HealthCorps Interview: Calvin Lambert

Calvin Lambert

Guest post by HealthCorps Coordinator Nathan Allen.

Calvin Lambert is an exceptional HealthCorps Coordinator at a High School in Brooklyn, NY.  Apart from his brilliant work with HealthCorps, Calvin is known for having a laugh that can bring an entire room together.

Calvin is concluding is term with HealthCorps this year and has been admitted to several top-tier medical schools (which he asked to remain undisclosed, as his decision is still pending).  I was fortunate to find a short break in his world-changing to catch up and throw a few questions at him.

Nathan:  I read, on your phenomenal school blog, that you intend to start a program for students where you will serve as a positive male role model for students who may not have one. What will this look like?

Calvin: I envision a forum where young men can come and discuss issues that they are passionate about…there are lots of things these kids deal with day-to-day that they don’t get a chance to express and this will be a place to open up about these feelings. I also want to design workshops here to address things like how to be a gentleman, things like respect, attitude, being professional, sexual education…

I noticed how many guys don’t seem to have respect for themselves and a lot of the time these guys are not focused in the classroom. I know there is a reason for this. I want to give them an opportunity to talk about these things so I can understand and then try to pull the potential out of them.

Nathan: It seems that improving health in all communities requires multifaceted approaches. Some things Continue reading

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Blue Engine Accelerates Academic Achievement in High Need High Schools – and it’s Recruiting Now!

Guest post by Alison Fedyna, Blue Engine 2010-2011 Fellow, teaches individualized algebra instruction to a small group of high schoolers daily in New York City. Blue Engine is currently accepting applications for its 2011-2012 year.

A few months ago I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was a recent college graduate on the verge of unemployment, and spent most of my free time obsessively browsing Idealist.org for socially-conscious job opportunities.  Sound familiar?

Alison Fedyna, Blue Engine Fellow

Now, I am in a classroom, looking up at the group of five students that I am working with today. I see four students smiling up at me, thumbs raised to show me they understood the lesson our lead teacher just taught.

I glance over at my fifth student, who is bashfully looking down into his lap. His thumb is pointed down, and is barely visible underneath his other hand that is trying to hide his difficult admission: I’m lost.

As I was rushing back and forth from the one side of the table to the other, trying to keep both the students who were ready to move on with the lesson and the student who needed some remedial work intellectually engaged, I realized something.

If this learning disparity is keeping me this busy with just five kids, how could a teacher with a classroom of 30 possibly do this on his or her own?

It’s simple. She couldn’t. This is how students fall through the cracks. They have learned to just smile and nod and pretend that everything is fine, when in reality they might be completely confused. When a teacher has behavioral issues to deal with, and students are calling for help in ten different directions, the student with his head down who appears to be working diligently is left alone. No one checks to see if he has done the work correctly and no one notices anything is wrong until an alarming test or quiz score shows up. But by then, it is too late.

This is where Blue Engine comes in.

Blue Engine is a new education non-profit based in New York City. Eleven other recent graduates and I are engaging in a year of service as Blue Engine Fellows, working as full-time teaching assistants in a public school.  We conduct small group tutorials alongside experienced classroom teachers, helping entire grade levels of students, from those who need extra help to those who can be pushed to excel, make dramatic progress in core coursework and become prepared for college.

I joined Blue Engine to help students, students just like the ones I was working with today, succeed.  Even though life as a Blue Engine Fellow can be crazy at times, I have the amazing opportunity to see my students growing in both their academic and personal endeavors each and every day.

It is that daily feeling of impact, that wonderful realization that our students are steadily increasing their academic achievement that for me makes all of the effort completely worth it.

It is the end of class, and again I ask the students in my group how they feel about the material we learned today. I glance at the student sitting farthest away from me, and I smile when I see his thumb proudly pointing up for everyone to see.  A few months ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now, it is moments like this that make me realize I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

To find out more about becoming a Blue Engine Fellow, check out our website or contact us at admissions@blueengine.org.

Interview with Health Corps Coordinator Sarah Fishtrom

This is the first post  contributed by Health Corps Coordinator Nathan Allen who serves in Mississippi.

Sarah Fishtrom is a Health Corps Coordinator at Kurt Hahn High School in Brooklyn, New York.  Sarah is Danish and has the gift of being excited about whatever you are excited about, which makes her joy to work with.  Health Corps Coordinators are a widespread group, but we find ways to stay connected, and recently I was able to catch up with her in Brooklyn from Clarksdale, Mississippi to reflect on the work Health Corps is doing:

NATHAN: Evening, Sarah! First off, summer has recently come to a close, how did you spend your time during summer break?

