Creating Leaders for the Present and the Future!

The JCIT program is  a unique hybrid of work training, enrichment, and field trips

The JCIT program is  a unique hybrid of work training, enrichment, and field trips

Over the past couple years, our programing for rising 9th graders has grown immensely!  What makes the JCIT program unique is its hybrid of youth work training, enrichment, and fun field trips.  When the JCITs are not visiting college campuses, touring organizations like Artists for Humanity, or taking part in Outward Bound activities on Thompson Island, they are working alongside older teens employed as Counselors in Training (CITs) with the elementary school program.  The JCIT program is a transitional one, as JCITs are no longer middle schoolers in full day youth programming, but not yet high school students with part-time jobs.  During B-SAFE, JCITs are building leadership skills that can later be taken into the classroom as well as other jobs, all while working for a stipend. 

JCITs learned about community organizing

JCITs learned about community organizing

This year, our JCIT curriculum introduced them to community organizing.  Not only did it provide them with the knowledge, language, and tools to work as future community organizers, but they gained a deeper understanding into the organizing work being done at SSYP.  Throughout the year, parents have organized to gain a voice in their children’s schools, teens have lobbied to keep money in the city budget for education and teen jobs, and relationships have been built across between faith-based groups throughout the greater Boston area.  

JCITs led programming for elementary schoolers

JCITs led programming for elementary schoolers


As the final piece of this curriculum, the JCITs stepped up to the plate and led programming for the elementary school program. After spending the summer learning about influential community organizers, team building, and collective action, it was amazing to give the JCITs the opportunity to show what they had learned.  The JCITs planned the lessons and then taught them.  And teaching a group of elementary age young people is no easy job, even for the best of teachers!  The JCITs were proud of their work and the growth they had made over a few short weeks!  While they were a little nervous at the beginning of the day, they quickly gained confidence in their leadership when they saw the enthusiasm of the kids.  Their leadership spoke to the incredible potential young people have, when given the opportunities to grow and show off!

By Maureen Burns, South End School and Community Organizer

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Maureen earned degrees in psychology and studio art from Loyola University in Chicago. A formative piece of her education involved collaborating on community-based research projects in Chicago which focused on youth perception of community violence. This experience in youth empowerment and community development, coupled with her experience as a preschool Teaching Assistant and nanny, led her to become a part of St. Stephen's Youth Programs. She strives to support and foster positive social, emotional, and academic development of the community's young people.

Goodbye B-SAFE

“How many summers have you been a part of B-SAFE?  Two, five, ten, fifteen, twenty?”  This is a question I have been asked many times by parents, staff, partners, teens and young people over the past eight summers.  As my final summer comes to a close I’ve been thinking about what first brought me to B-SAFE and what kept me coming back.  

What brought me here is simple.  I needed a job for the summer of 2009.  I started as a Site Director at St. Augustine & St. Martin.  I continued as a Site Director at St. Mary’s in 2010 and 2011.  I have spent the past 5 summers as Program Administrator supporting multiple sites and most recently the entire registration process for all of B-SAFE’s many, amazing programs.

For the first few years I returned because of the connections I made with the young people and their families at my sites.  As I took on a new role I found that the behind the scenes work I was doing helped to make things a bit easier for the staff.  So, I kept going.   I took on more responsibilities and worked to try and make things more streamlined and organized for everyone.

It wasn’t always easy but it felt great to know that I was helping the people I worked with.  This is when I realized that what drove me to return to B-SAFE had changed.  I was doing it for the staff.  If it was possible for me to make things easier and less stressful for them I wanted to do it.  The staff became what made me keep going when I was exhausted, what got me out of bed at 3 am to work on registration and what brought me back again and again.  

I have experienced a lot of ups and downs during my eight years at B-SAFE.  I have made amazing friends who have become my family.  We have cried together from frustration, exhaustion and grief.  But more than anything we have laughed together.  I have seem my son Maxwell grow up and go from an 8 year old at St. Stephen’s LEARN who didn’t know anyone to a CIT at Epiphany LEARN who often knows more about B-SAFE than I do.  I feel incredibly lucky as a parent to see how the staff at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs have embraced him, supported him and helped shape him into the person he is today.

I am saying good bye to my time at B-SAFE but I’ll still be around.  If you can’t remember something that happened over the past 8 years chances are I will.  Even though I won’t be there anymore my drive to help make things easier for the staff of B-SAFE always will be.  I hope that by supporting and appreciating the staff I have made it easier for them to support the young people and the families that they serve.

By Jodi Rich, Registrar

This is Jodi’s eighth summer with B-SAFE. During the school year she is Executive Director of the Dragonfly After School Program in Cambridge.

B-BOLD: Emotional Empowerment @ B-SAFE 2016

The insights that surfaced during our lesson on shame and self-love with rising eighth-graders. We ended up talking about history, beauty, and critical thinking. I continue to be amazed and humbled by how much and how profoundly the children are willing to see.

The insights that surfaced during our lesson on shame and self-love with rising eighth-graders. We ended up talking about history, beauty, and critical thinking. I continue to be amazed and humbled by how much and how profoundly the children are willing to see.

