Chef Salum and P.S. 81 Play with Their Food

On Thursday, November 7, the Fan4Kids students at P.S. 81 had a special visitor: Super Chef Abraham Salum! Before he flexes his culinary muscle at our benefit on the 14th, he got to know the kids he’s supporting.

Salum transforms Nilla wafers into a tasty masterpiece

Armed with a selection of ingredients chosen by our students, including cream cheese, Nutella, banana, cucumbers and yogurt, Chef Salum taught them to “play with their food,” in other words, to experiment with taste and presentation, because that’s where the real fun in cooking and eating lies. One brave student volunteered to be a guinea pig for the class: Cream cheese – who knew it was so good? Cucumbers and Nutella – not such a good idea.

The beginning of a healthy snack

Chef Salum was a natural teacher, and gathered the 20 or so fourth graders, parents, teachers and on-lookers around him to watch him work his magic. Then, to make sure everyone got a taste, he broke everyone into teams. Working with the ingredients at hand, which also included strawberries and Nilla wafers, the students whipped up their own dishes. Each group had their own unique spin on taste and presentation, and a healthy snack to eat at the end of the class.

Hands-on learning students can take home

“The visit to the school was fantastic!” Chef Salum wrote to us. Now, he’s gearing up for Super Chefs, where you can meet him  and share your love of P.S. 81 and good food in person!

Chef Salum

 

Running for Change

Our runners couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 3—cool temperatures, partly sunny, not too much wind. We couldn’t have asked for a better team, some of whom have been holding out since last year to run for Change for Kids. Our thanks to Maureen Ford, Pat Daly, Suraj Patel, Viral Patel, Courtney Raneri, Brad Zanoni, Ken Davidoff and Alex Porter. Together, these athletes have raised more than $25,000 for the students in our partner schools.

image

Maureen Ford, showing us how it’s done at mile 17

Two of our runners, Junior Council members Courtney and Alex, made a trip to P.S. 73 before the race to participate in a Fan4Kids class. “With two and a half weeks left before the big day, this morning really empowered Alex and myself to continue to strive ahead in terms of fundraising and spirit but also made the goal of CFK more tangible,” Courtney wrote in an email following her visit.

Courtney Raneri and friends at P.S. 73

Alex shared that “after meeting the kids, teachers, and instructors, I am truly so proud to be raising money to help support Fan4Kids….The CFK influence is profound and felt throughout the entire school.”

Marathon Visit

P.S. 73′s future marathoners

At the end of their run, several teammates toasted their triumph.  As you can see, they make running 26.2 miles and raising $25k look easy!

Two medalists, Courtney Raneri and Brad Zanoni

 

A New Video for CFK, Starring P.S. 15

A young artist describes her cape to the film crew

With Super Chefs only a week away (buy your tickets here), we thought you might like to meet the stars of the new CFK video. They’re tiny, but they pack a wallop of on-screen power as writers, artists, and budding literati.

Our film crew visited Story Pirates, an art class and tutoring sessions. In interviews with students, teachers, staff, as well as our own Executive Director, Colin Smith, and Principal Irene Sanchez, we captured CFK’s impact.

A character in development in Story Pirates

One 2nd grade student, Nancy, who immigrated to New York from Sudan, described reading in class when she first arrived as “too distracting, it was hard to concentrate.”  Working with her CFK tutor this year, she has been able to grow as a reader, and now she loves reading in class, as well as taking books home from the library to read on her own. “My parents are proud of me,” she said.

Edited together, the footage will not only tell P.S. 15′s story, but also the larger story of the difference Change for Kids is making in New York City public elementary schools.

Hero poses for the final shots

Our thanks to Margie Millero and Leslie Long at Saatchi & Saatchi for managing our shoot and penning our script; our producer, Olivia Newman, and Laurie Thomas, our Director from Think/Feel; Axsel Stasny, our Director of Photography for the day; and our editor, Chris Denniston, over at HBO. We know you are going to love what you see on November 14!

 

Gannett Makes the Difference

Five floors. Hidden stairwells. Secret offices. Endless hallways. Built in the early twentieth century for a student body well over a thousand, PS 73 is a seemingly overwhelming challenge for even the most seasoned beautification day volunteer.

Unless you are talking about the 50 amazing volunteers from Gannett, supercharged with the will to give back and a full Saturday to spare. On October 26, Make a Difference Day, Gannett’s NYC office mobilized a team to paint and restore murals; repaint the school’s entryway, the CFK office, and a set of swinging doors; clean trash out of the music room; and clear and reorganize two closets, each as big as small apartments.

