Sunday, July 20, 2008
Mr. Ramsey ask me to post a message to you and of course I would like to post something relevant to your experience. Something inspiring, that will encourage you to continue to do your best. There are many people in your community who are very proud of your accomplishments. You all have been given a unique opportunity and gift, I hope you seize the day and make the most of it. What Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg have done is so special, they created a program that not only helped you as individual students but has also helped our entire community. They understand that it takes a village to raise a child. I hope that this is what you learn from this experience that when you are given a gift, you appreciate it to it’s fullest and that at some point in the future, you pay it forward to fill some other need that you may see in your village. That way we all continue to contribute to our village to keep improving it. I congratulate each of you for your hard work and I encourage you all to explore your options. Hopefully this experience will show you that you don't have to "settle," the world is at your doorstep. Don't be afraid to knock and enter.
Now, here is the practical part of the advice that I want to give you; below is a recent post in Dear Abby. I think there are many good tips in here for students as well as job seekers. You will soon be applying to colleges, for internships, seeking letters of recommendations etc. Please remember this important information, it may just land you the opportunity of your dreams!
I wish you all great success now and into the future. All the best.
Dear ABBY: I am a small-business owner who does the hiring for my company. I hope you will share some suggestions for young people who are now applying for postgraduate jobs.
(1) Every contact with a prospective employer is a mini-interview. Present yourself appropriately. I have received many inappropriate e-mails. Example: "Hey, when would this gig start?" Please remember to use a salutation and communicate politely and clearly.
(2) Many companies post a great deal of information about job openings on their Web sites. Read the site carefully before calling so I won't waste time answering questions you could have answered on your own.
(3) Shortcuts may be cute when text-messaging your friends, but in business they are annoying and unprofessional. Avoid messages such as "Thnx 4 ur help. Talk 2 u later!"
(4) Because I must read your resume and application, please proofread it for spelling, grammar and typos.
(5) Many Internet sites now offer free e-mail. Set up an account using your name or initial so I don't have to e-mail "hotchick99" with an offer to teach young children.
(6) If you have a phone interview, please find a quiet place from which to place the call. It is difficult to understand you above your roommate who is cursing over a video game.
(7) Never, ever tell a prospective employer you are waiting to hear about a job you want more, that pays more or gives you more "fun" time. Simply say you are "exploring all your options," and I will understand.
By the way, Abby, I am not an old fuddy-duddy. I am a 26-year-old professional who expects more from my peers than I have seen. -- EXASPERATED RECRUITER IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR EXASPERATED RECRUITER: Your suggestions are excellent. I am sure they will be appreciated not only by first-time job applicants, but also their prospective employers.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
The SEAD program has not only provided our students with academic opportunities, it has modeled to them the positive experiences of self-reliance and teamwork that are necessary to succeed as adults. The West Contra Costa Unified School District has done well by the Ivy League Connection.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Here they are -- the "Penn or Bust" crew -- early this morning in California.
The travelers among them are now in Philadelphia -- settling in.
We now have 26 West County students on the East Coast -- 6 in Hanover, New Hampshire, 11 in Ithaca, New York, 6 in New York City, and 3 in Philadelphia!!!
We arrived in New York last Saturday and dropped off our luggage and started walking. No sooner did we go a few blocks but it started to rain. After a brief discussion on the rain, we decided to continue walking to Broadway at Times Square since the rain seemed to stop. Walking is something that we have been doing lots of each day. The students were more impressed with Times Square after the sun set because then all the lights are so bright and impressive. After dinner we walked around Times Square and up Broadway and then back to the hotel. We were all very tired by that time.
On Sunday I took Nick to a church by subway and then I returned to the hotel. After breakfast, the rest of us picked him up at church in a van and off we went to Columbia. There was a long line of students and their parents waiting to check in. It was clear that the program was well organized and ready for hundreds of students to check in within a two hour period. Each of our students has a private room, most with a view of the main quad. The campus is beautiful, everything is so green.
It became very evident soon thereafter that I am the only chaperone here. The program is not expecting a parent or chaperone to be around during the program. After checking in, the students attended a welcoming BBQ but I was not invited so I left them for the day.
I have met with the students after class each day at 4:30. Clearly they have settled in and have had a chance to meet lots of students including a high number of international students. Each of our students has expressed that they are enjoying their class and each feel that their class is challenging.