When people ask me what being in divinity school is like, I usually take a deep breath and end up saying: “It’s important.” Earlier this week, someone asked me how B-BOLD was going, I found myself saying: “It’s important.” B-BOLD is the fruit of long, lonely, and—yes—important months and years I have spent in divinity school thinking, reading, and writing about the role that emotional agility can play in strengthening the life chances of our future citizens. B-BOLD is an emotional empowerment curriculum that SSYP’s very own Director of Youth Programs & Priest Associate, Liz Steinhauser, and Tim Crellin, our Founder, Vicar, & Executive Director, kindly trusted me to pilot and roll out at the St. Stephen’s site this summer. 

Some of America’s most courageous thinkers and loving writers—especially John DeweyToni MorrisonJames BaldwinMartha Nussbaum, and Melissa Harris-Perry— have inspired the project behind B-BOLD. B-BOLD’s premise is simple: learning how to understand, manage, and, ultimately, transform your emotions is a progressive capability that can empower you to be all you can be. When I say “you,” I imagine anyone who has had—and remains likely—to come to terms with forms of emotional pressure that threaten to keep them small, make them feel worthless, and shut them down. Many a story, including my own, suggests that the weight of emotions does not spare any human life. Nor does the wealth of information and transformation they contain. 

I cannot yet see what or how much connecting elementary and middle schoolers with the power they have to transform impatience into self-control; anger into calm; shame into self-love; and self-doubt into self-belief in the St. Stephen’s sanctuary has unleashed. But deep in my heart, I do believe B-BOLD has empowered our children to embrace a trajectory of 21st-century possibility. 

The children. 

Oh the children. 

The children.

The children.

The children have done wondrous things for me. They have persuaded me of the tremendous impact one can make by intervening thoughtfully and ferociously in early childhood education. I have insisted on adding a proviso to love the children to our love contracts since the B-SAFE team started to gather in May. I have loved the children. And I have also found that I need their love as much as they need mine, and maybe more. They have renewed, rejuvenated, and healed me, beyond my wildest imaginings.

I often think of divinity school as a place where we can dream of possible futures. Piloting B-BOLD at B-SAFE this summer has afforded me the privilege and responsibility of delivering possible futures with and for our beloved, darling children. And that is good, important news. B-SAFE is important. 

By Sitraka St. Michael, Academic Team

Malagasy by birth. Chicagoan at heart. Episcopalian by choice. In love with all the beloveds @ SSYP. Sitraka is excited to incubate B-BOLD, an emotional empowerment curriculum, with the Academic Team at St Stephen’s during B-SAFE this summer. When he is not in divinity school, Sitraka can be found running or biking along the Charles, hosting dunch (i.e. dinner+lunch), or writing something about progress and the emotions.

In This Together

During B-SAFE staff training, I led a training rotation that I called “In This Together” about working with partners, about building relationships across difference, about understanding that we are all in this together- staff, kids, families, partners and volunteers. That together we all want the same thing, the best program and experience we can offer to young people. These goals of building relationships can sometimes seem more like challenges during a summer when current events cause division and political campaigns focus more on what separates us. But that is our work, to power on, to not give up or give in.

Each summer I have the honor of being witness to this work. About 50 partner (mostly suburban) churches and their volunteers spend countless hours and resources to make sure that each of our young people and staff eat a nourishing meal and enjoy fun field trips outside of the city. Everyone involved believes that this is important work,  that it is about more than serving lunch, that it is about the care and the joy that is given and received. And, where there is joy and care, there is ample opportunity for relationship.

Every day I witness care- care in making sure a child with a food allergy has the food he/she needs, care in planning all of the last details of a field trip, care in choosing the best activities, care in holding hands while learning together on a farm, or in making a friendship bracelet together.

And, I witness joy- joy in knowing a child is fed and ready to learn or explore or discover, joy in welcoming a group of young people to a field trip and making them feel special, joy in a special interaction, joy in sharing a book, joy in petting a goat together, joy in getting to know someone they didn’t know before, joy in building relationships with children, teens, staff or members of the host congregation.

Many times over the past 5 weeks, I have wondered to myself what our city, our country or our world might look like if we joyfully cared for each other and did the work of building relationships, all in this together.

By Betsy Walsh, Partner Organizer

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Betsy earned a degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt and subsequently worked with preschoolers with special needs in the South Bronx. She moved to Boston where she studied counseling psychology and raised a family. Betsy chaired the Outreach Committee at Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester for twelve years, and led their partnership with St. Stephen's. She is also a member of SSYP's Advisory Board and the board of El Hogar Ministries.

Replacing the Summer Slide with a Jungle Gym of Knowledge

In my other life, I teach 6th graders about the intricacies of fractions and proportional relationships. I love teaching, and I am always motivated by the challenge of convincing kids that math can be fun and that there is no such thing as someone that is "good" at math. The challenge that I don't love, and don't look forward to every year, is getting kids caught back up after a summer of lost opportunities. 

We've all heard the research. It goes something like this: Due to students taking two months off from school, they "slide" back in their knowledge and learning and it takes them at least the first few months of the school year to get back to where they were back in June. This is incredibly frustrating and especially so when you understand that the students are often below grade level in one subject or another to begin with.

That's where a program like B-SAFE truly proves itself exceptional. By providing a solid academic program for kids, they are reversing this slide, and kids are often able to go back to school even stronger than where they left off. This is truly invaluable and emphasizes our goal this summer of letting kids "Create Their Future". Whether it's writing creative essays in Word, or doing hands on cooking lessons in Numbers, students are receiving an outstanding education at an increasingly crucial time of the year.

