It’s the second week of a new school year, but even more importantly it is Jane Long Middle School’s second week with the extended learning time (ELT) model. All incoming sixth graders (200+, yes, believe it) are enrolled in Citizen Schools and their day is not over officially until 5:30. During the afternoon time we have our usual program elements: circle, apprenticeships and explorations; however we also added three new elements this year.
Those elements are: College, Career, Connection (C3), Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) and Academic League. During Academic League we teach pre-planned lessons that focus on math – the same math that the students will be seeing and learning in the math classes, we just dip into it a week in advance. During C3 we build skills that the students will need in the future, such as leadership, teamwork, courage and pride. We also help students make the connection between what they are learning now and how it will help them to be successful in college. And during DEAR the students having 30 minutes of silent reading and journaling.
To pull all this off, our Citizen Schools staff of “Janites” has had to hit the ground running. As you can see from our bios below, we have a range of Teaching Fellows and Team Leaders from across the nation. While we all majored in different subjects and come from different regions, we all have one thing in common: a passion for education reform. Having the chance to extend the learning day for all of Jane Long’s new kids on the block is an amazing way to live within and learn from that passion every day.
There are a lot of new things and people on Jane Long campus, and we’ll be working hard to make this our best year yet. It’s a pretty ambitious group, and I’m looking forward to sharing our stories along the way.
Who are the New Kids on the Long Block? We went from a staff of 9 to a whopping 22 this year – here’s a roll call:
Cassandra Jones: Cassandra is our new Campus Director! Cassandra is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas with a B.A in Literary Studies and a minor in sociology from The University of Houston and is currently pursuing a Masters of Education in Educational Administration at Sam Houston State University. In 2009, she was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Student Leadership and Success and currently serves as its Board Chairperson. An experienced educator, leader, event planner, and speaker, Ms. Jones is excited to bring her plethora of skills into her position as Campus Director for Citizen Schools at Jane Long Middle School.
Renee Hemminger: Renee is a former Teaching Fellow at Jane Long and has been promoted to become the NEW Deputy Campus Director. She hails from Ohio with a B.A degree in Sociology from Bowling Green and a M.S in Sociology from Illinois State. She has been with Jane Long since its original launch three years ago and has just experienced a new launch with ELT at Jane Long. Renee enjoys working with the students and teachers on a daily basis in hopes of academic success for all students. In her spare time, she enjoys taking her dog to the park and spending time outside.
Courtney Robinson: Courtney has been with Citizen Schools at Jane Long for 2 years as a Team Leader and has returned this year as a Teaching Fellow. As a recent graduate from University of Houston, she has a B.A in Psychology and is currently pursuing her teacher certification in math. She loves helping others realize the importance of education and math in their lives. Courtney believes that through this program she can impact the lives of Jane Long students and through them improve the world.
Julia Mullis: Julia was raised in League City, TX, a suburb of Houston. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing with a focus in International Business and French from the McCombs School of Business. She interned at the Austin Children’s Museum where she worked on marketing, advertising, fundraising, and programming in the non-profit environment. Julia joined Citizen Schools as a Teaching Fellow in hopes of spreading her love of learning to her students and helping them become responsible and successful young adults. This year she is looking forward to ensuring that each one of our students reaches their full academic and social potential.
Michael Trabert: Michael graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2008 with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and a Certificate in Film Studies. He has been employed by Camp Becket in the Berkshires as a senior counselor, service corps director, and village director. He has also served as a curriculum specialist for Greater Holyoke YMCA, where he worked to achieve optimal programming at their four childcare sites. He continued his work there under the title of site supervisor, developing new workshops and educational courses until starting his current position at Citizen Schools as a Teaching Fellow. Michael is currently an M. Ed. candidate at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This year Michael is excited about his new role as the Regional Citizen Teacher Lead Fellow and helping all CTLs create high quality apprenticeships across Texas.
Alicia Bibbs: Alicia graduated from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia in December 2008 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Alicia has spent a year of service with Citizen Schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico and will be concluding the Teaching Fellowship serving in Houston at Jane Long Middle School. Alicia decided to join the National Teaching Fellowship to promote the significance of science education in economically disadvantaged communities and to bring awareness to multicultural education. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her 11 year old dog and with her family.
