P.S. 15, P.S. 314

Meet Change for Kids’ School Manager at P.S. 15 and P.S. 314: Rakia Wells

We are thrilled to welcoFullSizeRender (18)me Rakia Wells to the Change for Kids Team! Rakia is the School Manager at P.S. 15 in Manhattan and P.S. 314 in the Bronx. Learn more about Rakia, as she shares with us her passion for service, volunteerism, and her favorite memories from elementary school!

What drew you to Change for Kids? What are you most excited about doing in your role as a Change for Kids School Manager?

I am a strong believer in the power of service and youth enrichment. I saw in the School Manager role the opportunity to combine these two ideals together and build strong communities within our schools. I’m excited to work alongside teachers, staff, and coordinators to create a community where students can thrive and continue to love learning in all its aspects.

What do you hope to achieve at P.S. 15 and P.S. 314?

I hope to be a rich source of support for P.S. 15 and P.S. 314 to continue to grow, build, and develop community engagement initiatives and student experience opportunities. With a strong background in volunteer management, I’m extremely motivated to provide an enriching volunteer experience where volunteers not only give back to a community but witness the impact of their service and feel valued — and hopefully want to volunteer again! Our parents and volunteers make our programs come alive and I hope to cultivate sustainable engagement initiatives that will continue to inspire our students.

What did you do before you joined the Change for Kids team?

Prior to joining Change for Kids, I was a Senior Volunteer Manager at Reading Partners where I onboarded all of our volunteers and lead our community building events. I have worked in the education sector for both corporate and nonprofit entities, working as a Study Abroad Recruiter for college students as well as having a lead role in volunteer management.

When you were in elementary school, who made the biggest impact on you?

When I was in elementary school, the teacher that had the largest impact on me was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Yamamoto. Mrs. Yamamoto was the biggest believer in supporting the imagination and brought teaching to life in the classroom. Whether I was learning how to write my name in Korean, practicing speed-reading techniques, joining “worm club,” or enthusiastically singing about math, she never stifled the excitement to learn, and I’ll always remember her for that.

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

One of my favorite elementary school memories was in the 4th grade during our science period. I wasn’t particularly interested in the sciences; however, my 4th grade teacher Mr. Faris was an expert in engaging children on subjects they believed to be boring. One day, Mr. Faris brought a huge jar of dill pickles to the front of the class and sat the jar next to an electric contraption. Each pickle looked like an oversized cucumber floating in a sea of green. Mr. Faris announced we would be learning about electricity today and he would demonstrate the power of an electric current by attaching one of the pickles to his homemade contraption. This stunt was known as the “Electric Pickle”. Mr. Faris would then proceed to attach a pickle, to what can only be described as a mini car battery, and showed us the effects of electrocuting my favorite vegetable. The pickle would light up from the inside, a fantastic lime green, with steam pouring out from the top.

All the students were mesmerized by the eerie glow emulating from the middle of the pickle and jumped as sparks began to fly from the clamps. Interestingly enough, Mr. Faris continued with the experiment, while I sat in the corner covering my face thinking at any moment the pickle would explode and we would all be sprayed with pickle juice.

I’ll never forget Mr. Faris or his many science experiments. By the end of the year, science became one of the least boring subjects imaginable.

Most of us learn to read–and love reading!–in elementary school. What was your favorite book? 

My favorite book in elementary school was Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar. I loved reading out loud in the classroom, especially books that used a lot of characters, because this really gave me a chance to show off my acting skills. With all of the wacky characters and weird story lines, I always felt right at home!

CFK Program Partners, P.S. 15

From Clay to Claymation with P.S.15 and the CMA Media Lab – VIDEO

In June, fifth graders from P.S. 15 spent a day in the Media Lab at the Children’s Museum of Art. In the hands of these young artists, chunks of colorful clay became shapes, letters and animals. Then, molding and remolding their creations, a camera captured each subsequent shape. Check out the video below to see the finished product–students’ first clay animations!

5.27.14 PS 15 from Children’s Museum of the Arts on Vimeo.

P.S. 15

Unlikely Guests at the P.S. 15 Career Day – VIDEO

On Monday, May 12, P.S. 15 opened its classrooms to producers, therapists, police officers, hotel managers, DJs, dentists and more.  Each offered a glimpse into their professional lives and a future career for these young scholars.

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Associate Producer at NBC, Adam Rivera, speaks to students

By the end of the day, if you asked any student, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” they could only answer with a long, long list of options. It’s a credit to the fantastic speakers who inspired P.S. 15 students with their presentations. A top choice for nearly everyone: small animal handler and eco-educator. Many thanks to Jose Rodriguez and his friends from Fauna for sharing his work with us!

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Eco-educator and small animal handler Jose Rodriquez introduces these shy students to a friendly lizard

When asked why he signed up to volunteer at Career Day, Jose said, “Bringing the animals to teach brings joy and gets the kids to ask good questions. And I believe it is really important to encourage kids to find work that they really love, and work that’s worthwhile.” Check out these 3rd grader’s responses to Jose’s presentation!

 

CFK Sponsors, P.S. 15

Apollo Wins the 2014 Change Jar Challenge!

Today marks the end of CFK’s 2014 Change Jar Challenge and–drum roll, please–we have a winner: Team 15 Lead Sponsor, Apollo Global Management! They’ve made it possible for 27 fifth graders at P.S. 15 to go camping. The trip is an essential opportunity for our students, most of whom have never traveled beyond their own neighborhoods. Now, these students will celebrate their graduation with a trip to Club Getaway in Kent, Connecticut.