A new mural in the works

“To have people like you who are willing to come in from the outside…to really help us and support us, you get emotional to see all of you guys here doing all these things—it’s wonderful,” said Ms. Perez, a teacher at P.S. 73.

The new mural on the fifth floor brought beloved characters from children’s books and stories to life—Nemo, Horton the elephant, Ariel the Little Mermaid, Olivia the Pig, Thing 1 and Thing 2—against a wonderland backdrop of castles and forest and sea.

Dr. Suess’s Thing 1 and Thing 2 in progress

Mural restoration brought vibrant color back into other important pieces and touched up scratches everywhere, including Clifford’s nose. One team transformed the school’s vestibule with bright blue and yellow paint.

A young restorer

“Just anticipating our children coming back on Monday into the school—I cannot wait to see their faces. In simple terms: Thank you for beautifying our school, not just for our children, but also for our community,” said Assistant Principal Abreu.

Our closet ninjas unpacked, sorted, organized and repacked a closet in such a short amount of time we had to find them another closet to attack.

Piles and piles and piles of supplies

Other volunteers headed to the CFK office to rehab dreary walls, and a family of four took on a gray set of swinging doors, turning them into a cheery aqua that Principal Vivian Bueno now wants to use throughout the school.

The Safran family takes on a set of double doors

“All the research that’s out there says that the principal cannot do it alone. The teachers cannot do it alone,” Principal Bueno told the volunteers at lunch. “This is why we welcome Change for Kids, because we know that having a partnership in this building is going to benefit the children.”

Many thanks to Gannett for everything they did on October 26 for P.S.73! Check out more photos from throughout the day here. And here are two photos of the new mural you should go see in person at P.S. 73!

 

New Faces at P.S. 81

This year, as P.S. 81 teachers and staff welcomed back their students, they also welcomed a new face–CFK’s new School Manager, Zareta Ricks. Zareta coordinates CFK’s programs at P.S. 81 and builds relationships with students, teachers, administrators, parents and volunteers. She is also the School Manager for Brooklyn Landmark. Here at CFK, Zareta works with our brand new Education Director, Kayla Dove. For those of you who don’t get to sit across from Kayla in the office, or aren’t lucky enough to still be in grade school at P.S. 81, we thought you might like to hear a little bit about these two program dynamos, in their own words.

Abby Holstein: School has been in session for a few weeks now. Any highlights you can share from your days at P.S. 81 or our other partner schools so far?

ZaretaZareta Ricks: I am really excited about both of the schools that I am working with. Meeting with Principal Ault and her team at P.S. 81 was truly inspiring.  It was great to hear teachers and administrators speak so highly of the impact CFK has made at the school and to see their determination to have a great year.

 

Kayla DoveKayla Dove: What immediately comes to mind is my recent visit to P.S. 15. I had a chance to take a tour and speak to a few of the classroom teachers. I was amazed that in the short time we’ve been partnered with the school (programs only started last January), the impact is so palpable–from the mural we helped create that greets you as you walk in, to the teachers, who asked, “When is the program starting again, we can’t wait.”

AH: What are you excited to do in your new position? What do you hope to achieve?

ZR: I am hoping to build upon the existing programs and increase CFK’s involvement at P.S. 81, and especially encourage more family involvement. At P.S. 81, I am hoping to take all of our existing programs to the next level by providing more volunteer opportunities and engaging families with cook shops, book clubs, and quarterly events.  I also want to make sure that CFK has a visible, tangible presence at P.S. 81.

KD: I am excited about starting a new team with Zareta and Alyxe [Lett, our School Manager for P.S. 73 and P.S. 15]. We each have specific strengths that are complementary to each other and we all have the same passion for the work. I hope to build on the idea of what it means to be a CFK school and develop a network between the schools for the sharing of ideas.

Some of our fantastic students at P.S. 81

AH: Tell me about the work you did before you came to Change for Kids.

ZR: Before joining CFK, I was the first Family Coordinator at a new elementary school in East New York, Brooklyn. I worked closely with the principal and administrative team to overcome the stereotype that poverty-stricken areas equal low-quality education.  Through open communication, relative research, and relentless efforts to engage families and the school community, we made a significant improvement in the school’s culture and overall moral.

