Happy Holidays to you and your family from all of us at Friends of Educational Excellence (FREE) Partnerships!
Our support for Rochester city schools is strong and growing this year. We are supporting 10 Rochester elementary schools with 300 volunteer. We just formed a new community partnership between St. Monica Church and School 4.
It's been very gratifying to receive recognition in the Rochester community for our work. Please check out my Speaking Out essay that was published on November 6 in the Democrat & Chronicle online.
On November 13, Rev. Dr. Marvin McMickle, President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, spoke at a FREE Partnerships event. If you weren't there to hear him, you can be inspired by his pressentation by watching him here.
We are very grateful for the ongoing support you have provided to our organization. During this holiday season, I'm so thankful for all the blessings we have received. I'm grateful that so many people in the greater Rochester area are so generous with their time and money to support underprivileged children in Rochester.
If you'd like to make a year-end donation via GlobalGiving, we will use the funding to recruit and train more volunteers to tutor more Rochester students in 2013.
Executive Director, Friends of Educational Excellence Partnerships
The FREE Partnerships Annual Meeting held on April 24 was a wonderful event. Over 80 people attended the meeting in the Kate Gleason Auditorium in the Rochester Central Library. The program began with a welcome from Board Member, Kevin Loughran. Executive Director, Bruce Pollock, provided a review of the prior year. Here are the highlights of that review:
Who are the Friends of Educational Excellence?
The achievements for the last year include:
Bruce showed a video filmed and produced by filmmaker Mara Ahmed about the Partnership programs in Schools 15 and 50.
The evidence of how well the FREE Partnerships programs can work is demonstrated by the success of the School 52 Partnership where the school's rankings (out of 38 elementary schools) in the NYS English and Math tests have improved dramatically over the last six years (2006 to 2011):
The success of each FREE Partnerships programs is based on the wonderful support the school principals have provided.
Bruce concluded his remarks with recognition of the wonderful financial support that has been provided by all the Friends of Educational Excellence, especially the following Sustaining Donors that contributed $1,000 or more:
After Bruce's remarks, there was a panel discussion about the new cradle-to-career initiative in Rochester called ROC the Future, which is based on the Strive framework developed in Cinncinati, Ohio. The panel included:
Originally, RCSD Interim Superintendent, Bolgen Vargas, was to be the Keynote Speaker of the Annual Meeting and participate on the ROC the Future panel. However, he was named the permanent RCSD Superintendent that morning and so he could not attend the Annual Meeting at the start. Dr. Vargas did arrive later in the meeting and came to the podium amongst a standing ovation to provide some remarks and take questions from the audience.
After Dr. Vargas's remarks, Bruce named the recipients of the FREE Partnerships Leaders Awards at each school. These leaders came up to the podium and receive their Recognition Award handed to them by Dr. Vargas. The partnership leaders are:
Partnership Leaders Recognition
School 7 – Teacher: Beth Cross
First Universalist Church: Sarah Singal
School 10 – Teacher: Alva Vives
Community Christian Church: Lisa November
School 12 – Teachers: Susan Snyder, Laurie Murty
Highland Park Association: Vicki Robertson, Lori Bryce
School 15 – Teachers: Jennifer Benton, Jayne Alba
First Unitarian Church: Ann Bayley, Chris Farnum
School 20 – Volunteer Coordinator: Paula Hansen
Mt Olivet Baptist Church: Valerie Medley
School 22 – Teacher: Kim Mendelson
School 34 – Teacher: Cindi Shear
St. Catherine of Siena Church: Terry Riordan
School 39 – AP: Rebecca Boyle; Parent Liaison: Yvetta Nelson
Church of the Transfiguration: Bob Flynn, Helen Konz, Charlie Newton
School 50 – Teachers: Janet Bird, Robin Valoris
St. Joseph’s Church: Patty Vermilion
School 52 – Jason Branner, Danielle Branner
Temple B’rith Kodesh: Don Ginsberg, Judith Slade
Overall, the 2012 Annual Meeting was a glorious event which provided wonderful momentum for the work to be done in 2012 and beyond.