By Joshua Donati, Site Director at Epiphany

My name is Joshua Donati and this is my 5th summer working as the Site Director for Epiphany LEARN. During the school year, I teach 6th grade math at Trotter Innovation School in Roxbury. This past year was my 8th year as a teacher. This past October, my wife and I welcomed our first child, Jack, into the world. He's amazing.

Mexican-American Children Want to Make America Great Too

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people". -Donald Trump

It's Christmas in July with children excited to receive books to take home and read.

It's Christmas in July with children excited to receive books to take home and read.

The political climate right now is a scary one for several reasons, but one of them is the comments made about immigrants from people that don't know them. I know these people. I am the daughter of immigrants and have worked with the immigrant population for the last 8 years in Chelsea. When you hear from a major political candidate negative things about Mexican-Americans with a side of "some, I assume, are good people" you get this distorted look of what an immigrant community is like. Let me tell you who are the people Mexico is "sending". 

An excited young person shows proud mom all of her hard work this summer.

An excited young person shows proud mom all of her hard work this summer.

At B-SAFE San Lucas in Chelsea, a majority of the children are either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. The majority of them come from Mexican families. Over the course of the last 8 years, I have been able to know these families, but most of all these children that have grown up in the program. They are the children of parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet. They are the children of parents that use their low wage paying jobs as a reminder to their children of the importance of education. They remind their children constantly of the great sacrifices that they have made. They truly believe in the American Dream that many of us US-born citizens believe is dead. They are open with their children about the reasons they came here, many times to escape great crime warlord cities or to give their children a chance to survive. They teach their children daily about the being grateful for all the opportunities that they are given in this great land of ours and to show their gratitude by serving their communities and paying it forward. This is an ideology that I have only seen in the immigrant community. 

Kids use math to present what a great future looks like for them. 

Kids use math to present what a great future looks like for them. 

How this translates to their kids is amazing. I have always seen it this way, but more this summer than ever before. The theme of this summer was to "create our future". And what a bright future we have because of these children. At the closing ceremony they read their essays on the future that they see ahead of them. Many spoke about serving their communities as entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, veterinarians, and even presidents. They talked about how they want these jobs to make their communities great. There were also essays about what the future of this country would be like in 10 years and they hope to see. While some of the essays were about advancements in technology like flying cars and robots, even those essays had altruistic reasons to them like flying cars because "there would be less pollution and less traffic to make people not be angry when going to work" or robots because "they would walk around and help the homeless people and animals".  Their future was about seeing more farms in communities, people clothing the homeless, caring for the forgotten elderly, volunteering at animal shelters and everyone having a pet because "having a pet makes people happy". These are not words from a politician. This is the future that Mexican-American children want for us. This is how we "make America great again". 

Siblings at our program with the oldest sibling Kennedy volunteering at B-SAFE

Siblings at our program with the oldest sibling Kennedy volunteering at B-SAFE

I invite anyone that has negative thoughts about immigrants to B-SAFE Chelsea. You will hear from these children some positive ways to "make America great again". You will see love. You will see hopes and dreams that are very much alive. You will see teenagers that grew up in the program spending their summers volunteering in the program that gave so much to them. You will see parents that care for their children. You will see their tired but excited and proud faces as they pick up their children after work. You will see that more than just "some, I assume, are good people". You will see that most actually are good people who want to create a bright future for all. 

By Mauryn Perkins, Site Director at St. Luke's

Mauryn Perkins has been with the B-SAFE program in Chelsea for 8 summers. During the school year she is a 7th grade Spanish teacher at a charter school in Malden. She loves teaching children. She loves organizing things, especially planning and organizing her binder for trips to Disney for her family.

Arts and Action in Ramsay Park

Teen organizers perform spoken word poetry and dance

Teen organizers perform spoken word poetry and dance

In the last week of their work in Boston for this B-SAFE summer, the teen community organizers created an event in Ramsay Park that brought together Lenox neighborhood residents (where St. A&M is located), state and city officials, Boston artists, local youth, and various neighborhood organizations for an evening of arts in the park. The community organizers shared a collaborative and original spoken word and dance piece called "We Want To Be Heard" before Anna Meyer and Dancers performed their work "Invisible Imprints of Racism" under the lights of the basketball court. The new mural the organizers painted in the first week of B-SAFE greeted people as they walked into the park. People who had participated in the previous week's peace walk showed up wearing their B-PEACE for Jorge buttons and purple shirts to eat hot dogs and drink lemonade as kids covered the sidewalk in chalk art and stray basketballs and baseballs rolled around their feet. 

Teen organizers work on a mural in Ramsay Park.

Teen organizers work on a mural in Ramsay Park.

What do spoken word, murals and barbecues have to do with building power to transform a neighborhood steeped in a history of street violence and structural violence into a community where peace, justice and equity win? 

We brought people together, around food and art, to share an experience of what could be possible in the Lenox neighborhood. We know its possible because it happens in other parks in other neighborhoods, and because we made it happen in Ramsay, even if just for one night. And the hundreds of people who showed up built the case for each other, for their neighbors, and for the administrators of city and state governance that what happens in Ramsay Park and in the Lenox neighborhood matters. All the people there that night demonstrated clearly with their presence (in the 90 degree heat!) and their attention (even the basketball games paused to watch) and their applause that they are invested in the future of Ramsay Park, and this is how we build the power we need to decide what that future is like. 