Both the math and physics classes have lectures in the morning and then split into small groups to work in the lab. According to the director, these two classes were the most difficult to get into due to a limited space in the labs. The pre-req for the math class was only Pre-Calculus, so Christine feels very comfortable since she has already had Calculus. In the physics class, some of the students have had physics already and some have had Calculus so both are helping each other on the topics. Tierra's class goes on a fieldtrip twice a week. On Thursday she went to a recycling center as well as the Botanical Gardens in Queens and learned about how "green" the building at the garden is.....she took lots of notes and said the building is LEAD Platinum, then she explained to me that is the highest level of energy efficiency for a building. She had lots of data from that trip so I will ask her to include that in her next entry in the blog.
On Wednesday Madeline and I had the opportunity to talk to the director, Darlene Giraitis. She was very welcoming and answered lots of our questions. She also gave me a copy of many of the handouts the students received during their opening orientation on Monday morning. She told us that the RA's are from all over the US and they too have to apply to participate during the summer high school programs for session 1 and 2. They arrive at Columbia two weeks before the students to receive intensive training. I think this part of the program is also fantastic.
Darlene also pointed out a few upcoming special events for the students. One is the College Admissions Fair on July 17 from 12:30-2:30. At the college fair, admissions officers, alumni, and current students from over 100 colleges and universities will be on hand to answer questions and provide information and literature. Princeton Review and Kaplan will also be there. Also on July 17 and18 at 1:00 and at 7:00 students who are in the Theatrical Collaboration class will present their original short plays that they wrote and directed. Darlene said this is usually a great set of plays to attend, and it is free. On Friday July 18 there is a seminar which is organized and put on by Columbia admissions officers. It is an interactive and intensive session on selecting and applying to college, the admissions process, and financing a college education, sounds fabulous....then is the final farewell BBQ at 4:30.
The students have lots of choices of activities during the weekends. The RA's have a list of places they plan to take students. All the students need to do is sign up on the list which is posted in the main floor of the dorm buildings. If a student is really interested in doing or going somewhere that is not listed, no problem. All they need to do is talk to their RA and get a group of other interested students and an RA will take them.
Yesterday I received a call from Janna saying she and Christine missed the trip to Coney Island. There was a mix up in the departure time. So, I took them to Coney Island on the hour long subway trip. Upon arrival we caught up with the RA and Nick and Andrew so off they all went with the rest of the group.
Today, all of our students told me they were going with the RA to the Metropolitan Museum. So now I am going to give them a call to see how they are doing. It is raining, again, but still very hot outside.
Signing off for now from New York City.
Chery Lilhanand (chaperone)
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Keep up the good work!
From Pinole, Ms. Kahn
After the cruise, we took the students back to Columbia before curfew check (strictly enforced at 11:00 pm) and then Cheryl and I headed out to dinner at Nonna's (recommended by her son, Brian -- a great recommendation -- known as a "little gem" on the Upper West Side).
Wednesday we headed out for breakfast and a "planning meeting" and then met with Dawn Marvino and Darlene Giraitis (meet her here: http://www.ce.columbia.edu/multimedia/HS_InfoSession/2008/hsp-videos.html).
She shared a story about how Pfizer has underwritten 60 scholarships this summer:
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/newyorkstories/summer.html - unfortunately, it has been difficult to fill all the spaces and many have gone unfilled. This speaks to how difficult it can be to effectively organize this type of program. It takes a level of commitment uncommon to most bureaucratic organizations to be successful.
Darlene has been in charge of the program for the past 20 years and grown it from 90 non-residential students to 2,000 residential/non-residential students. She is expanding it to include not only Barcelona (as it includes today) but soon Jordan (at the King's Academy -- modeled on Deerfield Academy where the King of Jordan is an alum -- see this link for more information: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/29/africa/ME-GEN-Jordan-Kings-Academy.php).
Darlene is very impressed with the Ivy League Connection and shared that it is the only program of its kind at Columbia. Columbia has very strict rules (which are scrupulously enforced) to keep its students and classes secure. No access is granted to any non-students.
After meeting with Dawn, we were told by one of the office workers that a student from El Cerrito who is attending the program asked if he could qualify for a "scholarship". We learned that, although he lives in El Cerrito, he attends Berkeley High School. Unfortunately, he is ineligible unless he transfers back into El Cerrito High School.
Dawn and Darlene were both very warm and cooperative and Darlene mentioned posting a picture of our students on the Columbia website. Wednesday night we went to the Tribeca Grill (http://myriadrestaurantgroup.com/tribecagrill/index.html) for our "special dinner" -- we all loved it -- from the duck, salmon and filet to the sorbet and creme brulee -- it was truly a New York speciality (thanks to Ms. Lilhanand's daughter-in-law, Bernadette's, suggestion).
