Giomar Useche on Jun 13th 2012

Has your definition of community service changed as a result of this experience? If so, how and why has it changed?

My definition of community service has not changed as a result of this experience.  If anything, it has reinforced what I consider community service to be.  I am glad I was able to make a difference in the lives of my two tutees, even if I only saw them on Friday mornings for an hour each.  Giving back to the community, helping those in need, even in this small way is what community service is all about.

What impact has this particular community service experience had on you as a person and as a scholar?

Wow, this experience has definitely taught me the importance of commitment, responsibility and patience.  These are traits one needs as a scholar.  It was not always fun to wake up early on my day off from school, but seeing how the kids benefited and enjoyed this one-to-one lesson was really rewarding.  I always left with a feeling of accomplishment.  It has taught me the importance of giving back, because unfortunately and sadly most people don’t bother seeing beyond their own interests.

Has this community service experience influenced your desire to continue performing community service at this location? Why or why not? If you would like to explore a different community service experience, where would that be and why?

If my schedule permits it, I would love to continue working with Change For Kids.  I think this organization has an amazing cause and wants to help them in any way possible.  I like working with people and working with these kids has been a really rewarding and fun experience.

Did you discover that this community service experience is connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues? Is it connected to topics/issues you have discussed in any of your classes? How does this differ from the way you responded to this question in your first Blog post? Explain.

This experience is definitely connected to larger political and economic issues. When there are budget cuts, the under-resourced schools, like P.S. 243 are the ones hit the hardest.  Their enrichment programs such as music and after school programs end, and this has a tremendous impact on the education and future of these children.  There are 501 high poverty rate schools in New York City.  Sadly, the schools that this organization is working with are not the only ones facing this problem.

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End of Year Post

Stephen de Jesus Frias on Jun 11th 2012

Has your definition of community service changed as a result of this experience? If so, how and why has it changed?

Not necessarily. My definition for community service has been the same, rather the importance of it has changed. I realize just how important community service is, and just how far a little help can do for many people around you.


·         What impact has this particular community service experience had on you as a person and as a scholar?

It has made me a more patient.


·         Has this community service experience influenced your desire to continue performing community service at this location? Why or why not? If you would like to explore a different community service experience, where would that be and why?

I would love to continue working with this organization. Change for Kids really is a brilliant organization who does care for the children and neighborhoods that they represent.

·         Did you discover that this community service experience is connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues? Is it connected to topics/issues you have discussed in any of your classes? How does this differ from the way you responded to this question in your first Blog post? Explain.

Most definitely, especially working in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood. You can really see how important this kind of help is for these children. Many people, politicians as well, would like to write off these kids because of the neighborhood they live in. They get unfair treatment, and it shows sometimes in the amount of help and support they get from government and society. Change for Kids, I feel, helps balance the scales. These kids really deserve a chance. Working with them hands on I see just how special they are.



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Change for Kids- 3rd time around

Stephen de Jesus Frias on Oct 1st 2011

Community service is a way for one to give back to their community. It makes it so that one can help those leas fortunate and in need. Not only that, but there is also a sense of reciprocation. In helping others, one also feels a sense of not only gratitude, but also appreciation and respect from those he or she is helping. 

I chose to explore this particular community service because I think that reading and a sense of good wok ethic are vital to a successful career in not only school but life as well. In addition, throughout the process, one becomes a mentor to the children they are tutoring. It really is a great feeling; and the children are amazing. They make you feel special and appreciate. 

CFK has already influenced me in many ways. It has made me a better person, one who is patient and hat working. I always saw myself teaching, but never as a middle school teacher. I didn’t think I could handle it, and you know I barely can, but what I did gain was an immensely large sense of respect for middle school teachers. It is not easy!

Important to note as well, CFK is also connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues. We deal with lower to middle class kids in a fairly impoverished neighborhood in Brooklyn. These are the kids that the government forgot about. These kids have been given up before, but through CFK these kids are getting the help and attention they deserve. When you actually get to know these kids you find out how intelligent and amazing these kids really are. Everyone of them is a character in their own way; diverse, curious, and amiable.

