Here at Microsoft, our team is all about civic engagement. But civic engagement becomes tricky. First of all, not everyone has the access and tools to be able to be engaged. And secondly, how do you teach something like civic engagement?
That’s where our nonprofit partner Citizen Schools comes in. On Thursday afternoons during the school year, there is an exciting energy coming from our conference rooms on the 11th floor at Microsoft. If you walk by these rooms, you will see middle school students building robots, having fun and learning about math all at the same time. Microsoft is proud to partner with Citizen Schools to host Boston Public Schools students for these classes and even prouder to recognize the phenomenal employees that take time out of their busy day to host these classes. Citizen Schools will honor the Microsoft employees who teach the Citizen School classes: Sam Powers, Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi, Brian Conley, and Eric Frackleton.
Citizen Schools’ mission is to close the opportunity gap for low-income students. Americorps educators and “Citizen Teachers” volunteer their time to help ALL students achieve their dreams, and this year, four Microsoft Citizen Teachers were honored as Presidential Service Award Winners! I sat down with Carolyn Roscoe, Director of Civic Engagement at Citizen Schools to learn more about their programs and the Presidential Service Award:
1. What is Citizen Schools?
Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities. Citizen Schools mobilizes a team of AmeriCorps educators and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach real-world learning projects and provide academic support in order to help all students discover and achieve their dreams.
2. What is the Presidential Service Award?
The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) is the premier volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. This award is a way to thank and honor Americans who, by their demonstrated commitment, encourage a sustained dedication to civic participation and inspire others to make service a central part of their lives. Citizen Teachers who have taught 2, 3, 4 or more apprenticeships over the past four semesters are eligible for bronze, silver and gold levels of this award: gold award winners teach four out of the last four semesters, silver award winners teach three out of the last four semesters, bronze award winners teach two out of the last four semesters. See more at http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/ and Citizen Schools 2014 blog post on PSA winners.
3. Who from Microsoft is receiving the award and for what kind of activities?
This year, Sam Powers, Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi, Brian Conley, and Eric Frackleton are being recognized as Presidential Service Award winners. All three Microsoft employees participate in Citizen Schools apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships are semester-long hands-on learning projects led by volunteer experts, called Citizen Teachers. Volunteers help children connect what they learn in school to the real world, and get excited about opportunities for their futures. The apprenticeship culminates in a presentation, where students teach back what they’ve learned. Jean-Yves and Sam Powers have led Robotics Apprenticeships utilizing Lego Robots to teach students programming skills and the powerful potential of technology; students design, build, and program robots to complete simple tasks and race through complex mazes. Brian Conley and Eric Frackleton have taught Game Theory Apprenticeships; through their class, students utilize mathematical techniques – like probability and mean, median, mode – to win at games of chance.
4. How can people get more involved in Citizen Schools? To learn more about Citizen Schools and how you can help connect students to discover and achieve their dreams, visit www.citizenschools.org/volunteer.
Tags: Aimee Sprung, AmeriCorps, Brian Conley, Carolyn Roscoe, Citizen Schools, Civic Engagement, Eric Frackleton, Game Theory, Jean-Yves Ntamwemezi, Lego Robots, massachusetts, microsoft, Microsoft New England, nonprofit, President’s Volunteer Service Award, robotics, Sam Powers