Sunday, September 27, 2009


The children planted beans this summer.
They were incredibly excited to eat what they grew.
Ms. Susie cooked the beans and made a delicious batch
of cornbread to go along with them.

Aviant thinks we'll figure out how to grow pizza one day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meet Tameshia...Digital Connectors Instructor

I keep telling people that every day I become more and more impressed with the 20-something age group. They are innovative critical thinkers who know and utilize technology and want to change the world. And so many of them are on the path to do just that!

Tameshia is an African American Studies AND International Relations double major. She has taken some time off so she can save up to finish her last year at school. When we interviewed Tameshia for the After-School Academy position, she was very open about her passion and desire to change the world. I could tell it came from the very depths of her and was in no way a passing phase. We want people like Tameshia on our team!

Tameshia works part-time in our After-School Academy and, because of her amazing skill and love for technology, she will also be running our evening Digital Connector program for the teens.

Tameshia has sometimes helps with the Friday night and Saturday meetings at Teen University. None of that is in her job description. She just attends because believes in building relationships.

She is an extremely important addition to our team. Thanks, Tameshia!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Opening Teen University in Roseland TownHomes

When we began talking about starting educational programming for teens, I was aware of the stories that getting teenagers to come could be challenging. But I also know that so many of our teenagers are eager to go to college and simply don't have the knowledge of how to be prepared and how to get through all of the paperwork. After interviewing Terrence for the Americorps position, I knew he was the perfect person for the job:

After only a week and a half of programming, Terrence is drawing about 13 teenagers an evening. After using my records to count all of the middle and high school students in Roseland, I figured out that is 10% of the teenagers! 10%...and I expect that number to increase! That's significant! What's even more significant is that they are being challenged educationally and they keep coming back!

When I went to check on the program, a girl was sitting on the couch reading what seemed to be a dictionary. When I asked her what she was doing, she rolled her eyes and explained that Terrence made them look up words. Despite the rolling eyes and seeming exasperation, after we chatted, she went right back to looking up more words.

In the comfortable, living room setting, Terrence was sitting on the couch helping another student with geography, while others were working on homework as well.

Off to the side, a group of students had the Scrabble board out and were getting a game started. When I took the picture, they wanted to spell out words to present themselves as great Scrabble players. We decided on "Intelligent Students," as you can see if you look real close.

Over the last week and a half, Terrence has engaged the students in dialogue about education, college, careers, history, and more. They have watched documentaries, practiced interviewing, and practiced speed reading to bump their reading skills up.

Terrence and I met with Raul Hinojosa to plan for our UTD students that will be helping. The rate Terrence is going, he's going to need the extra help. He's getting ready to start engaging them in researching careers and colleges to get them prepared for their future.

Roseland Library/Bookstore

The Roseland Library/Bookstore was a buzz of activity when I entered. Ms. Anna's class from the After-School Academy was there for their KidzLit reading class. They had finished reading the book and doing their activities and were all browsing the library.

I noticed a low-key rucus begining to take place. I looked over to see Randy rather upset. One of the kids had picked up a book and Randy was afraid he was going to buy it. Miss Katrina intervened, "What's wrong?" Randy, upset, tried to explain, "He's got the book I wanted to buy!!" Katrina calmly explained to Randy, "He doesn't have any money with him today. He was just looking at the book." The other child finished looking at the book and turned it over to Randy. Randy was then able to get his book and pay Miss Katrina at the check out desk. (I believe I heard a sigh of relief. :) )

After his purchase, I realized Randy had already bought three other books that same day.

Randy quickly settled into one of the library tables and began soaking in every word on the page.

The Roseland Library/Bookstore is open for kids, teens, and adults Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:00-7:30, Fridays from 3:00-5:30, and Saturdays from 10:00-4:00. Miss Katrina facilitates story times and book clubs for kids and teens.

All books are available to read in the library or to purchase--25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardbacks.

What's going on at Roseland

Last Monday we kicked off our education programs in Roseland. We've got GREAT things going on!

The After-School Academy (ASA) is in it's second year at Roseland. Danielle Evans is heading up the effort and doing a wonderful job.