Child literacy, or lack thereof in some cases, is an important subject that is not always talked about in classrooms or in the news. It is necessary to increase awareness of this matter. So many children out there today are going along with sub par literacy. It is a shame because this literacy really becomes the foundation for any and very future career or endeavor. Through CFK we can help change the future of children for the better. 

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Volunteering at Change For Kids

Yan Davydov on Sep 26th 2011

1. What is your definition of community service? Do you expect it to change through this experience? If so, in what ways?

Community service is about using your abilities to do something to help other people, and, in its purest form, without expecting anything in return. A core idea of community service is that everyone has something they can offer. Without this help, many great organizations that are hard-pressed as it is would have to expend extra resources. I don’t think my definition of community service will change much through this experience, but it will be tweaked because service is a little different everywhere depending on where you do it.


2. Why have you chosen to explore this particular community service opportunity?

I’m interested in Change for Kids because I want to teach after college and grad school, and I’m always looking for new opportunities to gain experience in a school or classroom setting. I like Change for Kids because I appreciate and agree with its mission to help under-resourced schools help kids. Over the past two summers, I’ve tutored a class of 3rd graders and a class of 4th graders in Sunset Park, Brooklyn – a neighborhood with a history of under-resourced education. It was a great experience, and has really motivated me to want to make a difference when I become a teacher.


3. How do you think this particular community service experience will influence you as a person and as a scholar?

I think that volunteering for Change for Kids could definitely influence me to seek out more volunteering opportunities at under-resourced schools after this program ends. At the moment, I’m more interested in schools that could be defined as “easy,” even though I know that’s not where the most help is needed. CFK could motivate me to help and one day work at a school where it’ll be more challenging, but more significant.

Hopefully, as a scholar, Change for Kids will influence me to maybe one day go back to school to study administration and become a principal, school administrator, or Department of Education administrator. These positions would allow a person to change not just a few classes of students a year, but the whole education system, all the while remembering experiences likeCFK to stay aware and grounded of what the real problems are.


4. Do you see this community service experience as being connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues?

Education is always connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues. Politically, it is no secret that quality education has been suffering as a result of ongoing battles between the teachers’ unions and the government.

Socially, there exists an easily observable disparity in the education of children, with some neighborhoods doing far better than others, and yet with very slow change to bring the stragglers up to speed. Furthermore, there is the issue ofcontinued segregation practiced almost unchallenged in our schools, which is a huge issue impossible to cover in a short questionnaire.

Culturally, I believe there is not enough attention placed on public schools in America other than College. Parents, teachers, and administrators cannot agree on solutions to the many problems facing public elementary, junior high, and high schools. Rather, the rate at which we instead implement and then discard various short-term fixes only locks our schools in confusion and the same problems.

Economically, Change for Kids operates in under-resourced schools that are short in funding and quality staffing but high in need for help. That’s why volunteering is so important, it provides free and quality help to kids in under-resourced schools.

I think that, without a doubt, Change for Kids is a product of necessity of all of these forces. Like other similar programs, it can only try to lessen the adverse effects of these many forces on students, the innocent guinea pigs of a broken system.


5. Is this community service experience related to topics/issues you have discussed in any of your classes? Explain.

This community service is absolutely related to topics and issues I’ve covered in classes here at Baruch. I minored in Education and took four courses covering the theories of learning, the psychology of children and adolescents in an urban context, an introduction to urban education, and the problems of contemporary education; the lessons I learned in these classes are highlighted in my response to question 4 above. Also, as a History major, I’ve taken classes on the history of America and on the Civil Rights Movement in particular, during which time many of our nation’s terrible errors in education were challenged. All in all, I’m passionate about wanting to make things better because my courses have shown me repeatedly how bad things are. That’s not to say the system has no benefits, because it certainly does, but I think it’s important to maintain that there is still A LOT to do to make it even better.

