This has been a very busy year. Dealing with my day-to-day tasks at LTU and JVS coupled with applying for law school and coaching a local wrestling team has kept my schedule very full. However busy the year has been, I have enjoyed it.
In April, I hosted two MoneySmart Week events where I was able to promote financial literacy while giving out prizes that had been donated by Lawrence Tech.
One event was titled GeoCache for College Cash. Students were able to enter a state-wide competition in which they answered financial literacy questions for a chance at scholarship money. Although no LTU student won the scholarship money, I received positive feedback from participants. The other MoneySmart Week event was a discussion on student loan debt management and different strategies that a student can use to pay off financial debt.
While serving at JVS, I have been working to build capacity by building a new filing and documentation system so that client files that have been closed can be easily located and reopened. Similarly, I have been working recently on establishing a new three-part client survey system where all clients will receive a pre-service assessment, a post-assessment, and a 6 month-1 year assessment to measure client awareness and understanding of financial topics. Additionally, these surveys will track all outcomes of clients. In other words, this new system will be able to prove the impact that JVS has on the tri-county area so that they can receive grant funding as standards change.
I hope everyone finishes their year of service strong!
It’s almost the end of the school year here and things are cah-razy. With graduation approaching and endless chatter in the hallways of students’ plans for what’s next, the fact that my year of service is ending feels even more real.
A project I feel is worth highlighting is our “Senior Portfolios,” which was held last week. With two English teachers and the college advisor, I helped organize this event where students were required to “sell” themselves to a panel and convince them that they are ready for to move on from high school.
This was a requirement for graduation and a very intensive project. Students had to make a website, resume, cover letter, and presentation—they even had to dress up! (One student ripped off his velcro tie before he even got out the door lol.)
The panel students presented to was made up of community member and business owners. After their presentation, students were subject to a mock interview process where the panel could ask whatever they wanted. This was beneficial to the students as it gave them interview practice, especially since many plan on entering the workforce immediately after high school. Also, I tried to get panel members from local businesses where student might actually find themselves applying. It gave me great joy to see a few student were offered business cards from potential employers—maybe this practice will lead to a real opportunity for our students at CC-C!
On a similar note, tonight is honors night at CC-C, which is the culmination of the academic year. Over the past few months, there has been a student on the Leadership Team who has shown a true commitment to service and sustainability. In the past year she has written a student grant of behalf of the school, spearheaded the recycling program, and taken a leadership role in several service projects. After speaking with our principal, I have been able to create an “Excellence in Service” award to honor her with tonight. Hopefully this award will continue be given to a student who shows promise in service long after I’m gone!
Before I go, let me share some of my favorite quotes from the past few months:
*Student on phone with parent*
“I need you to bring me new pants—mine ripped right down the middle. Make sure you bring some stretchy ones this time”
“Hey Connor is that your girlfriend?”
“Still got that dead pig I can have?”
“What’s in your coat?”
“Duct tape and cardboard?”
“The wallaby is just a miniature kangaroo. They're the same animal.”
"I like your outfit!”
"Thanks! The hot girl at Aeropostale picked it out for me so I felt like I had to buy it.”
“I’m so neutral I’m New Zealand—I don’t even care”
“Someone needs to get down to the second floor; the jazz band kids are skipping class and making out again.”
…I love working in a school!
As most of you know, I made the transition from the shores of the wine-dark lake to the stately promenades of the capital city in the depths of gloomy February. But bright has it been since arriving! Though I’ve only been here a short time now, the opportunities afforded me have been more than I could have expected. Don’t let my dour countenance fool you a few blog posts down; one of the highlights so far was working with the kids at Gardner Middle School on their GYSD project. I’ve also been able to take part in events and projects that not only give me a better sense of what other programs at the MNA do, but also to get to know the denizens with whom I share office space. And, thanks to my VISTA colleagues who came to my house during Mid-Year Training, I’m still finding cups in unexpected places.
House parties aside, I’ve been hard at work creating sustainable solutions for The LEAGUE. Two of my main projects have been creating a website that will serve as a repository of all things service-learning in Michigan, and a newsletter that will, hopefully, inspire and inform teachers around the state to further integrate service-learning into their classrooms. Beyond that I’ve been doing some rather unglamorous, yet necessary, research and data compilation that will inform a more sustainable future for The LEAGUE.
Though the first part of my path has been bumpy, the second half has proven to be silken smooth. May the rest of you have as fortuitous endings as I have had.
I can’t believe our service year is finally coming to a close. With only 3 months left, it’s a juggle between finding some meaningful projects to complete and making sure that I left enough information for the following incoming VISTA. So far this year has been very busy. Branden and I have been able to integrate an event called GRIZZ Night into the college campus in which the students will be able to explore downtown Pontiac. This project is very near and dear to our hearts as we essentially created it and coordinated on both sides with the University and the downtown business association of Pontiac. Through this we were able to learn a lot: from planning, to building relationships and connecting to those involved on both sides. From this we coordinated with the Office of Center for Student Activities at OU and they are agreeing, with our help, to implement the evet into their welcome week during the fall. On the other side Pontiac was very pleased with the event and even said that this was the first time they were able to see many businesses collaborate for one goal and event. It’s nice to hear feedback like that to show us how much we really impact the community in which we live, work and play.
From now until the end of my service year I will continue to work on GRIZZ night. Since Pontiac school district is yearlong I will also continue to work with the international club that I started very there in which students from many different backgrounds come together to celebrate their cultural diversity. We have also received a grant for camp college which we will be working on at Avondale Academy, the alternative high school in Auburn Hills. There are also some smaller projects that need to be worked on such as Parent University for the Pontiac school district and small tasks that continue to arrive with the OU/Pontiac Partnership. All in all I can say that my VISTA service year has been a success! I am so happy with all of the connections, programming, and flexibility that I had this year. I have grown a lot in this position both administratively and personally. I have overcome many challenges and obstacles such as working on time management and learning how to build capacity rather than just doing things myself as that does not create sustainability. I am so happy to have served this year and my tie with OU and MNA has been awesome!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!