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Staff Spotlight: Meet Shawnette William

Apr 26, 2017

In celebration of Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we recognize all of SASF’s committed staff members.  M.S. 151X’s Program Director Shawnette William has been with SASF for over a decade and recently received an “Excellent” on her PQMT. Check out her interview with us!

Tell us how you first got involved in with SASF!

I first got involved with SASF after working at Pathways for Youth – I found that I wanted to work with youngsters in an afterschool program.

How long have you been with SASF? 151x?

I have been with Sports and Arts for 12 years, but of those 12 years, the last 7 have been at M.S. 151.

Tell us a fun fact about 151X students!

Students at M.S.151 are an “unusual” type of student. These students truly appreciate the little things because many of them know so little about the world outside of their neighborhood. Their “world” is their school, and their neighborhood. They are amazed by the simple things.

What’s your favorite program memory?

My favorite program memory cannot be defined into one event. I am very moved by the way these students learn from activities such as community service projects. Or, the way they feel after returning from a trip to feed the homeless, providing gifts to children at Lincoln Hospital and the many other service events that show what it means to give to others.

Tell me about someone who has influenced you at SASF.

Someone who has influenced my at SASF is …the person who has influenced me at Sports and Arts has been Martha Agosto. The reason I say this is she saw the potential in me and pushed me, while holding my hand during my first year. She showed me all that was necessary for me to perform at my best.  I owe her my admiration and gratitude for seeing in me what she knew she could foster.

What three traits define you?

Passionate, spiritual and dedicated.

What does true leadership mean to you?

True leadership means that you are an example of how others should be. No one is perfect but you are a role model. Live and treat others how you want to be treated. Be humble, caring and loving.

What do you do when you aren’t working?

When I am not at work, I enjoy my family. I always think about the students I work with and what new experiences I can bring to their lives. I often discussing work at home with my children and family.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing worth having is easy. You will go through rough times, but everything you experience will help you be all you can be.

Legacy to Action: Black History Month Essay Winners!

Congratulations to all the 2017 Black History Month Essay Contest participants. Please enjoy excerpts from the elementary, middle, and high school winning essays.

Elementary School Winners

Tackling The Injustice Of Poverty In our Society
1st Place – Ava J., P.S. 97X

“Through social media, we can bring to light the seriousness of poverty and demand that the government be “truthful” with us (the people). Together, we can look at the numerous “powerful” sacrifices made by past civil rights leaders to figure out what can be done to help stop the epidemic of poverty in 2017.  By doing this, we can “prevail” one community at a time in the fight against poverty and in the fight for equality of education and healthcare.  As a society, poverty is a serious problem, but we cannot afford to ignore it any longer.”

Stop the Mayhem! We need more Educational Resources in Schools!
2nd Place – Nyla H., P.S. 109K

“In the United States of America, bullying in schools has been concerning parents and teachers for many years.  Each year, students spend the entire time haunted by the fact that they are being bullied by someone who constantly berate them, steal their belongings, fights them, or stuffs them into a locker. Also, some students are not only bullied in schools, but also outside the school grounds. As a result, students are afraid to leave their homes and cannot focus on their schoolwork because of their fear of bullies. In order to solve this problem, I would suggest to the principal to create a counseling session in which the bullies could channel their anger and engage in more activities that teaches them self control.”

The Power Of Education On Our Society Based On The Life Of Booker T. Washington
3rd Place – Anthonio W., P.S. 97X

“Education is said to be the key to success. The more we are able to educate ourselves and each other about politics, race, religion, and gender equality, the more we can do to stand up against the wrongs many people face today. If we are more socially aware we can effectively stand up against hateful and derogatory music, clothing, videos, video channels, social media pages and sites that promote racist and hateful views of others. Booker T. Washington said “character is power” and I plan on using my character and power to tackle injustice at my school and in my community.”                            

