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KIDS ON COURSE

May 15, 2018

Summer, Finally!

Brace yourselves. Summer is coming.

Contrary to popular belief, Kids on Course staff do not spend our whole summer sunning ourselves poolside. From June 18 – August 3, our elementary staff we work at Kids on Course University (KCU), a seven-week academic summer program designed to help students maintain and grow their reading and math skills.

 

Kids on Course University is a great change of pace and setting for both students and staff. Students work on their academic skills in classes with a 15-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. They also do many fun enrichment and STEM activities and go on field trips every week!

Last summer, Van Buren, Harrison, and Grant students gathered each day at Harrison Elementary. Mr. Wertz, the summer enrichment leader, came up with many great ideas to keep kids engaged: making slime, designing and building fidget spinners, and a gym scooter derby.

Even though Kids on Course University has a fun summer camp vibe, the goal is serious: to prevent summer reading loss. Students who participated in KCU in 2017 grew 7 times more in reading than their peers who did not participate. The small classes with a certified teacher have proven to be highly effective.

 

Kids on Course elementary staff have a blast spending the summer with kids. We play hard at recess. We help struggling students. We support teachers. We go on field trips (Seeing Cars 3 with 150 kids, yes please). We deliver weekend food bags. We communicate with parents about how their kids are doing at KCU.

The best part of KCU is spending more time with the students. The kids work hard all summer and it is rewarding to see them grow more confident in their reading and math going into the new school year.

 

– Greg White, Van Buren Site Manager

May 4, 2018

MAY the Force Be With You

May at the five Kids on Course schools means Learning Lab has ended, and students and staff begin daydreaming about summer and all the wonderful Kids on Course University/Scholar Camp activities that are to come. At Van Buren, May also means Star Wars Day, which falls on the fourth every year.

Star Wars and KOC may not seem to be connected, but to the careful observer (or increasingly desperate blog writer) their core DNA is actually very similar. At the heart of the Star Wars franchise is the idea that just the smallest spark of hope can light the fire of change in the world. KOC’s credo of providing equal access to opportunity speaks the same message.

When kids (and rebellions) are given hope, they have the idea that all things are possible. KOC takes kids on college visits multiple times a year so that they can see themselves on a college campus. KOC has a scholarship fund to help students pay to play sports outside of school. This seemingly small gesture could help to produce the next MLS star. Our tutors spend countless hours coming up with new and interesting ways to help our students engage with learning and bridge the achievement gap.

Whether it’s Han Solo returning to help destroy the Death Star, or a KOC tutor finally creating the right activity to help a third grader get the hang of multiplication, the creation and cultivation of hope is an important thing. That third grader who just figured out multiplication now has the hope that math isn’t as scary as they thought it was, and that can lead to a snowball effect of positive things in their academic life. The newly emboldened Rebel Alliance knows that the Empire can be beaten, and peace can once again exist in the Galaxy; maybe with the help of a current third grader who has a newfound love of math…

May the force be with you.

-Jerry Logan, Van Buren Site Coordinator

April 25, 2018

Top 5 Things About Harrison

My Top 5 Favorite things about HarrisoAs my third year at Harrison is starting to wind down it dawns on me that I am no longer “too new” to have an opinion about this place. So without further ado here are my top 5 favorite things about Harrison.

  1. The Students- One of my very favorite things is seeing our students grow into better versions of themselves. Whether that means seeing a kid become confident in their academic abilities or seeing a kid blossom into a leader that other kids follow. Beyond that they make me laugh, they challenge me, and they have taught me skills I didn’t know existed.
  2. Staff- One of the things I really admire about our staff is that they take care of all our kids regardless of whether they are “their” students. I think of the upper level teachers going out of their way to connect with younger siblings of students. On the flip side I see so many of our big kids excitedly hugging the teachers they have had in the past. I could say so many great things about our staff but all the extra love they show students is important in building resilient future adults.
  3. Families- I always brag about how caring and loving the families at Harrison are to my friends and family. What sticks out to me specifically is during the 2016 flood I walked the neighborhood and saw many Harrison families helping other Harrison families, sandbag and move furniture to higher ground. During the most stressful time imaginable people took time to make sure their neighbors would be OK as well, and that’s really cool. On a day to to day basis I’m consistently treated with patience and kindness from all my Harrison families and I appreciate that.
  4. The building- One of the thing that sticks out about Harrison is the architecture, it is gigantic, old, and one of a kind. I have heard kids describe it as a medieval castle, Hogwarts, and “spooky”, like something from Scooby Doo. While all these things might be true I think it’s also important to note it feels like home and a lot it’s quirks make it truly unique.
  5. The Future- I truly feel like every day at Harrison things are getting better, our kids learn new skills, and they are becoming better future citizens. There are things happening in the upcoming years that will continue to improve student outcomes and make staff even more effective. I’m excited to see these things and be a part of them.

Honorable Mention- Mini corndogs are a strong 6th place on this list, every month I scan the lunch menu to look for these. They are culinary magic and I love them.

– Luke Reynolds, Harrison Site Manager

April 6, 2018

The Voice of Tomorrow

In this day and age where smartphones are attached to kids’ hips and a majority of conversations I overhear in my classroom are centered around Fortnite, it’s been refreshing to witness our youth take action on the issues that most impact their lives. Whether it’s organizing a silent walk to support the Parkland victims, tuning in to the net neutrality vote while at lunch, or interviewing staff about our transition to a magnet school, these students are realizing how powerful their voices can be.

We’ve always been told that adults know best, but while those same adults have become increasingly partisan and hateful towards each other, our students have taken matters into their own hands. Often dismissed by the media and policy makers, I can’t help but think that this year is different. Rallying around a collective perspective for change, student’s can start feeling like they are part of a solution, instead of being blamed for the problems.

Successful advocacy demands authenticity, and we can count on students to tell you exactly how they feel. By building long lasting, meaningful connections with the youth in our communities, we can bring our long-term visions closer to lasting change. We should move away from the perspective that every relationship is simply a transaction and realize the impact we can have if we invest our time & energy through advocating for and with our kids.

I would encourage every adult reading this to engage our youth in the tough conversations we are all having: What does school safety mean to you? Where exactly is our food coming from? What rights do all humans have? While their answers may not be the polished, articulate and neutral replies our elected officials are commonly known for, they represent how all kids want to feel–Real.

 

– David Savino, Kids on Course Roosevelt Site Manager