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Volunteering at CFK

Giomar Useche on Sep 23rd 2011

My definition of community service is giving back to the community in any way possible. There are people who may be less fortunate than you are and some people take their privileges for granted. You do not have to be rich to give back to the community, just your presence somewhere can change and help a person’s life. I have realized this through CFK. This is my third year volunteering for this organization and it really has shown me the impact and difference I could make on these kids. Knowing someone will be there with them, on a one-to-one basis really contributes to their learning process and it is something they enjoy and look forward to each week. I really enjoy working with kids, so this is what made this organization so perfect. It has taught me how to handle different situations and definitely has raised my patience bar even higher. Patience is a very important characteristic in any career path, especially if you want to work with people, like I do. The kids I tutor go to an under-resourced school, which hinders their chance of a succeeding in school. Many of their parents are working-class people. I have learned in my Psychology and Global Issues class that due to the fact that they cannot be as involved in their kids’ life due to work schedules or being too tired at the end of the day, it has a tremendous impact on their child’s education. It has been shown that rates of parental involvement are lower in low-income communities than in higher income schools. In a study, it was found that students who were eligible for free/reduced-price lunch programs performed lower in reading scores than students who were ineligible for these school programs. I enjoy tutoring these kids because it is a very rewarding experience but it also makes me happy to know I can be part of a solution to this wider issue.

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A New Beginning- Fall 2010

Giomar Useche on Nov 17th 2010

Last week was the first time meeting my new tutee.  This year, we are working with first graders and it’s not so bad.  I though first graders would be more “difficult” to work with, but as of now, my tutee is an angel!! (hopefully it stays that way, since I know it’s only my first time meeting her).  So I am tutoring a girl, and she is very sweet and adorable.  I introduced myself and told her a little about myself.  She wasn’t shy at all.  She told me about her family and activities she loves doing, such as coloring and playing with her dolls.   After “breaking the ice,” we started working on a sound-recognition activity.  So basically, I would say a word, such as, fun, and have her tell me what was the beginning sound.  This activity took most of the time.  Apart from telling me the beginning sound, she had to pick out blocks that have the letters of the alphabet on them, and connect them to form the word.  I think she really enjoyed this part since it was a hands-on activity and I made it a “Who wants to be a Millionaire” kind of game.  She did not have trouble telling me the beginning sounds, though she had trouble forming the words.  I helped her by breaking down the word and emphasizing the sound of each part.  It definitely was a good start.  This week I am supposed to get another tutee, but I will be seeing them separately.  I am looking forward to it!

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Sophia Ling on May 12th 2010

On Monday, I reviewed lists of sight words with my two tutees. They were generally able to recognize the words that they should know at their grade level. One problem I noticed though, however, is that they wanted to jump into saying the words out loud right away before properly pronouncing them out. I found that I had to constantly reinforce pronunciations of the different letters with them. After I finished the sight words with them, I read them books. These, however, were not just any reading books, which could get long and complicated. These were small reading books published by Scholastic. The benefits of reading these to them are that they are short to read, and the same two or more words are repeated over and over again. This is an excellent learning tool since my tutees would be able to recognize them much more easier if they have seen the same word for two or more times. Lastly, I worked with them on writing their own individual summaries of the book and what they enjoyed most about it. Before I left, the literary resource teacher went over with me new activities to engage the students in for my next tutoring session. She described one game that I can play with them, where words are written on index cards and are flipped over on the table. Each word in the pile has a double. The objective is for the student to be able to flip over a card and to be able to recognize it right away and to associate it as the missing one in the pair of the word he has on hand. This sounds like an interesting game! I look forward to my next tutoring session when I can actually utilize this method. Well, of course, the students will look forward to each tutoring session if there are interesting activities in store for them each time!