Anna Hart, Phillip Hawkins, and Tameshia Ridge are our amazing Americorps members who are helping her manage our 30 kids and numerous classes. The ASA has partnered with Susie Marshall with the Gleaning Network of Texas. She is helping our kids create a fantastic community garden that we are hoping will become a mini-farmer’s market (run by the kids) to the Roseland community. We are also partnering with Shawn Williams of Dallas South News who will be helping our kids become junior reporters, with the hopes/plans of them reporting out on the Dallas South News site in a month or so.

At the building across the water park area (2101 N. Washington) on the first floor is the Roseland Library/Bookstore. Katrina Hobbs, another Americorps member, is doing great things there. Katrina is at UTA majoring in Education. She grew up in Roseland and has been a part of Central Dallas' programs for 14 years. She’s so excited about beginning to work with kids on their reading. We also sell books there for 25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardbacks for adults and children.

We also have a Teen University in that same building. Terrence Brooks, another Americorps member is going to school at Dallas Theological Seminary. He plans to run his own non-profit one of these days, but I'm hoping we'll be able to sell him on sticking around here. He’s amazing with the teens. He’s working on helping them with their reading and school work. In addition, we just received a grant in partnership with UTD. UTD will provide us with 2-4 college students to work with the teens on homework, college preparation, career research, and taking college trips.

Finally, we received a grant from One Economy in conjunction with CTIA and Comcast. It’s a Digital Connectors program. Tameshia, who also works in the ASA, will be running the program. Tameshia is awesome at technology and is extremely excited about teaching the teens. The program is for 14-21 year olds and focuses on several skills. Technology is the big focus, but they also has a leadership, financial literacy, and service component. Through the program, the teens will become certified by Cisco Systems to be able to rebuild computers. They will also be creating a mobile app and be creating videos throughout the program. I am so excited we were chosen to be a part of that and can’t wait to see what happens once the group mobilizes and becomes technology point people for the Roseland community.

Whew! So…please! Come visit us!! Great things are happening and I would love to show you what they look like!

We'll keep you posted!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Parent Academy meeting

We had a great Parent Academy last Thursday! Eleven of you came to engage in conversation about Rights and Responsibilities of Parents and interactions with the school.

Thanks to Ms. Alpha for facilitating the discussion and providing us with her wisdom as a parent.

The Parent Academy meets the third Thursday of every month. All are invited. The next one is on October 15 from 6:30-8:00. We will be talking about helping our children with homework.

We look forward to your attendance and your input!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What happens after the ASA?

Check this out!

This summer, we had a great staff of ExxonMobil Green Team students. I just received an email from Mr. Uchenna. Check out his work... ( can't see him. He is the voice throughout the video). Mr. Uchenna is doing great things! He's a star! Listen to him on a voice-over near you! :)

Congrats, Uchenna!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Day
After the first day of the new ASA school year, I sit and reflect. I started to think about why is the ASA important to the Roseland Community. In my opinion, there are not enough words that can fully express the importance. Then I remember what Janet had told us and reminded us on the first day. That we are here, to “Change the trajectory of people’s lives….by equipping kids to dream and envision who they can and will one day become.” The evidence is seen every day on the faces of all the young people who enter the ASA door.
We are planting seeds in the Roseland Community, maintaining the stamina to give that extra little nurturing a seed needs to become a flower and eventually a garden. The planting of seeds is not just a “one man operation” but a team effort. A big part of why today went well was because of team work. Sandra Day O’Connor stated that “we don’t accomplish anything in the this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.”
To the AmeriCorps team, Anna, Tameshia, Phillip, Katrina, and Terrence, “hats off to you guys”. Thank you for a great first day.

Little girls just want to have fun.

Little Girls
Author: Karen Barnes

Little girls are made of daisies and butterflies and soft kitty cat purrs
And all the precious memories of times that once were.

Little girls are made of angel's wings and giggles and a firefly's glow
And all the happy feelings, deep inside, that we all know.

Little girls are made of cinnamon and bubbles and fancy white pearls
And snowflakes and rainbows and ballerina twirls.

Little girls are made of sunshine and cupcakes and fresh morning dew,
And these are the reasons, little one, why everyone loves you.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

New Beginnings...

September 8, 2009 the first day our whole team will be together. I am really excited about all
the wonderful activities that are planned for the ASA. Today the focus is training and uniting as
a team. Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Teamwork is what will be the key ingredient in making this a successful year for ASA. Also to note, I enjoy working with young people because you get to teach and be the student too.