virginia to study econ, he also managed to spend enough time in the print shop to add a second major in visual arts.
“Of course when I graduated I relied much more heavily on the economics degree to get a job that would put a roof over my head,” he notes. Wright’s been at JPMorgan ever since, and while there are plenty of opportunities there for creative business thinking, he hadn’t had a real chance to flex his artistic muscles in a public forum in quite some time.
Enter the Change for Kids school beautification days.
Let’s just say you have a family you love and a highly successful, non-teaching career – like financial services. You’re happy in your life choices, but you’ve always harbored fantasies of stepping into a classroom, your chalk and attendance chart in hand, and making a difference in young people’s lives.
A: Wait until retirement to dust off your Dead Poets Society dreams.
B: Abandon your current life for unknown adventures with Teach for America.
C: Have it all! On your own time, right here in NYC.
Meet Steve Blum, the man who chose option C. A Yale alumnus, championship fencer and father of two grown children, Steve is a Managing Director at Burnham Securities. He found us last year at the Yale not-for-profit fair, where he confessed to a lifelong love for education, fond memories of bringing math to life for his own kids and, like many professionals in other fields, an interest in picking up teaching as a second career “someday.” When we told him we could place him in a classroom as a volunteer – for as many hours during the week as he might be able to give us – he jumped at the opportunity to stretch his teaching wings without chucking his current life. “That is really the moment I realized that there was a different path that is not full-time teaching but that would provide an outlet for those needs,” he says.
Thanks, that is, to Wright Harvey, the UVaClub of New York and 16 very cool young women from Girls Quest.
Their awesome showing at the P.S. 154 school beautification day meant that we were able to knock out a full lineup of chores, including a welcome mural in the mail room and some serious cleanup work in the garden. It was one of those days of miraculously gorgeous weather, and in between painting vegetables, pulling weeds and channeling Dr. Seuss, we managed to catch some rays on the blacktop playground and survive an endless barrage of bad jokes from Director of Operations Mike Quinzio. Our 6’7” Executive Director Colin Smith really came in handy for the finishing touches on the Healthy Eating mural, and Wright, as usual, pulled out all the stops in his designs for the school. If you haven’t had a chance to meet him, make sure to check the blog next month for a very special interview with our favorite CFK muralist.
Jealous of the fantastic fun we all had? Just fill out our volunteer form, and we’ll send you all the details for next time!
Looking for the full set of Run for Kids pics? Click here.
The NYC weather gods may not have been with us for Run for Kids 2011, but the lively turnout and new CFK loot more than made up for the plunging temperatures and crotchety winds. If you made it out, you know: Run for Kids this year featured some of the best gear of any previous CFK event, including sleek t-shirts with our new logo and some pretty amazing signage thanks to Andrij Boris and Alicia Kubista.
Congratulations go out to Terry McLean and Mike Quinzio, who smoked the rest of the competition by finishing in 18:31 and 19:10, respectively, as well as Sophia Sheng, our fastest female finisher, and Gavin Meaney, our top kid runner. Many thanks and warm hugs to the volunteers who stood still for the duration of the event, keeping the runners cheery and on track. Luis Morales, John Faison and our new Development Director, Ashley Faison, came through big time with photos of every single runner. If you can’t locate yourself in the album above, be sure to check out our FLICKR PAGE for the master set of pics.
Those of you who survived Saturday may have spent the rest of the weekend trying to convince your friends and loved ones how truly awesome your run was despite the seriously low temps. Forthwith, and for your convenience, a few useful terms to describe your experiences at Run for Kids 2011:
Strollerize: v. To roll over the competition despite additional burdens such as strollers or small dogs. See also Scott Delman.
McLean Up: v. To achieve an extravagant victory; eponymous term referring to Terry McLean’s 18:31 5k.
Pitcher Relief: n. The palliative effect of adult beverages at the Village Pourhouse after-party.
We’ll be accepting suggestions for further CFK-related definitions via the comments section of this post.
Thanks for such a fun time this weekend!
On Saturdays at 10am, our dedicated bunch of literacy tutors arrives in Bedford-Stuyvesant to work with the 3rd graders of P.S. 243. They fold themselves into undersized chairs and sit amid stacks of books and baskets of school supplies while their students work through the week’s curriculum of reading, writing and math exercises. It’s an inspiring thing to see nine-year-olds curled intently over their desks, and we like to think it’s the coolness factor of their tutors that can make arithmetic and language arts the preferred activities on a Saturday morning.
These sessions are all about literacy—both in terms of reading comprehension and in terms of applying language to other concepts in school. If you hated math because of word problems, you know exactly the kind of paralysis some of our students experience when they read, “Two trains leave the station at the same time heading in different directions…”
It’s not all serious, though. In between Duck for President and multiplication, our tutoring pairs have found plenty of moments to look forward to from week to week. Whether they’re skipping down the halls or discussing the merits of apple juice over soda, they’re making light work of often heavy subjects.
Finally, big thanks to the contingent from Brooklyn Technical College, whose turnout has been hugely responsible for the success of this new venture. You guys are awesome.
And with that, meet a few of the folks who’ve settled into P.S. 243 for the semester:
A massive dose of adorable, the Pearson ABC Book Days bring together pre-Kindergarten students and their parents to celebrate family reading. CFK volunteers help students put together their very own personalized ABC book, then send the whole family home with a Penguin Classic book of their choice. Check out a selection of photos from this year’s program (and consider joining us next year!), as we get the littlest CFK students on the road to reading.
Huge thanks to NYCares, the UNC Tar Heels, the Duke Blue Devils and the UVA Wahoos—all in, more than 80 volunteers—who rolled out of bed early last Saturday for one of our most successful school beautification days ever. We’re still not sure how you managed to accomplish everything you did in the course of those five short hours at the Bed-Stuy campus.
Last week about 20 volunteers, including myself, braved some nasty New York weather to participate in Story Love! at the CFK office after hours. These sessions, which occur three times a semester, provide an essential and direct connection between CFK’s supporters and the kids we serve. Not every story written can be performed by the Story Pirates before the schools, but every one should certainly be acknowledged. That part was up to us.
Our instructions were to do the following: let the kids know that they did a great job, comment on a particular detail, and mention what we might want to see more of next time. The more specific our comments the better, as it gave a personal touch. That wasn’t very difficult, of course. Who wouldn’t comment on a dark blue monkey that shoots bananas? Or a game of cheese chess? I want to know more!
The experience was really a blast. In fact, judging by the amount of laughter and animated conversation emanating from the room, one would think that the activity was more for the adult participants than the kids. However, the comments written on the stories are priceless to those who receive them. I know that as a child in school I hung on every word of feedback from teachers on things that I wrote—and some of those comments have stuck with me my entire life. Mike Quinzio says it well: “The Story Pirates Program encourages our students to harness their creativity and develop a love for writing. With Story Love, every kid sees that his or her story was read by an adult who cares about their writing and values their ideas.”