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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!


Girl Redesigned 2017​​

Girl Redesigned is a two-part educational series for our students designed to build self-confidence and empowerment. Through this series of lessons, students will learn that art has the power to transform perceptions of identity and reality. This is an opportunity to use artistic expression to explore difficult social situations and work collaboratively to find solutions. Art Day is the precursor to the series. In December 2016, this one-day workshop hosted fashion, music and performing arts students and focused on arts education through leadership.


About the program

Girl Redesigned is the culminating event of the series. The lineup includes performances by students participating in performing arts and music activities, alongside a runway fashion show featuring SASF fashion design students presenting their original designs. Woven throughout the show will be projected video footage and images captured by our team of young filmmakers and photographers documenting the entire series and the voices of these inspiring young students.We will also invite guest speakers to join our students on the stage to speak briefly about their inspiration, passion and commitment to supporting art education for New York City youth.

This year, Girl Redesigned challenges students to identify and explore elements and characteristics of leadership through dialogue, reflection and thoughtful artmaking. They will be further challenged to speak out and discover the types of leaders our world needs and appreciate how a strong leadership presence impacts humanity.

Sneak Peak! 2017 Program Highlights

CS 134X
Mission, I’m Possible: Modern Day Heroes

Changing the Tide: Tribal Inspired

MS 355Q
Basics & Beyond: What would futuristic leaders wear?

MS 522K
Transitions & Transformations: Leaders for the New Century

MS 42Q
Responsible Leaders of the Decades

Thornton High School
Courage to Take the Lead: Leaders of Nature

PS 116Q
Courage to Take the lead: Leaders of Nature (African Dance)

MS 381K
Transitions and Transformations (1950s Jazz)

IS 238Q
Basics and Beyond: Hear Us

MS 362K
Mission, I’m Possible: Modern Day Heroes

PS 96Q
Changing the Tide: A tribute to family

PS 193Q
Empowering Women: Girl on Fire

IS 318K
Exploring the Possibilities: The Future

MS 61K
“Leading Change: Experience”

PS 66K
Step: The Diamond Steppers

MS 663K
Step: Diversity

What’s On Your Fork, SASF?


March is National Nutrition Month. With the recent cold weather, it may be hard to believe spring is near! Springtime is a great chance to regroup and take stock of the best techniques to stay healthy, especially at work. Below are a few wellness tips to practice; start with one or try them all at the same time. Take notice of any changes in outlook, energy levels, eating habits and productivity!

  1. Take Breaks. How many times throughout a work day do you step away from your computer to give yourself a break? Try taking a 5 minute break each working hour to reboot. These breaks can be as simple as setting a computer reminder to walk around the office, get up for a drink of water, or step outside for a few minutes of fresh air. Studies show  looking away from your computer every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds can improve your eye health a great deal!
  2. Pack one healthy snack for the day. When we are hungry we are less likely to make healthy food choices.However, it is easier if we have wholesome snacks that are ready to go! Try bringing one healthy snack each work day to curb hunger pangs in between meals. You can even head to the local grocery store and pre-plan snacks for the week and keep them at work.
  3. Know how to say “no.” When you are offered food by a colleague, do you always accept? Even if the food is unhealthy? Tune in to your actual hunger level and practice saying “no” to food offers if you are not hungry or if the offering just isn’t good for you. Calories from unwanted food add up throughout the day.
  4. Spotting healthy options. When ordering lunch or picking snacks from the vending machine, can you identify the best options? Items that include whole grains, have minimal added sugars and are lower in calories, fat and salt per serving generally are better choices.

The Sports and Wellness and Human Resources teams will be launching a variety of wellness programs starting in April. Stay tuned for nutrition “Lunch n’ Learns,” the return of the weekly staff walking group, fitness challenges, recipe tastings, a staff wellness fair, a “Biggest Loser” competition, and more!
Vietnamese-Style Lettuce Rolls

These fresh and tasty rolls are a light springtime bite! Get creative with filling ingredients or use the suggestions here; either way you’ll be making a quick and healthy snack or meal that packs a lot of flavor and nutrition.