City Parks and Rec staff was also at the event to begin collecting input from people about what to prioritize in the upcoming renovation of Ramsay Park. The community process for the redesign will begin in the fall, and Ramsay Park is slated for a major makeover in the coming year. Facilitating resident input for this process- with an eye toward building sustained neighborhood power to hold ground amidst the development swelling around the park- will be a major focus of SSYP's Lenox neighborhood organizing in the fall. 

By Sarah O'Connor, Lenox Community Organizer

Sarah started working with SSYP in the fall of 2014 as a Jewish Organizing Initiative and Network (JOIN) fellow. Sarah works with young people to organize for issues that affect youth across the city of Boston, like funding for public education and teen jobs, and on local neighborhood anti-violence campaigns. Sarah believes that a city that works for the young people in the SSYP family is a city that works well for everyone.

What do hot dogs have to do with educational justice?

I’ve spent a lot of time this summer wondering, “What could grilled hot dogs and lemonade possibly have to do with educational justice?”

Kevin, a dad a St. Mary's, volunteered his outdoor catering company to grill for the BBQ.

Kevin, a dad a St. Mary's, volunteered his outdoor catering company to grill for the BBQ.

This summer, for the first time ever, B-SAFE hosted family BBQs at each of our six sites. As young people made a squirming line to get picked up, parents signed them out, grabbed their hands, and made their way over to tables piled with hot dogs, hamburgers, and tasty sides. Each site had its own feel: at Holy Spirit in Mattapan, the Site Director, Kennell, asked parents what the saying, “It takes a village” meant to them and asked them what they wanted from B-SAFE in the future. At St. Luke’s in Chelsea, the Site Director, Mauryn, used the time to assuage parents’ nerves about sending their middle-schoolers to New Hampshire for a week. At St. Mary’s in Dorchester, a parent leader in our Parent Organizing Group spoke to other parents about her experience, telling them that from the first time she walked in, she was greeted with “a smile and a community.”

One thing was clear: this works. Parents are notoriously busy, and yet when we took a chance on planning a family event, they wanted to be there. They wanted to get to know one another, they wanted to meet with their children’s counselors, and they wanted to chat with the Site Directors. Family engagement is an important part of our work at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, and if this is our first year doing BBQs, just imagine the possibilities for next year!

Parents receive certificates after completing a series of workshops in partnership with Families First.

Parents receive certificates after completing a series of workshops in partnership with Families First.

It also became clear that the relationships parents build with one another are the real reason they show up. This summer, we offered a second series of Parenting Workshops at our South End site in collaboration with Families First. Parents shared their struggles and successes, laughed together, and problem-solved with one another. While many of the parents there had been part of our Parent Organizing Group during the school year, some had not. When one mom heard the others talking about our group, she turned to me, and said, “Why haven’t I been invited yet? I want to come next year!”

The relationships that come from parent engagement efforts like BBQs and parenting workshops are strengthening our Parent Organizing Group and giving us more power as we tackle bigger questions of educational justice like school safety, parent voice, and fully funded public schools.

A young person appreciates his mom at a family BBQ.

A young person appreciates his mom at a family BBQ.

Our final BBQ took place at St. Stephen’s during the last week of program. As I hopped from table to table meeting new parents and hi-fiving kids, I looked over and saw a group of parents that had met through our parent organizing group this year deep in conversation. But it wasn’t just them, they were sitting with parents who had attended the workshops this summer, and parents I’d never even met before. This is how we build community, and community is how we’ll organize for educational justice.

By Ariel Branz, Parent Organizer

Ariel organizes parents at St. Stephen's Youth Programs and is excited about all the fun family engagement planned for the summer. She likes hiking, cats, sweet potatoes, and summertime.

Field Trippin’ Around Boston

Students splash during a fun field trip.

Students splash during a fun field trip.

Every week, B-SAFE fills up bus after bus with our enthusiastic, energetic young people to bring them on field trips throughout Boston. This week, we have groups visiting Boston Children’s Museum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Revere Beach, Boston Public Market, Castle Island, the New England Aquarium, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Jackson Homestead and Museum. This is in addition to all of our Friday field trips, which are planned by our generous partners.

Why do we bring our students on so many field trips? It’s important to us at B-SAFE that we take advantage of all the learning opportunities around us! In the summer, students are not in school mode, and they benefit from hands-on, active learning that can happen at the museums and outdoor spaces around the city.

Students learn about marine life during a field trip to the New England Aquarium

Students learn about marine life during a field trip to the New England Aquarium

This year, each one of our sites is visiting the New England Aquarium. At the Aquarium, our young people can see up close exciting water animals like sea turtles, sharks, rays, and penguins. Exploring the aquarium in small groups, they are constantly asking questions about the animals they see. What do they eat? Where do they live? Are they dangerous? Staff at the aquarium offer the expertise that our staff can’t, as well as the opportunity to encounter in person wildlife they would never see in the city. The curiosity never ends when young people are excited about what they are doing, and we make it a priority to give students a lot of those experiences during their summer months.

