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Education on the Move! Summer Trip Highlights

Jul 28, 2017

Related to SASF’s summer camp theme – Change Agents: Taking Care of Our Environment,” our Education Department developed a unique trip guide for more than 100 of our summer camp sites. From the SIMS Municipal Recycling Education Center field trip that offered SASF students like 484K’s the chance to see a material recovery facility and education center to 57K’s trip to the River Project where they learned about marine science and issues of urban ecology, SASF campers were immersed in New York City’s finest examples of eco-friendly environments.

Every student had a lesson to learn with each trip. Sole from 354K attended a trip to the New Town Creek Water Treatment Plant and shared her’s: “It is important that we conserve as much water as possible by doing little things such as turning off the water when brushing our teeth.”

484 K at the SIMS Municipal Recycling Education Center.

57K at the River Project.

In addition, the educational components of the theme was threaded through our sports and arts activities and trips. Students from IS 162K from Brooklyn and 146Q took a trip to Gulliver’s Gate. This interactive and engaging miniature world was the perfect place for our students to explore. Nicole, a student from 162K, was asked what surprised you most about Gulliver’s Gate? “How they built all the tiny people and the details!,” she replied. She also “learned little things come in big packages.”

146Q at Gulliver’s Gate.

Justice through Art: Change Agents Banner Contest

An annual tradition, SASF summer camps hosting visual arts programming participated in the annual ICAHN Stadium Track and Field event’s banner contest.

What is the banner contest exactly? “Each banner will clearly display theme, use color, show creativity, allow for the young artistic minds of the group to all contribute, will be unique and most of all will show site spirit! Each site looks to shine and take ownership and pride in their creation. Whether they place or not all the banners get to be shown in the parade around Icahn where each site get to hold their banner as they walk to display their hard work and represent their site & SASF. This is creative visual imagery at its best for SASF summer camps!,” said Michelle Durante, Director of Arts. Each site is equipped with a 6 x 4 foot banner and other art materials. The creativity is left to the group. What’s the catch? The winning banner must reflect this year’s camp theme: Change Agents – Taking Care of Our Environment using one of the below identified traits:

  • Justice: Fair treatment – for everyone – as global citizens.
  • Awareness: Knowledge and being aware of what is happening around you and in the world.
  • Unity: Acting together for one goal.
  • Action: The process of doing something for a purpose.
  • Change: To make or become different.
  • Voice: A means by which something is communicated.
  • Reflection: Thought or deep consideration.

Students can explore a few or select one but before they choose, students must have a clear understanding of what each trait means.

At the two-day event, guest judges selected winners in the following four categories:

Winners for Session 1:

3rd Place for Outstanding Imagination and Champion of Color: IS 381K


2nd Place for Outstanding Imagination and Strong Theme Representation: MS 308K


1st Place for Outstanding Imagination, Champion of Color, Best Teamwork & Strongest Theme Representation: IS 285 K

Session 2:

3rd Place for Outstanding Imagination and Strong Theme Representation: MS 384 K

2nd Place for Outstanding Imagination, Champion of Color & Strong Theme Representation: JHS 151 X

1st Place for Outstanding Imagination, Champion of Color, Best teamwork & Strongest Theme Representation: PS 111 M

Winners for Session 3 was announced by New York Knicks Alumni John Starks:

3rd Place for Outstanding Imagination and Strong Theme Representation: PS 21R

2nd Place for Champion of Color, Best Teamwork & Strong Theme Representation: PS 309K

1st Place for Outstanding Imagination, Champion of Color, Best Teamwork & Strongest theme representation: CS 134X

The goal of each visual arts activity is to teach leadership skills and inspire creative thinking. Throughout the camp season, skills will build upon one another, as students explore themes through a variety of art media.

How eco-friendly are you? Sports & Wellness Team Puts Us to the Test

How do you commute to work every day? How much food do you throw out at the end of the week? We may think we lead environmentally friendly lives, but can we do more? Read the ten ways to improve how eco-friendly you are, brought to you by our Director of Sports & Wellness, Shanon.

Ten Ways to Improve How Eco-Friendly You Are!