Brian Chavez: After being a Team Leader with Citizen Schools at Grady Middle School for two years, Brian has returned to Jane Long as a Teaching Fellow. Brian is a product of the Houston I.S.D graduating from Westbury High in 2005. Brian is a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Houston receiving a BFA in Interior Design. He is a native Houstonian and has lived here all his life. Brian plans to have an event-planning firm in the near future as well as receiving his masters in hospitality.
Jannath Ghaznavi: Jannath recently graduated with honors from Boston University with a degree in Communication. In addition to tutoring and serving as a host and tour guide to visiting families, Jannath facilitated a training program for new hires at her on-campus job with the Marketing and Communications office. She later implemented this program at the Development and Alumni Relations office at BU. Jannath also interned with a strategic consulting firm in Boston, where she worked with corporations and nonprofit organizations to promote different causes. In all her professional and academic pursuits Jannath has a perpetual desire to share her experiences and insight with others and contribute to a greater cause. Through Citizen Schools, Jannath aims to help students actualize their ideas and emotions in order to reveal to them the power of their voices. In the future, Jannath intends to further her pedagogical studies and pursue educational administration.
Adriena Jenkins: Adriena grew up in Detroit, Michigan and is currently a teaching fellow with Citizen Schools in Houston, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Adriena is very passionate about empowering women and children; she has worked for numerous non-profits, such as It’s Great to be a Girl, to help individuals from under-privileged backgrounds achieve upward mobility. Her interests and hobbies include writing poetry, reading books, learning about social justice issues and helping young girls overcome barriers to a healthy sense of self. In the future, Adriena plans to continue non-profit work to create social change.
Zipporah Johnson: Zipporah is a recent graduate of Duke University, where she earned a degree in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy. Her extracurricular commitments included work with Karamu Drama Group and the campus peer education group ‘Healthy Devils’, where she primarily worked with Duke Educational Leaders in Sexual Health (DELISH). Zipporah hopes to share her passion for the arts and personal voice with Citizen Schools apprentices in the coming years. After working to close the achievement gap with Citizen Schools, Zipporah hopes to close the health education gap by earning a Master’s Degree in Public Health and focusing on sexual health education with the youth of today and tomorrow.
Ahad Khan: Ahad is a recent graduate of Davidson College in North Carolina, where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in History. His study of history took him to the University of Cambridge in England and culminated in a thesis on the racial integration of college basketball in North Carolina. Ahad has also worked as a teacher and was responsible for his own classroom at a local community center while working for the Children Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools. Here, he gained experience and skills in educating children, working with their families, and participating in community-building efforts. These experiences, as well as the values he gained from his mother, a longtime educator, have brought him to Citizen Schools. In the coming year, Ahad hopes to build strong relationships with the students he works with so that they both can learn from one another and work together to benefit the Houston community.
Kayli Klass: Kayli is a recent graduate of Southwestern University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology. Aside from her daily commitments as a student leader and scholar on her school’s campus, Kayli’s extracurricular and volunteer activities focus on empowering youth and trying to close the achievement gap. She participated in an afterschool program that encouraged youth to research questions in the areas of math and science. For three years, Kayli has participated in an organization called E.B.O.N.Y (Encouraging Blacks and Others to Never Yield) which strives to educate the campus community about African American culture and to help promote diversity on her school’s campus. Kayli hopes to share her passion for science with Citizen Schools apprentices. In the future, she plans to use lessons learned at Citizen Schools to help her become a more dynamic educator.
Lucia Leigh Laughlin: Lucia Leigh graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in History of Art with a Hispanic Studies minor. Lucia Leigh’s extracurricular activities and employment reflect her interest in the arts and in the Spanish language. While at college, Lucia Leigh was part of the University Choral Society and participated in a performing arts group dedicated to tap dance. As a member of the Art Club, she helped bring a public art installation to the campus and taught art to students in West Philadelphia. During her semester abroad in Barcelona, Lucia Leigh taught English to elementary students. She was so proud when she would encounter the students with their families in her neighborhood and they would have the courage to ask her, “Hello, how are you?” in English and impress their parents. As a Teacher’s Assistant for Summer Art Camps, Lucia Leigh directed a student who made a nearly life-size replica of her German Shepherd. She will never forget the challenge of this endeavor or the joy that the final product brought to both her and to the student. Lucia Leigh looks forward to sharing her passion for the arts with the Citizen Schools community.
