Brighter Choice Community School, CFK Volunteers

Volunteer Spotlight: TEAK Fellowship and The Virginia Club of New York Bring Brighter Choice Community School’s Motto to Life

When you walk into Change for Kids partner school Brighter Choice Community School, the college theme is hard to miss. Bulletin boards are decked out with college flags, graduation garb, and feature interviews with teachers about their alma maters. Each classroom is named after a college and students are always encouraged by staff that they can achieve anything.

That’s because every child, every day, is college bound at Brighter Choice Community School.

This past weekend, Change for Kids hosted the first school beautification day at Brighter Choice with some incredible volunteers from the TEAK Fellowship and The Virginia Club of New York. Volunteers spent Saturday morning painting canvases with college logos to hang outside the classroom doors and represent each class.

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A TEAK fellow kicks off the project by carefully painting a graduation cap

The TEAK Fellowship, a program that helps talented students from low-income families achieve their potential, has volunteered with CFK for the past two years for an annual service day for mentors and fellows. Vanessa Greer, TEAK’s Director of  College Success, said school beautification days give TEAK fellows the opportunity to give back to neighborhoods they may have grown up in. (One TEAK fellow who volunteered grew up a few blocks from Brighter Choice!)

Greer mentioned that supporting public schools is important and aligns with TEAK’s goals. She said she hopes that this project will show Brighter Choice students that so many people support them, even outside the school community.

“The school space is really important to feel part of a community and feel safe and loved,” Greer said.

“It means a lot [for a student] to go to school and see beautiful paintings and feel like [he or she] belongs there.”

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Vanessa Greer, TEAK Director of College Success, (right) with TEAK volunteers

The Virginia Club of New York, an alumni association for the University of Virginia, is also a returning CFK volunteer group. The canvases were actually sketched and designed by Lorna Zhen, a board member at the Virginia Club of New York and CFK muralist extraordinaire! The Virginia Club volunteers saw the school beautification day as an opportunity to inspire Brighter Choice students to go to college. (University of Virginia, maybe?!)

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Members from the Virginia Club painting the morning away!

Thank you, TEAK Fellowship and The Virginia Club of New York, for bringing Brighter Choice Community School’s motto to life in each classroom!

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Final product for every classroom! The two PreK classes will get canvases representing their class names- the Butterflies and Bumble Bees.

 

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P.S. 81

P.S. 81 Students Discover the Wonders of Skype

For the 19 fourth and fifth grade students he met in November, Chef Abraham Salum’s visit was a highlight of the year.  Whipping together basic ingredients such as fruit, yogurt and cookies into tasty bites, he got everyone involved in a fun, hands-on cooking lesson. Students left excited to try making their own snacks at home, and with new ideas about what it’s like to be a professional chef.

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Chef Salum, who visited initially to meet the kids he would be representing at the Super Chefs event, was equally taken with the P.S. 81 students. He was eager  to continue his relationship with them and collaborated with P.S. 81 staff to find a way to return. Later this month he will be back…virtually, via Skype.

In his next lesson, Salum will teach students about cooking from recipes. In addition, Salum is also preparing special packages for each of the 19 students he’s worked with to keep them cooking after the lesson is over. Teachers will surprise students with the gifts during the Skype session.

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Chefs Maneet Chauhan and Salum at Super Chefs on November 14

Communicating through Skype will expose students to a 21st century technology they are largely unfamiliar with. Experience with new technology is a key focus of P.S. 81’s curricular goals, and engaging with Chef Salum via Skype makes real and personal an otherwise abstract tool.

“In our school population, it is very rare that our children interact personally with professionals such as Chef Salum,” said Ms. Jackson, lead teacher with Salum’s group of students. “His visit opened up a window of possibilities for them that they may have never considered.  And an opportunity to Skype with him, brings a level of exposure that is often taken for granted because for many of us it is the norm. However, for these children, technology and practiicing 21st century skillls is a privilege.”

Another focus of the P.S. 81 curriculum is listening comprehension. Seeing a fun way to get students to practice their listening skills, teachers have asked Chef Salum to read a recipe aloud at the end of his lesson. Students will then write down the recipe and whoever’s copy is the most accurate will receive the recipe’s ingredients so that he or she may cook the dish at home.

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A signed Chef Salum recipe 

Our tremendous thanks to Chef Salum for helping to bring these essential lessons in technology, listening and cooking to life for the students at P.S. 81. In all ways, we know it will be a hit with these young Chef Salum fans.

CFK Events

Running for Change

Our runners couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 3—cool temperatures, partly sunny, not too much wind. We couldn’t have asked for a better team, some of whom have been holding out since last year to run for Change for Kids. Our thanks to Maureen Ford, Pat Daly, Suraj Patel, Viral Patel, Courtney Raneri, Brad Zanoni, Ken Davidoff and Alex Porter. Together, these athletes have raised more than $25,000 for the students in our partner schools.

At the end of their run, several teammates toasted their triumph.  As you can see, they make running 26.2 miles and raising $25k look easy!

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Two medalists, Courtney Raneri and Brad Zanoni
P.S. 15

A New Video for CFK, Starring P.S. 15

With Super Chefs only a week away (buy your tickets here), we thought you might like to meet the stars of the new CFK video. They’re tiny, but they pack a wallop of on-screen power as writers, artists, and budding literati.

Our film crew visited Story Pirates, an art class and tutoring sessions. In interviews with students, teachers, staff, as well as our own Executive Director, Colin Smith, and Principal Irene Sanchez, we captured CFK’s impact.

One 2nd grade student, Nancy, who immigrated to New York from Sudan, described reading in class when she first arrived as “too distracting, it was hard to concentrate.”  Working with her CFK tutor this year, she has been able to grow as a reader, and now she loves reading in class, as well as taking books home from the library to read on her own. “My parents are proud of me,” she said.

Edited together, the footage will not only tell P.S. 15’s story, but also the larger story of the difference Change for Kids is making in New York City public elementary schools.

Our thanks to Margie Millero and Leslie Long at Saatchi & Saatchi for managing our shoot and penning our script; our producer, Olivia Newman, and Laurie Thomas, our Director from Think/Feel; Axsel Stasny, our Director of Photography for the day; and our editor, Chris Denniston, over at HBO. We know you are going to love what you see on November 14!