FREE Partnerships Report - January 2012 Update
Happy New Year!
Friends of Educational Excellence (FREE) Partnerships made great progress on many fronts in 2011:
In 2012, FREE Partnerships will provide even more support for teachers and students. The theme for next year is: “Make It Happen!” Our goals include:
FREE Partnerships principals have been pleased with the support they’ve received. Here are comments from two principals:
Denise Rainey, Principal School 52
Q1. Are you pleased with how your FREE partnership is supporting your school?
A1. We are delighted with how our partnership is going. It makes so much sense to have a “centrally coordinated” data base for the number of volunteers that come into our school. I also appreciate the support that FREE has given to training volunteers and to being the initial contact for questions, concerns, changes in assignments, etc. Q2. Are you pleased with how volunteers are supporting your teachers?
A2. Our volunteers have established solid relationships with our teachers. They are responsive to what teachers ask of them, and a number of them ask to remain assigned to the same teacher from one school year to the next. Q3. Are you pleased with how volunteers are supporting your students?
A3. Our volunteers work with students according to their personal expertise and training that we have provided. It is very impressive to see them get into the flow of materials and activities that address individually identified student needs. Q4. How could your FREE school partnership support your school even better?
A4. I can’t think off hand of anything more needed, but as little things or questions do come up, we address them at our monthly Partnership Committee meetings. This is an invaluable forum for keeping abreast of what the partnership looks like from both sides, and for raising the question of what else needs to be done or done differently.
Tim Mains, Principal School 50
Q1. Are you pleased with how your FREE partnership is supporting your school?
A1. Yes. Our partnership coordinators are very capable and committed. I used to know all the volunteers in the building but we have so many now I don’t know them all. Fortunately, our partnership coordinators keep track of all the volunteers. Q2. Are you pleased with how volunteers are supporting your teachers?
A2. We have more volunteers than ever before. They all report that things are going well. My teachers have gotten better using folders that contain materials for volunteers so their activities support teacher requirements and focus on the most effective activities to support student learning. Q3. Are you pleased with how volunteers are supporting your students?
A3. In December we had 44 volunteers providing 170 hours of support for students each week. Having these volunteer resources has allowed us to support more students. School 50 is undergoing renovations next year to become a K-8 school. When we relocate to our temporary school home for the 2012-2013 school year, we will certainly take our volunteers with us to continue supporting our students. Q4. How could your FREE school partnership support your school even better?
A4. Our teachers will continue to learn how to best guide volunteer activities so students are supported in the best way. That’s something that we can better at. I can see this is a process and my teachers are getting better at it all the time. As our FREE school partnership demonstrates value to teachers, I am confident they will embrace this support model more and more.
With your support, FREE Partnerships will continue to “Make It Happen!” for principals, teachers, and students in 2012.
May you and your family have a Blessed New Year!
Hello Friends of Educational Excellence!
Rochester is a great place to live. But the city is struggling. We all know that helping the City of Rochester recover is important for the vitality of the entire Greater Rochester area. The most critical element of this recovery is to ensure that all children in the city get an excellent education.
I want to tell you how FREE Partnerships is supporting educational excellence in Rochester but first I need to let you know about the upcoming Global Giving Bonus Day so you can provide the ongoing support FREE Partnerships needs to continue.
Global Giving Donation Bonus Day: Wednesday October 19
On October 19, GlobalGiving is matching at 30% all online donations up to $1,000 per donor per project! There is $100,000 available in matching funds starting at 12:01 am EDT. GlobalGiving will match until matching funds run out.
In addition to the 30% match, GlobalGiving is offering a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most funds that day and a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors! So please, please, please – give a contribution to FREE Partnerships on October 19 via this link:
I will send you another note with a reminder before October 19.
Thanks very much for your ongoing support. Here’s what’s happening with FREE Partnerships:
Rochester Educational Excellence: Is it possible?
