I’m not done here yet.

Hey there, to those of you who still follow me.

I’ve finally decided to give my website a revamping, so over the next few weeks, I will be uploading a lot more material and links!

Thanks for bearing with me through a ton of transitions- more to come on this later.

 

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Thank You, Capital Region Literacy!

This week I had the honor of meeting Joe Bedard of Capital Region Literacy at a quarterly Children’s Roundtable meeting. He was a kind man who spoke of the ever growing problem with our youth being illiterate. I was moved by his words and connected with him via email after the meeting.

Capital Region Literacy donates books to youth in need, either free of charge or for 75 cents or less per book! In most cases, you need only pay shipping. What’s amazing is that they are popular titles, too! This is a great organization that is doing inspiring work across the Capital Region in Pennsylvania.

Joe was fantastic, quickly offering to donate a few boxes of books to the Camp Curtin YMCA. I was lucky enough to be able to be the one to pick up the books, and wow! was I impressed with the amount of books Joe has to give away to youth in need. Joe was incredible and donated six boxes, totaling to a little over 100 books for our youth and their families.

While meeting with Joe, I also got to learn about authors who inspire him, stories that make him laugh, and the psychology behind the two halves of the mind! He even taught me the President’s Handshake.

I am honored to have been able to work with Joe Bedard of Capital Region Literacy, and I hope that Camp Curtin is able to work with this wonderful organization again in the future!


Joe mentioned that the organization is always accepting donations. If you or a loved one would like to donate, perhaps on behalf of Camp Curtin or another organization, let me know and I will get you in contact with Joe!


Below are some photos of the books he donated to us! We received coloring books, the classics, manga, science books, historical fiction, and more!

Promoted!

Hello to my followers and guests alike! I have some thrilling news to share with you today.

After one month serving as the Member Services Director at the YMCA Camp Curtin, I have been promoted to be the Program Development Director!

I am so excited to share this news. I am excited to take over this role as I will be able to implement new programs, maintain and sustain our current programming, and evaluate how our programs are doing, as well as write grants to fund our programs.

Thank you to those who have supported me through this all! I am forever grateful.

Harrisburg Area 164th Annual Meeting

Today, I had the opportunity to attend Harrisburg Area’s 164th Annual Meeting- a gathering of the four YMCAs in the Harrisburg Area organization. It was a beautiful event, and I had a wonderful time hearing from marvelous speakers and watching inspiring videos.

I even got to hear from Ferguson “Fergie” Jenkins, pitcher from the Chicago Cubs! He spoke about teamwork and being a team player.

Below are some photos from the event.

Thanksgiving at the YMCA

On Monday, I had a lot to be grateful for. A new job that I love, a supportive community, and happy, healthy youth in our facility… and that’s just the beginning of the list!

I got to share my excitement by giving back to our community on Monday the 19th, when we held a Thanksgiving Feast at the YMCA. Staff was introduced as we walked out to see our loving members- here’s a picture of me walking out- and everyone was applauding, happy to see us!


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I had the privilege of serving our members food- mac and cheese, turkey, ham, green beans, yams, the works! It was amazing!

I am excited to continue serving at the Camp Curtin YMCA- what a wonderful year lies ahead of me.

Interview With An Educator

For my TEL111 course, I had to interview an educator that I admire. I chose Ramya Vijayagopal for my assignment, a dear friend and a wonderful educator via Teach For America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Here is an excerpt from my paper about Vijayagopal:

I met Ramya Vijayagopal for the first time in the summer of 2016, where we were
coworkers in Residential Life at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Vijayagopal would be entering her senior year at Ithaca College in the upcoming fall and was starting to think about life after graduation. I listened to her bounce her multitudes of options around that summer, and was thrilled for her when she was accepted into Teach For America in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she would be serving as a middle school science teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. Vijayagopal began her service in 2017, after her graduation from Ithaca College with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism. While serving her two years with Teach For America in
Philadelphia, Vijayagopal is pursuing a Masters in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Teach For America is a diverse network of leaders working to confront educational inequity, with the vision that one day all children in the United States will have the opportunity to receive excellent education (Teach For America, 2018). There are currently 53,000 alumni and 6,700+ Corps members across the United States. As Vijayagopal words it, “TFA is…good for people who want to work with youth and fight for education” (personal communication, June 2, 2018).


Here is where you can read my final paper.


Performance Pay for Educators

Should educators receive performance pay?

I believe that in its ideal state, performance pay is an excellent concept. We should always reward teachers for their amazing work and service to our youth. However, there are also a lot of dangers involved in performance pay- political, emotional, cognitive.

What I mean by this is that teachers who desire the bonus ultimately may begin to teach with methods that assist the teacher, but not the student. At the end of the day, progress needs to be about the self-identified success of the student. Performance pay does not put student success first when brought to fruition.

How would performance pay affect you, personally?

Performance pay would affect me personally by creating an environment where I need to decide between my own personal success or the educational futures of my students. I find this outrageous and upsetting. How much I’m paid should not be determined by the scores my students receive on a standardized test if my students are truly engaged in their courses and are learning in a way for them.

As we already discussed in previous blog posts, standardized testing takes away the individualization of learning, which so many of our students need. Therefore, if I am teaching my lessons one way, and the standardized test presents it in a way that only confuses my students, then who is at fault? Is it myself, for not teaching to the test? The test, for not allowing my students to demonstrate their application of the knowledge? Or is it the student, who knows the material but gets nervous on tests?