 

 

By Maggie Needham, Academic Coordinator

Maggie Needham is part of the Academic Team for B-SAFE this year, and she is excited to bring interesting, fun programming to our students this summer. Maggie graduated from Saint Louis University in 2015 and spent the past year as a lead counselor and academic coordinator for LEARN students at St. Stephen's. Her favorite thing about St. Stephen's is the relationships she gets to build with our wonderful young people.

8 Steps to Running a Countercultural Program

Students at St. A&M are engaged while working on a group mosaic. 

Students at St. A&M are engaged while working on a group mosaic. 

Here at B-SAFE, we work to make young people feel safe, feel big, and feel connected. Part of that work involves helping kids to stay excited and engaged all day long, whether that be in their academic rotations, on field trips, or in their groups with their lead counselor. As a member of the Academic Team who also serves as a teaching specialist, I have had the unique opportunity to deal with student engagement on two different levels. Not only have I been able think about how best to engage our young people when writing curriculum, but I also get to witness it happening firsthand in the classroom.

Of course, as we all well know, sometimes young people aren’t as engaged as we may have originally planned when writing up our lessons or putting together our supplies for the day. While this can often be frustrating for both us as staff and the young people as students, it are these very moments that can make or break the true impact of the work we do at SSYP.

When students are disengaged in the classroom, many might immediately move to the traditional framework of classroom and behavior management to get them back on track. However, at B-SAFE we avoid these models of managing others, because we firmly believe that the only person’s behavior you can manage is your own. Instead, we follow what we call “The Eight Steps to a Smooth Running Program With Lots of Smiling Kids Learning Lots of Cool Things,” or “The 8 Steps” for short. In this model, we focus on the idea that everyone has the ability to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors. This means that instead of disciplining or rewarding young people for their actions, we work to redirect them through discussions about the issues behind the disengagement.

We believe that all young people, just like the rest of us, want to have power and feel safe and supported. In practice, this means that we recognize that what might be perceived as a disruptive and disengaged student could actually be a student who doesn’t understand the material and doesn’t know how to express it. We assume the best intentions in all of our young people, and it’s that starting point that makes all the difference in our work.

Ultimately, at B-SAFE we are running a countercultural program that centers the needs of young people rather than having them work to fulfill ours. Through both writing curriculum and working in the classroom, I have seen firsthand that allowing young people to feel safe, big, and connected means using moments of disengagement as opportunities for growth.

y Emily Boyk, Academic Team

Emily Boyk is a rising junior at Wellesley College who is spending her first summer with St. Stephen's on the B-SAFE Academic Team. A student of political science and women's and gender studies, she is passionate about youth empowerment along the lines of race, class, and gender, and is thrilled to be working with SSYP this summer on such issues.

Kids love kale

Kids love kale!

Kids love kale!

This summer the young people at St. A&M have been learning about gardening.  We have our own garden attached to the program, where young people have watered the plants and tasted the delicious greens.  The young people have eaten kale, chard, lettuce, mint, and more green things that they watched grown from seedlings over the 5 week program.  The young people have also visited two different farms, Green Meadow farm and Farrington farm.  During these field trips the young people surprised the staff by recognizing different plants and sharing what they already knew about farms and gardens. After the trip to Green Meadow farm one of the young people turned to me and said, “Can we make our program a farm?”. 

Kids on tour of Green Meadow Farm

Kids on tour of Green Meadow Farm

Kids picking peas and smelling wildflowers

Kids picking peas and smelling wildflowers

Growing plants and eating fresh veggies is a fun way to get the kids to be active outside, but it also serves a larger purpose; it helps kids develop a positive relationship with healthy food.  Through growing healthy food, eating healthy food, and limiting the consumption of high sugar foods and beverages, we encourage children to develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime.  

By Maggie Casey, Site Director at St. A&M

Maggie Casey is the site Director of St. Stephen's LEARN during the summer and for the year-round after school program. She has worked for St. Stephens Youth Programs since summer of 2015. Maggie is originally from Santa Monica, California. She attended Oberlin College and has a degree in Comparative American Studies with a concentration in Education. Maggie can speak Spanish, do math, and play basketball.

Keep ‘Em Fueled, Keep ‘Em Focused!

During the five weeks of B-SAFE 2016 we strive for our students to discover many wonders during field trips all around Massachusetts (and New Hampshire for our YLCers), enjoy the exciting educational activities at all six sites, and engage in a variety of enriching academics. In order to keep our students focused, we must also keep them fueled!

The first step that our students take in preparing for all of the fun-filled days that B-SAFE offers is by properly fueling their bodies with nutritious foods. Our staff and partner churches work hard to provide all of our young people with a sufficient amount of food everyday for both breakfast and lunch.

To ensure that everyone has enough energy, it is important to keep in mind that the most important meal of the day is the first meal of the day: BREAKFAST. Sites cook up a variety of breakfasts ranging from waffles and sausage to boxes of Cheerios and bananas

Unfortunately, when students don’t eat enough food at breakfast and lunch, they are sluggish and don’t have the energy to participate in all of the day's fun and enriching activities. Studies show that students who eat breakfast have higher test scores than students who skip the morning meal. Not only that, but in a recent study published in “Physiology and Behavior” researchers have found that students who enjoyed a low-glycemic breakfast were found to have higher levels of concentration, improved memory, and fewer signs of academic frustration in comparison to students who eat high-glycemic breakfasts! So, it is very important to keep in mind that not only should we continue to provide young people with the meals necessary for them to learn and explore, but also we must continue to pay attention to supplying the nutrients necessary for our students to succeed!