SARAH: I spent one month training the incoming cohort of Health Corps Coordinators in New York.  During the Continue reading

Interview with the New Team: Inner City Teaching Corps of Chicago Corps Members Begin a New Year

New volunteer teaching corps members of the Inner City Teaching Corps of Chicago.

On June 10th, 15 recent college graduates moved to Chicago to begin their service with the Inner-City Teaching Corps’s Volunteer Teaching Corps. ICTC Recruitment Director Jim Conti contributed this post introducing the newest members of one of ICTC’s communities.

They came from across the country, and from universities like Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown University. They moved in to two communities located on Chicago’s South and West sides and began their training as teachers at Northwestern University, including practice teaching at summer schools throughout the city.

One of these communities is located at Our Lady of Charity School and Parish.

Here, seven teachers have taken up residence. The converted convent now offers living and work space for the residents in their beginning days as teachers.

Tracey, Tim, Brit, Katie, Saul, Ty, and Andrea share cooking and cleaning responsibilities, organize commutes in their three cars, and are beginning to get to know each other. To understand a little bit better what their lives are like as they begin their time with ICTC, I spend an evening with these seven teachers.

After a dinner consisting of four different kinds of quesadillas, rice, beans, and dessert, Tracey, Brit, and Ty sit down to share some of their thoughts on their summer so far.

What do you do on a typical evening this summer? Continue reading

Emerging Corps: Blue Engine’s Nick Ehrmann

Blue Engine's Nick Ehrmann

The New Service podcast show features a service program tackling the challenges of college completion for students from low income families. Blue Engine is now accepting applications for its 2010-11 corps.

In 2010, a new national service corps is getting off the ground. Blue Engine, based in New York City, aims to recruit a corps of about a dozen fellows for the 2010-2011 school year to facilitate daily, differentiated, small-group instruction for high school freshmen.

Our guest is Nick Ehrmann—Blue Engine’s engine and a Teach For America alum— who says that we know how to get high-needs kids into college, or getting them “college eligible” — nonprofits and schools have been targeting and tackling hurdles like high school completion, college admissions, and financial assistance.

But, while the high school drop-out problem is far from solved, groups are paying far less attention to college completion rates for high-needs kids, or “college readiness.”

Blue Engine aims to close the gap between college eligibility and college readiness.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2000, Ehrmann began his career in education as a Teach for America corps member in Washington D.C. In 2002, he joined forces with local philanthropists to launch the nonprofit “I Have a Dream” Project 312, a youth development program for Nick’s fourth-grade students. In the fall of 2003, he began doctoral work in sociology at Princeton University as a William G. Bowen fellow.

Over the past three years, Nick spent months shadowing his former students in high school classrooms, living with their families, and conducting extensive interviews in the local community, where he has witnessed firsthand the negative effects of academic underperformance on the transition from high school to college. His dissertation—Yellow Brick Road—is scheduled for defense in the spring of 2010.

Idealist’s Amy Potthast talks with Nick about the Blue Engine fellowship, its application deadlines (March 10 and April 28, 2010); the gap between college eligibility and true college readiness; and why it’s crucial to expect more out of high schoolers in order to prepare them for high school and college success, and beyond.

Listen to the show here.

Blue Engine Launches this Week — a New Corps for NYC Schools

This week a new national service corps launches its website and application process. Blue Engine, based in New York City, aims to recruit a corps of about a dozen fellows to facilitate daily, differentiated, small-group instruction for high school freshmen.

Nick Ehrmann—Blue Engine’s engine and a Teach For America alum—says that we know how to get high-needs kids into college, or getting them “college eligible” — nonprofits and schools have been targeting and tackling hurdles like high school completion, college admissions, and financial assistance.

But, while the high school drop-out problem is far from solved, groups are paying far less attention to college completion rates for high-needs kids, or “college readiness.”

Blue Engine aims to close the gap between college eligibility and college readiness. Watch the video that explains:

A startling statistic: for every 100 kids from low-income families who make it into college, only 15 end up graduating Continue reading

Teachers College Announces a New Teacher Residency Program

Teachers College at Columbia University is launching a new program to help people earn an affordable master’s degree while apprenticing with experienced teachers in high-needs New York City classrooms.

Funded through a new U.S. Department of Education initiative to bring teacher education into the 21st century, the Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC) program is a 14-month graduate-level program.

Modeled after a medical residency, the new teaching residency at TC gives teaching students, or “residents,” the chance to implement ideas in a classroom setting, while receiving feedback and support from expert practitioners. Residents are simultaneously taking graduate level classes.

While other teaching residency programs also focus on bringing highly qualified, diverse people into the classroom as Continue reading