So, ultimately, performance pay is asking me to choose, but both my own success and the educational futures of my students mean the world to me.

And what if I am not to receive performance pay? Say I do not meet the standards set by my school district to receive performance pay, and say that information is made public. Doesn’t this set me up for failure, when parents call the school and demand their students are transferred out of my class? Doesn’t this make me less marketable if I choose to change schools?

I also think of the women and people of color who are less likely to receive these performance based promotions based on their gender and/or race. This seems like another way for the system to work itself into a bigger knot, and another way to monetize education, which I cannot support.

Do some of your own research and include one resource, that you find yourself, to help support your stance.

As Razo states in her 2014 dissertation,

The educational employment sector does not produce widgets; you cannot simply offer a teacher bonus pay to teach faster or teach more students. The inputs and outputs in an educational organization are more complicated than in an industrial setting.

I fully believe that quote says all you need to know about the pros and cons of performance pay. Teachers are not mechanical- neither are our students.

So why are we treating them both like they must perform as though they are well-oiled machines, and ignoring the ones who are a little rusty?

When watching the video about motivation being driven by purpose this week, I recalled that teachers are not driven by money. They do not go into the profession because they want to make money. They go into the profession because they have a servant’s heart- because they love working with youth and all that it means to work with youth.

Incentive pay or performance based pay draws attention and focus away from that purpose. It ultimately pushes teachers to focus on results, results, results. But sometimes our students need us to slow down and see what their version of success is. Performance based pay does not account for these moments where teachers are truly put to the test.


References

Razo, A. (2014). Does Rewarding Performance Pay for Teachers Result in Higher Student Achievement?: A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Education. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from https://repository.asu.edu/attachments/137276/content/Razo_asu_0010E_14148.pdf


 

2nd Annual Turkey Giveaway

Phew! Another long day, a wonderfully successful event. The Chris “Handles” Franklin Foundation partnered with my YMCA, the Camp Curtin YMCA, to host a fantastic event that registered 150 people to receive a free turkey and Thanksgiving basket with all the trimmings. The event saw lots of smiles and laughs, and everyone had an amazing time meeting Chris and selecting their basket contents for this holiday season!

Teen Achievers even came out to help with the event- it was great to see so many familiar faces helping out!


Enjoy these photos that I took from the event!

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A busy day at the YMCA

Girls A.I.M. was a success today! We discussed healthy friendships versus unhealthy friendships. They loved it. The girls had so much to say! Then they identified positive relationships in their lives and created thank you cards for those people.


In addition to this program, I was able to attend my first Regional meeting in my new position at the YMCA. I had a great time learning from my new peers and they were helpful and welcoming. I also got to hear from some awesome speakers!

Girls All In Motion (Girls A.I.M.): Day 1

Good morning folks, today I will be talking a bit about Girls All In Motion, or Girls A.I.M., which I will be a facilitator for at my new position with Camp Curtin YMCA. I am excited about this program because it helps young girls (ages 8-12) build a positive self-image and sets them on a path to reach their full potential in life by focusing on physical activity, balanced eating, and self-development.

I will be facilitating a group today that will be about friendship, and the qualities of a good friend. This will be an exciting topic for the girls because at such a young age, a lot of their life revolves around their friendships they have with their peers. It is essential that they understand what makes a good friend, and to have them be able to identify good friends in their lives.

To teach this lesson, I am going to start out by talking about how their day went at school. I will find out what made their day awesome, and then ask who helped make their day awesome. Then, I will ask them to tell me more about what makes that person so great. What are they like? We will create a list of qualities about those awesome people.

Next, I will ask if there was anyone who made their day not-so-awesome- and if so, why? What are they like? I will write down the qualities of those people next to our list of good qualities, to compare the two.

After spending just a few minutes on that question, I will ask the girls who they would rather spend time with, and why. We will identify that good qualities about good friends will make for a better time for everyone. Then, we will spend a few minutes identifying who our good friends are in our lives.

Once we have identified who our good friends are, we will spend the rest of the time creating Thank You cards that say thank you for being a great friend to our favorite people. This will allow the girls to learn how to express gratitude, all while learning what the qualities of a good friend is.

I’m excited to teach this lesson today, and look forward to meeting the girls in the group!

Reflection: Diversity + Culture in Education [VIDEO]

Good afternoon all!

Today I’m here to talk about a podcast called This American Life. I recently listened to Episode 562: Parts One + Two: The Problem We All Live With (click here to access the transcript).

Here’s a little synopsis of the episode, provided by the creator:

Right now, all sorts of people are trying to rethink and reinvent education, to get poor minority kids performing as well as white kids. But there’s one thing nobody tries anymore, despite lots of evidence that it works: desegregation. Nikole Hannah-Jones looks at a district that, not long ago, accidentally launched a desegregation program.

Seems interesting, right?

I listened to this podcast as instructed by my TEL 111 course, and found it absolutely fascinating, in a horrifying kind of way. So, what did I do in response?

I made a video. 

Watch it below:

Click here for a transcript. 


By the way, a correction- around 8:24 I mention that 1/2 of black students are not attending an accredited district.
 
What I MEANT to say is:
 
1/2 of black (K-12) students (in Missouri) are not attending an accredited district.
 
Please forgive me, I am a poor editor. 

What are your thoughts on my video? On the original podcast?