We can make a dramatic improvement in the quality of Rochester city school education. Poverty is an explanation for the current low achievement but we all know it’s not an absolute deterrent. My father grew up in Rochester in a poor family. His parents were immigrants and didn’t speak English when they arrived in America. My father went to Rochester public schools, studied hard, went to the University of Rochester, and became a successful attorney. How did he do it? Hard work and determination. His parents’ poverty and lack of education didn’t hold him back.
We can change the current Rochester culture of low expectations to high expectations so family poverty and low adult literacy will not hold the next generation back. The Rochester community is on the tipping point of this change. I can feel it - can’t you? I founded Friends of Educational Excellence (FREE) Partnerships to help Rochester children stay on the path to success. FREE Partnerships creates a unique bridge that brings school and community together so children in the city realize the power of education.
Rochester Educational Excellence: What Does this Mean for Rochester?
FREE Partnerships mission starts with a vision where all Rochester students master reading, writing, and math; graduate from high school; and get good paying jobs. This will transform the City of Rochester to be a safer, more prosperous place where families of all types will want to live, and businesses will invest and thrive. Rochester will become a source of pride for the entire community and beyond. This is the FREE Partnerships vision.
How is FREE Partnerships promoting Educational Excellence in Rochester?
FREE Partnerships supports community – school partnerships in Rochester schools that bring volunteers into school to help students succeed in school.
When we change the mindset of our next generation and give them the skills they need to succeed, we will revitalize education quality in the city and transform the Greater Rochester community. That’s my dream. That’s my vision. I believe we can do this with the support of the Rochester community – with your support.
What’s happening now?
In September, the eight FREE Partnerships school partnerships have been very busy getting ready for this new school year:
Each of the community partners has been contacting volunteers from last year and recruiting new volunteers to support more students this year. FREE Partnerships has been actively recruiting additional volunteers. So far FREE Partnerships has recruited 53 new volunteers:
Most of these volunteers will begin by the end of September. In my next GlobalGiving report, I’ll report the number of volunteers in each FREE school.
New FREE Partnerships Schools
Several additional Rochester elementary schools are interested in joining the FREE Partnerships Coalition. Stay tuned for an expansion this fall.
FREE Partnerships Principals Advisory Council
The first meeting of the Principals Advisory Council will be on October 20. The Advisory Council will give FREE School Principals the opportunity to guide the evolution of FREE Partnerships services.
Expanding Support for Rochester Schools
The FREE Partnerships partners have been primarily focused on providing volunteers to support teachers. The volunteers make an impact but providing these additional resources for teachers is not enough to achieve the tipping point for school educational excellence. There are many factors that influence educational achievement. FREE Partnerships will launch two initiatives this year to achieve educational excellence:
The WAVE for Success initiative is focused on influencing student peer expectations. This initiative will help volunteers mentor students to show them the importance of Working hard; having a positive Attitude; having a Vision why school is important, and helping them Enthusiastically commit to being successful in school.
The CALL for Success initiative is focused on influencing parents’ cultural legacies. This initiative is directed to parents and teachers. This initiative asks parents to Call their child’s teacher each month; Ask the teacher how their child is doing in school; Listen to the teacher’s comments about how well their child is doing and what areas they need to improve; and then Lead a discussion with their child about their successes in school and what they can do to be an even better student.
These two initiatives will be rolled out in selected FREE schools during this school year.
Strive / Rochester
FREE Partnerships supports in-school tutoring with a heavy slice of mentoring and innovative partnering initiatives such as WAVE for Success and CALL for Success. However, to achieve educational excellence in Rochester city schools all Rochester community agencies must be actively engaged to pull the key education levers. There are many facets of a child’s education including pre-K programs, after school programs, summer programs, mentoring programs, and medical and social services support.
Many communities around the country realize they need to better coordinate the provision of all these programs to attain educational excellence. One effort to coordinate these programs is called Strive, an educational initiative begun in Cincinnati, Ohio (www.strivetogether.org). Rochester leaders are reviewing the Strive framework to see if it will work here. On September 6, Anne Kress, President of MCC, hosted an Education Forum to engage the support of Rochester community leaders to launch Strive / Rochester. Stay tuned for further developments . . .
Thanks again for your support -> and please remember the GlobalGiving Bonus Day on October 19!
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