Middle School Winners

Legacy to Action: Poverty
1st Place – Christopher N., I.S. 162K

“In today’s society, some children may think that poverty does not exist. However, poverty is all around us. Some people may also think that it is not preventable. I am a living example that we can all prevent poverty. One way I can help to prevent poverty is by writing to my representatives in Congress asking them to work with other establishments to create jobs that pay above the minimum wages. I will also set up food and clothing drives in my school and in the community with the assistance of my parents and staff members from my school. These items will then be donated to families in need in our area. In addition, with the assistance of our representatives in Albany I can seek out a piece of government owned vacant land which my classmates, friends and families will use to sow fruits and vegetables for the families in need. Remember poverty is preventable.”

Homelessness Crisis
2nd Place – Brandon S., I.S. 318K

“It is also important to be proactive and prevent homelessness before it happens. Community based organizations funded by the government and private donors could also work with families that may be in crisis and at risk of being evicted. By providing effective eviction prevention services and developing affordable housing the homelessness crisis will be dramatically reduced. Students and communities need to work together to spread the word and advocate for the homeless.”

Spare Change?
3rd Place – Ilori E., I.S. 285K

“What is that thing exactly? Spare change, and no not the money kind, I mean the change that will solve such a common issue. Homelessness, change in your community, your neighborhood, change in the world. Do you change to spare? Or do you keep it all to yourself in your mind?”

High School Winners

The Generation that Does
1st Place – Prosper O., DeWitt Clinton High School

“Communities where students seem to have given up on their education and settle for other activities as a means of a future seem to have the biggest struggles either economically or just quality of living in general. This might be the way it is but it is not the way it can be. With an increased emphasis on educational careers as teachers, principals or deans, we can turn this ugly present into a distant memory.”      

The Lack of Educational Resources in Schools: How can it be combated?
2nd Place – Viva P., Brooklyn Collegiate Preparatory High School

“This is where the “Prove Yourself Strategy” comes into play. This is in essence a method whereby individuals evince that they are qualified to obtain what they have requested. It may be in the form of providing a resume for a job or auditioning to indicate that you deserve a part in a play. In our situation, it would require demonstrating that we are equally as capable, intellectual, and have the same potential as the rest. We must use our silent but impactful weapon: scholarly excellence.”

The Pruitt Igoe Myth: Changing Futures
3rd Place – Elizabeth M., Flushing High School

“Which leads to what I think can be done for people like me and the people that are around me. For starters, we can become more involved in our communities and strive to create leadership possibilities. By becoming leaders we can gain the attention of the masses and show people the things that are really happening in our neighborhoods and towns. We can also show the younger generation that great things are possible and to not limit yourself, your future, and your possibilities.”

Table Tennis Talent at 125Q

A ball. A table. A racket. Simple enough?
There’s more to table tennis than meets the eye.

In February 2017, 11 of I.S. 125Q’s table tennis students participated in the Middle School Championship Playoffs at P.S. 126M to secure their position for the championship playoffs.

In March 2017, 14 of the team’s students participated in the Middle School Championship Finals. Students have been practicing since January for this tournament, as 125Q has been the reigning winners of the New York City Middle School Table Tennis Championship since 2014. This year, 125Q won 1st place in the Boys Varsity; 1st place in Boys Junior Varsity; and 3rd place in Girls Varsity.

125Q’s table tennis team Coach Sydney Christophe has worked at the school site for 6 years. He was recently asked how he felt about winning the NYC middle school championship: “Once again, it was a great honor working with these awesome kids. They trained very hard and sacrificed a lot of time on weekends practicing and fine-tuning new skills for this event.”

Students echoed Sydney’s sentiment. “I felt happy because it was my first time winning a trophy,” said 7th grader Pasang Sherpa.

The school’s table tennis victory did not stop there. In celebration of World Table Tennis Day, students were invited to participate in the United Nations’ International Day of Sports for Development and Peace in March. This unique opportunity had many prominent figures in the table tennis community including Prince Albert of Monaco, Thomas Weikert and Joel Bouzou, P&S President. Additionally, students met and played table tennis with Olympian Kanak Jha and Paralympic Gold Medalist Tahl Leibovitz.

“I felt special and honored for being selected since they are some of the greatest,” exclaimed 8th grader Eduardo Alvarado.

At the “Peace in Sport” event, children learned how the sport could be played with minimum equipment, including handmade rackets and a simple table with an artengo rollnet. There were games and an exhibition.