This is Maggie Carey's first summer as an Academic Intern for B-SAFE, and she will be working at Epiphany School in Dorchester this summer. Currently, Maggie is a rising senior studying psychology at College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA). She is the captain of the Division 1 Holy Cross Women's Soccer program, so she is very excited to be teaching/overseeing the Health and Wellness Curriculum this summer!

B-SAFE is Community

Leads, once CITs, enjoy breakfast before starting the day at Epiphany 2014.

Leads, once CITs, enjoy breakfast before starting the day at Epiphany 2014.

Having been a part of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs since the age of 17, I can confidently say that community is the best way to describe this program. I started off as a Counselor in Training, moved on to be a Lead Counselor, and this summer I have the pleasure of being a first year Site Director. Throughout the years I have formed lifelong friendships and created amazing memories. I have had the opportunity of going on Mission Trips to another state and even another country.  I have watched youth grow from being in the youngest group to now being JCITs, from being participants to being Site Assistants, from being teens to being Site Directors.

Didier stops by to say hi and volunteers to read with youngest group during DEAR time. 

Didier stops by to say hi and volunteers to read with youngest group during DEAR time. 

This year I experienced the power of unity that is encompassed within the walls of St. Stephen’s. In previous years I have worked for B-SAFE at their Epiphany location, this year is my first time working at St. Stephen’s. At any given moment people are walking into the building seeking help or to simply say hi. Since being here in September I have seen numerous faces, some more than others. What I love about this program is that even when you move on from this program you can always rest assured knowing that St. Stephen’s will always welcome you with open doors. Individuals who have been part of our program find comfort in knowing that there is always a friendly and familiar face when they walk through our front door. Previous teens, now young adults, come in seek help with their college work and/or prep, sometimes they simply stop by because they would rather be here than at home. 

By Sandy Quispe, St. Stephen's LEARN Site Director

 

Sandy, born in Peru, has lived in Dorchester since the age of 5. She attended Boston Arts Academy where, during a job fair, she came across St. Stephens Youth Programs. She worked as a teen for an academic year and two summers before taking on the role of lead counselor for St. Stephen's summer enrichment program, B-SAFE. She attained her bachelor's in psychology from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Working with children has always been one of her passions. She loves to see how children grow and develop from early childhood to adolescence.

The Evolution of College Access: How We are Supporting Teens for Long-Term Success

Students engage in interview practice.

Students engage in interview practice.

For the past twenty years, the college access programs all over Boston have focused their energy primarily on getting students into college. Energy and resources have been dedicated towards helping low-income and first generation students overcome the variety of obstacles that exist during the college admissions process. However, as the effectiveness of these programs increased, a new problem presented itself that had a dramatic effect on students all over the city; college completion. While students were getting into college at increasing rates, they were also dropping out of college without any degree and amassing tremendous debt. In many ways, students were worse off then they were before going.

In fact, “A 2008 study by Northeastern Universitys Center for Labor Market Studies (CLMS) and the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) found that only 35.5 percent of the BPS graduates from the Class of 2000 who had enrolled in college had completed college seven years later.” Even worse is that fact that “When the districts exam school students were excluded, the number of BPS graduates who had enrolled in college and had completed college within seven years fell to 24 percent (Sum, A. et al., 2008).”

CITs participate in a college prep workshop focusing on planning the future.  

CITs participate in a college prep workshop focusing on planning the future.  

St. Stephen’s has been witnessing this firsthand, having watched several alumni over the years drop out of college saddled with debt because of a missed payment, a failed class, or a lack of support from the institution of higher education. The new vision of the College and Career Program at St. Stephens is to empower students to think through their future goals, and support their development of a post-high school plan. By changing the narrative that 4 year college is the only measure of success, we are able to help match students with a post-high school plan that best fits their personal goals, to help ensure long term success.

Teens, Specialists, Site Assistants and Site Directors participate in a resume workshop.

Teens, Specialists, Site Assistants and Site Directors participate in a resume workshop.

Our goal is to not only support students through the college application process, but also to partner with schools like Bunker Hill, Wheelock, Northeastern, Pine Manor, Benjamin Franklin, and many more, to help ensure that students are supported throughout their entire post-high school experience. In addition, St. Stephen’s is hoping to continue to increase the ways in which we support our alumni through academic tutoring, mentoring, college visits, and much more. It is imperative that St. Stephen’s continue to provide the resources necessary in order to help our alumni overcome the vast number of obstacles that higher educations presents, in order to ensure that they are on a path towards successful adulthood. If you are interested in getting more involved in this program, you can e-mail Jeremy at Jeremy@ststephensbos.org.

By Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, College and Career Program Coordinator

Jeremy graduated from Colorado College with a Degree in Political Science and Urban Studies in 2012. He comes to St. Stephen's through the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship program, an AmeriCorps program that focused fulfilling the needs of our youth by providing: a caring adult, a safe place, a healthy start, a marketable skill, and an opportunity to give back. Jeremy is passionate about increasing low-income students' access to higher education and helping students successfully complete their post-highschool plans. He currently serves as the College and Career Program Coordinator during the school year, and a Teen Staff Coordinator over the summer. 