KD: I started out as a dancer and a dance educator, developing a multidisciplinary approach to learning, and teaching in different venues, from pre-K to college. I then moved into museum education, working closely with schools to bring resources of the institutions to support learning in the classroom. Museums and organizations I’ve worked at are: Liberty Science Center, Young Audiences New York, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Long Island Children’s Museum. Most recently I worked as a research assistant at the Educational Development Center on project evaluating science learning in pre-school classrooms.

AH: What brought you to CFK?

ZR: My work in under-resourced schools made it increasingly clear to me every day that children needed a holistic education. And not only did the children need more support,  but the educators needed more support, as well. More resources, more educational outlets, and most important, more people on their side who would partner with them in helping  children learn and develop the necessary skills at an early age that would lay the foundation for higher education.

I was impressed with the impact CFK was making  in their partner schools through their strategic and purposeful partnerships. Joining CFK was an opportunity to become a part of the solution. The School Manager position allows me the flexibility to work with children, educators, families and the community in creating partnerships with amazing people who believe that it takes a village to teach and raise educated, successful 21st century children.

KD: For the past 20 years I have worked in organizations that bring its resources to support learning in under-served schools.  What sets Change for Kids apart from other organizations is the work that’s done to individualize each partnership with the needs of the school and community. It is also an interesting time for CFK, reflecting on what is working and seeing how the model can be expanded, without compromising the quality of the partnerships.

I truly believe in CFK’s mission. My personal mission for my work is: knowing that each child learns differently, and that not every child learns best by reading a book at a desk, I want to help each child to develop skills that will help them succeed in school and life. And that is what CFK does.

Thank you for supporting P.S. 81!

AH: Do you have a favorite story from your work in education?

ZR: During my first year working in a school, I met a first grade student who struggled with behavior challenges. This young man had a habit of walking into my office and quietly placing himself under my desk. (Yes! Under my desk.) Initially, I found this to be quite disturbing – as did both of his teachers – but despite all of our efforts, he continued to do this at least twice a day.

I finally resolved to let him stay as long as he wanted. After a few weeks, he began to talk to me (from under the desk) and ask me for supplies (pencil and paper). To make a long story short, this young man was a phenomenal artist and he spent time on my office floor drawing the most amazing pictures and creating stories to go with them. He used his talent as a way to communicate his needs in and out of the classroom. I became his advocate in the school building.  With his family and the school’s permission, we kept this arrangement for the three years I was at the school.

KD: This goes under the category of multidisciplinary learning, I was doing a professional development workshop for school administrators (principals and superintendents) and I had them all up and doing the “bee dance.” I am sure they will never look at a bee the same way again.

AH: Do you have a favorite memory from your elementary school days?

ZR: My favorite memory from elementary school was winning the spelling bee in the 5th grade. My teacher had encouraged me to participate, and when I won the first round, she congratulated me. Then she told me in a stern voice that there was a second round of competition and that I would compete against the winners from other schools in my district. She explained that every round would get tougher and tougher, but if I studied hard and believed in my ability then I could do it. She reminded me that I already was a winner, and not to focus on being one of the finalists or the last one standing, but to remember that every time I spelled a word correctly I was closer to the gold. I made it to the semi-finals and didn’t win the trophy or title, but her words helped me understand that winning is more than a moment, it is a confidence in myself to achieve.

KD: It’s too many years ago…but I do remember being able to spend one day a term in elementary school painting a picture of anything I wanted to in the back of the classroom and not having to participate in the day’s lessons. I can’t imagine elementary school without art, music or recess.

AH: Thank you, Kayla and Zareta, and welcome to Change for Kids!

 

New Faces at P.S. 73

This year, as P.S. 73 teachers and staff welcomed back their students, they also welcomed a new face–CFK’s new School Manager Alyxe Lett. Alyxe coordinates CFK’s programs at P.S. 73 and builds relationships with students, teachers, administrators, parents and volunteers. She is also the School Manager for P.S. 15. Here at CFK, Alyxe works with our brand new Education Director, Kayla Dove. For those of you who don’t get to sit across from Kayla in the office, or aren’t lucky enough to still be in grade school at P.S. 73, we thought you might like to hear a little bit about these two program dynamos, in their own words.

Abby Holstein: School has been in session for a few weeks now. Any highlights you can share from your days at P.S. 73 or our other partner schools so far?

photoAlyxe Lett: I’ve loved meeting and getting to know the principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor and parent coordinators at P.S. 73.  Everyone has been super welcoming and eager to have CFK back in the building!