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PS 160

Deneesha Lawrence on May 2nd 2010

So this semester at PS 160 has been a HUGE improvement over the Fall semester. Instead of working with random kids, I was assigned four children. What we usually do is read passages out loud and solve word problems. 3 out of the 4 kids I work with need A LOT of help. But the fourth child is amazingly great at reading. So great that after class I asked Ms. Jenkins (the teacher) why she was chosen to work with me. The teacher said she just came from Bangladesh and did not speak or read English at all last year. I was so shocked because her reading skills are flawless. Ms. Jenkins also said that the little girl lacked confidence to even read in front of the class. This shocked me even more because she’s always asking me to read out loud and when the other kids need help she is my little helper. So it’s great to know that in some way I’m helping her overcome her shyness.
With the other three kids, I think it may be best to help them individually. They are really struggling and I think it makes it worse when other kids are there because they begin to feel pressured to read the passage perfectly. So I’m going to talk Ms. Jenkins about making it one-on-one, and if that’s not possible, two-on-two will have to do.
Also, it should be noted that this is a different class I’m working with from last semester. I actually visited the old class that I worked with last year and most of them remembered me, so that was nice because kids usually have very flighty memories.

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I Am Back!

Sophia Ling on Apr 26th 2010

So, after a long hiatus, I am finally back at my school in Brooklyn, except for the fact that I now tutor on Monday afternoons instead of on Friday mornings. I had so much confidence before that I would be able to get to the school in half an hour or in forty-five minutes, but it turned out to be impossible. I ended up arriving there later today than I had originally said I would be there by. But the literacy resource teacher welcomed me nonetheless. She said that every little bit counts. This made me feel a lot better.

Instead of working with second-graders, like I had been doing during this past fall semester, I have been assigned to work with two first-graders this time around. I will admit that I had started off tutoring my new tutees at the level I had done before for my previous ones. I expected them to know as much as my previous tutees did. This did not turn out quite so well. They struggled with the most simple sight words (at least in my mind I thought these were the simple words they should definitely know). Then the fact that these were first-graders started to rub off on me. I realized that I was too tough on them, so I became more patient with them afterwards. They needed some of the words repeated to them several times before they actually started to remember them. Since today was my first day back, the literacy resource teacher felt that I should hold off on reviewing lists of sight words with them until next week. Instead, today, I read a book called “Cooking Dinner” to them. I read to them first and had them identify the different objects in the pictures. I also asked them questions related to the reading. I taught them that the answers to my questions can be directly found in the reading. Afterwards, I had both my students draw pictures of their family members engaging in some activity. Finally, they wrote a couple of sentences about the pictures they drew. I found it interesting that one of them decided to stick with the whole cooking theme from the book I read them. He basically drew his mother and him cooking, and they were cooking basically the same foods that were described and illustrated in the book. At least, this shows that he remembers most of what I read him. The other one decided to stick to the cooking theme as well, but he created his own foods of what his father and him were cooking in the picture.

In general, I would say that my two new students were cooperative. One thing I started to notice when I started tutoring was that one of my two students had a short attention span. It took much more patience to work with him and engage him in the reading. However, things turned out fine in the end, especially since the literacy resource teacher stayed with me in the classroom most of the time throughout.

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Renelle Lawrence on Apr 19th 2010

After our talk with Mike Quiznio, things have changed at P.S 160. I have been assigned a new first grade class and specific students to work with. My first day back was very productive. I was able to work an hour each with two children. The first child had trouble sounding out letters so I tried to work with her on that. Then we made flash cards containing the difficult words that we had found in a book we had just read. With the flashcards, I asked her to try and memorize the different words. When the hour was up, she was able to identify and read 95% of the words.

The other child, I was assigned to was able to read and identify the words on the flashcards after 30 minutes, so I decided to try something different with her. I asked her to make a chart and write a list of the different animals she knew that could fly, or swim or jump. This was one of the little activities in the book. Although, she was able to tell me the different animals that could do each of these things, she found it difficult spelling the names of the animals. We worked on this for the remaining of the half hour. For homework, I told each child to study the flashcards each night, so that on Friday when I come back, they should be able to read the cards easily.

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