Archive for the Uncategorized Category

SIS November Blog: Elizabeth Moraff

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 by umdcsl

The concept of results is a funny one, especially when we’re talking about community service. This semester marks my seventh semester working with Partners in Print, my fourth as a Team Leader. In the calmer moments, when I’m not bustling about answering a mentor’s question or chatting up a site supervisor, my mind drifts towards this elusive construct. I often find myself wondering, as I hold up a sign that says the mentors have six minutes before switching to teaching the next literacy technique, what am I actually doing?
Most of my life as a student produces tangible results. I study, I get a good grade. I write a paper and feel its weight and the printer’s heat on it as I slide it into the appropriate notebook. Dark circles appear under my eyes in perfect proportion to the amount of sleep I lose. Every Wednesday and Thursday in these local schools, though, the most tangible consequence of the night seems to be a dearth of handouts for each literacy technique and a list of names of the parents who came.
At least, that’s how it felt this month as I pored over a grant application with the coordinator of Partners in Print this month. Each of the questions asked us to prove how effective the program is, asking for specificity, for numbers. Granted, the coordinator provided the best numbers we have. Each night after the workshop, we ask parents to evaluate the program and assess how the program has helped them or not. Their feedback encouraged me. Over 90% of parents said that the program was helpful, and that they had used literacy techniques that the program taught them at home. Somewhere around 87% of parents had reported that they felt more confident reading with their children and helping with their education because of Partners in Print. Certainly, such feedback constitutes results to be proud of (and hopefully to garner a grant, we’re always short of funding). Reflecting on that grant, and those numbers, I think that is the most tangible the results of Partners in Print will ever get.
They also happen to be the least important. When I think about Partners in Print’s effect, I think of when we went to a school called Thomas Stone. The principal and the site supervisor stayed the entire time, greeted the parents, even ordered them pizza. At the end of the night, as we had wrapped up our things and were ready to hit the van, one of the presenters sat talking with a dad at a table. The presenter, who joined PNP this semester, sat listening intently, responding emphatically, for at least fifteen minutes. At the end of the night, I had to signal him away.
When I asked what they were talking about, the presenter just said the dad had been telling him about the struggles he was having helping his child in school and navigating the system for him. While I’ll never know the exact details of the conversation or its effects, I know that a presenter got to connect with one of the parents at a deep level. More than percentages on a paper, I hope that is the result that Partners in Print can produce.

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Students in Service: Dhara Patel

Posted in Uncategorized on November 11, 2011 by umdcsl

During my work at America Reads America Counts this month, I feel like the mentors and I are getting closer as a team with a mission of helping our community. We help parents become closer to their children as well as promote literacy by introducing valuable reading techniques they can try at home with their children. We are taking steps to overcome the language barrier in today’s schools.  As a team leader I have the ability to guide our fellow mentors in growing as leaders—ones that foster the growth of others while achieving common goals. We debrief on our experiences each month and try to make the Partners in Print program better and better. Compiling workshop ideas for each month from the mentors and fellow team leaders, we incorporate our community’s needs and wants to make a difference in the elementary schools we visit. The ideas we have gathered are very creative and new, and I am excited to use them for the future.

This month I have come to realize that there are so many things I can do to make Partners in Print (PNP) a success if I can make time to do them. It has been tough to give the program my entire attention due to the stresses of classes and other responsibilities like being a UTA and director of Innoworks—a non-profit organization that prepares for a science camp for underprivileged middle school students.  However, with the right motivation and time management skills, I am sure to achieve my goals.  My goal for this upcoming month is to document all my ideas in an organized fashion. I will make a list of past and future team building ideas/workshops I would like for future PNP team leaders to implement in trainings.  There are so many great ideas that get tossed around but are never done because we simply do not have time this semester. I also hope to schedule times outside of work that the PNP team can just hang out or have fun together.  In addition, during the second month we have seen fewer families visit our workshop as opposed to the first one. This is a trend we expected due to weather, but I want to for the future prevent this from happening and have our numbers grow up until we are finished for the semester. This requires ensuring parents that we will have different techniques each month and reminding them of the next time we will be back.

As director of Innoworks, I am trying my hardest with my numerous other responsibilities to plan meetings regularly and get tasks done on time. We had closing duties to take care of from the camp from August, recruit new members for this year including deputy directors, guide the new members in how the program works, assign tasks to everyone in each of the four committees, make sure tasks are done on time, and in the end ensure the success of the camp.  The committees that the members can join are curriculum, recruitment, public relations, and finance.  In short, we organize the entire camp meaning deciding which viable experiments to do, recruiting children for the camp/making sure they complete the application, letting the community know about our organization, and acquiring the right amount of funding for this non-profit camp.  The directors and deputy directors of this program need to attend a weekly 2 hour skype meeting with the head of several chapters all over the nation to ensure that we are on track. This is quite a bit of responsibility but I feel in the end we make a big difference in the lives of those kids who now want to attend college and focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

16th Annual Service Day sends College Park Scholars into Maryland, DC communities

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2011 by umdcsl

By Graham Bennie, Senior Editor, College Park Scholars

Seated in the Comcast Center early one Friday morning to eat breakfast and be welcomed to the University of Maryland and to the College Park Scholars living-learning program, first-year Scholars students watched the Impact video, which focuses on the idea that everyone can make a difference. Service Day is designed to demonstrate just that.

On August 29, 2011, roughly 800 Scholars students, joined by program faculty, administration, and student leaders, made their way into surrounding Maryland-DC communities for a day of volunteerism.

Scholars students were divided up into 27 different teams and sent out to their various service sites to complete projects ranging from clearing fallen trees and debris from the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to preparing meals, sorting clothing donations, and organizing a storage facility for programs run by Interfaith Works, a non-profit organization designed to help those living in poverty in and around Montgomery County, Md.

This year’s Service Day was as successful as ever, although it had its challenges. “Some of the sites in the community had more for us to do because of [Hurricane Irene], but some had to direct their attention to other issues rather than orienting a group of students from Scholars,” said Martha Baer Wilmes, Scholars associate director for Student affairs “We had to balance the value of the program to the community with what their immediate needs were.”

Many sites were still without power following the wind and rain of Hurricane Irene. Among these were two Prince George’s County Public Schools that closed down, forcing Arts Scholars to adapt their Service Day.

“Usually we go in and paint murals on some of the walls in the schools,” said Harold Burgess, director of Arts Scholars. “Our students paint the murals and at some point the school brings out some of the elementary school students and their faces just light up when they see it.”

Instead, this year Arts Scholars painted the murals on paper in the Cambridge Community Center. Burgess said the program is sorting out a date to go present the schools with their work.

An annual tradition at College Park Scholars, Service Day is at the heart of the program’s mission, and it continues to resonate with generations of new Scholars because it demonstrates to students that Scholars is not just about learning; it’s about living and learning, through service to your community, forging new friendships, and everything in between.