#learningforall

Teaching specialists worked with young people to process this week's events.

Teaching specialists worked with young people to process this week's events.

B-SAFE’s motto “Feel Safe, Feel Big, Feel Connected”, permeates every aspect of the program including Academics. Teaching specialists are committed to providing a safe space for young people to take academic risks and explore new things. Teaching specialists also ensure that all young people feel big by accomplishing small assignments that are the skeleton to a big final project that connects them to their current communities and the future they would like to create.

These amazing teaching specialists came together on Friday, July 8th to discuss the work they are doing with young people and to adjust their teaching to meet the needs of the individuals they are working with. The timing of this workshop added a layer of understanding for why the work we are doing is so important. The week was the week of the murder of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and 5 Dallas police officers. As the national news cycled through whose lives matter we discussed that our youth’s lives matter and the work that we do with them might not shield them from the broader atrocities of the world but it can empower them to navigate the social issues that entrap our nation. “We have the opportunity to create the future and decide what that’s like.” We hope to empower them to create the future where we can all “Feel Safe, Feel Big, and Feel Connected.”

Teaching specialists during a mindfulness activity reflecting on recent events during workshop.

Teaching specialists during a mindfulness activity reflecting on recent events during workshop.

By Kemarah Sika, Director of Academic Programs

Kemarah rejoined the St. Stephen’s community as the Director of Academic Programs in 2016. In the past, she served as a member of the B-SAFE team in a variety of capacities including Teaching Specialist, Site Director, and parent of a participant. Most recently, she was the Director of Library & Media Service and the Learning Experience Designer at the Cambridge School of Weston, a 9-12 progressive education school. She has worked in K-12 education since 2001 in many roles including libraries, technology integration, after-school programming, and curriculum development.  Kemarah is delighted to bring her experience to St. Stephen’s Youth Programs in a full time capacity and to have the opportunity to work in her community to serve the youth of Boston.

 

Through “The Well” Window

Since I started working at SSYP about four months ago, I’ve been walking around Lower Roxbury with my camera. I like to take pictures of hidden, or surprising places of beauty--and I’ve found them: a “meadow” of tall-growing chickory and Queen Ann’s lace behind a chain link fence, a grand oak tree in the middle of a public playing field, a humble  bit of “stained glass” made up of stick-on translucent plastic on a cellar window, a Pentecost origami dove mobile in the sanctuary of St. Augustine and St. Martin.

Yesterday, I stood in the kitchen, off “The Well” at St. Augustine and St. Martin, warming up my lunch. “The Well” acts as a gathering place for church members, but also serves as a quiet place for SSYP’s young people to meet with volunteers and work on reading, or gather in small groups with teen leaders.

DEAR time at St. Augustine and St. Martin

DEAR time at St. Augustine and St. Martin

The wall that separated me from the young people is really a kitchen pass-through but it provided a kind of frame to look in on them and see Day 1. Here’s the picture that I saw: two teen counselors, on the brink of adulthood, standing in front of the younger kids, and acting as leaders. I sensed that the teens were a bit nervous, but at the same time, the training they’ve received over the past few months has made them confident. When they asked the younger kids to “DEAR” i.e. “Drop Everything And Read” they were firm, but they also made it sound exciting. The kids were falling over each other to grab a book, which they were excitedly showing to their friends: comparing titles, and saying things like “I’ve read that one! That’s good!” The teens were trying to both encourage the kids, while at the same time exert crowd control: not an easy job!

I ran back to get my camera but then I realized that I don’t need it. Scenes like this are going to be unfolding here all summer and I’ll be here to catch them. I am looking forward to seeing “pictures” of young people “creating the future” for both themselves and others all summer and beyond. I think they will surprise us (and themselves) with what they can do.

By Kate Hornstein, Director of Development and Communications

Kate Hornstein is Director of Development and Communications at St. Stephen's Youth Programs. She enjoys walking around in Boston neighborhoods with her pug, Yodel, taking photos.

 

Growing Together at B-SAFE

What is this summer's theme? Is it "We are Awesome," or "We Hold the World in our Hands," or "We create the future?"  This is my sixth summer with the B-SAFE program.  They all blurred together after a while.  While things may be blurry, being here for that amount of time has allowed me to see growth.  And by growth, I don’t just mean seeing participants come back year after year a couple inches taller, and with different voices. Youth that were once part of our LEARN program are now participating as YLC.  I mean I have seen growth in attitudes, growth in maturity, and growth in awareness.  

Even I have grown at B-SAFE. I started off as a LEAD for three years at St. A&M. And from there, I grew into a Site Director for Epiphany YLC.  That’s the cool thing about B-SAFE; everyone has the opportunity to grow.  This year my staff is made up of three young women who all started off as CITs (Teen Staff) here at Epiphany.  I met Nuribis, Erondina, and Chaia in the summer of 2014. They were juniors in high school and I was a first-year site director. We were all trying to find our place within YLC, and learn how 10 through 13 year olds interact with the world.

Together, we learned how to eat in 15 minutes or less, how to dance and nae-nae, what it means to be on “fleek”, and how to “ force it”.  After three summers together, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We know how to push each other and when to offer each other a break. It has been an honor to watch them transform from awkward counselors in training who didn’t know how to mop the floor to strong empowered women who can take charge of a group of 20 middle schoolers.

