Reuben Ogbonna, Marcy Lab School, tech training, youth programs, youth in technology, Bedford Stuyvesant, Mark Griffith, Carmen Sales, Maya Bhattcharjee
Students working inside of the Marcy Lab School 

New York City is a tale of two cities. We have some of the best educational facilities but also one of the most segregated public school systems. As a student who has experienced a segregated educational system first-hand, I see the fault in our public institutions serving NYCs youngest generation. It is not the fault of a particular party, but rather, our system is flawed; it is not set up for everyone to succeed.

The reason we started Project Inspire is because we want everyone to be given an equal chance or at least we want to do everything in our ability to create this opportunity for every student, specifically for low-income students, academically struggling students, and any student who thinks he or she may benefit from an educational summer. Therefore, we are offering a free program with experienced and passionate volunteers.

Now, there certainly are a lot of volunteer programs out there and organizations that have our same mission of helping low-income students and lifting our community. But the reason that we are unique is because we really try to create a comprehensive curriculum designed to make sure students are learning the most important skills.

I designed a detailed curriculum that includes three of the most important skills that a lot of students, especially from low income communities, lack or can improve upon and will be crucial in their future.

The three things we focus on in our program are: writing, public speaking or communication, and social emotional learning (SEL). The program is 6 to 7 weeks, and we structured it in a way that it is detailed and comprehensive for all our volunteers to follow, which is our way of quality controlling our classes and making sure that theres not a big gap in the way that different volunteers give their lessons.

Our program is structured so that students understand the value of their voice and their own story.

They will explore confidence, what it means to be confident, identity, and implicit bias in society. They will exercise and sharpen their critical thinking skills and they also appreciate literature from all different cultures and voices.

We will also work with students to strengthen their own emotional well-being as we know this is a difficult time for students, so another goal is to facilitate interaction with other students and have meaningful discussions.

The overarching goal of this program is a cumulative project where students will apply all they have learned. This project will be in the form of a personal narrative that the student will create, whether that be a free verse, minimalist poem, short story, or a combination of drawings and words. We will have students design their very own story and share it with others, which requires a level of confidence and willingness, as well as techniques.

As a result, our public speaking and SEL lessons will attempt to strengthen their self awareness and esteem. Finally, we will work to assure that students have a positive experience from this program. Every student deserves an opportunity!

Register for Project Inspire today! 

Helen Chen, Jr. Editor

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