Staff Spotlight: Meet Michael Roche

Mar 23, 2017

Program Director Michael Roche of IS 51R has spent the last decade of his career inspiring his students through innovative programs. Michael was nominated for a PASEsetter award. Partnership for After School Education or PASE, is a child-focused organization that promotes and supports quality afterschool programs, especially those that serve students from high-need communities.

Below is Michael’s PASEsetter nomination letter.

Michael Roche prepared for his career as an after school educator early in his youth. A lifetime resident of Staten Island, Michael attended the afterschool program at Saint Charles where he participated in the school’s basketball team. As a senior at Mont. Senior Farrell High School, he facilitated religious instruction after school for the program “Teaching the Christian Message.”  Joining the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF) team in 2006, Michael started as an After School Program Assistant Director at Middle School 27. Two years later, he became the After School Program Director at Intermediate School 51 (IS 51) where he now implements innovative programs for 450 students. SASF’s program at IS 51 is comprised of creative activities that encompass youth empowerment, academic enrichment and quality collaboration with day school teachers.  Michael has developed a passionate team of employees who exemplify his after school program vision of providing enrichment resources for students and families in the Port Richmond community. The key to his success in identifying and developing high-quality staff is his ability to get the buy-in of so many Department of Education (DOE) teachers at the school to invest in the program.

Over the past 3 years, Michael has expanded the after school program activity offerings at IS 51 from 7 to over 20 which operate 6 days per week.  Michael introduced robotics to the program in which students have excelled to the point that the robotics team competed and won first place at the First Lego League Qualifier in 2016. The Jazz Band had the opportunity to play two songs at SASF’s Theater Benefit performed at the Penn Club in Manhattan’s theater district.   In collaboration with Principal Mele, Michael has developed a new leadership initiative, Virtual Enterprise, for the afterschool participants at IS51.  Virtual Enterprise is a simulated business created and run by the students under the guidance of a teacher. The program empowers students to perform the activities and handle the responsibilities involved in starting and operating a business. An authentic workplace experience is provided with the use of a classroom that has cubicles with the titles of various departments (Human Resources, Marketing, Accounting, Graphic Design), a conference table and laptops. The students are creating a customized advertising business and will compete at a regional trade show in April to present their company.

 Michael is committed to parent engagement opportunities.  He coordinates college readiness initiatives by offering college campus tours and collaborating with school staff to open a college office for all families to receive information. In recognition of the school’s large Latino population and in response to parents’ expressed need, Michael is providing Saturday workshops for families to help them become more confident and proficient in the English language. A bilingual English/Spanish teacher will facilitate workshops utilizing the language learning software, Rosetta Stone.

In addition to his after school program, Mr. Roche has provided summer day camp services for his middle school students.  With scarce summer services available in the Port Richmond community for middle school youth, his program is a much-needed resource for working families and students in need of additional academic enrichment.  The summer theater program and music programs introduce new students to IS 51 and welcome those returning.  As a community liaison, Michael provides support services such as orientations and events for elementary school students who will be transitioning into middle school.  

Michael Roche is a bright, thoughtful, strategic, caring, creative youth development and education leader who is passionate about the work he does for his students, families, and community. SASF is proud to introduce him to PASE as a 2017 PASEsetter nominee.

Summer is Here at SASF!

We’re excited to announce that summer is here at SASF! A note from Sheila Wells, Deputy Director of Summer Programs.

Summertime is the quickest season for SASF Champions Clubs. Historically, SASF has provided unique summer experiences operating over 90 summer camps for students across New York City. This year I am ecstatic to be your Deputy Director of Summer Programming.   

Expanding learning opportunities throughout New York City with 5-to 7- week camps enables us to minimize summer learning loss. This summer we expect approximately 9,000 participants in SASF Summer Camp Programs.

Summer planning is in full swing! SASF summer programs will offer a wide array of sports, creative arts, performing arts, character development & leadership, academic support and trips! Sports Day at Icahn Stadium and Mets Family Day are two trips campers will enjoy!

I look forward to July when we officially kick off our remarkable 2017 summer camp season!