Kayla DoveKayla Dove: What immediately comes to mind is my recent visit to P.S. 15. I had a chance to take a tour and speak to a few of the classroom teachers. I was amazed that in the short time we’ve been partnered with the school (programs only started last January), the impact is so palpable–from the mural we helped create that greets you as you walk in, to the teachers, who asked, “When is the program starting again, we can’t wait.”

AH: What are you excited to do in your new position? What do you hope to achieve?

AL:  I’m really excited to meet more of the P.S. 73 community and to see CFK’s programs in action, particularly Story Pirates performances and our music classes. I hope to achieve increased communication between teachers, staff and program partners and more engagement among parents and families at P.S. 15 and P.S. 73.  Both are challenges at my schools.

KD: I am excited about starting a new team with Alyxe and Zareta [Ricks, our School Manager for P.S. 81 and Brooklyn Landmark]. We each have specific strengths that are complementary to each other and we all have the same passion for the work. I hope to build on the idea of what it means to be a CFK school and develop a network between the schools for the sharing of ideas.

Some of our violin virtuosos from P.S. 73.

AH: Tell me about the work you did before you came to Change for Kids.

AL: Immediately before coming to CFK, I was an English teacher in Bogota, Colombia.  As much as I liked teaching, I became more interested in taking on more of a community coordinator role which would allow me to continue to work in a school setting but also allow me to do more program work and project management.  I think my role in the Peace Corps, working in multiple schools as an environmental educator and program coordinator, really was the starting point of my love for education and inspired me to pursue similar roles.

KD: I started out as a dancer and a dance educator, developing a multidisciplinary approach to learning, and teaching in different venues, from pre-K to college. I then moved into museum education, working closely with schools to bring resources of the institutions to support learning in the classroom. Museums and organizations I’ve worked at are: Liberty Science Center, Young Audiences New York, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Long Island Children’s Museum. Most recently I worked as a research assistant at the Educational Development Center on project evaluating science learning in pre-school classrooms.

AH: What brought you to CFK?

AL: I actually initially applied for a Communications Manager position at Change for Kids, but in the middle of my first interview, the team at CFK suggested I check out the School Manager position. As soon as I read the description, I thought, “Wow, yeah. That is totally me!”  And the rest is history.

What really appealed to me about being a School Manager at CFK was the broad range of responsibilities that would put me in contact with so many different people at the schools and in so many different capacities. Working with staff, parents, teachers and, of course, the students–I’m a people person so this part of the job is the best! And it’s this one-on-one time that sets CFK apart for me, because it really allows our organization to tailor our programming to a school’s needs, rather than applying a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach that is the pitfall of other organizations.

KD: For the past 20 years I have worked in organizations that bring its resources to support learning in underserved schools.  What sets Change for Kids apart from other organizations is the work that’s done to individualize each partnership with the needs of the school and community. It is also an interesting time for CFK, reflecting on what is working and seeing how the model can be expanded, without compromising the quality of the partnerships.

I truly believe in CFK’s mission. My personal mission for my work is: knowing that each child learns differently, and that not every child learns best by reading a book at a desk, I want to help each child to develop skills that will help them succeed in school and life. And that is what CFK does.

On the court with Fan4Kids. Thank you for supporting P.S. 73′s programs.

AH: Do you have a favorite story from your work in education?

AL: During my time in Peace Corps in Guatemala, one of the many projects that I started there was a radio show that I had on the town’s radio station. The show was called  “Amigos del Ambiente” (“Friends of the Environment”) and it was about environmental issues. For one show, I had a few of my third grade students come on the air to talk about things you could do at home to conserve electricity.  They sang a song and read a short, funny play, too.  It was so cute!  Later, complete strangers from around town would come up to me and ask, “You’re the one from the radio, right?  I’ve learned so much from your show and when you have the kids on there it’s even better!”  That made my heart smile.

KD: This goes under the category of multidisciplinary learning, I was doing a professional development workshop for school administrators (principals and superintendents) and I had them all up and doing the “bee dance.” I am sure they will never look at a bee the same way again.

AH: Do you have a favorite memory from your elementary school days?