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To send them on their grand adventure–first into the woods, and then into middle school–CFK and Apollo teamed up for Apollo’s Bring Your Child to Work Day. During a day of activities, 26 children of Apollo staff prepared goodie bags for the P.S. 15 grads. The bags included a book of puzzles and games, pencils, CFK temporary tattoos and sunglasses, sunblock, a toothbrush, hand-sanitizer, and a copy of the Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Finally, each visiting child wrote a personal note to a graduate. We are thrilled to be able to send P.S. 15′s fifth graders off in style.

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Many thanks to all of the Change Jar Challenge participants. The competition may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop collecting change. Next year, there’ll be more prizes and another chance to win. In the meantime, enjoy those Yankees tickets, Apollo!

P.S. 15

In their Own Words – What P.S. 15 Students Love about Garden Club – VIDEO

From planting to watching their seedlings grow to helping others, one thing is clear: the garden club is a huge success! Watch as students plant and prepare for their peas to shoot and climb, an outdoor lesson that puts hands into the soil and brings together measurement skills, environmental science, biology, and, of course, fun!

P.S. 15 – How Does Your Garden Club Grow? from Change for Kids on Vimeo.

The garden club was founded by second grade teacher Sarah Strong, Kindergarten teacher Ashley Mendolina, and two amazing PTA members. The garden they’ve started in the planters behind the school features flowers and edibles, planted and maintained by students. The garden also serves as a hands-on learning space that will bring science, math, and nutrition lessons to life.

Here are a few more photos of these young green thumbs in their element.

CFK Volunteers, P.S. 15

Volunteers Bring the Wild to the Halls of P.S. 15

On March 22, volunteers from school sponsors Apollo, Schreck Rose, and Change Team members took to the halls of P.S. 15 for the second annual CFK Beautification Day.  “It was a delight to see our parents and teachers working alongside CFK sponsors and volunteers,” said Laura Salmon, the school’s literacy coach. “It’s amazing to me to see so many people give up their Saturday—it’s corny to say, but—out of the goodness of their hearts.”

There were two groups of painters this year—one revitalizing the third floor hallway with a fresh coat of paint and another creating a new mural on the second floor. Hour by hour, the second floor was transformed into different animal habitats: safari, ocean, and forest, complete with native animals.

 

CFK Board Chairman Nicolas Koechlin, wife Catherine, their two sons and a friend were all on hand to help with the painting, too.

Another group helped give beloved classroom toys a good spring cleaning, while a final group built a cityscape out of milk cartons, inspired by students’ drawings. Their milk carton creations will be placed in the school garden where they will serve as imaginative planters.

Reflecting on the day, Janet, a volunteer from Apollo who had brought her son along, said, “It’s very rewarding to do a project like this, especially when it pertains to kids. I love kids. So, I love it. It’s been great.  And my five-year-old enjoyed it as well.”

“There wasn’t one project that didn’t give me a sense of joy,” said Laura Salmon, “because when the staff comes in and the students come in on Monday they will feel so cared for. It makes a huge difference to everyone in the building. It’s amazing.”

And here’s the reaction on Monday morning–pure joy. Thanks again to all our awesome volunteers, and a special shout out to our wonderful school sponsors, Apollo and Schreck Rose.

 

 

P.S. 15

From Playing Video Games to Making Them, Meet Jubi from P.S. 15 – VIDEO

“My name is Jubahed (Jubi for short) and I’m ten years old in fifth grade at P.S. 15…. I am really excited to go to the computer camp!”

Thanks to a generous donation, Jubi will be attending idTech Camp at Columbia University this summer. For Jubi, playing video games wasn’t enough–he wanted to make his own. He’s tried by himself and in school, but with a summer at idTech Camp, Jubi will be able to learn the programs he needs to make the games he loves.

I spoke with Jubi about his favorite kinds of games and his plans for camp. Following the interview, Jubi will take you on a tour of one of his games. We can’t wait to see what Jubi creates next!

AH: How did you get interested in computers?

JQ: Well, it all started when I was six. My brother found out about video games so after he finished his homework he would start playing them. They looked fun, so I tried them. Later, I was looking on the Internet about creating games. I was super interested in that so I tried it at home. I thought it was really amazing–I guess that’s why I wanted to learn more about computers

AH:What kind of games do you like the best?

JQ: I like RPG-style games, but I don’t always have free time, so when I do that’s what I like to play. I have a pretty decent amount of homework.

AH: What is an RPG, for someone who doesn’t know?

JQ: An RPG game is a role-playing game, so you are a character in the game and there are usually monsters in it. For instance, there’s Pokemon–and depending on your choices, the game changes.

AH: What are you hoping to do this summer at idTech Camp?

JQ: I’m hoping to create my own RPG game.  I’ve tried it before but I didn’t think what I made was good. I didn’t know how to use the program–RPG Maker–that well, but I am hoping to learn how to use it better.

AH: Do you have some ideas for characters you’d like to put in your game?

JQ: Not yet, but I was thinking of making a game similar to Pokemon, with monsters. I think the best part of playing games is defeating someone who is evil at the end of the game.  I was thinking I would start off in a little town, in the character’s room. But maybe then something bad happens.

AH: And then you have to be the hero in the game?

JQ: Yeah.

In this video, Jubi walks you through a game he created at school.

Jubi Explains His Video Game Design from Change for Kids on Vimeo.