We have lived the themes. They are awesome, they will create the future, and it is in their hands to make a better world.  

Just look how much we have grown.

Growing3.jpg

By Diana "D" Colón, Epiphany YLC Site Director

Born and raised in Puerto Rico. I came to Boston 9 years ago for a job and been here ever since. I spend my time teaching small children how to read and write in both English and Spanish. As well as teaching them some counting, addition and subtraction. I have spent my last 5 summers with St. Stephen’s Youth Programs. My favorite number is 3 or 11. I like my coffee strong and sweet. And I got a soft spot for animals. I’m a firm believer that a smile can open doors, and nothing is impossible con un poco de paciencia y fe.

Employing Teens Aplenty

JCITs arriving for their first day at Thompson Island

JCITs arriving for their first day at Thompson Island

The streets of Boston are bombarded with purple-shirt-wearing teenagers as 160 of them make their way to work. Our highest youth employment numbers ever come through our partnerships with the Department of Youth Employment and Engagement, ABCD, the Attorney General's Office, the Chelsea Collaborative, and St. Stephen's Youth Programs funding. 

Not only do the 160 teens participate in a fun, active and safe place to work but are also provided with 20+ hours of professional development and job training. This week, the teens learned about the effects of trauma on young people and the deep need to use the 8-Steps, the B-SAFE way of behavioral management, in order for children to feel safe, big and connected. In the training portion of the week the teens had to opportunity to learn about the Cycle of Socialization and reflect on their self identity.   

ebecca Jackson training the teen group at Church of the Holy Spirit.

ebecca Jackson training the teen group at Church of the Holy Spirit.

By Kasey Boston, Director of Youth Employment and Leadership.

Kasey is in her 4th summer with B-SAFE and joined our team after completing her masters degree in International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Kasey works with St. Stephen's Youth Programs year round and focuses on building professional development and life skills with teens. Kasey works to create service-learning opportunities for all young people and hopes to begin traveling abroad with teens this year.  

Water, Not Juice! The B-SAFE Way

With only 5 weeks of program, we have so many things to do! From field trips to general day play, learning, creating and exploring, we all need to make sure we stay hydrated and keep cool! Last Wednesday was 90 degrees outside! B-SAFE programs went on field trips and it was hot out. Everyone had so much fun exploring, learning and doing it all the B-SAFE way. None of the field trips could have been successful without everyone making sure to load up on water!

It’s very important to be sure we (staff and children in the program) are all drinking water, not juice, because our bodies literally depend on it!  With all the easily-available energy beverages and other sugar-packed beverages it can be so hard to ONLY want to drink water. But the sugar found in these drinks are not good for our bodies and are packed with tons of calories. Water consumption is essential to having a productive and safe summer. To the right you will find a diagram that shows just how important WATER is for the body and how it makes everything work correctly. 

We lose water in so many ways; going to the bathroom, sweating and even breathing! Water is lost much faster in the summer because it’s of how hot it is. If we do not replace the water we are losing with more water (not juice) we can become dehydrated.

Water2.gif

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dark urine color
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache
  • Confusion

We at BSAFE always provide water for students and staff because we understand how important drinking water is! Let’s all have a great summer and make sure we are actively drinking water and not juice. 

Traciana is a Curry College alumni, Class of 2011, who majored in communications. This is her first summer with B-SAFE as a Teen Staff coordinator and definitely not the last! During the school year she works as a one-to-one para at an Elementary school in Brookline. Her favorite color is yellow. She has 3 brothers and 3 sisters.

Middle School State of Mind

I always think of the middle school years as a permanent roller coaster ride. This ride is very exclusive- you are lucky to get on it! I’m happy to say I’m one of those lucky people and so far it has been awesome!

YLC Middle School Participants

YLC Middle School Participants

Our middle school program enrolls rising 5th graders to rising 8th graders. As you can imagine, the difference between 10-year-olds and 13-year-olds is sometimes huge! In less than five minutes you can go from a student needing something from you to a student that wants you to go far far far away. Then there are the wonderful moments when you sit in on one of their academic rotations and you hear them having a deep and smart conversation about the things that worry them when they think about their communities. And right when you hear them, you realize that even though they don’t act like they care about anything else other than their friends and cellphones, they in fact are taking it all in and processing it quietly in their heads.

Our young people are worried about gun violence and what it would mean if Donald Trump becomes the next president. They worry about schools not having enough money to give them the education they deserve and whether or not the police are here to protect them. As I think of Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and all the names and stories that don’t make the news, I realize how valuable the job we are doing with SSYP is. From the LEARN program through the YLC and Teen programs to our Community Organizers, we are supporting, teaching, mentoring, and guiding our participants to be part of the change. As hard as it seems, together we can and must improve our communities and provide young people with the safe environments they deserve to live healthy meaningful long lives.

A visual representation of the things middle school students in our program worry about. Words that were mentioned more are bigger.

A visual representation of the things middle school students in our program worry about. Words that were mentioned more are bigger.

By Mayra Gende, St. Stephen’s YLC Site Director

My name is Mayra Gende. I moved to the US in 2001 and joined the SSYP family in 2013. I'm passionate about educational equity and I'm committed to showing our youth a world where they can question, change, and achieve anything they want. In my free time, I enjoy gardening, cooking, and pottery-making.