AL: As an elementary school and middle school kid, I never stopped talking (okay, that hasn’t changed much!), so I was always being sent outside the classroom or being moved away from my friends.  One day, I was absent because I was sick.The next day, my best friend told me that someone had been talking and  making everyone laugh and our teacher automatically yelled out, “Alyxe, go outside!” but then immediately realized I wasn’t there.  That had everyone laughing even more. I was always a great student and my teachers liked me, but I was always running my mouth, jajajaja!

KD: It’s too many years ago…but I do remember being able to spend one day a term in elementary school painting a picture of anything I wanted to in the back of the classroom and not having to participate in the day’s lessons. I can’t imagine elementary school without art, music or recess.

AH: Thank you, Kayla and Alyxe, and welcome to Change for Kids!

 

New Faces at P.S. 15

This year, as P.S. 15 teachers and staff welcomed back their students, they also welcomed a new face–CFK’s new School Manager, Alyxe Lett. Alyxe coordinates CFK’s programs at P.S. 15 and builds relationships with students, teachers, administrators, parents and volunteers. She is also the School Manager for P.S. 73. Here at CFK, Alyxe works with our brand new Education Director, Kayla Dove. For those of you who don’t get to sit across from Kayla in the office, or aren’t lucky enough to still be in grade school at P.S. 15, we thought you might like to hear a little bit about these two program dynamos, in their own words.

Abby Holstein: School has been in session for a few weeks now. Any highlights you can share from your days at P.S. 15 or our other partner schools so far?

photoAlyxe Lett: I’ve really enjoyed meeting the principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors and parent coordinators in both of my schools.  I also attended a back-to-school night at P.S. 15, which was a great opportunity to meet parents, teachers and to network with other organizations. Everyone has been super friendly and helpful.

Kayla DoveKayla Dove: What immediately comes to mind is my recent visit to P.S. 15. I had a chance to take a tour and speak to a few of the classroom teachers. I was amazed that in the short time we’ve been partnered with the school (programs only started last January), the impact is so palpable–from the mural we helped create that greets you as you walk in, to the teachers, who asked, “When is the program starting again, we can’t wait.”

AH: What are you excited to do in your new position? What do you hope to achieve?

AL:  I’m really excited to meet more of the P.S. 15 community and to see CFK’s programs in action, particularly Story Pirates performances and our music classes. I hope to achieve increased communication between teachers, staff and program partners and more engagement among parents and families at P.S. 15 and P.S. 73.  Both are challenges at my schools.

KD: I am excited about starting a new team with Alyxe and Zareta [Ricks, our School Manager for P.S. 81 and Brooklyn Landmark]. We each have specific strengths that are complementary to each other and we all have the same passion for the work. I hope to build on the idea of what it means to be a CFK school and develop a network between the schools for the sharing of ideas.

8179969484_da3b2cf4c5_b

One of our fantastic P.S. 15 students

AH: Tell me about the work you did before you came to Change for Kids.

AL: Immediately before coming to CFK, I was an English teacher in Bogota, Colombia.  As much as I liked teaching, I became more interested in taking on more of a community coordinator role which would allow me to continue to work in a school setting but also allow me to do more program work and project management.  I think my role in the Peace Corps, working in multiple schools as an environmental educator and program coordinator, really was the starting point of my love for education and inspired me to pursue similar roles.

KD: I started out as a dancer and a dance educator, developing a multidisciplinary approach to learning, and teaching in different venues, from pre-K to college. I then moved into museum education, working closely with schools to bring resources of the institutions to support learning in the classroom. Museums and organizations I’ve worked at are: Liberty Science Center, Young Audiences New York, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Long Island Children’s Museum. Most recently I worked as a research assistant at the Educational Development Center on project evaluating science learning in pre-school classrooms.

AH: What brought you to CFK?

AL: I actually initially applied for a Communications Manager position at Change for Kids, but in the middle of my first interview, the team at CFK suggested I check out the School Manager position. As soon as I read the description, I thought, “Wow, yeah. That is totally me!”  And the rest is history.

What really appealed to me about being a School Manager at CFK was the broad range of responsibilities that would put me in contact with so many different people at the schools and in so many different capacities. Working with staff, parents, teachers and, of course, the students–I’m a people person so this part of the job is the best! And it’s this one-on-one time that sets CFK apart for me, because it really allows our organization to tailor our programming to a school’s needs, rather than applying a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach that is the pitfall of other organizations.