NaTasha Parekh: NaTasha entered the extremely large campus of the University of Texas at Austin as a freshman initially majoring in psychology, and had no idea what she wanted to do. Later she joined the McCombs business school and ended up pursuing degrees in both marketing and psychology. Natasha kept herself continuously active in college through experiences such as joining a South Asian service sorority, competing nationally with a Punjabi dance team, performing psychology research, and studying Spanish abroad in Barcelona for a summer. Although teaching is something she always loved to do for fun, it was not until the summer of her senior year when she taught with Breakthrough Collaborative that she knew education had to be a part of her career in some way. Citizen Schools works towards a very similar mission that Breakthrough Collaborative does; Natasha became especially passionate for those kids who were motivated and loved school but never had the proper resources to succeed. Natasha has high hopes of getting her PhD in school psychology, which will launch her into a career as a school-based practitioner or a professor at a university.
Moriah Washington: Moriah recently returned from service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, where she served as a Youth Development volunteer for two years. Prior to joining Peace Corps, she worked with City Year, Inc and served as a Service Team Leader for a team of AmeriCorps volunteers at a middle school where they provided academic support, mentoring and afterschool programming. Aside from her lifelong commitment of service, Moriah’s life works also reflects a young leader with a heart to empower youth both nationally and globally. Moriah grew up as an “Army brat” and was raised in five different states and Germany, but now calls Seneca, South Carolina home. She earned her bachelor’s in Sociology from Berea College in Kentucky where she studied in both Ghana and Nicaragua. When time permits, you can find Moriah on a plane to another country; her most recent travels include Machu Picchu, Peru and Tikal, Guatemala. Moriah hopes to share her experiences and passion of serving others to empower youth to exceed beyond societal expectations. In the future, Moriah plans to use her newly gained skills from Citizen Schools to someday create and operate her own youth development non-profit organization.
Ashleigh Thomas: Ashleigh was born and raised in Houston, TX. Ashleigh attended American InterContinental University in pursuit of an Associate of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Business. This will be Ashleigh’s fourth year working with Citizen Schools as a Team Leader. She loves everything that Citizen Schools stands for. She is committed to the success of all Jane Long students and staff.
Stephanie Jordan: Stephanie was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She is a graduate of University of Houston with dual degree in Political Science and Business Management, along with a certification in Non-Profit Management. She plans to start graduate school in the spring for a MSW. Stephanie realizes the importance of knowledge and education in order to succeed. She is happy to join Citizen Schools at Jane Long Middle School because she believes in staying strong in all aspects of life.
Erika Collazo: Erika was born and raised in New Jersey and moved to Houston in 2009. She attended William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ where she received a major in psychology and a minor in sociology. Erika enjoys taking walks with her dog, dancing and cooking. She hopes to one day become a school counselor or to open up her own woman’s shelter in the future.
Melisa Akin: Melisa Akin was born in Houston, TX and considers it to be her true hometown. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Psychology. Throughout her college years, Melisa volunteered at the Texas Children’s Hospital, interned at Justice for Children, and was an active member of Psi Chi. She loves to travel to Turkey and visit her extended family as well as travel to many other countries to experience new cultures. Melisa plans to earn a Master’s in school counseling and believes Citizen Schools will help her gain wonderful experience as an educator.
Larry Davis: Larry Davis was born and currently resides in Houston, TX. He attends Devry University, seeking his degree in Business Administration and Health Services. Larry has a long history of working with older youth and is passionate about making a difference in the lives of teens through academic achievement and community involvement. Larry is excited about working with the students at Jane Long Middle School and is looking forward to helping them become the best they can be.
Lysette Galvan: Lysette Galvan was born and raised in Detroit, MI. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in English Literature. During college she worked with America Reads, and volunteered at 2 different schools and after school programs, realizing that working with students in an educational setting was what she wanted to pursue after college. She is ecstatic to begin the journey of helping her students exceed their goals and expectations through Citizen Schools.
Sara Hall: Sara attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. She majored in English and minored in Psychology. After college she worked for one year in the public education system as an English teacher. She then moved to New Mexico to work as a behavioral therapist for troubled and adjudicated youth. Sara joined Citizen Schools because she believes in the vision the program has for supporting and supplementing the education of students to ensure their future successes.