1 package of vermicelli rice noodles, 8oz package (optional)

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced into thin strips

2 cucumbers, sliced into thin strips

3 scallions, sliced into thin strips

1 carrot, sliced into thin strips

1 avocado, pit removed and sliced into thin strips

½ cup cilantro leaves

½ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced

10 lettuce leaves, washed and dried    

Hot water – for cooking noodles

Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce – for serving (recipe below)

  1. Optional: prepare vermicelli noodles for use ahead of time by pouring boiled water over them in a large bowl and letting them soak for about five minutes. Rinse them in cold water, drain them and set them aside.
  2. Place a lettuce leaf on a cutting board and in the center fill it with a small amount of the desired vegetable fillings. Sprinkle with a dash of cilantro and basil.
  3. Fold bottom of wrapper over the ingredients. Roll slightly then fold in the sides. Continue rolling the wrapper until it is sealed. The finished roll can look like a small hand-held package or tube.
  4. Cut lettuce rolls in half and serve with Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce.

Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

3 small garlic cloves, chopped finely

1” piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely

1 tablespoon water

¼ teaspoon olive oil

  1.  Combine all ingredients together in a bowl or dressing jar and mix well.
  2.  Serve alongside the Vietnamese-Style Lettuce Rolls.


SASF Arts Presents: February in a Flash

Feb 16, 2017

This month, SASF’s Arts Department is committed to infusing creativity and leadership into their activities to inspire self-growth. From Black History Month to #SASFdanceoff, there’s something for everyone to participate in! Check out some of the highlights below.

#ICYMI Black History Month: Feminist Figures in Watercolor

In celebration of Black History Month, students from P.S. 207 in Queens created watercolor portraits of African-American feminists. Sojourner Truth, Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde and Frances M. Beal were just some of the fearless female advocates captured by these talented artists.

Sneaker Design Project at the SASF 3 vs 3 Basketball Tournament

In recent years, sneaker culture has evolved from customers simply collecting sneakers to admiring how the shoe is designed. With the use of art materials and sneaker templates, facilitated by an SASF teaching artist, students will use their creativity to design their own sneaker at our annual 3 vs 3 Basketball Tournament.

Stay tuned for some of our highlighted designs!

SASF’s Songwriters Circle Contest

Here at SASF, we celebrate our aspiring young musicians and continue to promote the development of new songwriting talent through various opportunities. SASF’s Songwriters Circle is for students of all ages who aspire to become singers and songwriters. Through this contest, we will teach our students the craft, while giving them a platform to shine!

SASF Arts programs explore what it means to positively impact community, here and abroad. This year’s songwriting contest celebrates The Courage to Take the Lead.

Students will submit original work that will consist of both music and lyrics. Songs will be judged based on melody, composition, originality and lyrics.

All participants of the Songwriters Contest will be featured on our website and receive a certificate!

  • 4th place winners will receive Fender Blues Deluxe Harmonicas
  • 3rd place winners will receive a Williams Legato Digital Piano with ESS1 Essentials Pack
  • 2nd place winners will receive a Singtrix Party Bundle Home Karaoke System
  • The grand prize winner will receive a Focusrite Musician’s Home Recording Starter Kit

So You Think You Can Dance, SASF? 2017 Instagram Dance Challenge

Launching soon, SASF performing arts is hosting its first ever Instagram dance challenge. SASF Arts will choose a song for each school to create a one-minute dance routine.

Videos will be critiqued for originality, creativity, school spirit and more! Selected submissions will be reviewed, posted onto the SASF Instagram. Be sure to cast your “like” or vote. You can choose our first #SASFdanceoff winner! Follow @SASFNY and stay tuned to find out more about #SASFdanceoff