KD: For the past 20 years I have worked in organizations that bring its resources to support learning in underserved schools.  What sets Change for Kids apart from other organizations is the work that’s done to individualize each partnership with the needs of the school and community. It is also an interesting time for CFK, reflecting on what is working and seeing how the model can be expanded, without compromising the quality of the partnerships.

I truly believe in CFK’s mission. My personal mission for my work is: knowing that each child learns differently, and that not every child learns best by reading a book at a desk, I want to help each child to develop skills that will help them succeed in school and life. And that is what CFK does.

8591887979_b9a449455b_b

Volunteers at P.S. 15–thank you for your support!

AH: Do you have a favorite story from your work in education?

AL: During my time in Peace Corps in Guatemala, one of the many projects that I started there was a radio show that I had on the town’s radio station. The show was called  “Amigos del Ambiente” (“Friends of the Environment”) and it was about environmental issues. For one show, I had a few of my third grade students come on the air to talk about things you could do at home to conserve electricity.  They sang a song and read a short, funny play, too.  It was so cute!  Later, complete strangers from around town would come up to me and ask, “You’re the one from the radio, right?  I’ve learned so much from your show and when you have the kids on there it’s even better!”  That made my heart smile.

KD: This goes under the category of multidisciplinary learning, I was doing a professional development workshop for school administrators (principals and superintendents) and I had them all up and doing the “bee dance.” I am sure they will never look at a bee the same way again.

AH: Do you have a favorite memory from your elementary school days?

AL: As an elementary school and middle school kid, I never stopped talking (okay, that hasn’t changed much!), so I was always being sent outside the classroom or being moved away from my friends.  One day, I was absent because I was sick.The next day, my best friend told me that someone had been talking and  making everyone laugh and our teacher automatically yelled out, “Alyxe, go outside!” but then immediately realized I wasn’t there.  That had everyone laughing even more. I was always a great student and my teachers liked me, but I was always running my mouth, jajajaja!

KD: It’s too many years ago…but I do remember being able to spend one day a term in elementary school painting a picture of anything I wanted to in the back of the classroom and not having to participate in the day’s lessons. I can’t imagine elementary school without art, music or recess.

AH: Thank you, Kayla and Alyxe, and welcome to Change for Kids!

 

The Inaugural “Holiday Wish” Coloring Contest

P.S. 73 Winner Bernie Marte with his 4th grade teacher Ms. Reynoso

I’ve been very lucky to not only intern in the CFK office, but to oversee our Brooklyn Tech tutoring program at partner school P.S. 243 in Crown Heights. Brooklyn Tech’s Change Club travels to the Weeksville School every Thursday to provide homework help to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. I get the pleasure of working specifically with a vibrant bunch of 3rd graders and their tutors.

One of my favorite Thursdays was spent helping them visualize and draw their “Holiday Wish.” This season, CFK created a festival coloring contest – the winning image from each school would be featured on our inaugural holiday cards. When I told my students that they would get to draw during their tutoring session, I was met with great enthusiasm.

P.S. 243 Purple Snow-girl

I had great fun observing the students eagerly brainstorming with their tutors. I circled the tables, landing first at Angel’s table. He proudly reviewed his masterpiece with me, “This is my family at our Christmas meal, and that’s my grandpa. I have a big Dominican family.” Over at Nubia and Maya’s table, the best friends were also drawing family scenes, along with elaborate holiday presents. At Anthony and Elvin’s table, they were having their own coloring contest of who could draw the better picture. While Anthony drew a towering electric blue building, Elvin was drawing an impressive Christmas tree with Santa approaching in his sleigh. I spy an artist in the making here. Finally, my personal favorite was Elena’s drawing of a “Purple Snow-girl.” So I have to admit I’m a bit partial to purple, it’s my favorite color. But regardless, who doesn’t like a nice twist on a classic holiday character? As always, I left P.S. 243 with a smile that day.

The holiday coloring contest was an excellent way to begin the new season at our schools. I hope all the kids had as much fun participating as the office did in going through the entries. It was a great way to see quick snapshots of the students through their holiday wishes and their artistic talents. Congratulations to all the winners. Pick up your pack today!100% of proceeds benefit our programs.