Today, Thursday, I wound up driving from LaGuardia Airport to Ithaca (it took about 4 hours) after my plane was "rescheduled". I met with Abby Eller, Program Director here at Cornell, as she interviewed serveral of our students. Abby was happy to have us back and very supportive of our approach and program. After that meeting, some of the students joined Tiffany and me at Starbucks and then went to dinner at Appel with all the rest of our contingent. Then I returned by little Pontiac Vibe and headed here to catch up on my blogging.
That's it for now -- over and out from the field.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
While I am working on posting the pictures and writing something for the website, I put together an album of some pictures from our cameras. This covers the plane ride and Times Square. More to come! We would have updated earlier but we did not have proper internet connection. We're doing great and having a blast!
They have bonded into a supportive family of friends and the Dartmouth staff has done an excellent job of facilitating their academic and social development. Today an early thunderstorm began the day's activities. The students attended class and had personal mentoring from the Dartmouth staff.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This is why I am so honored to have twelve of our students taking summer studies classes in Philosophy, Psychology, Hotel Management and Medical History. For our district to have created the Ivy League Connection was innovative, smart and visionary. I saw that we were the only school district in the world that had created such a program. It is truly a delight to be part of it.
I was sad to leave because I had seen such joy and enthusiasm from the students. I am sure that they will do fine and have great stories to tell upon their return.
Finally, it would be nice for them to post daily reports so we have some idea of the challenges that they are facing in being with smart students from around the globe.
That is it for me.
Enjoy the balance of your day. I know that right now you are in Mandatory study programs, so hopefully before you go to sleep you will have something to share with us.
Charles T. Ramsey
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District
The Ivy League Connection?
The Ivy League Connection is a project created in January 2006 by two West Contra Costa Unified School District School Board members – Charles Ramsey and Madeline Kronenberg -- to provide students of the District with a chance to participate in summer enrichment programs conducted on Ivy League campuses.
West Contra Costa Unified School District is a diverse, urban school district located in the East Bay across from San Francisco, California. A great majority of our students have not had exposure to the thousands of colleges that exist. The Ivy League Connection is an effort to provide that exposure.
The goal is to significantly boost scholarship and develop leadership skills among all our students. The emphasis here is on having our student participants give back to the entire campus community – sharing what has been learned during the summer experience and assuming a leadership role on campus focused on fostering a “college-going” culture among all student groups.
The program began with an application to and acceptance in the Dartmouth College Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) Program. Six El Cerrito High School students were accepted into this three-year program in January 2006. The SEAD program is designed to accept cohorts of six students from a single school. The students travel to Dartmouth College each summer for three summers.
This three-year model was so impressive that it was replicated at Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania that summer. Cohorts of our students were sent (together with a teacher chaperone) to attend the summer programs.
In order to be selected, students had to be recommended by their teachers, complete student and parent applications, and go through an interview process. This has allowed our District to reach out to the community of alums as well as the professional community to assist us in the interviewing.
What have we accomplished?
We sent 14 students (from two District high schools – El Cerrito High School and Kennedy High School) to three Ivy League summer programs:
o Dartmouth College – Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD)
o Brown University – Leadership/Civil Rights
o University of Pennsylvania – Theater Arts
Upon their return, these students have taken on a leadership role on their campuses as well as visited elementary campuses where they shared their experiences. In addition, events have been held where the students have had an opportunity to meet alumni from the various Ivies.
We sent 22 students (from four District high schools – El Cerrito High School, Kennedy High School, Richmond High School and Pinole Valley High School) to the following Ivy League summer programs:
o Dartmouth College – Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) (6)
o Brown University – Leadership/Civil Rights and TheatreBridge (11)
o University of Pennsylvania – Theater Arts (2)
o Cornell – Law and Justice (3)
We will send 33 students (from five District high schools – adding Hercules High School) to the following summer programs:
o Dartmouth College – Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) (6)
o Brown University – Women in Leadership Institute (6)
o University of Pennsylvania – Biomedical ResearchAcademy (3)
o Cornell University (12) four programs:
Hotel Operations Management (1)
The Individual and the Social World (4)
Body, Mind and Health (3)
Freedom and Justice (4)
o Columbia University (6) three programs:
NYC – An Urban Case Study (1)
Investigations in Theoretical Physics (3)
Survey of Modern Mathematics (2)
The picture above represents almost all of our students who will be traveling to the Ivy League Schools in Summer 2008. The photo was taken at a school board meeting where the students and their families were recognized by the board for their accomplishments.