  1. Cycling to work instead of Driving. Bicycling is a great way to improve cardiovascular health and significantly reduce transportation emissions while also reducing traffic congestion.
  2. Choose Climate-Friendly Food. Food that comes from high on the food chain or arrives to your plate after extensive processing tends to require more energy and release more global warming pollution into the air. Consume foods lower on the food chain by adding more fruits, vegetables, and grains to your diet and limiting your intake of meat. This can reduce your risk of coronary disease and colorectal cancer, while reducing your grocery bill.  
  3. Buy Organic and Other Sustainable Certifications. Eco-labels like USDA Organic and others give us a way to reward environmental performance in the marketplace. Organic agriculture is a safer choice for the environment and your family because organic growers don’t use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticide use degrades air and water quality, while threatening the health of workers, farmers, and communities. Organic agriculture is also often better than conventional agriculture in reducing global warming pollution. Buy organic and other certified foods when you can.
  4. Eat Locally. Buying locally can help reduce the pollution and energy use associated from transporting, storing and refrigerating this food—that’s especially true for food that is imported by airplane, including perishables such as cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and asparagus. Choose local food options whenever possible and avoid purchasing food imported by airplane.
  5. Try growing vegetables of your own. By adding potted plants or a small plot of vegetables, you can have easy access to fresh food which ultimately saves you a trip to the grocery store which saves you gas as well.
  6. Watch Your Waste. Nearly all of discarded food that ends up in landfills where it releases even more heat-trapping gas in the form of methane as it decomposes. Purchase foods that you can consume before they expire to help minimize food waste and lower your grocery bill.
  7. Turn waste into a resource. Compost your food waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the need for synthetic fertilizer.
  8. Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle. Millions of tons of plastic are used to produce billions of plastic water bottles each year. Save money and lessen waste by drinking tap water from a reusable water bottle. Try a water filter, or take courage from the fact that a lot of bottled water is likely no better than what’s on tap.
  9. Reuse it. Bring a reusable bag on your next shopping trip to helped out the environment.
  10. Eat it raw.  If at all possible, eat foods raw. Not all foods should be eaten raw, but many vegetables can be eaten raw which saves energy on gas from your stone. It is yet another environmentally friendly way to keep you and environmentally healthy

Staff Spotlight: Meet Tina Gisante (& the staff of 175X)

We recognize SASF veteran and 175X program director, Tina Gisante.  Tina has been with SASF for over a decade and her site recently received an “Excellent” on her PQMT. Plus, Councilmember Vacca paid her site a surprise visit and posted it all over social media! Check out her interview with us.

Tell us how you first got involved in with SASF! How long have you been with SASF? 175X?

My association with P.S. 175 began many years before my involvement in SASF. My son attended the school and I was active in the PTA, serving as president for several terms. This led to the opportunity to be Parent Coordinator, a position that I have held since 2003. I have been the SASF director since the program was first introduced to P.S. 175 in 2006.

What are you most proud of about 175x programs?

I am fortunate to have a dedicated staff who work in the school during regular school hours.  Each day they “re-energize” themselves after a full day’s work to meet the demands of the after-school program.  They know each student well from every aspect – academic, physical, social, and emotional; they provide enrichment, guidance, and learning in ways that are designed to engage the students in the process. I am proud that I work with an educational specialist who can bridge the gap between the academic day and the after-school program creating both coherence and clarity.

We heard that Councilmember James Vacca paid you a surprise visit recently – he even shared the moment on social media! What was that like?

Councilman James Vacca has played an integral role in the inception of SASF at P.S. 175.  The SASF program was limited to Title I schools, but Councilman Vacca used his political influence to persuade SASF to waive that restriction, arguing that the program would provide a safe and stimulating environment for our middle school students. The program offered a viable alternative to hanging out in the City Island streets where the allure of drugs and alcohol present temptations to our youth.

This summer, Councilman James Vacca recently surprised our school with an unannounced visit. As always, students and staff welcomed his visit and view his appearances as opportunities to express our appreciation of his continuing support of SASF at P.S. 175. We are proud of our program and enjoy showcasing our students and activities to the Councilman.