HOLIDAY CARD WINNERS

P.S. 243 Artist: Brittany Kennedy, Ms. Davis’ 4th Grade, Age 8
P.S. 15 Artist: Steven Ponce, Mr. Laliberte’s 3rd Grade, Age 8
P.S. 73 Artist: Bernie Marte, Ms. Reynoso’s 4th Grade, Age 10
P.S. 81 Artist: Rogelio Vargas, Ms. Fraser’s 2nd Grade, Age 7
P.S. 160 Artist: Sharon Sukhu, Ms. Reill’s 4th Grade, Age 10

CFK Community Rallies Behind Partner School in Need: P.S. 15

On October 22nd Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, leaving hundreds and thousands of residents without food, water, shelter, and other basic necessities. For CFK’s newest partner school P.S. 15, a community already facing numerous adversities and limited resources, the storm’s effect was devastating. Located in Zone A evacuation area, P.S. 15 experienced flood damage, power outages and limited communications (losing phone and internet connections). After days without power, families were left with no heat and limited food.

True to its mission, the P.S. 15 Change Team responded immediately – organizing a drive to collect much-needed items for the students and families [Change Teams are groups of individuals and sponsors who rally around their school to provide the resources the school needs] “You are wonderful! I can’t believe how quickly you organized this,” reacted P.S. 15 Literacy Coach, Laura Salmon, to CFK’s swift response efforts.

The CFK community responded in so many incredible ways. A few of our favorites:

  • A tremendous contribution from New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes and his III & Long Foundation got the drive rolling
  • Marjorie Korn and her co-workers at SELF Magazine packed up an SUV full of toiletry items and winter gear
  • Our friends down South at The Village Knittery in Summerville, SC, mailed boxes and boxes of hand-knitted gloves, scarves and hats
  • Similarly, our friends on the West Coast, Maureen and Zach Papale, delivered over 90 pounds of pantry and baby items
  • The Churchill School enabled us to extend the drive to a second awesome day, donating a mountain of clothing and canned foods
  • The Gateway Schools conquered Board member Louise Forbes’ Yukon, filling it to the brim with hundreds of coats, hats and other winter gear (you can check out their results in the nifty graph their students produced)
  • And if we needed any more inspiration – Principal Vivian Bueno, at CFK’s Bronx partner school P.S. 73, reached out to her staff to donate funds to their “sister school in need”

I spoke with many of P.S. 15′s parents, teachers and students during the collection drop-off days, but the story shared by one mother in particular reminded me why this work matters. She and her children were without power or heat for over a week. The longstanding power outage forced her to throw out over $300 of food and without a working EBT card (since the neighborhood stores all lacked power to run the debit card machines) she was unable to purchase more. She struggled to explain to her hungry son why they didn’t have food. She told me how hard it was to maintain her composure in front of her son so he wouldn’t worry. But in reality, the frustration and uncertainty was devastating to her.

For me, this was the moment I realized the difference a CFK Change Team can make. CFK’s commitment to these children goes beyond their promise to offer educational opportunity. As partners, they also rally their community to assist with their schools’ most immediate needs. In this case that meant providing over 80 families with food, warm clothing, blankets and other items when they were needed most. For more information on how you can join a Change Team and make a difference your in NYC community, click here.

Robots invade the Bronx!

Thanks to Variety‘s incredible support, Change for Kids’ partnership with the Bronx Museum of Art provides a unique opportunity for P.S. 73 second, third and fourth graders – a chance to discover the value of art through curated exploration of various themes and mediums. Students work in small groups to examine, analyze, and eventually create their own artwork during weekly 90-minute visits to the museum. Rather than study these themes purely academically, the children gain hands-on experience interacting with and producing art, enabling them to place their own work within a larger context. The eight-week program culminates with a student art exhibit at both the museum and P.S. 73, where parents, sponsors, school and community members celebrate the kids’ incredible work.

At this year’s opening reception on Tuesday, June 5th, the museum walls were lined with everything from crayon-colored family portraits to models of local landmarks to large scale robots made from recycled cardboard boxes. Each masterpiece singularly integrated the different artistic concepts and mediums discussed throughout the residency. During the event, the students presented their artwork to doting parents and fellow classmates; sharing their creative process, the trials and tribulations of group work and the significance of the art they created. By incorporating elements of their own neighborhood into their projects (including a remarkable model of “Mets” Stadium – “The Yankees have a stadium named after them! Why shouldn’t the Mets?”), the kids were able to establish a personal connection with their work – pouring a bit of themselves into each piece. With parents looking proudly over their child’s work, and the students equipped with newly discovered artistic knowledge as evidenced by the phenomenal body of work, the residency was nothing short of a tremendous success.