Tell me about someone who has inspired you at SASF.

Each day, I am inspired by the staff and students of P.S. 175 who together have created a community of learners with the common goal of supporting one another to achieve personal aspirations. However, my greatest inspiration is my principal and mentor, Amy Lipson. She teaches by example, and it is through this association that I have honed my leadership skills. My ability to effectively communicate and inspire stems from the observation of her style of leadership and from her tutelage. From Amy, I have learned to expect high expectations from students and staff but to temper demands with empathy and patience. Although she is not officially in SASF, she is involved in every aspect of life at P.S. 175. Her guidance continues to be influential to the success of the SASF program.  I also, have to say Marisol Guzman, my very first Program Manager, and Martha Agosto have been very strong role models for me.  Their commitment to SASF is contagious and inspiring.  

What three traits define you?

With much humility, I would say that I am flexible. To the occasional chagrin of my colleagues, I am always willing to make program exceptions and adaptations to fit the needs and desires of some of the students. Flexibility serves me well when unforeseen circumstances require last minute decisions and schedule changes.

I also believe that empathy is one of my strengths, stemming from my ability to listen with both heart and mind. So often, people just want to tell their stories to a sympathetic ear. Along with listening, I try to dispense some guidance with a few pearls of wisdom and perhaps some therapeutic humor.

Perhaps my most useful trait is communication skills combined with insight.  This ability serves me well in finding the right words to defuse an angry student, comfort a tearful child, pacify a disgruntled parent, and encourage a frustrated teacher.

What do you think is the most important quality you need to have for success?

Achieving a balance is an important quality for a program administrator as well as all the constituents, – teachers and students. As an administrator, I need to know when to balance high expectations with humanity, when to enforce the rules and when to bend them, when to discipline and when to forgive, when to fight and when to surrender, when to lead and when to follow. Maintaining this balance is the work of a lifetime but its lessons are learned in the classroom and in the workplace. This equilibrium is at the heart of the success of the SASF at P.S. 175.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is the development of leadership in the SASF program at P.S. 175. This is exemplified by the dedicated staff who lead by example, by talented 8th graders who choreograph dance routines and teach guitar to younger students, by students who volunteer to tutor struggling students, by our young athletes who know that how you play the game is more important than winning, and by students who support SASF outreach projects with infectious enthusiasm. Our summer staff is enriched by the recruitment of many former students who thrive in their role as counsellors and inspire our youth with their example.

Senator Klein announces a $152,000 grant for Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation

Jul 14, 2017

Bronx, NY – July 14, 2017 – Senator Jeff Klein announced that he is supporting the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF) with a $152,000 grant in state funding. The funds have already been invested in free summer academy programs that are underway by SASF in the Bronx. The enrichment programs offer incoming middle and high school students an intensive, hands-on academic boost to ensure a smooth transition into the next phase of their education.

Senator Klein made the announcement on Thursday, July 13 at Pelham Lab High School at Lehman, one of four Bronx schools offering summer programs through SASF, benefiting from Klein’s grant. The other locations impacted by the grant will include P.S. 83, High School for Teaching and Professions and J.H.S 127.

“Students enrolled at the Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation summer programs learn from top-notch teachers who are committed to providing them with the resources needed to excel in their future years. I’m thrilled to provide this funding to SASF, which is giving hundreds of Bronx students within my district the tools needed to succeed,” said Senator Jeff Klein.

“We are delighted to receive the funds from State Senator Klein’s generous grant to support our summer program efforts,” shared Maureen Fonseca, CEO, Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF). “These critical funds will provide our incoming freshmen with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully navigate high school, college, and beyond.”

“Summer learning is an essential element to closing the achievement gap and ensuring educational equity across our city and state,” said Principal Jason Wagner, Pelham Lab High School. “These 21st century skills will help these students achieve and compete in the years ahead.”

The Pelham Lab High School 9th grade summer academy kicked off July 5, and will end on August 3. The program, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, focuses on computer literacy, creative writing, photography, robotics, physical fitness and sports. The overarching goal of the freshman program is to ensure the students are equipped to succeed, both in high school and in higher education.